Power supply at home is classified under basic needs in the world today. In the US, national electrification was achieved between the 1950s-1960s. The national grid technology at the time was designed to serve the populace for 50 years without needing major upgrades or changes. This was a great accomplishment for its time.
The power demand has since skyrocketed, and the cost of maintaining power grids has increased equally. According to a 2021 report by Statista, electrical generation expenditures accounted for most operational expenses for shareholder-owned electric utilities in the United States, totaling over 98 billion US dollars. That year, the total cost of operation and maintenance was around 95.7 billion dollars.
On top of the maintenance cost, certain states experience frequent power outages due to extreme weather conditions during winter that damage the power utilities. Power is necessary during the summer and winter to regulate the home temperatures while preserving perishable food. Furthermore, households need to maintain a power supply with the rise in remote work.
In the 21st Century, various alternative power supply options have been made available to the public. Most of these power alternatives act as backups during a power outage. Moreover, the alternatives can become a permanent solution.
This article provides five best practices for effective backup power at home. These practices include:
1. The use of portable power stations
Lead-acid batteries were utilized in the first battery-storage power stations in the 1980s. Nickel-cadmium and sodium-sulfur batteries became increasingly popular during the next few decades. Since 2010, an increasing number of utility-scale battery storage stations have relied on lithium-ion batteries because of the rapid fall in the cost of production.
Many households are using a portable power station due to the increasingly unreliable national grid. The portable stations can store and convert energy from various sources, such as traditional household wall outlets, solar panels, and wind turbines. They can allow you to keep a few lights and appliances running while regulating the house temperature.
2. Installation of a solar power system
A solar power supply system comprises solar panels (solar array) and battery storage. Sunny days generate the greatest electricity, while partly cloudy and gloomy days yield the least. The inverter either stores the solar energy in batteries or transforms it for household usage. Fully charged batteries enable the inverter to add electricity directly from the solar array to the electrical system.
Once the system is installed, the solar array can power the household during the day, while the stored battery power can be used at night. Solar energy is the most eco-friendly power source available in the market. However, its usage becomes limited during winter due to low solar output. The battery storage can still be charged directly from household outlets and generators.
3. Installation of a generator
Generators are reliable power sources that run on gasoline or natural gas. They vary in power capacity and size. There are two types of generators available in the market for commercial and household use:
- Stationary generators
They are set up to turn on automatically during a blackout and generate between 50-100 kilowatts of power, depending on the output capacity. Diesel generators possess integrated fuel tanks that run for three successive days.
Stationary generators can electrify the house when connected directly to the wiring system. They have a transfer switch that allows you to choose which equipment to power. Moreover, the switch prevents the generator from reintroducing electricity into the utility supply system, putting utility line workers at risk.
- Portable generators
Portable generators are powered by a tiny gasoline engine and can only power a few lights and appliances through extension cables. These units are frequently utilized to supply emergency power during a power outage and are simple to store and transport wherever needed.
A portable generator for this purpose may normally supply two to eight kilowatts or more and run for eight to twelve hours on a gas tank. The downside of portable generators is their need for frequent refueling and short maintenance intervals. On top of that, they must be manually turned on and can only supply power to a few household appliances.
4. Seek professional help for the installation
Alternative power sources come with installation instruction manuals when you purchase them. However, it’s recommended to seek professional help to avoid risks and to ensure you have an adequate power supply. Installing solar power systems and stationary generators requires an electrician’s expertise when selecting the ideal locations for setting up each component, such as wiring and storage batteries.
5. Adequate maintenance of alternative appliances
As observed from the national grid, power infrastructure requires constant maintenance to operate optimally while minimizing wear and tear. The alternative sources may be used as a backup or permanent solution to power issues. The frequency of use and the type of power source will determine the frequency of maintenance.
This article depicted three types of power alternatives for a household when the power grid experiences outages. It also offered advice to seek professional help in installing the infrastructure and proposed ensuring the adequate maintenance of each power alternative. Following the mentioned practices will help your household have an effective backup power supply.