No. It’s not just your imagination. The weather is getting worse and extreme weather conditions are becoming more common. Consider data from Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who developed a method for measuring the total energy expended by large storms over their lifetimes. He showed that Atlantic hurricanes are about 60 percent more powerful than they were in the 1970s. Storms last longer and their top wind speeds have increased by 25 percent.
A quick look at the second half of 2017 and early 2018 provides us with a harsh dose of reality: Names like Irma, Harvey, and Jose have left areas like Houston, Texas, Southern Florida and Puerto Rico with severe post hurricane hangovers. Chilling temperatures, well below average, have tormented much of the US and Europe with frozen pipes, storm-driven power outages, flooding and other major household headaches.
What steps can homeowners take in order to minimize the negative effects of climate-driven power glitches and power outages? A first step is to be aware of the types of power anomalies that can occur and to identify which home appliances are at risk when the power either surges or goes out completely. A second step is to formulate a backup plan so that, when the inevitable power outage occurs, home occupants and their families can avoid being stuck in the dark, disconnected from the outside world.
Step 1: Understand how bad power shortens the life of sensitive electronics
Weather driven power problems are commonly caused by high winds (power lines get knocked down by falling tree branches) or storm-generated lightning. When lightning strikes a tree or other object, for example, much of the energy travels outward from the strike, in and along the ground surface. Therefore, it doesn’t take a direct lightning strike to a house to cause a power surge or spike that can damage the internal components of electronic devices that are directly plugged into wall outlets.
When power is suddenly cut off, it can generate a different set of problems. Power interruption can be instantaneous (less than a second), momentary (up to two seconds), temporary (2 seconds to 2 minutes), or sustained (greater than two minutes). A home, or small business computer user, could lose valuable data when information is corrupted from loss of power to their equipment.
Long power outages can result in lost communications to the outside world. If cell phone batteries run out, and the homeowner has IP telephones installed, then both will be down simultaneously. Most of us (especially millennials) feel lost when their cell phones are no longer available. Teenagers are often found complaining to their parents that “they have nothing to do!” once a cell phone or tablet runs out of battery life.
Step 2: Implement the backup plan
One front line device that provides power protection is the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). These are devices equipped with batteries that offer protection from lightning surges, power sags, swells and blackouts, and that safeguard investments in computing and networking equipment. The battery inside provides runtime, when the electrical supply to your house is cut off.
One UPS in particular, the APC BGE50ML Back-UPS Connect, is a useful tool for families with tight budgets and frequent travelers who are on the go and who require a backup solution that is mobile. A removeable 9-ounce lithium ion battery has enough power stored inside it to fully charge a completely dead cell phone 5 times in a row (before the battery itself needs recharging). This innovative design has received multiple awards including the CES Honoree Innovation award in 2016, and the Edison and GOOD DESIGN® awards in 2017. Now in its 67th year, the GOOD DESIGN® awards program is the oldest and most prestigious awards program organized worldwide and recognizes the most innovative and cutting edge industrial products across the globe.
The portable lithium-ion battery inside the unit helps make the UPS much lighter (less than 2 pounds with battery) than a typical UPS (which can weigh in between 30 and 60 pounds). With a power load capacity of 50 watts, the unit is ideally suited for protecting modems and routers and charging mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones.
To learn more about how you can protect your family from extreme weather-related power issues and to preserve your Certainty in a Connected World, visit our Power Outage Resources Page, or see how our new mobile battery UPS devices can help.