July 18

uGrid: Critical circuits home grid backup (part 1)

“A microgrid is a localized grouping of electricity sources and loads that normally operates connected to and synchronous with the traditional centralized grid (macrogrid), but can disconnect and function autonomously as physical and/or economic conditions dictate.” – Microgrids at Berkly Lab

Boom, crash, the lightning flashed, and out went the power.

This is something that happens from time to time, though far less so where I live now than in my youth (where we kept a generator in the shed for such occasions).  However, several recent outages started me thinking: how would I bridge the occasional and sometimes relatively long power gaps?

Phase 0: What happened, and initial parameters

Major component(s): Data, data, data! (I cannot make bricks without clay)

So the most recent outage was over 24 hours.  Long enough that we familiarized ourselves with food safety during a power outage (the refrigerated and frozen food briefs at FoodSafety.gov were quite useful, as would have been the USDA guidelines for emergency food safety).  As we did not take any supplemental precautions (such as icing the freezer) most everything was lost.  But in the time and uncertainty between the work reports (we have power; no, we don’t though some of our neighborhood does; we will have power soon – I can’t fault the response teams, they busted butt to get the most people restored as quickly as possible), I kept started running through ways to save the contents of the freezer, to charge cell phones, to run fans.  Why not power my home myself?  Or just a small, critical part of it.  After the power returned and the damage was assessed, I shared my musing with my spouse, who supported it rather enthusiastically1.  So, now to form a plan!

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