Battery banks and inverters and inverter/chargers are the main necessity of any off grid home power storage/usage for your emergency preparedness kit. This will introduce the basic idea of battery banks and inverters to either augment your back up power needs for your home or to detach from the grid.
The very basic setup shown for ease of education purposes is designed/sufficient enough for powering a desktop computer and some lights for more than 12 hours without power. This setup is made for rolling blackouts (power that turns on and off daily) that occur daily in numerous countries around the world. If you believe that USA is not prone to rolling blackouts in the future, guess again. All you need is supply disruptions, brown outs, or some civil unrest and you can quickly fall into the rolling blackout routine. This is a great backup energy unit for your emergency preparedness kit.
Photo 1 is the very crude and basic inverter/charger setup. This consists of 3 main components. Battery bank, inverter/charger, and wiring.
Photo 2 and 3 show you the inverter/charger and the wiring to the outlets.
If you are charging your battery bank as shown, you will need a line to the inverter/charger from the street power or generator to charge your batteries. When the power company turns off the street power or power supply interruption occurs, the inverter auto switches, with only the most subtle flicker of the lights, to the battery bank for your power needs. This is when the clock starts ticking. Inverters usually have a low voltage auto shutoff feature to prevent damage to the batteries with an audio alarm or lights to indicate to prepare for a shut down. When the street power turns on, the inverter/charger then charges the batteries until it has determined that the batteries are fully charged.
Photo 2 displays the outlet side of the inverter and you can utilize any standard house hold plug into it such as an extension cord.
Photo 3 photo 4 displays the basic wiring from the street, to the inverter, and back to the outlets that the computer and lights utilize. As you can see, this is NOT up to USA standards for wiring and craftsmanship.
Going back to photo 1, this is the MOST basic setup utilizing 2 6v batteries wired together to create 12v to satisfy the inverters input requirements.
There are several factors that you must determine what you want to power and for what duration, and how much amperage/wattage you will need at any peak time. These factors will determine the wattage (size) inverter or number of inverters and battery bank size. You can tie in a generator or solar panels with a regulator to augment or go off the electrical grid. As talked about in an earlier article, generators are also a very important tool to have in your emergency preparedness kit as it’s also a backup energy source you can have to light up a room, a few rooms, and even your entire house with a huge generator that is installed in your basement or garage.
Like I said before, for educational purposes, this is as simplistic as it goes. I will give rough example for powering an off grid home with a deep freezer, a separate refrigerator, and washing machine, water pump, TV and lighting (NO AIR CONDITIONING OR ELECTRIC STOVE) in a sunny climate. A good start is to have 900w or more 12v solar panels (with a regulator), 24 6v batteries wired to produce 12 volts and several 2000 watt inverters can do the trick, and provide ample power for 2 cloudy days. If you live in a windy area, you can have a wind turbine/wind generator to further augment your power generation. There are many different ways to charge your batteries with different wattage panels, regulators, and even wiring your batteries to create house hold voltage, needing a DC to AC converter or inverter. The other methods require a good electrical understanding of power inversion, battery setup and maintenance and house hold electrical systems.
In closing, the basics for this inverter setup can extend to multiple 10,000 watt inverters, with 100 6 volt batteries wired to produce 12v. The basic concept is here shown and does not change, only the complexity of the wiring, the cost of the equipment and the means how you charge your battery bank changes. One warning when purchasing an inverter, some sensitive equipment does not like the modified sine wave inverters. You may want to take your sensitive equipment and check it on the inverter before purchasing.
Inverters are an invaluable tool to have in your emergency preparedness kit as a backup energy device so that when the powers go off due to some catastrophe or natural disaster, you have the means to have access to electricity for your home.