Author Topic: "Honey the Power is out again"  (Read 1853 times)

ALPHIE OMEGA

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"Honey the Power is out again"
« on: October 05, 2009, 05:39:51 PM »
The “unusual” weather here in Oklahoma this year has given us the opportunity to practice what we preach as far as personal preparedness and self reliance. Summer is usually very dry here and little rain falls this time of year but we have been blessed with rain and of course the accompanying storms with high winds, thunderous lightning and of course power outages. In the last month the power has been out in the country at least 3 times, I don’t keep track anymore, never have. Some of the outages have been short in nature and others have been much longer, ya just never know when it will come back on out in the country.


Because of these “inconveniences,” at least that’s what I call them, we have had the chance to check our preparedness. Each time the power goes out presents a different scenario. It could be day or night and the time of day makes a lot of difference in what we have to do to maintain the ranch. We have multiple freezers and refrigerators to monitor and right now that means around 1000 lbs of meat in storage. Temperatures have ranged from the high cool 70’s to heat indexes around 114 degrees with these storms. Most often it cools considerably with the storms, at least during and shortly after them, but during the late morning and afternoon with the return of the sun the temperature warms considerably and the humidity rises substantially creating the high heat indexes mentioned above.


With the recent storms we have checked a lot of our gear and have found that even with extended outages we have been very comfortable. The reason for this is not that we have the gear but we maintain the gear. First the generator, we purchased a Honda generator many years ago and soon after stocked extra plugs, an extra air filter and gas filters and replaced the oil with a synthetic version for longer life and fewer oil changes. The fuel is conditioned with Stabil (as is all of our stored gasoline) and since it is an electric start generator with have added a 5 watt solar panel to charge the battery for the generator. This has increased the batteries’ life expectancy and as well as keeps the battery at full charge for when it is needed. The battery for the generator now lasts years not months and turning the key to start the generator always produces a quick start. The battery still must be monitored for electrolyte level and distilled water is keep on hand to replace any water that is needed for this battery as well as all the other batteries here on the ranch. Special extension cords were made to be able to access all the options the generator has, specifically the 28 amp twist lock plug which is then wired to a 4 outlet box with an internal breaker for safety. I also made a 220 volt plug, again a twist lock and heavy duty 220 volt cable to meet the demands of our high voltage needs. This also works for use of the arc welder when things need welded away from the barn. Heavy duty 15 amp extension cords were purchased on sale and are used with 3 plug adapters for smaller loads in the house during the outages


For lighting I have 6- 12 volt small fluorescent lights wired with paired Anderson power poles that attach to small 12 volt 7 amp/hr batteries. This design makes them extremely portable and easy to move from room to room. We also have propane lanterns as well as Dietz and Aladdin oil lanterns and plenty of kerosene also stored for long term use. The batteries are also prewired with paired Anderson power poles so everything is just plug and play, in fact all our the communications gear, solar panels, batteries of all sizes and every other 12 volt accessory is prewired with paired Anderson power poles. The car, truck, tractor, 4 wheeler and lawnmowers are also wired with paired power poles so that any 12 volt item from cellphone chargers to ham radios, 12 volt water pumps for our water storage, air compressors etc are all just plug and play. Multiple adapters for other 12 volt gear are also wired with Anderson power poles so any item can be used anywhere on the ranch and in the vehicles by simply plugging in which adds to each 12 volt accessories versatility of use. Why paired power poles you ask? Well let’s start by explaining what I mean by paired: imagine if you will 2 black and red wires ( all wiring and all power poles used for power are all done in black and red for ease of wiring as well as recognition as 12 volt only all grounding is wired with green power poles) leading to 0ne set of power poles now picture another pair of power pole piggybacked on top of the first pair ( power poles are manufactured to “slip” together at time of manufacture) I then make a “loop” from the bottom pair with black and red wires to the top pair, kind of like a “u,” these wires are then soldered together and placed in the metal electrode/connector for the power poles and soldered again and then the metal connector snaps into the housing of the power poles and now you have a pair of power poles sharing the same 12 volt source when connected to the battery. The most ingenious part of this idea is that infinite power poles can be piggy back together and in essence you have the ability to have unlimited chains of power poles thus an unending source of power and adaptability for each 12 volt item as well as for every battery, solar panel, charge controller, whatever. Multiple solar panels can be chained together, multiple batteries can be chained together any and all 12 volt accessories can be added to the chain as long as the piggybacked power poles are used. This also allows for anyone to use any of the 12 volt accessories, batteries, solar panels by just plugging them in. Each time you add an item you plug one set of power poles together, not both sets, this leaves an empty set of power poles both above and below the set you just connected. Since everything is black and red, black always goes to black and red to red so there is little knowledge needed by a lay person to connect the power poles and less chance of shorting out any of the items connected as long as everything has been wired correctly to begin with. It is easy for the kids to do since the black and red power poles only hook to black and red respectively, they can’t be reversed and put together which ensures safety of both the accessory and the people putting them together. Should you need all the power you can get for the accessory or want all the power from the battery to go to just one item you then can plug both sets of power poles together “dead ending” that connection. So much for the power pole discussion.


