(Guns Save Life) – Power outages are almost a way of life to those living in rural areas but even city dwellers face the occasional interruption in electrical utilities.
While for some, the power going off is fun and exciting, for others it can be anywhere from an inconvenience to a potential threat to their health and well-being.
There are a host of options available for emergency power. Portable generators’ noise signature advertises their presence for the ethically challenged individuals in the area, especially late at night.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units available for short-term interruptions, but these can get pricey in a hurry for the larger units.
Here’s a poor-man’s solution to offer you silently produced electricity to power your laptop, cell phone chargers, small TVs, C-PAP machine and other small loads overnight.
The “ingredients” are relatively inexpensive:
Size 27 Deep Cycle Battery $90
600 or 750W Power Inverter $40
Plastic battery box $15
Large 20-amp battery charger $75
Assembly is fairly straightforward. The power inverter from Harbor Freight is about $40 on sale and comes with battery cables. I mounted the inverter atop the lid of the plastic battery box using drywall screws through the strap that came with the battery box (cutting off the sharp protruding ends of the screws on the inside of the lid and covering the remaining bit of screws with electrical tape to avoid poking myself).
Once you’ve connected the inverter to the battery, you’re ready to turn it on and plug in your device(s).
Charging the battery is best accomplished with a large 20-amp battery charger that can be powered during daylight hours with your generator (or someone else’s). At the 20 amp setting, the deep cycle battery should be about fully charged in five hours.
How long will this set-up reliably run?
In real-world conditions, this set-up will give you about a half-kilowatt hour of power. In other words, with a fully charged battery, you should get five hours run-time with a 100 watt load.
It’s not a lot, but for small loads, it may be just the ticket you need for silent AC power.
Most C-PAP machines have an average consumption of well under 100 watts, although if you use the industrial-sized unit running at the heated, humidified leaf-blower setting, you might want to pick up a second deep cycle battery and wire the two batteries together in parallel with the appropriate heavy-gauge wire for a restful night’s sleep. Of course, you should anticipate longer charge times or get a second 20A battery charger for that second battery.
With this set-up, you will be able to run your battery chargers, laptop, radios, CFL lightbulbs and other small loads silently for hours at an affordable price in case of an emergency.