Three Power Backup Options
That Keep the Lights On…
#1) One very simple thing you can buy is a battery backup system.
You can find a variety of batteries designed specifically to run certain appliances during a power outage. For example, your refrigerator, home medical equipment you or a loved one depends on, and even your communications equipment (CB radio, rechargeable walkie-talkies, etc.) These are somewhat affordable, but you can’t recharge them until the power comes back on. As a short-term, affordable solution, they work well and are worth considering.
#2) You can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true gas generator.
And if you don’t like the loud noise, you can find “quiet” models that run under 60 decibels (about the volume of an average conversation). Gas generators will run as long as you have fuel to feed it. And there’s no need to wait for it to recharge like a back-up battery. Feed it fuel, turn it on, and it works. Quieter models tend to cost more than the regular ones, but if you don’t want to wake up the neighbors, this is a good option. And if keeping your backup generator stealthy is important, you can build an enclosure to help muffle more of the excess sound.
#3) The last option is a solar–powered generator. Technically, these don’t “generate” power. Instead, what they do is collect solar energy through their solar panels and turn it into electricity, which charges backup batteries. Similar to the solo back-up batteries above, this set up comes with special inverters allowing you to plug in all kinds of household appliances and equipment (even a power drill!). As long as the sun is out, these systems are working and recharging the batteries.
They’re also scalable. Meaning you can have a simple system to run a few essentials, or build a system that can literally run your entire house night and day (a set-up which would cost much more). However, you can build it and add to it piece-by-piece. You’ll spend somewhere between $1500 and $2500 or more on a small, prebuilt version. You may be able to run your fridge for a few hours, but then you’ll drain the battery and need to give it a rest while you recharge.
In general, solar power has a long shelf life. There aren’t any moving parts to breakdown. Your solar panels will work reliably for up to 30 years as long as you clean them 2 or 3 times a year. You may have to replace your inverter after 15 years or so, but that’s really all the maintenance you should expect.
When it comes to reliable, long-term, no-fuss power systems, it’s hard to beat solar power. In the long run, your solar panels will pay for themselves by reducing or even completely offsetting your monthly power bill. And if we ever experience a long-term power grid interruption, your solar panels will be the best investment you ever made.