Battery Backups for Power Outages


So I live just north east of where Hurricane Harvey is making landfall in Houston. However I have always wanted to buy some kind of back up battery power and was wondering what others have bought. My plan is to have something that can keep the modem up and maybe provide power for small tablets cell phones. I live in a condo/town-home so buying the whole home generator is out of the question. I just want something to keeps things going for a couple of hours. Suggestions?

Comments (9)

9 responses to “Battery Backups for Power Outages”

  1. offTheRecord

    I can't speak for enterprise-grade backup power, but I have several consumer-grade APC UPS devices scattered throughout the house. I have one (400 VA) dedicated solely to the Internet modem/router; several others (700 VA) each with a single fan-less (i.e. low power) PC and its monitor. I've had several opportunities (unfortunately) to test how long each lasts when the power goes out. The 400 VA powered the modem/router for about 30-40 minutes before it ran out of juice. The 700 VA powered the PC for almost an hour (with the monitor turned off; haven't tested it with the monitor on).

    So, to power a modem for a couple of hours is probably going to take a pretty hefty battery. Tablets and cell phones should be no problem and can be handled easily by standard external power packs. A 10,000 mAh power pack per tablet/phone should be more than enough to help keep even the hungriest devices going for hours.

  2. hrlngrv

    Re phones, if hurricanes take down cell towers, it won't matter much how long your phone could run.

    Hand-crank generators may be the most robust option. I've never heard of a practical UPS for homes able to run more than an hour. The last one I bought only claimed it'd handle controlled shutdowns.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      Cell towers should be engineered to handle high-force winds. It's a realistic design expectation, and likely a requirement so they do not pose a risk to surrounding areas by falling. Perhaps some equipment could be damaged or the power could go out, but cell networks should be one of the first things restored (behind hospitals, water/sewer stations, and other emergency agencies), as communication networks are critical for the numerous outside resources to function.

      All that said, you might also look into those portable solar panels that you can stick out in your window or on your deck. They range all over the place in price, but they should be more than sufficient to keep portable devices charged, even if it's a little slower.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        Wrong cause, perhaps, but still a problem.

        Most reliable way to get info during storms remains radio.

        Solar panels may be great after storms, but useless during storms due to the winds.

        Ever experienced a hurricane first-hand?

        • harmjr

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          That article woud explain why my cell service is at about half of my normal speeds. So I am guessing its been damaged.

        • Darmok N Jalad

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          My comments aren't so much about during the storm. It's the power outages that are going to be the biggest problem--and they will be for weeks after Harvey clears out. Hence my suggestion of a solar panel array to charge communication devices, as battery sources will be depleted, and your own power may not be restored for quite a while as utilities prioritize restoration. When it comes to actually getting back on your feet after the storm, I believe the cell networks are your best bet. Landline networks will likely also be down from fallen lines and flooded boxes. That much rain is hard on underground utilities.

          I'm talking about emergency coverage here. Any storm of this magnitude is mainly about safety and survival. There will be massive inconveniences, but it's still better than our ancestors would have had it!

          • harmjr

            In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

            I understood. During Hurricane Ike I was without power for two day. Trust me in the aftermath no a/c humid warm tropical air you need somerhing to power a box fan much more important then a cell phone or computers. Cell phone you can use your car chargers. It look like Harvey is going to be worst.

            • Darmok N Jalad

              In reply to harmjr:

              Two days actually is pretty quick! Major storms like this one can leave people without power for weeks. Up where I live, a major thunderstorm might be 2-3 days out for some, but it's the ice storms that can be crippling. Seems it's hard to escape mother nature wherever you go.