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The US has more power outages that any other developed country due to its outdated and rundown systems. Millions of people are left with electricity several times a year. According to an analysis by Climate Central the major outages grew ten times more common and weather-related outages have doubled. Worldwide there were 350 million people affected by power outages in 2021.
Don’t be left on the dark ever again
There are many permanent solutions to prevent power outages from affecting your family, from solar panels with large batteries and inverters to gas power generators that kick in when the power goes out. We will explore some not so traditional ways to keep your devices powered and some options that you might even build yourself.
The process of making sure your home is ready to run on alternate power sources starts with when you purchase energy efficient devices and appliances, since these devices will help you consume less power. An inverter AC, fridge or Microwave will maintain a lower power consumption draw which will make it easier for your Power Generator to maintain than an old device that requires high power to start up and keeps cycling on and off. The same goes for your lighting choices where LED lights will consume less than a fraction of what a regular incandescent light bulb consumes.
Let’s explore our options to produce Electricity starting with Power Generators
What size of Generator do I need to run a House?
With a generator rated at 5,000 to 7,500 watts, you can run even the most critical household equipment, including things such as refrigerator, freezer, well pump, and lighting circuits. A 7500-running watt generator can run all these appliances at once.
However, to know what size generator is needed to power a house, you should check the exact wattage of your home appliances to be 100% sure. They are commonly listed on their labels in watts or amps.
Before buying a generator, there is one question you must ask yourself, if the generator will need to power only the essential equipment or to power the entire house.
Well, if you live in a disaster-prone area where power outages are common, then you should get a larger generator. Despite its higher cost, it could be a great investment and give you peace of mind. However, if you plan to only run it a couple of times a year in case of an emergency, a smaller generator that runs the essential equipment will be the best choice.
On the other hand, if you decide you don’t need to run your whole house during the power outage you can use one or the combination of the following options:
What is a Portable Power Station?
These popular devices with a variety of high-powered outputs, storage capacities, and multiple ways to recharge will keep your devices and appliances running, indoors and out. Power stations give you power at the push of a button, all without the noise, fumes, or maintenance of a traditional gasoline-powered generator. These power generator recharge by means of electrical power, 12-volt car outlets, portable or fixed solar panels, wind turbines, hand cranks or any other power generation method you might have.
The way a Power Station works is by storing electric power on rechargeable batteries and releasing that energy whenever you have a power outage. The larger the Capacity of the battery the longer that you will be able to power your devices.
When purchasing a generator, you should look for following:
The battery capacity that will be marked on Wh (What hours), the higher the capacity the more power it can store but it will be also heavier and more expensive.
The Power Output Wattage, the higher the number the higher the amount of appliances that can be power at once.
The integrated ports like AC Outlets and USB ports
The recharging options like Solar Panel Inputs, Wall Outlets or Car Outlets
Expansion options like the option to connect an External battery
Other common safety functions it should include are over-current Protection, short-current Protection, over-discharge Protection, over-charge Protection, over-voltage Protection, Thermal Protection
What are USB Battery Banks?
Power banks are used for providing portable power to charge battery powered items like mobile phones and other similar items that have a USB interface. A power bank can be small enough to fit in your pocket or they can be larger with a higher capacity and more output options.
Things you should know before buying a power bank?
One of the main features that should be kept in mind while buying Power banks is its battery capacity, It is measured in terms of Milliamp Hours (mAh). The more the mAh, the bigger is the charging capacity of the device. At the time of buying a Power bank, ensure that its output voltage matches with your device. But most modern power banks can charge any USB device but some might charge faster than others.
What are Wind Turbines
Wind Turbines turn wind into electricity, the air forces the blades on the wind turbine to rotate and turn a generator that is connected to the Turbine blades generating clean energy. Small wind turbines commonly installed in homes applications range in size from 400 watts to 20 kilowatts, depending on the amount of electricity you want to generate.
