Most of us have experienced this before: you come home and all your clocks showing a blinking 12:00. It recently happened to me that power was out for several hours – but at least it was only during day time. Luckily I have a solar powered backup system that provides power for the fridge, TV, stereo, computer and some lamps.
Causes for blackouts
There are many causes of power failures in an electricity network. Examples of these causes include faults at power stations, damage to electric transmission lines, substations or other parts of the distribution system, a short circuit, or the overloading of the grid.
Here is an interesting article from the NY Times:
On a late Thursday afternoon in the summer of 2003, everything turned off. As this week’s Retro Report video illustrates, in the span of a few minutes, the biggest power outage in United States history brought swaths of the Northeast, the Midwest and Canada to a standstill. Around 50 million people were left without power. In the days and weeks that followed, reporters and investigators raced to pinpoint the source of the outage, while larger questions swirled about the stability of the power grid in the 21st century. Here, a Times reporter who covers energy technology reflects on that day and the changes that resulted.
Preventing power outages
There is little influence the consumer has on a blackout but a starting point would be to use less energy overall. Less energy consumption means less load on the grid, which means less chance of a grid-wide blackout. But there is one thing that will help for sure: an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
A UPS or battery backup, is an electrical apparatus that provides emergency power when the input power source, typically mains power, fails. This is exactly what my project One Fridge off the Grid has to offer: a UPS that is powered by the sun. This means free energy and emergency backup! Find out more about it here.