Emergency Battery Backup System for TV/Internet During Power Outages

In summary, you can power a TV and other small devices with a small UPS, or buy a full-size TV and use a smaller UPS to power your wireless modem. You can also try to keep food cold using a refrigerator and freezer, or buy a natural gas-powered whole-house generator.
  • #1
bob012345
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Considerations for design of an emergency battery backup system for TV/Internet during power outages.
I am looking for the right size of battery/pure sine-wave inverter to power a system for a few hour when there is a power outage. The system of TV/DVD/Internet uses less than 200 watts at about 1.6Amps. I could just buy a commercial system which runs about 1000$ or assemble a similar design for about one-half to one-third the cost. Any thoughts?
 
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  • #2
My first thought is why do you need a full-size TV during power outages? Just use a smaller UPS to power your wireless modem and use your phones instead to watch TV. Think "low power"... :smile:

Edit/Add -- I think my small UPS that I use to back up our Xfinity wireless router cost about $150-$200, and it holds up for a few hours at least. I also have separate batteries that I use for running our HAM radios and recharging USB devices during power outages.
 
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  • #3
berkeman said:
My first thought is why do you need a full-size TV during power outages? Just use a smaller UPS to power your wireless modem and use your phones instead to watch TV. Think "low power"... :smile:
Thanks. Yes, that would work but it is not so much a need as a want because I have experienced a number of frustrating outages over the years and I got to the point of wanting to have a sense of normalcy during those times. For example, I want to have lamps that light up like normal room lamps, a device to power the microwave so I can cook dinner, a device to turn on the TV, ect. I could just buy a power-wall or a large generator but that gets to several thousand dollars.
 
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  • #4
Agreed. We live in Silicon Valley, California (actually in the foothills above the Valley), so we have been experiencing several on-purpose PG&E "Public Safety Power Shutoff" events per year lately (for fire safety during high fire danger periods with high winds). Definitely a pain in the rear.

A bigger issue for us is how to do the best we can at keeping the refrigerator/freezer food cold and not letting it spoil.
 
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  • #5
berkeman said:
Agreed. We live in Silicon Valley, California (actually in the foothills above the Valley), so we have been experiencing several on-purpose PG&E "Public Safety Power Shutoff" events per year lately (for fire safety during high fire danger periods with high winds). Definitely a pain in the rear.

A bigger issue for us is how to do the best we can at keeping the refrigerator/freezer food cold and not letting it spoil.
What do you do now to keep food safe during outages? When I lost power during the Texas Deep Freeze last year I could just set my food outside in a bag. I plan on getting a garage freezer and having lot of thermal mass of ice to keep food cold in general like in summertime during an outage.
 
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  • #6
When possible, get ice for several ice chests and if the outage lasts long enough, move the perishables to the ice chests. Try to keep the fridge/freezer closed as much as possible too, obviously. Some of the neighbors in our HOA run generators to power their fridges, but that's a bit noisy and you have to keep a fair amount of fuel around to power the fridge for several days in a row...
 
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  • #7
There are natural gas powered whole house generators available that automatically switch on during an outage but they cost several thousand and are generally not worth it unless disruptions become a way of life and one prioritizes that sense of normalcy or if there are medical reasons to keep power on.
 
  • #8
In general I feel like I have to plan on there being a bit less stability in the future than in the past just because our society and it's technology base is so complex and our problems are large.
 
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  • #9
Before going down this path...

Do you even have internet when the power goes out? When I lose power, so does my cable company.
 
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  • #10
Vanadium 50 said:
Do you even have internet when the power goes out?
I do. I was a bit surprised, but I guess the Xfinity feeds up into our foothills area are self-powered, not relying on local power here in the foothills.

OTOH, this may be a bit of a unique situation here, since the Valley floor typically is not shut off for PG&E PSPS events, just the foothills and farther east get shut off. So it may not help if your typical power outages also involve the central office or distribution points for your Internet connection.
 
  • #11
Vanadium 50 said:
Before going down this path...

Do you even have internet when the power goes out? When I lose power, so does my cable company.
I believe so because my outages are usually very local. I think the cable signal is like my phone land line, always on but of course I need to power the cable equipment which I believe a battery will do. At least I could watch a DVD.
 
  • #12
bob012345 said:
In general I feel like I have to plan on there being a bit less stability in the future than in the past just because our society and it's technology base is so complex and our problems are large.
If you're planning for post apocalyptic life, a battery won't get you very far.
 
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  • #13
anorlunda said:
If you're planning for post apocalyptic life, a battery won't get you very far.
That depends... :wink:

1634402313080.png

https://academic.hep.com.cn//article/2012/2095-1701/2095-1701-6-3-210/thumbnail/hcm0000454589.jpg
 
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  • #14
anorlunda said:
If you're planning for post apocalyptic life, a battery won't get you very far.
That's why I only said a little bit less stability which is not at all apocalyptic. It means things like a 2 hour power outage just when I was about to cook dinner and watch another episode of Stargate Atlantis.
 
  • #15
bob012345 said:
That's why I only said a little bit less stability which is not at all apocalyptic. It means things like a 2 hour power outage just when I was about to cook dinner and watch another episode of Stargate Atlantis.
In that case, a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) is the simplest solution. Many brands are available at several capacities to suit your needs.

But you have to think it through. It is easy to UPS your TV and Internet. It is much harder to UPS an electric stove to cook dinner. Perhaps you have a gas stove or a propane grill out on the patio.
 
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  • #16
berkeman said:
A bigger issue for us is how to do the best we can at keeping the refrigerator/freezer food cold and not letting it spoil.
Different part of the world, but same problems. We already has a small UPS to keep the light and small stuff running, and a small generator is on the schedule to 'charge' the fridge in need.
As the calculation goes, just two hours a day would be able to keep the freezer freezed and the UPS charged.
 
