In many parts of the country, outages frequently occur. Even is areas where power is quite reliable, power outages (when they do happen) last for 15 minutes or more. Last winter power went out here in the winter for several hours. Wouldn't it be nice if you could keep the lights on for a few minutes or perhaps several hours in the case of an outage? You can do that, and I'll show you how.
You might have a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) that your desktop computer plugs into. A UPS consists of a battery and a small inverter/charger that converts battery storage into AC that your computer needs to keep running.
Many companies use the ideas we're discussing here to keep whole companies running during an outage. You can do the same thing for your home and family.
Here's how it works. Normally the UPS monitors incoming AC and keeps it's internal battery charged up. When power fails, the UPS quickly takes over and converts (with the internal inverter) energy from the battery to AC to keep your computer running. When power resumes the UPS becomes a battery charger again and replenishes the battery, preparing for the next power interruption.
When we convert a home to become a UPS, we use a much larger commercial quality inverter/charger to provide power when the power fails. The power is stored in batteries. The length of time we can endure an outage is a function of the size of the batteries we are using and the power that we need.
In most cases a 4000 watt inverter is large enough to keep the house running during the outage. Much larger inverters are readily available but we will use 4000 watts as our starting point. If you need to keep costs under control, you can identify the most critical circuits you want to keep working, and feed them with the inverter. This means that some parts of the house may lose power, but perhaps the gas furnace, bathrooms, kitchen and living room maintain power. You will need to look at the power requirements and your budget to determine how you want to implement this concept.
The size of your battery bank will determine how long an outage you can handle. The size of the inverter decides how many rooms or appliances you can keep running. You can set up a system that gives you a few minutes and a light in the garage so you can wheel your generator outside and start it, or build a system that can run the whole house for many hours if there's an extended outage. It's up to you, your preferences, and your budget.
This idea will be cost prohibitive if you try to run an all electric kitchen, or perhaps and electrically heated hot tub, but with a little thought you can at least keep the fridge, microwave, entertainment, radio and family life running normally until power is restored. The system doesn't take a lot of room usually, and is very low maintenance.
The batteries you need for this kind of system are sealed to eliminate hydrogen gas accumulation, are designed for high demand applications, and long float service life. In our example the batteries should easily last 8-10 years. The inverter will probably 15 years or more.
Here is an example system:
1. A Magnum 4000 watt 24 volt Pure Sine Wave Inverter/Charger $2194.00
2. 4 - 100AH AGM Sealed deep cycle batteries firstname.lastname@example.org = $980.00
3. Misc cables and hardware, $200 or so.
System price is about $3400.00.
If your house is using an average of 1250 watts, this will give you power for about 3 hours! When power is restored the batteries recharge automatically.
Have an electrician help you isolate the circuits and help you install your system in accordance with electrical codes and you'll be able to weather the next outage in style!