Although last fall brought the expected end of daylight savings and shorter days of sunlight, millions of Californians experienced more darkness than the rest of the country, losing power due to intentional shutoffs imposed by energy companies trying to prevent wildfires. How do you keep the basics running at home in the face of blackouts and storms?
High-quality generators, like the ones from industry leader Generac, can be viable options, but that company’s $30,000 unit is still only as good as the amount of fuel available. For this reason, an increasing number of luxury homes are being fitted with top-tier solar, but even many of these systems are tied into the electrical grid and will lose power unless equipped with long-lasting battery backup.
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Cue brands like Goal Zero, which offers the 68.6-pound Yeti 3000 Lithium. Measuring 10.1 x 15.3 x 13.1 inches, it can be hooked into electrical systems but is still portable enough to take outside or in the car. The Yeti will hold enough juice to run bare necessities or can be daisy-chained with lead-acid batteries to operate your fridge and some lights until, you hope, services are restored.
If you want full-house coverage, consider more robust measures like those from SimpliPhi Power, a pioneer in solar-energy capture, storage and management. The company customized a “microgrid” setup for former California governor Jerry Brown and his remote ranch house north of Sacramento. The sun is that residence’s primary energy source, with renewable power collected by 48 panels and saved in a series of 48-volt batteries.
And then there’s Tesla. The same type of lithium-ion batteries found in its cars are now available for home use. As many as 10 Powerwalls can be stacked together, allowing days of electricity for even the most lavish pads.
Factoring in the costs of solar panels, batteries, permits and installation, expect to pay somewhere from $10,000 to $50,000. But it will mean that, no matter the weather or whims of the energy companies, your Sub-Zero refrigerator will continue humming—and that’s pretty cool.