No Power House Protocol Revisited

It was raining this afternoon and we were taking a nap and when I woke up, the house was without power. There were flickers a number of times so I was waiting for the energy to return as nothing had tripped and we thought it was just a normal outage.

An hour into it, we decided to investigate outside and found out that ours was the only household without electricity. We immediately reported it to Meralco via their Twitter and Landline channels, both of which had responses and a report had been generated 4:47PM… time as of writing is 6:55PM, over 2 hours had passed.

One thing to note, Meralco on the phone had asked if we had the circuiting checked by a private electrician which was a weird thing to me because that wouldn’t be the primary response of any household that would find out if something had happened to their power… we just happened to have one so I told them that we had it checked… anyway, we were sure that the problem is stemming from before the power meter… or, as it was consequently discovered, on the meter itself.

Now because of the outage, we’ve been forced to bust out everything that we had with regards to stored energy in the form of batteries and rechargeables … turns out we didn’t have a lot of it… we just have a lot of powerbanks – and these are practically useless if they have nothing to power up.

Here is a list of what would be important to have in order to manage an extended outage like this one nowadays.

1. Illumination

It might seem trivial but light is a necessity in order to perform other functions which one might need to accomplish. The go-to would be the flash that your mobile phone has. This works somewhat but using it as a source of light would prevent you from using it for communication and any other purpose as it would need to be stationary, especially if you’re using it to light up an area. Candles of course do this without any issues except that it burns and needs to be looked after to make sure that it doesn’t affect anything beyond the candle. We happened to have one of those ring lights which are powered by the USB and we’ve resorted to using that for general lighting. Any other USB light source would work, in various degrees of power naturally, and things like a book light or those lights that you use on your WFH setup are good candidates. LED lights dont take up that much power and in an array could really brighten up a space for an environment that is conducive enough for some activity.

2. Cooling

This is right up there with lighting up a space because if the space is not comfortable to be in, it’s not going to be good for anything else so you’ll end up not staying there. As with candles there is are hand fans that you can use… anything that is pliable and with enough surface area can act as a cooling device but this would require one of your hands to convert it into cooling. What you could use instead, especially if you don’t have one of those rechargeable light/fan combo things, are laptop coolers. There’re plenty of these and they are also powered via USB – so with a powerbank, you can expect a good runtime with air circulation proportional to the size of the fan blades. You would need to prop up the devices upright but they definitely do the trick.

3. Connectivity / Communications

Now since practically everyone uses a smartphone, when an outage hits, you would all be on different battery levels. One of the first objectives would be to replenish the battery up to full so you wouldn’t need to think about it at least for while the charge is expected to last. Hopefully one or a number of individuals in your household have access to mobile data… plenty of it. One good alternative to this is powering up the modem using a step up cable that can convert normal powerbank 5V into whatever it is that your modem requires… ours would be a 12V 2A output and that should be able to restore and maintain servicable data at least for the original range… unless you get a couple of cables and power both that and whatever commercial router you are using after that main one that came from the service provider with all the proper configurations… plus whatever wi-fi mesh system you have at your home… and powerbanks for each of those as well. I was going to do this but the step up cable that was available to me only channeled up to 6V so it was a no-go. I’ll make sure to purchase a couple during this next double-double date.

As far as electric conveniences allow, that’s about the set of essentials that would tide over a short outage say under 12 hours… If it’s going to be longer, you might want to think about the food in the refrigerator and freezer because those need to be processed to prevent spoilage. We do have a power inverter in the car but its not one for heavy utility and while there are models that allow for it, you would need to route the power from the car to the inside of your home. Small generators or really big powerbanks, those would be the next step on this approach and that would need smart power management so that it’s able to tide you over an extended period of time.

This document is being completed in a re-energized home. Big thanks to the quick response team that attended to us.

When the lineman came, first he checked if power is getting to the main circuit breaker… primarily because if there is power there, it really isn’t Meralco’s responsibility to repair. when he verified that there wasn’t any power, he went back to the meter and somehow, some electricity flowed back into the house… it was weird because he didn’t really touch anything and the power returned. I had him wait a little bit because something similar to that had happened earlier as well… power returned about 3 minutes and then it was gone again. To prove that there wasn’t an issue, he hit the meter a couple of times… normally, this shouldn’t affect the flow of current but this time, it did… the flicker happened once more. This prompted the lineman to open up the meter to find out what was going on and true enough there was an issue there. The right side of the terminal had been corroded and practically broken off.

This initiated the replacement procedure which eventually leads to a consistent and pure power flow into the house. The newly installed meter reads 00000 once more and whatever was in the first one and the difference would be calculated by the company for the next billing cycle.

Call to Meralco 4:47PM
Meralco Service Call Received 7:28PM
Service Concluded and Restored 8:30PM
Total time without power 6 hours

About the author

Mark O.

Mark is an architect and artist who endeavors to design most anything that requires a little bit of thought into it.

Although writing is not considered a primary focus, a little too much time can yield many thoughts that are just begging to be written down.

Armed with a trusty array of content creation devices and surrounded with a continuous flux of technology and life, herein lies those that are fortunate enough to have been given presence through a little bit of movement and a whole lot of iterations.

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