How to prepare for planned blackouts in California
Planned blackouts are happening all across California, and are likely to continue happening in the near future. These planned blackouts can range anywhere from a few hours long all the way up to a week long. California residents should better prepare themselves for extended blackouts. A great way to plan for long term planned blackouts is to install a home solar system that is equipped with home batteries. Such a system can power a home during blackouts.
Author’s note: I’ve been through several planned blackouts so far this year. The below preparations are based on what I’ve done to prepare myself for them
Simple ways to prepare your home for planned blackouts
The most obvious preparation is to have a backup generator that can provide you with power when you need it. Gasoline goes stale unless you add a fuel stabilizer to it, so if you have gas sitting in your generator’s tank, make sure to add fuel stabilizer. You can find fuel stabilizer at any auto parts store.
Put a thermometer in your refrigerator
You won’t need to run your generator around the clock. The daytime is when you’ll most likely need to run your generator so it can keep your refrigerator cold. You should plan to run the generator until the refrigerator stops running. Then you can shut off the generator for at least a couple of hours until the refrigerator needs to run again. Watch the thermometer in your refrigerator and restart the generator when your refrigerator temperature reaches 40 degrees.
To run your refrigerator: Make sure your generator is powerful enough to run your refrigerator. You’ll need to find out how many watts or amps your refrigerator draws. Your generator should be rated to provide the number of watts in power your refrigerator draws. If you don’t know how many watts your refrigerator draws, but you do know how many amps it draws, you can multiply the amps times 120 to get the number of watts it draws.
If your kitchen has an electric stove, you need to prepare an alternate method of cooking. A barbeque grill with a stovetop burner is a good backup plan. Just make sure to keep a full tank of propane handy so you have gas to cook with. Another good idea is to stock up on food that doesn’t need cooking.
If your water heater is electric, you won’t have any hot water. If you need hot water, then you could use the burner on your grill to heat some up. Another way to have hot water for showers is to use a camping shower. A camping shower is a large black rubber bag with a hose and small shower-head. You fill the bag with water and leave it in the sun to get warm. Then hang it and take your shower.
A smart idea is to keep as much ice on hand as you can. If you know a blackout is coming, then you can pack your refrigerator with ice to help keep it cold. Be sure to open the refrigerator as little as possible.
Battery operated camping lanterns are a big help for providing light during a blackout. It is also a good idea to have lots of solar-powered outdoor lights around. Those can provide emergency lighting when you are hunting for your flashlights. Candles are not recommended for emergency lighting because they are a fire hazard.
When the power goes out, that does not mean the internet goes out. You can maintain your connection to the internet by powering your router with an uninterruptible power supply. These types of power supplies have batteries in them so they maintain power during blackouts. Make sure to keep your wireless devices as close to your router as you can. The farther your device is from your router, the greater the amount of power the router must use to stay connected to the device. Make sure to get the uninterruptible power supply with the longest battery life that you can. You never know how long you’ll need it to last.
You will be able to charge your phone from the uninterruptible power supply when needed. Also, make sure you have a phone charger that you can plug into your car. For extended blackouts, set your phone to use the least amount of power possible.
Make sure you fill your tank with gas. If you have an electric car, make sure it’s fully charged. If you are lucky enough to own a plug-in hybrid as I do, make sure it’s full of gas and fully charged. Your car can double as your backup phone charging station, so make sure your car’s battery is in good condition.
Make a plan for your backup power during blackouts
Your backup generator won’t power your entire house. So you should plan ahead for what you will power with it. Make sure you have all the necessary extension cords you need to plug in the appliances you plan to power. If you get an uninterruptible power supply as recommended above, be sure to recharge that power supply and any phones when you are running your generator.
Home Battery Systems: The long term solution to planned blackouts
A solar power system with home batteries is one of the best long-term solutions to California’s planned blackouts. A home battery can fully power a home for about half a day, so you’ll need to plan how you are going to use your battery power wisely. You will only be able to power some of your home around the clock.
You’ll be able to power your entire home when the sun is shining strong enough. You’ll want to monitor your system’s power production during the day so that you know how much power is available. You’ll still want to have that backup generator handy should you need additional power.
Freedom Forever installs solar systems with home batteries
Freedom Forever can help you prepare for planned blackouts. Our solar experts can design your solar system to be able to provide the power you need in a blackout. All our solar power systems are backed by our 25-year production guarantee, and our battery systems are backed by their manufacturer’s warranty.
A solar system with batteries may also help you save money on electricity. The batteries can power your home during the most expensive peak rates that all three of California’s major utilities charge from 4 PM to 9 PM. There is also an incentive program, called the Self Generation Incentive Program, which pays qualifying applicants up to $400 per kilowatt-hour of installed battery capacity. This incentive is expected to be reduced gradually as more battery capacity is installed in California, so it pays to act quickly!
If you combine the aforementioned suggested blackout preparation plans with a home solar system and batteries, you’ll be well prepared for even extended blackouts. PG&E has stated that these blackouts will continue to happen for at least the next 10 years. The time to prepare for these blackouts is now.