Business and everyday life depend on electronics, making a power outage highly disruptive. On top of rendering many devices temporarily out of service, these interruptions can damage sensitive electronics, so protecting against them is critical.
Blackouts are also becoming increasingly common. U.S. residents experienced an average of eight hours of outages in 2020 and seven hours in 2021, when interruptions rarely exceeded five hours before 2019. These disruptions may become more likely and last longer as the nation’s electrical infrastructure ages, so here are some steps you can take to protect your electronics in the event of a power outage.
Get a backup power supply
Establishing a backup system is one of the most effective defenses against power outages. A portable generator can supply sufficient energy for most essential home electronics during an outage, and businesses can use commercial-grade uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units. Be sure to refer to your energy bills to see how much capacity you need before buying a backup system.
It’s important to remember that backup power supplies may need some extra resources to reach their full potential. Experts recommend keeping 10–30 gallons of fuel to run portable generators. You must also run them at least 20 feet from the building, so you’ll need extension cords.
Reduce reliance on the grid
Outages are less disruptive when you don’t rely on the electrical grid so much. Generating your own electricity on-site through renewable sources can help you maintain power when nearby lines go out.
Solar power is the most accessible form of off-grid electricity for most buildings, and panel costs have steadily decreased as technology advances. These systems still carry relatively high upfront fees, but you can use tax credits and similar incentives to offset their expense. You’ll also buy less electricity from the grid, lowering monthly costs.
Many individual solar alternatives to everyday items are available today if you can’t power your entire building through renewables yet. Using these devices instead of conventional, grid-reliant models ensures they remain functional in a blackout.
Use surge protectors and UPSes
Protecting your devices from surges when the power comes back online is also important. Sensitive electronics can malfunction in the surge of electricity after an outage, contributing to hundreds to thousands of dollars in property damage that average blackouts cause.
Surge protectors are the most recognizable and accessible tool to prevent this damage. It’s important to read labels carefully when buying this equipment, as many surge protectors look like ordinary power strips, but they don’t all have this built-in protection.
Businesses or homeowners with more expensive electronics may also want to install UPS units. A consumer-grade UPS looks like a large surge protector but stores power to supply electricity to plugged-in equipment during an outage. This will prevent surge-related damage and keep critical electronics like servers or refrigerators online.
Have a response plan
Create an emergency plan for when an outage happens. These disruptions are too common and costly to safely assume you’ll never experience one. Having guidelines in place will help minimize the damage.
Your blackout plan should include a list of electronics like TVs and computers to unplug to prevent surge damage. You should also keep a portable light and backup power supply in a designated space so that you can access them easily when the electricity goes out. Businesses should create plans for what every employee should do to remain productive and protect equipment.
Power outages don’t have to jeopardize your electronics
Blackouts can be frustrating, but if you follow these steps, they don’t have to be costly. Having a plan and acquiring the right equipment will ensure you can withstand an outage without damaging your electronics. You can then return to normal as soon as utility workers restore the power.