Online during a power outage with the following equipment #sandy

Power is out all over the coast in Brooklyn, including at my house near the Gowanus Canal (picture above from Monday night outside my building, taken by my neighbor). Don’t worry, I have friends with power nearby and my neighborhood is no longer flooded, but there are plenty of reasons I’d like to be hanging around my own home– the fridge’s food needs cooking, the pets, the projects, the neighbors and repair folks, etc.

So here’s what we did to power the devices I need to continue writing to you folks!

On hand I had a solar lipoly Minty Boost, which worked well for a while when the sun was out. Made from:

I also had a breadboard power supply on the same piece of acrylic for another project.

To charge my laptop, 4G hotspot, phone, and light up the room all at once I’m using a deep cycle battery and power inverter. I’m trying not to blast my Hulu so loud that it makes my neighbors jealous– by our estimates this rig should be powered for 40-60 hours, after which I can just swap it for another charged battery from down the street. 🙂

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  1. Excellent example of auxiliary power that many people forget: Car batteries. In a disaster car batteries are often a reliable, readily available source of emergency power in urban areas. In California, many ham radio operators supporting emergency communications pack car battery clips so that they could keep their rigs powered.

    Makers may want to know that there is a 12v/13.8v power interconnect standard in broad use with Andersen Powerpoles.

    Actually it would be great if Adafruit could take the lead for promoting this standard in the Maker community.

  2. We used our neighbor’s generator to power our fridge for 3 hours after the power was off for 12 hours. And our neighbor up the street was using the neighbor’s generator to power and charge their child’s medical equipment.

    Would it be worth it to power a fridge?

  3. I feel bad for all of you guys out there! This is just one of the many reasons preparedness is so important! You never know where or when a crazy storm like this will hit!

  4. We can marry two major standards here.

    The Amateur Radio ARES community requires emergency power and Anderson Powerpole connectors can pass high amounts of current and clip together with a built-in dovetail to maintain polarity and not be accidentally hooked up backwards. If you need to pass more current than two contact sets will handle, you can gang even more together into four or six contact polarized connectors using the dovetail slots.

    The RC Aircraft, Helicopter and Car community has to an extent, standardized on Deans Connectors for high current contacts on LiPo battery packs. Like the Anderson Powerpole connectors, you have a simple to use, polarized contact set that cannot be fumbled together backwards in operation.

    With both these systems, you have reliable, high current power supply hookup that lets you concentrate on keeping the batteries charged and not worrying about hooking up with reverse polarity and destroying your emergency equipment or your combined $1000 of receivers, servos and other equipment the average 47% scale aircraft uses currently. (Or your emergency equipment when you realize those Li-Po batteriess need to be repurposed in an emergency.

  5. @chuckz – Unfortunately, you’re stuck with the Generator. We can get away with this because modern electronics has gone low current, low voltage. When you start running refrigerators, you start needing banks of deep-cycle batteries and a kilowatt or two worth of solar panels.

    If you search online, there are people who’ve converted Toyota Prius vehicles to be whole-house UPS systems for use in Florida. More expensive than the generator…

  6. Glad y’all are making it through ok.
    Seeing how you are handling your power needs just created a shopping list…. 🙂

  7. But that deep cycle battery and inverter system is not very efficient! you are wasting a lot of energy by stepping 12V up to 120V and then stepping back down to whatever voltages the devices each need! you could increase that efficiency buy using individual regulators running directly off the battery to each device. chances are most devices need less than 12V anyway! and by using LED bulbs you could save even more energy! as it looks like you have a clamp on 120V work light there! I mean you have access to everything you need! still way to go! wahooOO

  8. Becky – Is it correct to assume you own two deep-cycle batteries? It sounds like you hauled one to a friends’ location who has power?

    Also, to the PowerPole guys – I have been searching for a place to source a decent deep-cycle charger that can have PowerPole connectors added without cutting nonreplacable cables. Any recommendations? Most deep-cycle chargers I have seen have fixed non-replacable cables with battery clamps on the end – I’m somewhat nervous about clipping these off to replace with a PowerPole. The only chargers I’ve found with removable charging cables (which I can replace with a PowerPole adapter) are fairly low amperage. (My current PowerPole-enabled charger is only 1.5A.)

  9. Hi Becky,

    is the NYC puplic water supply still working?

  10. @Andy This is my favorite 12V charger:

    They also make a 15A version. It’s fairly pricey, but it has multiple outputs that can take any cable you build. It also doubles as a power supply and can be configured as a UPS.

  11. Please do a proper writeup/tutorial of this setup when you get everything up and running again.

    So that we can all prepare a system like that for future blackouts. All that built into a snappy case would be awesome.

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