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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Battery Backup is Cool

We frequently have problems in our neighborhood with the power flickering briefly. Obviously that wreaks havoc on our computer equipment, so last year I finally got an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). I carefully set it up, plugged in my desktop, and waited anxiously for the next power outtage.

Finally, after a few months of waiting, we had a power failure during a thunderstorm. At the moment, I happened to be on Heather Marie's laptop, connected to my computer via remote desktop. Naturally, when the lights went out, the laptop switched over to battery power, and the UPS kicked on. I smiled smugly as I continued working uninterrupted...

...for about two seconds, until I lost my network connection to the desktop. It didn't take long to realize, with no small chagrin, that I'd forgotten to plug the wireless network router into the UPS.

So, that detail taken care of (and remembering the cable modem while I was at it), I again awaited a good blackout. Thus it was last night, when everything went dark at 11:23, that I was finally able to continue smugly working on my iBook, surfing the web with impunity in a world temporarily bereft of electricity.

It was only after 8 minutes of listening to the UPS warning beep that I remembered I only had 10 minutes of backup time before I lost my internet connection and couldn't post my blog entry, and that the power might not be back on before midnight. Thus the micro-post yesterday. It's a good thing I did it, too, since it was about 2:30am when we finally got electricity back. It seems to have only been our neighborhood that lost power, though. Go figure.

All of this leads me to wonder why we don't have battery backups for houses. Here's what I'm envisioning: a bank of batteries with enough stored power to keep all the lights and small appliances going for up to 1 minute, until a generator can kick in. That would be enough to protect against brown-outs and flickers, although obviously it would have to exclude heaters, AC, and major appliances.

Just something to add to my dream home wishlist.

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