Preparations for Blackouts

Most LED’s operate at a low voltage, ones for ceiling lighting needed to be stepped up before they are stepped down again. You can get CREE type with a diffuser rather than focused to give an adequate set up for emergency lighting that operate between 3-5v. You then need deep cycle type leisure batteries linked in parallel charged from the mains and if you have solar panels or a windmill type generator a controller to allow them to be charged by sunlight. Car batteries can be used for short periods, but they are not usually designed for this purpose and shorten their life if the charge is consistently taken too low. It’s best to have separate systems you manually switch over rather than clever circuitry that can fail or short and have discrete systems rather than mains connected. Most laptops are 12-19v, so a car type charger for them should be available. A 12-5v is also useful. If an area is out then the mobile mast may be too, so internet may be down for the area. Only something like a satellite internet link would then work if you could power it. Unless exchanges are excluded or have their own long-term generators a lot of fibre will be gone as will most petrol or charging stations.

Longer distance electric car use will be out.

Most gas central heating will fail as they are usually mains controlled, but gas cookers will still have it. The biggest killer may be lack of ventilation. We will probably see a lot of disruption of signals with so much cutting in and out, so digital signals may be pretty poor, needing a lot of boost, and an old battery radio may be of use or walkie talkies for short distances. It might be best to forget TV and streams and resort to portable DVD’s, most having batteries and car type chargers available.
With longer power outages that the BBC have been warned of opening a freezer, especially an upright fridge freezer may lose its contents or contaminate if within a few days. If you see puddles, it’s probably compromised.

With any of these systems the time to try them out is now and at night, with the mains switched off, not when it happens and you find they don’t work and scrabbling in the dark to get them working.

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