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Thread: the Summer of Power Outages

  1. #1

    Default the Summer of Power Outages

    In 17 years at this house, and 30 years living within 5 miles of here, the mains power has been very reliable. The power company, Weenergies, has lived up to their slogan, "Voted by our shareholders, 'Best in the Nation' at keeping the power on."

    For the past sieben days, however, every time the sky gets dark the power goes out. It's out again right now. I have so many UPSs round here that I'm not even sure how many I have. Naturally all of them have dead batteries, and I'll be shocked if more than half of them still work. I guess I've got my money spent for the decade.

    It's a good thing that I don't have an electric vehicle. I wonder if we've started to reach the point where electric cars are causing these outages.

  2. #2
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    Could be old equipment or weather issues (everybody has the AC cranked up). Utilities don't make that much money compared to most businesses so if they need to make major upgrades they tend to wait a long time. Quite a few old power generation systems (coal for one) are not competitive as they used to be compared to natural gas (in the US anyway). If you rely on wind turbines and solar a few non windy days or overcast skies can affect power as well.
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  3. #3
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    In my state, on September 10, 2013, several places in my city and closer to the McDonald's I worked at that time, had no power (everyone ran their A/C on full blast and my house still had power) because of the 110F weather. The McDonald's I worked at was so busy, Hayes and 19 Mile Road were completely backed up and no A/C at work because the units broke. When I was on my 30 minute break, I drove to the closest gas station and got myself a 1.5L of bottled water to keep myself hydrated and it was hotter inside than it was outside.

    Fortunately, the A/C in my 18 year old car was still blowing out ice cold air at 40F and it still does to this day and the Steak 'n Shake restaurant by my house had 1/2 of the building without power (lights, grills, microwaves, fryers, and registers) and the other 1/2 still worked (fridge, freezers, and some lights). The power outage started on September 9, 2013 and ended on September 11, 2013.

    I would have some power outages at my house once in a while and the one time, the power was out for 24 hours in the Summer of 2006 and we ended up spending the night at my grandpa's house and in 2012, occasional brown outs (lost my childhood 486 due to a brown out that fried the BIOS chip). 2015 was the last time we had a power outage and that wasn't fun at all and the power was restored at about 1:45AM the next day.

    There are a lot of things that can cause a power outage:
    1) Tree branches putting too much weight on the power lines
    2) Weather increments (bad thunderstorms and high winds)
    3) Old equipment or running the A/C on full blast
    4) Hackers breaching the power grids that a company monitors 24/7
    5) Down lines and not fixing it *cough* PG&E *cough*

    And I'm afraid of losing power at my house as I work from home 4 days a week, and no battery backup is present in my modem and I have one in my room that's connected to my TV, wireless charger, and a couple of other things, so I might bring that downstairs with me to keep my screens and modem running.
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  4. #4

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    I haven't had a car with air conditioning since 1996. And I'm pretty sure that was the only car I ever owned (for two years) that had it.

    What's irritating today is that sure we had high winds, but the storm hadn't even arrived yet.

    I will survive. Tomorrow if the power is still out I'll buy a generator. Until then I can power the freezer with a car battery. I feel sorry for my neighbor; his wife had a C-section last week, and of course they have a newborn, their first.

    The local Farm&Fleet is almost sold out of generators. I prolly shoulda bought one whilst I was there.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    My mom's first car, a 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass, had no A/C and the first car that had A/C for a while was a 1987 Dodge Shadow until 1990 when the A/C quit working and the 1991 Dodge Spirit blew the transmission at 25,000 miles in 1993.

    In fact, the last car to have A/C that quit working was the old 1999 GMC Safari SLE. I cannot live without A/C at all and the HVAC system in my house is close to 23 years old and the A/C still works and the heater is fully functional as well. I have 1 car on my driveway that only has heat when accelerating and that's my mom's 2007 Chevy Uplander LT and my dad's 2005 Chevy Malibu Maxx LS has issues with the heater where I have to crank it to cold and jam it to hot. My 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue GX has fully functional A/C and working heat (somewhat as I have air in the cooling system).
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  6. #6

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    The older I get, the less I can take the heat. One of these days I'll move to Resolute.

    But I just don't see the necessity for air conditioning in a car. I think a lot of people don't realise how much cooler it is inside a car that never had air conditioning. I suppose newer cars probably aren't designed very well for conventional cooling, either.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by KC9UDX View Post
    But I just don't see the necessity for air conditioning in a car.
    When you really need AC in a car is when it's hot, humid and a heavy shower or thunderstorm is drenching you. This is when you can't even open the windows a crack for fear of drowning. You can't use the dash vents, either, because if you do the humidity rises so much the windows steam up and you can't see out of the car. This is when car AC is a must.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    When you really need AC in a car is when it's hot, humid and a heavy shower or thunderstorm is drenching you. This is when you can't even open the windows a crack for fear of drowning. You can't use the dash vents, either, because if you do the humidity rises so much the windows steam up and you can't see out of the car. This is when car AC is a must.
    This is what everyone always says, but even if that were true (it's been hot and pouring for over a week here, windows don't fog up from the cowl vent), it accounts for how many hours out of the year?

    If I had to travel a lot in a suit and tie, I'd probably want air conditioning in my car. Hopefully I never find myself in that boat.

  9. #9
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    I'm in the same boat where I'm semi-rural and for the most part saw the uncommon drop-out but in more recent years the interruptions became both annoyances and damaging.
    They upgraded the incoming circuit for the neighborhood about a decade ago and installed some enormous 3-phase ground fault interrupter. Makes sense as it cuts everything downstream when it senses a phase-to-phase or a fault to ground, but instead of remaining down until its reset it has a time-out delay and resets by itself. As a result you can have a tree touch a line of a downstream branch and instead of popping a line fuse or just cooking the obstruction with a few hundred amps the whole neighborhood drops out, then three seconds later comes back, then cuts out in a cycle four more times before it gives up and phones home.
    What does that mean? You get the inrush surge of some 5000 residents, plus any farms and commercial operations driving the circuit crazy, plus the hard drop-in and drop-out. Is it destructive? Very. My SGI's especially have either blown power supplies or cooked their logic boards entirely. My Origin 2000 has been dead with cratered mosfets for five years now. I ended up ultimately putting smaller hardware on UPS's and larger machines on a drop-out disconnect which opens on a power cut and won't reset until done locally.
    = Excellent space heater

  10. #10

    Default

    Our reclosers always retry twice and on the third disconnect they need a manual reset. I don't know this for fact, but I've heard I said many times, and probably 50 times throughout my careers I've done the 1-2-3 count at work and then the power is out for a while.

    I'm thinking of doing something like you did. Not just for the computers though: I have some very expensive refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, well pump, etc, that I don't want zapped. The first thing I do when the power flickers is shut off most of my breakers until the power stabilises. But more often than not, I'm not home to do it. We've got storms coming again tomorrow. This is our one day in months without rain. So I expect the power will go out again tomorrow.

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