Nov 02, 2012

What's the best choice for individuals that want to have backup power?

I wasn't in the area of the country that suffered (or continues to suffer) power outages, but I have been through a couple of hurricanes in the past. Surprisingly, the longest I was ever without power wasn't because of a hurricane, it was because of an unexpected severe thunderstorm. I actually have a small gas powered generator, which is great for keeping my fridge running and a couple of fluorescent floor lamps on during a power outage, but I have concerns about hooking it up to my computers and smartphones because I'm not sure how clean the power output is. Is it safe to hook up a devices like a PC to a gas generator, or is there another choice that is better?


A good surge protector would probably help to minimize the risk.  A better quality generator would be best, like a Yamaha or Honda.  The power output is cleaner and they make a heck of a lot less noise than most of the Briggs & Stratton powered generators.  I have a gas generator at home, but I also have a rechargeable portable power unit that I keep plugged in and charged all the time.  This is essentially a deep cell battery with a converter that changes DC to AC.  I've used it a few times over the years during power outages.  It also has jumper cables on it so I can start my car after leaving my phone plugged in too long with the engine not running. :-)


One thing to think about - laptops use more power than I would have thought.  If memory serves, my Windows laptop uses about 250 Watts of power (without going in and changing power settings), and it discharges my portable power unit in just a few hours of use. 

Perhaps hooking up a surge protector to the generator, then plugging in the computer to the surge protector might be a good idea? It seems that a lot of folks use generators with computers, so it might be worth a try.

The other thing that you could do is get a plugin for your vehicle, then charge the smartphone on that. It might also work for a laptop, and certainly for a tablet. Then you could run those things without even plugging them into the generator. Just use your vehicle to recharge them if you need to at some point.
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