How to Stay Powered during a Blackout
There’s no off-season for blackouts. In the summer, high winds and overloaded grids result in unintentional outages; fires and floods result in intentional outages. Having an independent power source is a great way to stay in control of your electricity no matter what happens. A portable power station provides battery power during a blackout, but even then, you’ll still have to be smart about your energy usage.
We’ve come up with these energy related tips for riding out a summer power outage – whether you have a portable power station or not.
Things to do Now
Preparing for expected and unexpected blackouts
Stay informed. Loss of power may indicate the need to evacuate or find shelter, but unless you have backup power for your Wi-Fi router, getting information may be trickier. Those of you in the US can stay in the know with NOAA radios, WEA text messages, and a handful of apps. See how each relies on power.
Where we can help: With a Wi-Fi router plugged into a backup battery, home internet might be available if your internet provider has power.
DC Power. Batteries store power in DC, but wall outlets are in AC. Going from DC to AC uses up power, which is unnecessary for things that can run on DC like phones, computers, and lights. Recharge your phone (even some laptops) from your portable power station’s USB outlet – which uses DC – instead of the wall outlet plugs. You may even look into getting lights that can power from a barrel plug or an iceless cooler that can run from a 12V car outlet.
Buy ear plugs. An installed gas generator next to a bedroom window may be loud enough that it disturbs your sleep. You may not even know your neighbor owns a generator until there’s a power outage.
When it’s close
Preparing for expected blackouts
Fridge and freezer. Turn your fridge/freezer to the coldest setting. Fill empty spaces in your fridge and freezer with bottles of water while you’re still on grid power. If the power goes out, that water is better at fighting off rising temperatures than empty air space. Since meats and dairy in the fridge spoil after just four hours without power, consider moving them to the freezer. If ample backup power isn’t in your cards, keeping meals and medications in a cooler minimizes the need to open your fridge.
Charge up. Top off anything that has a battery, especially portable power stations if you have one. Depending on the brand, it could take a few hours to recharge if you’re coming from a low battery.
Prep low-watt meals. Sorry, no recipes here. The general idea is to prepare your meals beforehand while you have grid power and then use backup power to reheat them during the outage. If you have a portable power station, consider something that can be put in the microwave, since they’re more efficient than air fryers and ovens.
If you have an EcoFlow. We recommend using your battery between 20% and 80% capacity to get the longest cycle life, but for emergencies, it’s as good a time as any to make sure your portable power station can charge to the 100% maximum and discharge to 0%. Also enable fast charging so you can recharge when the power comes on not knowing if it will go out again.
Generator safety. Find a place that is at least 15 feet from doors and windows, and keep windows downwind from the generator closed.
Once it hits
Preparing for the long haul
Remember to switch off ovens, irons, and anything else that could start a fire once power is restored to them
Flip the main breaker. If your home is at risk of being flooded or you plan to evac, flip the main breaker switch. This prevents a fire hazard as well as an electrical hazard for your family, your neighbors, and emergency crews.
Unplug everything. Unless your wall sockets have backup power – like you’d get with our Smart Home Panel – resumption of grid power may be preceded by a damaging power spike. To minimize your home’s strain on the downed grid, you can turn off all lights except one inside and one outside, just enough so that you and the linemen know when the power comes back on.
Landlines still work. Cell towers get overloaded when people lose access to their home Wi-Fi network, and it might be hard to get a call through. Landlines still work because they draw power from the jack, but you’ll need battery backup for your home phone if you want to use a wireless receiver.
Shelter options. It might be hard to imagine having to stay in a shelter for a while, but if it comes to that, you can look for shelters on the Red Cross’ website.