The Black List—Summer 2009—Page 3
(Promotions, Awards, Recognition)
2010 STARFLEET International Conference; July 29-August 1, 2010; Wagoner, Oklahoma; website: www.ic2010.org
When Things Go Very Wrong
By J.D. ClancyYou may be in a situation where there’s no electricity. I’m not speaking of being out in the wilderness, where onewould expect to have no electricity. We’re going to discuss what happens when you’re comfortable at home and suddenlythere’s no power. NOTE– there are more than the usual amount of safety notices to this article. Making and using your ownelectricity can be dangerous!One thing to consider is the serious nature of an event that causes long term (1+ day) disruption of the electrical pro-duction/distribution system. Several routine situations may occur that cause minor power outages– breakdowns of equipment,accidents, and poor energy management (brownouts, blackouts). Consider whether you’re going to stay in your home and tryto survive until conditions improve, or evacuate.If you’re going to stay at home, you may want electricity. Nearly everything in the modern home runs on electricity.One strategy is to minimize your need for electricity. Keep a manual can opener, have a solar or hand-cranked radio, makesure you know how to manually operate an automatic garage door.Be practical about your power needs. Even a large solar panelwill not power your refrigerator, air conditioner, and television all atonce. Remember that unless you have a way to store power (some kindof battery) after dark your solar panel will be quite useless.People who are somewhat mechanically oriented may attemptto build a human-powered electricity generating system. A bicycle canbe turned into a stationary cycle and used to generate power. Even adevice that turns a wheel by hand-crank could potentially be used tobuild a power generating system.With the recent emphasis on homeland security concerns, manystores are selling gadgets for emergency power. Various emergency cellphone chargers are available. Gasoline powered generators can be pur-chased in discount stores and home improvement stores.Gasoline powered generators are a topic all their own. From asmall portable generator to a large automatic standby unit that canpower an entire house, the variety and capabilities of generators will becovered in a separate article.
SAFETY NOTICES: 1) Operating agenerator inside your house or garage can cause death by carbonmonoxide poisoning. 2) Improper wiring of a generator into a building’s electrical system can cause a fire or electrocu-tion of occupants and utility workers.
Another possible source of electricity is batteries. Many small items run off batteries. Do you keep a few extra batter-ies and rotate your supply regularly? Amateur radio operators may keep a Marine battery for emergency power. The advan-tage of this type of battery is that it is ‘deep cycle’; meaning you can drain all the power out and after the emergency charge itback up and store it again. (most car batteries, lawn mower batteries, etc. are dead permanently after draining all the power outonce)While we’re talking about batteries, car batteries provide a different type of power than what comes out of the outletin your house. Some people have a bank of batteries in their basement, and intend to use an ‘inverter’ to turn their batterypower into usable electricity. A person could plug an inverter into their car, but should be aware of several issues: 1) If youdon’t run your car, the battery may go dead quickly; 2) You may run your car of gas; and, 3)
SAFETY NOTICE: If you runyour car in a garage, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
One thing to remember: don’t panic and cause a larger problem for the sake of a short term solution. For example,you try to run several appliances off an inverter attached to your car battery. Theelectricity is back on by the afternoon, but you now have to find a ride to the store soyou can purchase a new (expensive) car battery. As always– evaluate your situation.Will electricity be off for some time, or just temporarily? How serious is my needfor electricity?If you have purchased any equipment to provide emergency power, be sureto follow all the manufacturer’s safety warnings. It is best not to ‘jury rig’ or modifyequipment for use outside of its intended application. Injuries and fires can makeyour emergency situation much worse.DISCLAIMER: The author is not responsible for misuse of this information. Overtime, techniques change. Be familiar with safe use of all equipment and the latesttechnical information.
A solar panel and battery power can provide elec-tricity in an emergency.