Author Topic: Zuplex's Blackout Kit  (Read 3169 times)

Offline Zuplex

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Zuplex's Blackout Kit
« on: April 28, 2013, 08:51:43 PM »
Today I packed up our blackout items into a box so it's all together. Then I printed out an inventory list and tips. Here is the result:



Here are the contents:



Here is the content list:



And here are some tips that go along with it:



The contents list is taped to the outside of the box lid, and the tips list is taped to the inside of the box lid.

What do you think? What should I add?

Offline bcksknr

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Re: Zuplex's Blackout Kit
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2013, 10:10:35 PM »
     Great idea putting it all together. Just a few thoughts, for what it's worth. When I do a kit or bag, I try to standardize the type of batteries. All of the items that use batteries in a particular kit or bag, use the same type and size. This makes for easier interchangeability. I've found some adapters that start with a AA battery and adapt then to fit "C" cell items. That unit fits into another adapter that then will fit a "D" cell item. So basically a stockpile of AA's will fit just about anything. Although I keep everything in a kit to just one battery size, I like to have some of these adapters on hand.
     I'm wondering how many items you intend to power with an 800 watt inverter? You have a large number of extension cords and splitters. To start, I think 14 ga. is a little light for the extension cords; I would get the heaviest you can afford. There will be a significant resistance in lighter gauge cords. I would rather see you place the inverter and battery nearer to the item you intend to power, rather than run extension cords. The cables to connect your inverter to the battery source should be as heavy and short as possible. I try to make direct hookups with copper lugs, rather than jumper cable clamps. The more direct contact you have the less the resistance. You also have a total of 21 outlets available in the 3 splitters. I could almost guarantee that you can't run 21 110v items off of an 800w inverter.
     If your plan is to power the inverter from your car battery you will again need as short and heavy cables as possible. The power use monitor is a good idea. I would use it before a blackout to see how much wattage the intended items will be drawing. In the short term, 800w will run some lighting and communications. By the way, the modified sine wave inverters don't work as well on electronics as pure sine wave models. You should test yours to see if you get interference or "noise". You won't be running a refrigerator, freezer, electric stove, furnace, well pump or microwave on 800w. please be aware that inverters are notoriously inefficient and will suck even a large deep cycle battery down pretty fast. If at all possible, try to find 12v DC alternatives to 110v AC items. Your deep cycle battery (or car battery) will run 12v DC items much longer. Give a thought to what really needs to be powered up during an outage. There's a good chance your cable, internet, cell phone, cordless phone, etc. won't work during an outage anyway. Might as well throw a log on the fire, light a few candle lanterns and curl up with a good book. My plan is that if the power goes out after dark, I'm going to bed.
     There's a reason that power failures (blackouts) are so disruptive. We are totally conditioned to having electricity at our fingertips. Try to see how you can be equally safe and comfortable without items that require electricity. You may find that except for a flashlight to find the candle lanterns, oil lamps, Sterno or matches you can get along quite well without a major investment in backup power.     

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Zuplex's Blackout Kit
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2013, 10:30:29 PM »
Have you thought about adding an multi-band battery/crank type radio?

~TG

Offline bcksknr

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Re: Zuplex's Blackout Kit
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2013, 06:28:33 AM »
     I also wanted to mention that your choice of an O2 Cool fan is excellent. We have a couple that we take to hot weather camping events. They seem to run forever on eight "D" cells. They come with a 110v AC to 12v DC adapter. They do run on 12v, which means that you could rig a direct to a large deep cycle battery connection for days of use. When you're trying to sleep in a hot tent, these things are lifesavers. There are many AM/FM/Weatherband radios on the market that have self charging (hand crank) capability. Oddly, most have a separate, internal battery (usually a small lithium "coin" battery) that will charge with the crank generator. I've not found one that will charge the batteries that you can put in, in addition to the permanent internal one. That being the case, I always use lithium batteries in my emergency electronics. They have a longer shelf life and will work in a wider temperature range, than alkalines. They cost more and as far as I know are only available in AAA, AA and 9v, but are worth the effort. I never use rechargeable batteries in critical equipment, like flashlights, walkie-talkies or emergency radios (or my stungun). When you need that item to work, it has to be ready to go. Stay away from NICAD rechargeables if possible (if you need a rechargeable). They will go dead in storage in no time and are unreliable. Even NIMH rechargeables will not deliver full 1.5v per cell. They max out at 1.2v and will not run all equipment reliably. Test everything out in your system to make sure it all fits and works in advance of need.

