About 2.8 million people will be without power for 2-3 days in the Bay Area.
There is the full solar power and battery option for your house. This can cost $14000 for a 3.5 kilowatt system with batteries. This can power all or most of your house for 8 hours or longer with some power rationing and sunny days.
There are smaller off-grid solar power. You could size the system for lower power usage and essential for essential lighting and electronics.
There are gasoline and gas power generators. Many of them should not be run indoors. They would be outdoors and you run the extension cord inside. More permanent natural gas generators are more expensive and can require permits. There are options in the $500 to $5000 range.
Those who own a Tesla cannot power their house without voiding warranty but they can use camping mode for constant 12 volt power.
There are 12-volt fridges in the 16 quart to 84 quart size range for $250 to $650.
There are also five day coolers. A 120 quart cooler can only cost $60. Refreezable packs can be used. A massive outage would mean their not be a lot of ice available in stores. You may not be able to make enough ice to last a long outage.
Those who go camping or on long trips could have some additional uses for the 12-volt fridge and coolers.
A Tesla owner could get a $300 12-volt fridge to freeze and refreeze ice packs and two or three large 5-day coolers. $600 for the 12/volt fridge, ice packs and coolers would be a decent option. $200 in coolers and ice packs and pre-outage preparation could work.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
43 thoughts on “Solar, 12 Volt Fridges and Coolers for Power Outages”
Some people can’t shake their heads without dislodging the foil cap.
Ours… just installed 2 months ago… was around $15,000 … and included a new roof (which was the real driver.)
I’m not particularly happy that the solar PV system couldn’t “island” our house and continue generating sufficient power in the day, but its the install-and-forget type, depending on The Grid to backfill any-and-all power nominally consumed by all our various household stuff, without requiring ‘smart breakers’ and other complicated shît to aggressively shut down ‘optional operation’ high-power devices to match the lower real-output of the PV array at different times of the day. Or battery pack at night.
So, it becomes a brick when the grid goes down.
Which wasn’t particularly amusing.
But being an electrical engineer as well as Computer Scientist …
I definitely understand why, and why it is normally done this way.
So… being that we had a nearly 48 hour power outage… We have
 A 7,500 watt PV solar system
 1 kitchen refrigerator
 1 garage fridge
 1 basement deep-freezer
 LED house-lights, gas stove, electric range, central HVAC, no fireplaces;
 Microwave, toaster, etc. All the usual stuff. Computers, TVs, all that.
The Solar PV system was useless.
It is designed to cut output when the grid goes down. Because it can’t isolate the house from grid. Cheap but not-dumb.
№ 1 freezer’s ice cubes didn’t melt after 2 days! Great!
№ 2 wasn’t opened, but when power came back, was still cold, and freezer frozen. Awesome!
№ 3 didn’t budge. Still –25°F inside. Great!
The lack-of-lights was met with a couple LED flashlights and a LED ‘lantern’ taking 4 D cells.
The gas STOVE still worked, but its oven did not. Oh well.
Only the lack of HVAC was taxing: cold in mornings.
But … that’s what sweaters-and-layers are for.
I never even changed from cargo-shorts to jeans.
Just saying… I wish the PV had the isolation relays.
I’m definitely going to invest in that.
It is obvious that we don’t need power at night. The fridges keep cold just fine without.
Then… all’s good.
I’m also going to get a pile of “deep cycle” lead-acid UPS batteries.
Then, we’re golden, with the RIGHT inverter…
One just has to shake one’s head…
How come when the cable companies came they did it without cost? Just the subscription.
Because those countries with government owned electric power have all gone to wireless transmission?
Remember phone lines? They practically vanished after the government ended the phone monopoly in the 1980s.
N. Tesla demonstrated wireless electric power transmission in 1899! Consider what we could have now if government ended the electric power monopolies.
Maybe it would be cheaper to just cut the damn trees that are under and near the power lines!
Underground power lines cost about $3 million per mile. California has about 81,000 miles of distribution lines. So it would cost Californians about $243 billion to replace above ground power lines with underground power lines.
My guess is that it will take 20 to 30 years to gradual bury all of California’s power lines at a cost of more than $10 billion a year. The state of California currently has an annual budget of about $214 billion.
Or you could use a portable methanol fuel cell power units that could use renewable bio-methanol.
There would certainly be no shortage of bio-methanol resources in California since methanol could be produced from urban garbage and sewage, agricultural biowaste, and, of course, from dead trees and dry foliage from California forest.
California’s natural gas power plants could also be cheaply modified to use renewable methanol.
