Heat wave + Power outage = Better have planned ahead

Home Forums Events & Emergencies Natural Disasters Heat wave + Power outage = Better have planned ahead

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Crow Bar 1 year, 2 months ago.

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  • #19901

    Mouse Wizard

    The rolling heat waves we’re going to endure this year in the northern hemisphere are caused by the jet stream slowing down. It’s slowing down because the Arctic is a lot warmer these days, and a warmer Arctic means less of a temperature difference between there and points south. Less energy to transfer means lower wind speeds. When the jet stream slows down, it gets all wavy, varying dramatically north and south. When there’s a “hump” then warmer air from the tropics is pulled northward. Remember how it’s slowing down? Those humps tend to move across the nation very slowly. Result: heat wave that just sits there and bakes you.

    Now, CA utilities are already doing planned power outages so they don’t start wildfires. In other areas, people run the A/C like crazy to keep the heat at bay, leading to high power loads and potential widespread unplanned outages. We can mitigate this with a bunch of solar PV if we concentrate on slamming a bunch of peak load PV in over the next few years, but right now we have to play the hand we’re dealt.

    So here you are. 115F in the shade and no power. If your generator or solar array is sized to handle your A/C unit, then you’re one of the lucky few. You could sit in your car and run the A/C as a short-term thing, but you aren’t going to be getting anything useful done. There are a couple of alternatives but they require planning and setup in advance:

    1. You could designate one room in your house as a cooling room and equip it with a small A/C unit that your generator can handle. You do have a generator don’t you?
    2. You could use cooling vests. IMHO, this is the best way to go as many construction, utility, and emergency personnel have found. Basically, you take the cool with you.

    There are essentially two kinds: Evaporative and Phase Change. Evap is cheaper and implies just that: evaporation of water produces the cooling effect. Works great in low humidity areas where there’s a lot of air circulation going on around you because you’re up and moving around. Not so great in high humidity, or if you’re mostly sitting in one place. If that’s your situation, then Phase Change is the way to go. PC packs can be refrigerated for 10-15 minutes and then they’re good for 1-3 hours depending on the model. So you have one set on and one set waiting in the ice chest. Since I have a small solar system I plan to cycle them through a 12V refrigerator I have.

    For those of us that are real cheap bastards, it’s possible to buy just the phase change packs and make our own vest. For that matter, one of the phase change packs looks like it’ll fit in a standard plate carrier.

    Either way, cooling vests allow you and yours to move around, do things, and generally carry on with life while the heat is on and the power is out.

  • #19913


    Used to be, most places were designed around the heat and cold. Modern and ancient.

    The big houses weren’t just for big families, but because you had to change your life with the seasons. Summer work was often done on porches (later screened) or in the basement. With a secondary kitchen  so the house wasn’t heated up cooking.

    Winter work upstairs or in the kitchen by the stove to conserve heat.

    The people of the southwest dug down or built onto natural places to keep cooler, think Mesa Verde.

    And then there’s the tradition of siesta, taking a nap during the worst part of the day and having a late supper so the house has a chance to cool before adding heat.

    The modern conveniences are great, until they don’t work, then it’s back to the old ways, if you can.

  • #19932

    Crow Bar

    A lot of good suggestions there. Thank you.

    Yeah, well said.

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