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Storm power options

Posted by Bret B on October 15, 2011, 9:26 am

Daniel was wondering how I got online during the power outages. He has a generator, which can provide lots of power as long as the fuel lasts. I didn't go that route because of the bulk, cost and ongoing maintenance issues.

If all you need to power is your Telmex Infinitum modem for occasional internet checks, you can just use a UPS (uninterruptable power supply or battery backup or no-break) like I did. A UPS includes within the same case a battery and charger and an inverter to produce the 115V AC power. A small portable model like this:
can power a Telmex modem for many hours; probably longer than your laptop's battery would last. If I had to power my full-size desktop PC and monitor along with the modem, my UPS's battery would last aboout 20 minutes. They are definitely weaker than a generator, but much simpler and lower-maintenance.

You can always plug in other things like a small lamp or AM/FM radio for news or a camera battery charger or cell phone charger, at the risk of running out of battery power sooner. One big advantage of the UPS is portablility. Mine weighs about 15 lbs and I took it up to Clare's house easily, and back down to our house later (on foot this time) with no problem.

They are very handy even during normal times when we have those annoying 30-second outages. I don't even notice those because my desktop PC stays plugged into the UPS all the time. The UPS also includes surge suppresion and noise filtering. And it will disconnect from the power line and go to battery automatically whenever the line voltage rises too high or goes too low (brownout.) So it's great everyday protection for your equipment, not just for storms.

You can buy UPS's around here at the Bodega in Cihuatlan, and lots of places in Manzanillo. Even Telmex sells them.

A similar but less convenient solution is to plug an inverter into your car's cigarette lighter to generate 115V power. It might be inconvenient and dangerous to route this power from your car into your house. Too much of this use also endangers your car's startablility.

Of course, all this internet-checking only works while your phone lines are intact, and Telmex's system still works. The system stays up through more weather than you might think. Telmex has good batteries and generators themselves, and our connection beyond La Manz is carried on safely-buried fiberoptic cables, I believe.

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