During the outages we fixed meals on the propane stove, had lights at night whenever and wherever we needed them, watched movies on dvd’s, had fans running for air circulation and cooling. We listened to the scanner on the weather bands for storm info, had laptop computer access and internet capability by connecting the router to the generator. The refrigerator was the biggest concern and needed the most care to keep cold and thus we ran it 1 hr on and 2 to 3 hrs off. The freezers needed less attention and we found that running them 1 hr every 4 to 6 hrs kept everything hard frozen except the bread in them. Our Berkey water filter was full as usual and since we “make our own bottled water” cold drinks were just ready and waiting already in reusable plastic bottles in the refrigerators. We heated water to wash dishes and pulled water from a couple of different sources of storage. Toilets were flushed only for solid wastes and when we urinated in the toilet we added a small amount of bleach to mask the smell. The well is on 220v and with our large pressure tank there was plenty to shower each of us once. The only thing we did not have was a constant flow of hot water. Had we needed to, the solar showers could be hung up outside and used to bath later in the day as they were heated from the sun. In the future we will add either a propane water heater or an on demand water heater system for long term grid down power outages. We are also looking to add a separate plug in the well house to use for the generator to power the well pump if needed, we are also thinking about a handpump for the well. We also have a year round spring so water is just a buckets throw away and with the Berkey and our other portable water filters there is no lack of potable drinkable water available. The livestock can be rotated to pasture with pond access to eliminate the need to fill their respective troughs. Stored hay and feed are readily available for feeding if needed. Feed is purchased in 2 ton bulk bags and stored in the barn for protection from the elements. Security systems consisting of Dakota alerts, outside and inside dogs and of course firearms, all work regardless of grid power. Our propane tank has an adapter with hose to fill the tractor as well as smaller 20 lb propane tanks for cooking and light if needed with all the assorted adapters, hoses and accessories. Propane fuel is monitored and kept as full as possible as well as multiple 20lb tanks filled in storage in the fuel shed as well as multiple smaller16 oz tanks which with another adapter can also be refilled from the 20lb propane bulk tanks. A smaller window mount air conditioner is available to cool specific rooms of the house as a luxury if wanted. Fans seem to do the job for the most part run also from the generator. I do have 12 volt fans and 12 volt deep cycle batteries mounted on several carts that can be moved form place to place as needed and recharged either from the generator or from solar panels mounted on the barn or spare panels placed strategically around the farm as needed that are portable. With proper load transfer from one item to the next we can run most any and all 120 volt items needed, just not all at once. With our food storage nothing was even remotely needed for meals. We lack a milk cow right now for the first time in years and in the long term fresh milk availability is something like coffee we don’t want to be without and that problem will be rectified later. All my Ham radio equipment is already on 12 volt with Anderson power poles and backed up with solar and battery for unlimited use and for shortwave listening. Heck even the micro FM station is set to function on 12 volt exclusively. Back up radio systems and antennas both fixed and portable in the house and in the vehicles and barn complete the commo set up and all handheld radios for portable use are backed up with rechargeable nicads and nimhs and can be charged from solar panels or again from the generators or when any vehicle is running including the 4 wheeler, lawnmowers or the tractor. ( this goes for cell phones as well )
We enjoyed our grid down test this time as well as all the others we have faced over the years out in the country. Once the extension cords are run and things are set up it’s just like being on grid, just alittle more time consuming, but with all the comforts we have learned to enjoy. We are continuing to add more features to our grid down set up, most of which will be more creature comforts not necessities. Each time we have to revert to grid down scenarios my wife and I just look at each other and smile for with some common sense, some pre-planning and some minor maintenance prior to use we lack only the desire to set up our preps nothing more… and that’s the easy part of this plan.

Offline idelphic

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Re: "Honey the Power is out again"
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2009, 06:34:51 PM »
Nicely done.

Offline boneman_66

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Re: "Honey the Power is out again"
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2009, 09:32:44 PM »
Thank you so much for sharing your set up in detail with us - very informative and helpful!  Keep up the good work!

Boneman

p.s.  Pictures of your Power Pole set up might help some of us umm, technically challenged types, visualize it even better :)

Offline idelphic

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Re: "Honey the Power is out again"
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2009, 12:21:01 PM »
Here is a link to PowerWerx - who sells a number of products built with the power poles.  Some you might be able to do your self.

http://www.powerwerx.com/

Thank you so much for sharing your set up in detail with us - very informative and helpful!  Keep up the good work!

Boneman

p.s.  Pictures of your Power Pole set up might help some of us umm, technically challenged types, visualize it even better :)

boneman - Are you talking about how he has his patch cords?  Think of a 'Y'  Where all three ends have the same configuration.  This allows you to use the cord as an extension or as a splitter / combiner. 

You have 3 + (red) and 3 - (black) connections.