Wind power can be used as a backup system in combination with other components as a battery backup system. An off-grid, hybrid electric system can be a good choice if you live in an area with average annual wind speed of at least 9 miles per hour.
Bicycle Power Generator
A Pedal Power Bicycle Generator can produce enough electricity to power or charge small appliances, charge laptops, charge battery banks, power LED lights, charge cellphones.
The way the system work is by making the user pedal the device and generate small currents of electricity which are regulated and converted to usable 5 Volt to 48 Volt power outputs.
The whole system should include the Bicycle, a bike stand to prevent the bicycle from moving, the DC generator system, a power Regulator system and some type of power inverter to convert the current to the one needed by your devices.
Could you power your whole home with a bike?
No, pedaling a bike at a reasonable pace will only generate about 2.4 percent of what an average home uses. The current generated by this system will depend on the Speed the user can pedal de bike and the output will be limited by how fast your battery bank can charge. A 10 Minute charging session should produce around 100 Amp Hours, enough to incrementally charge large battery banks or provide direct current for small appliances.
What is a Pedal Generator?
A Pedal Generator is a device that can transform the motion created by the user moving the pedals to an electrical current.
The advantage of the Pedal Generator over the Bicycle Generator is its size, making it more portable. A typical compact Pedal Generator can generate 50 watts. It delivers 14 volts 3 amps to a Standard Automotive 12-volt socket. It is designed for direct charging of 12 volt batteries or let the user connect 12 v accessories like a 12 volt to USB converter and inverter. The 12-volt output can even be used to charge a Portable Power Station or a USB Battery Bank.
An average adult rider can generate from 100 to 320 watts of power depending on their physical strength, stronger and fitter adults could create between 225 to 320 watts or more depending on the system.
Amazon Link: K-TOR Pedal Generator Power Box 50
What is a portable water turbine?
A portable turbine charges phones, speakers, cameras, battery banks, and even 12V devices and batteries, by generating power from rivers and streams.
If you live close enough to a stream, river or brooks you cloud place the device in the water and have it charge your small devices or battery banks for as long as you needed. A device like WaterLily can also harvest the power of wind but its more efficient under water. WaterLily can also be used to charge batteries and devices directly, or be used in conjunction with larger power stations to store energy and power larger devices. It’s small, lightweight design makes it extremely portable
What is a Hand Crank Generator?
A Hand Crank Generator is a device that can produce electrical power when a leaver is turned. Common hand crank generators create between 5 and 15 watts. On average for every hour of continuous hand cranking you can run your laptop for about 6 to 10 minutes or your phone for about 16 minutes. This number can be improved by using a fast charging USB battery bank that can take advantage of the 15 Watts instead of the 5 Watts used by many USB devices.
During an extended power outage or severe weather conditions many of the common power sources will ultimately fail and you might have to rely on a hand crank. There are many crank powered radios and flashlights.
Modern hand crank generators are designed to produce much more power than older models and allow you to charge modern devices without too much muscle power. Hand cranks are great when there is no other source of power available. Take in consideration the physical demands of manually cranking the handle to produce power, you will also need to sacrifice a lot of time to be able to produce any meaningful amount of energy.
When considering human-powered equipment a healthy person can produce about 0.89 kW of energy briefly and sustain about 0.075 kW indefinitely; trained athletes can manage up to about 1.9 kW briefly and 0.26 kW for a period of several hours.
Portable Solar Chargers
Portable Solar Chargers are a great way to maintain Battery Backups charged and ready. Portable solar chargers can be folded for transportation and are as small as a cell phone or can be as large as an RV Roof Top.
No matter what option you choose you will need to calculate how much energy you will need to collect, where you will be storing the power and how you will make the connection to power your home appliances.
A large Goal Zero Yeti 6000X Power Station will charge your phone 451 times before its power runs out or keep a freezer running for up to 91 Hours, giving you enough time to recharge using a Solar Panel or one of the other methods we mentioned on this article.