Power outages - how to prepare?
Blackouts have been talked about for a long time, but in recent weeks, power outages have become more frequent and on a larger scale. Blackout - how to prepare? In this article, we will outline the available solutions for power outages and look at the topic through the eyes of electronics experts.
We have become accustomed to daily, almost continuous use of electrical devices. Many of us can't imagine a situation where we can't turn on a light, boil water or eat, and on top of that connect to the Internet. What, only when the device is essential for work or sustains human life. And although for such needs emergency power supplies are mainly equipped in factories, companies or hospitals, there are already solutions on the market that can be successfully used in your own home.
Emergency power supply to the house
Solutions that are available on the market to prepare against power outages are UPS 's, generators and power stations. We'll take a look at each of them and tell you about the pros and cons.
Uninterruptible power supply UPS
UPS. uninterruptible power supply) is a battery system that activates in the event of a power outage to safely shut down the device. It is a small box permanently connected to the equipment it is supposed to power.
Oops what is it for
UPSs are mainly used for computers and equipment that need to be protected from data loss or damage. Allows for a clique - a kickoff time. They have a small capacity and will not allow you to charge your laptop or run an electric kettle.
Generator for the home
A generator set is a device that generates electricity using an internal combustion engine. It can run on a variety of fuels, such as gasoline, diesel or LPG.
Generator set operating time
The operating time of the aggregates is long. Depending on the model, it's several hours without a break.
Generator for the home
They cannot be used indoors because they produce exhaust fumes, require air cooling, and make a lot of noise. They are heavy and problematic to transport, so they will be a solution for those who have the space for them or are able to set aside a suitable room with ventilation.
It should also be noted that the cost of buying a genset is one thing, and the cost of using it, with rising fuel prices, is another. Smaller ones, with a power of 2-4 kW, use about 1-2 liters of fuel per hour, and larger 5-6 kW use about 2-3.5 liters of fuel.
Most of the units are not invertor ie. the motor must run at the same speed, regardless of what device is connected to it. Put simply, whether you plug in a laptop or a kettle (much higher power consumption) fuel consumption will be similar.
Power stations are a new technology that has only been on the market for a few years, making few people know about them. These are smart devices that power electronics using a rechargeable battery. The simplest way to describe them is that they are large powerbanks, only with more capacity and power. They power everything, even things that plug into a wall outlet (AC) - from phones to household appliances. Lighter, portable power stations can be taken on camping trips, while larger models can serve as emergency power at home.
How and how long the power station operates
The operation of the power station is very simple - charge it and it stores energy and gives it back to connected devices. Charging can be done from the most ordinary AC, car outlet, but also from photovoltaic panels that can be set up, even if only on a balcony in a block of flats. The stations can also be charged using a generator.
Power station charging time
|Power station type
|From an AC outlet
|From the car
|from photovoltaic panels
Operation time depends on the model and what device is connected. On a single charge, it can be a few/ten days. Stations such as EcoFlow can power other devices even while charging equipment at the same time. We write more details about the operation of ecoflow power stations in the article Power station - what it is, how it works, pros and cons
How much does it cost to charge a power station?
The price for smaller stations is a few tens of pennies. For larger stations, it will be about 1-2 zloty.
Life expectancy of the power station
The life of the station depends on the operation, that is, how often it is used. Depending on the model, the capacity drops to 80% after about 500- 3500 charging cycles. To better illustrate this - if we charge the station once every day, its capacity will decrease after 1.5 - 2.5 years. Similarly, in the case of less frequent use, it will be several times longer, for example, in the case of one station charge per week, it is 10 -17 years.
Are power stations the best solution?
Power stations are quiet, safe, portable and can be used literally anywhere. They do not require service, nor do they generate exhaust fumes. You can connect several electronic devices to them simultaneously and use them as a UPS. They serve not only during power outages, but on the road or wherever energy is needed. The biggest advantage is that the power station can work indoors or in a car, which a traditional genset cannot do.
Power stations, like everything, of course, also have their downsides, namely the fact that you have to charge them beforehand to make them work and they also lose capacity over time. However, there are no illusions that this is the best solution for anyone:
- wants to protect against power shortages during, for example, power outages
- needs electricity outside the house, for example, on a plot of land or camping
Unable to charge equipment
High initial or operating cost
They have a very low life expectancy -
80% of original capacity after 200 cycles
|Hardware and data security
Generates exhaust fumes
It cannot be used indoors
Rising utility costs (gasoline, diesel)
Need for maintenance
Allows self-generation of electricity
They need to be charged
Powers up several devices simultaneously
Low charging costs
Multiple charging options (home and car outlet, photovoltaic panels, genset)
It can be launched remotely, for example, via a smartphone
Ecoflow Power Stations
The power stations we will be describing are brand name Ecoflow. And before you stop reading, concluding that this is one big product placement, wait and read why.
We chose these stations because of their best capacity for the price. In the same price shelf as other companies, Ecoflow are cheaper, more powerful, and come with a 2-year warranty. The quality is top notch, and the equipment very rarely fails. We know this because we use them ourselves in the company and rent them out.
The ecoflow brand offers power stations, additional batteries, photovoltaic panels and (for now, one) power generator. It is a young company that continues to expand its offerings. It is worth mentioning that the Ecoflow Delta Pro product was listed in TIME magazine as one of the 100 best inventions of 2021.