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  • #17
anorlunda said:
In that case, a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) is the simplest solution. Many brands are available at several capacities to suit your needs.

But you have to think it through. It is easy to UPS your TV and Internet. It is much harder to UPS an electric stove to cook dinner. Perhaps you have a gas stove or a propane grill out on the patio
The system I envision for the tv could power the microwave for tv dinners also. It would be foolish to try and power electric stoves. Yes, many ways are available to cook without electricity. I used old Sterno cans to heat soup during the Texas Deep Freeze.
 
  • #18
Rive said:
As the calculation goes, just two hours a day would be able to keep the freezer freezed and the UPS charged.
Yeah, that has to be the right strategy, I think. My neighbors who leave their generators on continuously are wasting gas, probably.
 
  • #19
anorlunda said:
In that case, a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) is the simplest solution. Many brands are available at several capacities to suit your needs.
I am not sure how to interpret this;
  • 600VA / 330W Backup Battery power supply
I am used to battery specified in Amp-hrs and volts such as 12V and 100A-hrs.
 
  • #20
Vanadium 50 said:
Before going down this path...

Do you even have internet when the power goes out? When I lose power, so does my cable company.
Now I'm not so sure my cable will work if the my block is down. I have to ask the company.
 
  • #21
bob012345 said:
I want to have lamps that light up like normal room lamps, a device to power the microwave so I can cook dinner, a device to turn on the TV, ect.

That puts your power needs in kW area, which also means several kWh storage.

bob012345 said:
I could just buy a power-wall or a large generator but that gets to several thousand dollars.
And in kW/kWh area I doubt you will get much cheaper.
 
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  • #22
bob012345 said:
Now I'm not so sure my cable will work if the my block is down. I have to ask the company.
I called the cable company. They said as long as it's not a power outage on their end but just my local area my backup power should work to keep the tv/internet going.
 
  • #23
Borek said:
That puts your power needs in kW area, which also means several kWh storage.
I don't mean doing everything at once. But you are correct for the microwave the battery would have to supply power at 1kw for 5-10 minutes. That may not be worth the money to do.
 
  • #24
bob012345 said:
I don't mean doing everything at once. But you are correct for the microwave the battery would have to supply power at 1kw for 5-10 minutes. That may not be worth the money to do.
There are some pretty tasty self-heating MREs lately...

https://www.thereadystore.com/mre-self-heating-emergency-meal-case-of-12
 
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  • #25
bob012345 said:
In general I feel like I have to plan on there being a bit less stability in the future than in the past just because our society and it's technology base is so complex and our problems are large.
I agree with your view on this. Reliance on technology seems to have created the spiral we find ourselves in. The back-up system is only a sticking plaster on the injury. Could we live happily without Internet, freezer and TV?
 
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  • #26
tech99 said:
I agree with your view on this. Reliance on technology seems to have created the spiral we find ourselves in. The back-up system is only a sticking plaster on the injury. Could we live happily without Internet, freezer and TV?
Okay, no freezer. More MREs...
 
  • #27
bob012345 said:
I called the cable company. They said
How do you know when your cable company is lying to you? Their lips are moving.

I had better luck with outages when I had IDSL. The phone company was (and is) pretty far away.
 
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  • #28
anorlunda said:
But you have to think it through. It is easy to UPS your TV and Internet. It is much harder to UPS an electric stove to cook dinner. Perhaps you have a gas stove or a propane grill out on the patio.
One might choose a grill or a barbecue type device, or for some people, some vintage equipment running on kerosene.
 
  • #29
(Only up to page 1 of this topic)

Saw no comment or response yet about solar power generators or chargers. Maybe are their effectiveness too limited?
 
  • #30
symbolipoint said:
(Only up to page 1 of this topic)

Saw no comment or response yet about solar power generators or chargers. Maybe are their effectiveness too limited?
Somehow I doubt power outages will happen only during sunny weather, which puts us back at the storage problem.
 
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  • #31
tech99 said:
Could we live happily without Internet, freezer and TV?
Well. It may taking the issue on larger scale, but I think internet will more and more become a critical infrastructure in the future, with the TV being reduced to be a bit bigger monitor only. So for the former, it's a no.
And that includes the mobile phones too.

Regarding the freezer - without those most people would be dependent on the grocery stores and their fresh supply. Is that fundamentally better/different?
 
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  • #32
Borek said:
Somehow I doubt power outages will happen only during sunny weather, which puts us back at the storage problem.
The idea is , store during the day and possibly use whenever - daylight or nighttime.
 
  • #33
symbolipoint said:
Saw no comment or response yet about solar power generators or chargers.
If $1000 is too much, how much energy is he going to be able to store from solar?
 
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  • #34
tech99 said:
I agree with your view on this. Reliance on technology seems to have created the spiral we find ourselves in. The back-up system is only a sticking plaster on the injury. Could we live happily without Internet, freezer and TV?
There was a day when people were content reading newspapers and felt they were connected to the world.
 
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  • #35
symbolipoint said:
(Only up to page 1 of this topic)

Saw no comment or response yet about solar power generators or chargers. Maybe are their effectiveness too limited?
They work and there are solar cookers too which work. There are also cooking techniques we can borrow from other cultures which stretch the available cooking power of the sun or fuels used such as hay baskets. So cooking is not a problem.

The next level on my proposed battery backup system for TV is a solar charger in case of an extended outage lasting many days but if it were due to rolling outages which is the most likely scenario, there would be intermittent wall power to charge the batteries so that seems unnecessary.
 
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