If the lease were cheaper than my electric bill I would consider…. But the fact is my electric bill is 60/month
Actual solar panels, inverters and batteries might drop 2x in a few (5?) years if everything goes perfectly.
The installation would not. At all.
And if getting such systems became very popular then install costs might go up.
I didn’t mean that the freezers were single use, I meant that you’d have to raise the cash and get the install done today.
That makes things harder than if there was months to get organized.
You can get them, they use a water reservoir and work with evaporative cooling. Raises the humidity somewhat, but it’s better than cooking! They work in a tent, too.
Other necessities, then.
Yeah, that the taxes aren’t high enough and billionaires need keeping in check rather than hoarding treasure like dragons.
If Tesla cared as much about northern California, as it does about southern Australia, it would have V2G implemented for at least model 3.
Same people running the joint will send you a utility bill for the grid that was depowered.
Comrade! The Party does not approve Carbon Dioxide emitting home generators. You must demonstrate eco-solidarity!
Probably, but PG&E is spending that money on wind mills, electric car stations, etc.
Rather than spending 14k a househould for solar backup would it not just be cheaper for california to bury more powerlines in fire prone areas?
I did not realize those freezers were single use. It sounds like this could be a more common occurance as time goes on. I think the term is called ‘prepping’ now. I wish them all well. My far-west friends tell me rent is very steep there, too.
The cost of putting on a new roof is 15,000 dollars anyways…
Actually, most of Santa Clara county is on Silicon Valley Power, which has few to no outages. Interestingly, they get a good chunk of power from The Geysers Geothermal Power Station (largest in the world of its kind) which is right near where the current fire stated.
Third-world outcomes in CA. So far, it can be overcome with enough money to waste on Brian’s suggestions. Who’d a thunk it? I guess corrupt government and the statist environment there mirror what happens in every country when you create this same mix. At least the illegal aliens will feel right at home in these conditions.
Getting a ‘truly open market’ would be tricky. The power grid inherently is a local monopoly. Maybe the grid could be made a sort of customer co-op & that might come close.
I think its time they start switching power outlets in homes to DC instead of AC… nearly everything runs off of DC power these days except for a few appliances with induction motor… but so whast they can install a power inverter into those products to convert DC into AC instead of 99% of everything else having a stupid transform box for converting AC to DC….. plus solar naturally produces power as DC instead of AC….
Or you can spend roughly 40-50% and get a whole home natural gas/propane generator that will run nearly everything. Rain or shine, middle of the night when its snowing etc.
This should tell you everything you need to know about claims of quantum supremacy/space economy/etc coming from California.
I find this amazing, decisively amazing: one day here I read about quantum supremacy, electric transport and space economy; another day it is power rationing, and ad hoc solutions to keep the fridge frozen during blackouts — and all that is happening in the same general area.
Using the Cal example, where being involved with the malpractice of PG&E, and their dem controllers, being part of their net, which gives them the power to shut a solar home owner access, is never the way to go.
You can lease a solar system for your roof for $100 a month from tesla. No installation costs, no deposit, no penalties and no removal costs. How can you beat that? Certainly not the $14,000 mentioned here.
You will need to spring for the power wall if you want electricity at night during the otage.
The average consumer price of this system isn’t dropping 14x in a few years. Hell, it’s not even going to drop 2x in a few years.
(1) You don’t have to buy a house to live in it and want to keep your beer cold. This applies to low income renters too.
(2) I haven’t been following the news about this particular blackout, but the opening sentence sounds like this is happening now. Many a person can organize a home loan, or even an expensive car leasing plan, but still hesitate at spending several hundred dollars today for a freezer that they’ll be using for the next week.
Wait a minute. Homes cost HOW much and Teslas cost HOW much? And a freezer is too expensive? Whooz runnin dis joint?
Actually, the so-called Greens, which is to say Marxists-in-hiding, will never be satisfied with anything short of a totalitarian state, no matter what pretext. I am for the market determining what consumers do, not government. Key to this is cost and free choice. I am even skeptical of most utilities as such because they are quasi-government organizations, abiding by numerous governmental dictats, often run by cronies. A truly open energy market for electricity would soon clear all this up.
All I want is an air-con that runs straight of the variable DC voltage from a solar panel
Remember, greens want us to use heat pumps for heat. You are NOT going to run one on batteries you can afford nor with panels that fit on a roof.
I think this will be of use to the average consumer when the price of $14,000 drops to about $1,000. That might happen in the next few years, then no electric utility systems would be necessary for most homes.
That 3.5 KW (hr?) battery is not going to run a heat pump in winter.
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