Which Emergency Power Station for your home?
Ecoflow Power Stations are differentiated, in terms of capacity, device power capabilities and price. The models we most recommend in case of a power outage to the house are:
|Ecoflow Delta 2
|Ecoflow Delta Max
|Ecoflow Delta Pro
|Maximal charging power from photovoltaic panels
Extra batteries for more power
You can double or even triple the capacity of the power station with additional batteries! Such an investment is a good idea, because the batteries have a lower price and the same capacity. It is possible to connect up to 2 batteries:
- Ecoflow Delta 2 1024 Wh (with additional battery - 2048 Wh,)
- Ecoflow Delta Max 2016 Wh (with additional battery - 4032 Wh, with two - 6048 Wh)
- Ecoflow Delta Pro 3600 Wh (with additional battery - 7200 Wh, with two - 10800 Wh)
Blackout scenario - how many devices will power the station and for how long
The power station can simultaneously supply an unlimited number of devices (you can connect an extension cord), but it is important that all devices together do not exceed the maximum power of the station. Imagine a scenario where there is no electricity for several days. We have several devices at home that we want to charge and use. Let's assume that it will be:
- Laptop 30W * 8h = 240Wh
- 2 phones 20Wh per day
- Radio 5W * 12h = 60Wh
- Gsm router with its own card - 10W * 16h = 160Wh
- Microwave 40Wh for 3 minutes of heating - dinner for one person x2
- Refrigerator 40W * 24h = 960Wh
- 2x lamp (for room lighting) 10W * 5h = 50Wh
The total gives us 1570 Wh of daily energy use. Next, let's assume that we have selected a model of the Delta Max (2016 Wh). It will allow us to meet our needs for 24 hours and will still have about 25% of its capacity left. However, if you want to be prepared for prolonged power outages, you should consider inwsting a 2 additional batteries - with such a reserve of energy, which is already more than 6 kWh, we can survive for almost 4 days! If we want even more the Delta Pro station, with two additional batteries, will power our home appliances for nearly week. Note that during during the day, stations can be charged from photovoltaic panels.
You can check for yourself how much electricity your devices consume. Look at the output specifications of the equipment you have - multiply volts [V] times amps [A], and the result will be the power quoted in watts (W). Add about 10%, since current conversion results in losses. Then check the amount of time the device will be connected to the power supply, multiply this and you will come out with watt-hours [Wh]. Add up all the devices together and choose a station for yourself.
Smaller stations for smaller needs - EcoFlow River series
When choosing the right station, the main consideration should be the amount of power consumption of the devices you want to power. If it is, for example, only a laptop and two phones completely, a smaller station will suffice. Ecoflow River series (depending on the model) supports from 300W to 600W simultaneously. Ideal for smaller devices on a daily basis, on the go, or on the lot.
Inverter Generator - Ecoflow Smart Generator
EcoFlow Smart Generator is a very unique device. Combines the features of a regular genset with a power station. It generates electricity from unleaded gasoline, but is extremely quiet and smart. The capacity of the fuel tank is 4 liters which allows for 3.5 hours of continuous operation at maximum load.
Ecoflow inverter unit - intelligent functions
Smart Generator is an inverter generator, so it produces "pure" sinusoidal alternating current providing efficiency and safety for electrical equipment. It can detect carbon dioxide, and when the fuel or engine oil level is low, it automatically shuts down. As for the noise level, it is comparable to the honda EU22i genset, which is one of the quietest in the world. You can connect electrical appliances with a constant power of up to 1800W, so it could be an iron, kettle, washing machine, computer, for example!
Ecoflow generator set+ Ecoflow power station = the most efficient solution.
The Ecoflow current generator is dedicated to Ecoflow Delta Pro, Ecoflow Delta Max and Delta 2 models, but it can also be used with other stations and devices. The main difference is that the Smart Generator will charge the intended stations incredibly efficiently, because it charges them directly with direct current (there are no losses associated with the conversion of energy to another form). In addition, communication between the devices will make the generator automatically start when the station is discharged and turn off when it is charged. The aforementioned features make it the best, most efficient and automated solution there is.
Not everyone can afford to invest in such equipment, so for those looking for a cheaper solution, we recommend a generator plus station. The power station can also be charged with a traditional genset to several thousand, but this will be dramatically less efficient and convenient.
How much it costs to generate electricity with a smart generator
Ecoflow generator set burns 0.74L of 95 gasoline for every kilowatt hour (kWh) generated. Charging the Delta Max with this generator, uses about 1.5L of fuel costing about £10 today. The cost of charging a station with an extra battery increases proportionally - charging a station with two extra batteries would cost £30. Delta Pro would be charged to FULL for $18 - for burning 2.66L of unleaded, etc.
One thing is certain - in order to protect yourself from a blackout, you need to prepare accordingly in advance. Undisputed power stations are the best solution, because they charge a large number of devices in an extremely efficient way. Their operation is quiet and fully automated, and the price of a single charge is low. They can be used indoors, and for this prove themselves during trips or on the allotment. It is an ecological, modern and extremely convenient solution that will provide peace of mind in crisis situations.