Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #16

19 February 1999

Millennium Power Survival Kit

Nobody knows how the 'Y2K' (millennium) computer bug will affect the power utility, but a real possibility exists that there will be power blackouts because of the presence of the bug in embedded chips in circuit boards throughout the power grid network. If there is in fact a problem it may take months to source a suitable replacement chip or circuit board as every grid network will be facing the same problem at the identical time. These problems may surface on the 1st of January 2000 or they may start causing havoc any time from a year before that date onwards.

Even if 'Y2K' isn't going to affect the power utility, economic rationalism and privatisation of the power utility is causing a reduced maintenance schedule at a time when storms and other climatic events are increasing in frequency and severity. These two diametrically opposed phenomena must spell disaster at some time.

What are your options?
We need to prepare in advance for the above scenario, the governments won't! Somehow we need to stop our food from spoiling, to continue to have other essential services and to have lighting and entertainment in the home. If we all start buying petrol generators to get us out of the fix and everyone else does the same we will end up as another third world city with inadequate power systems where the noise and pollution from all the extra motors running continuously will make life a misery.

With such a short amount of time to prepare ourselves, it may be that we will have to give up a number of luxuries and concentrate on survival. Stock up on food that won't quickly spoil and set yourself up with a minimal power system that doesn't require a petrol or diesel generator.
Your options are as follows:

  1. Purchase a suitable (preferably deep cycle) battery and a 230V battery charger that will allow you to charge up the battery whilst the grid is still alive. To be able to operate a limited number of appliances you will need an inverter (a device that changes the battery voltage back to standard 230V AC). This will allow you to cope with short term power failures.
  2. The same as option 1, but with a suitable number of (photovoltaic) solar panels to be able to charge the battery bank when the grid is down for prolonged periods.
  3. Similar to option 2, but instead of a relatively cheap inverter and separate battery charger to use a fancier programmable inverter/charger that can instantly switch between the various modes ranging from grid connected and charging batteries to supplying the entire power needs of the household from the battery supply, with you barely noticing the switch-over. It would be to your advantage to either have the system programmed to only run essential loads or to give some kind of warning signal so that you can manually start turning non-essential items off.

    All of the above options will help to promote a clean, unpolluted environment in your neighbourhood in times of crisis, but you will need to anticipate the average loads so that you purchase the appropriate components to suit the loads and for the duration which you anticipate the loads to be on. Standard refrigerators use a lot of power and so it may be advisable to use a LPG fridge to cope with long term blackouts.

    Contact Rainbow Power Company to discuss your options further and to design a suitable power system for you.

The Power of the Future:
Renewable power such as solar power is the power of the new millennium.
The International Convention on Greenhouse Gases is endeavouring to phase out coal fired power stations because of their environmental impact.

Cheers from Dave and all the RPC crew.

Dave Lambert (Director)

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We install solar systems in Northern NSW and Southern QLD.


QLD:
Gold Coast (from Coolangatta to Southport), Nerang and Hinterland (Beaudesert) and out West (Warwick, Stanthorpe, Killarney)


NSW:
Northern NSW (Tweed Heads to Yamba, including Evans Head, Byron Bay and Ballina); the Far North Coast Hinterland (Grafton via Lismore to Murwillumbah) and out West (Casino to Tenterfield, including Drake and Tabulam, as well as Woodenbong and Bonalbo)

For larger system we also go up to Brisbane or down to Coffs Harbour and even Glen Innes. Other places by arrangement.