It’s important to be prepared for emergency power outages whether you’re living off-grid, on a large homestead, or even within the city. There are simple steps you can take to learn how to prepare for power outages whether for a day or a week.
Where Do You Start?
Truth be told, a power outage never comes at a “convenient” time. Why? Because losing power is inconvenient! It doesn’t matter if it’s first thing in the morning, mid-day, or at night while you’re sleeping.
That’s why having systems in place to make these inconvenient times a little less stressful is key.
Here are some of my top tips for being ready for those power outages, whenever they happen.
It just seems to be that most often when we experience power outages, it’s at night. You have to have light to see what you’re doing, or to get to the generators and get them running, so having backup lighting that is ready and at hand is very important and key to making any power outage go much more smoothly.
We love having some HybridLight solar-powered flashlights stashed around the house, as well as these Hybrid Light ball cap lights that you can clip onto any hat. These lights are great to grab and go when you need light quickly. (If you place an order with HybridLight through this link, be sure to use code “Homesteadingfamily” for 20% off.)
Hybrid Light says their flashlights should hold a charge for seven years and they also have multiple ways to charge them. Now we haven’t had them that long to confirm, but we have been through several power outages since Hybrid Light asked us to test out several of their units and they have never failed.
It’s also a good idea to have some more stationary battery-powered lights that can light up your key rooms. We like this Goal Zero Lighthouse Lantern. It’s very bright, but also has a few settings so you can adjust it as needed. One will light up a large room pretty well!
There are legs attached so you can prop it up, or you can hang it with a clip.
There’s a USB plug to keep it charged, but in a pinch, it also has a hand-crank so you can manually power it.
Goal Zero also has some small solar panels that you can use to charge some of these devices as well if the power is out long-term or if you just want to use that to charge them between power outages.
A high-powered spotlight is critical on a homestead like ours. We like using a Waypoint, it’s waterproof, durable, and very high-powered. It acts as a spotlight so we can check on animals out in the pasture without having to walk all the way out there.
They’re very bright and are my favorite to use when needing to check things at distance or REALLY need to light something up!
Candles & Oil Lamps
Carolyn’s favorite light is a candle or oil lamp, but truth be told, these items won’t light up a room well and can be hard to live with indoors during the winter if you have to use them very long.
They’re great for ambiance and we do have them on hand as a backup light source, especially since electronic and battery-powered products will fail at times.
If you live in a climate that dips into the 40s or lower at night and your main source of heat goes out, then you’re going to need a backup heat source.
For us, we use wood heat to primarily heat our house. We have a modern insert in the old fireplace, as well as our wood-burning cookstove in the kitchen.
If you don’t have some kind of wood heat, we recommend getting one, even if it’s just for backup use only. Wood heat is like candles, it’s always going to work for you! A wood stove is also a great cookstove backup, especially if you have an electric stove.
We have a generator that is powerful enough to run our furnace, so as long as we have gas to power our generator we’re good to go.
It’s important to consider what type of heat you have and what you can do if the power goes out for a long period of time. Blankets only go so far in keeping you warm.
Propane or Gas-Burning Fuel for Heat
It’s not ideal to have propane or gas-burning heat sources running inside your house during a power outage. This just isn’t safe and is definitely not a recommended way to heat your house.
We also want to share this guide for heating greenhouses (or other outbuildings) without electricity.
If you don’t currently have a backup electrical setup, one of the quickest and easiest ways to get power to your house is with a generator that has multiple outlets and some extension cords.
We’ve done this in the past and it works just fine in a pinch. Just keep in mind approximately how many watts it takes to run your must-have appliances and be sure you get a generator that’s powerful enough for your home.
Be sure you have adequate fuel to run your generator, as well as some backup fuel in case the power is out longer than anticipated.
What Actually Needs Power in a Short-Term Power Outage?
Something to keep in mind when figuring out how to power your home during a power outage is what actually needs power and what can do without it?
The following items need to be considered when dealing with a short-term power outage. Depending on your circumstances, you may or may not need to figure out how to get power to these things:
- Deep Freezers – If you’re just talking about a few days without power, most of your deep freezers will be just fine. That is unless you’re experiencing some very hot temperatures at the time of the outage, then you may need a backup power plan for them. This really is a good idea, even though they will do well for a few days, as you never know how long the power is going to be out.
- Refrigerator – Your refrigerator will not be fine for more than a few hours without power. You’ll want to be sure your power source can power your refrigerator(s).
- Heat Source – If you don’t have wood-burning heat, you’ll need to make sure you can run power to some space heaters, your furnace, or any other source of heat to keep warm.
- Internet – This may seem like a luxury and not necessary during a power outage, but if you work from home like many more people around the world have found themselves doing since the pandemic, then keeping the internet up and running is crucial to maintaining your business.
- Laundry – Again, this may seem like a luxury, but with our large family, and because most of our kids only have a few outfits, if we’re without power for more than a couple of days, we’ll need to power our washing machine.
- Water – If you’re out of the city and on well water that requires a pump, you’ll need to be able to run power to the pump house (unless you have enough water stored to get you through). Even if you’re on municipal water, their backup systems sometimes fail, so in that case, you really need to have backup water storage.
- Stove – If you have an electric stove, you may want a backup way to cook your food (or have a strong enough generator to power your stove). We love our wood-burning cook stove for something like this, but in a pinch, you could use your BBQ or a propane-powered Camp-Chef. You could also use a butane-powered burner or a hot plate that you could plug into your generator.
Don’t wait until the power goes out to figure these systems out! In an emergency situation, there are plenty of people who wait until the need comes up and your local stores will get cleared out of generators…fast.
It’s always best to prepare for emergencies before the emergency hits. We recommend planning for a week-long power outage. If you can get through a week then you’re set up pretty well for an emergency situation.
What about you? Did we miss something that’s on your must-do list to prepare for a short-term power outage? Head on over to YouTube and leave a comment on the video with your “must-haves” for a power outage.
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