Offline idelphic

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Re: Zuplex's Blackout Kit
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2013, 09:03:49 AM »
     I also wanted to mention that your choice of an O2 Cool fan is excellent. We have a couple that we take to hot weather camping events. They seem to run forever on eight "D" cells. They come with a 110v AC to 12v DC adapter. They do run on 12v, which means that you could rig a direct to a large deep cycle battery connection for days of use. When you're trying to sleep in a hot tent, these things are lifesavers. There are many AM/FM/Weatherband radios on the market that have self charging (hand crank) capability. Oddly, most have a separate, internal battery (usually a small lithium "coin" battery) that will charge with the crank generator. I've not found one that will charge the batteries that you can put in, in addition to the permanent internal one. That being the case, I always use lithium batteries in my emergency electronics. They have a longer shelf life and will work in a wider temperature range, than alkalines. They cost more and as far as I know are only available in AAA, AA and 9v, but are worth the effort. I never use rechargeable batteries in critical equipment, like flashlights, walkie-talkies or emergency radios (or my stungun). When you need that item to work, it has to be ready to go. Stay away from NICAD rechargeables if possible (if you need a rechargeable). They will go dead in storage in no time and are unreliable. Even NIMH rechargeables will not deliver full 1.5v per cell. They max out at 1.2v and will not run all equipment reliably. Test everything out in your system to make sure it all fits and works in advance of need.
Another thing to consider is a 12v 10watt solar panel.  They can keep a batter charged for some of the lighter used 12v devices.

Offline Zuplex

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Re: Zuplex's Blackout Kit
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2013, 05:05:23 PM »
Thanks for the replies, everybody! Let me answer a few points that y'all brought up.

bcksknr, I went with AAA, AA, and D batteries because those are what my lights and fans use. I have some rechargeable AAA and AA batteries and I plan to get more, but the 6 of each I have plus the backup alkalines I have around the house will more than suffice for my lighting needs. The D cells are for the lantern, the fans, and my 3-D cell Maglites. In this kit I have enough batteries to change out the Mini Maglite 4 times, the headlamp 3 times, the lantern 2 times, and the fans 1 time each. That should cover most power outages, and I can always store extra batteries and lights around the house.

I unwrapped the cords today and I think I probably overbought. I really don't plan to run many items off the inverter, and I probably would have done fine with a 400 watt inverter. I grossly overestimated the distance from my living room to my car, so that's why I got the 50 foot cables. So lesson learned, people: measure before you buy your cables! On the plus side, I can now run cables from my car to my house AND my neighbor's house if he wants to charge his laptop or phone or something. 14ga is MORE than enough to handle that. As for the inverter, the 800 wasn't that much more than the 400, so I went with Harris's advice and got the 800.

TexasGirl, thanks for the tip on the radio! I'm going take out at least one cable and 4 of the splitters and see if I can stuff one in there.

bcksknr, the O2 fans I have in there are the smaller 2D version. I do have one of the 8D versions. I have no plans to get rechargeable D cells.

idelphic, I'll keep the solar panel idea in mind, but it's not on my to-do list yet. Other preps first.


Offline doublehelix

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Re: Zuplex's Blackout Kit
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2013, 12:48:46 PM »
You could also standardize on AA and AAA size batteries. There are spacers made that convert AA to C and D size form factors.


Of course you wont' get the run time of D cells, but you also won't have to stock and rotate 4 different battery types.

YMMV, but this is what I do.