Power Inverters 101

Emergency Preparedness – Power Inverters 101

In Emergency Preparedness, St. Croix Living by Sarah0 Comments

Emergency Preparedness Blog Series

Welcome to our Emergency Preparedness Blog Series! We hope you are enjoying this series. We know that it isn’t necessarily our “day to day” life or what you may consider super interesting, and we hope you will still continue to read and learn! Make sure you take a look at our other posts – if you haven’t already!

We also want to share with you some of the amazing things that helped us. In order for us to be completely transparent, we will get a small portion of affiliate sales if you choose to add any of these fine products to your own emergency preparedness arsenal. Thank you!

**NOTE** On December 24th, our power was restored!!! WOOHOO!!! After 96 days without power we got the BEST Christmas present EVER! This post is therefore about what we did prior to getting our power restored. ENJOY!

Emergency Preparedness – Power Inverters 101

Have you ever heard of or used a power inverter? Do you know what it does? Do you know how to work one? I certainly hadn’t until we were without power after Hurricane Maria.

What is a Power Inverter?

Good ole’ Wikipedia states: ”A power inverter, or inverter, is an electronic device or circuitry that changes direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC).” There is A LOT more information here about what it does and how it works if you are really interested (I wasn’t so much…just wanted my stuff to work or charge). For those of us that don’t really understand that hoopla….it means you can plug in a little box to either your car power socket-thingy…or you can attach it to a car battery and then plug your small electronic devices into the little box and they will work!

Good Idea, Bad Idea

  • Connector.

    Good Idea

    Get a power inverter and attach it to a car battery.

  • Connector.

    Bad Idea

    Get a power inverter and attach it to a car battery incorrectly.

Sometimes I learn things the hard way. We had been given an inverter and it was working great and we had been able to charge our phones for one night. We unplugged the inverter at night to save the car battery. The next morning, I attached the inverter and nothing would charge. The inverter had a steady red light. I didn’t know what that meant – before it had a steady green light. Usually green means good and red means bad. I had (unknowingly) short-circuited our inverter. I don’t like to feel stupid and generally don’t like to admit when I have been stupid. In an effort to be helpful though, I will share my own folly. You know when you’ve got a device that requires batteries and there is clearly a positive and a negative side to the battery? Well, it turns out that goes for car batteries and inverters. I KNOW about car batteries having a positive and a negative terminal. I had placed the wrong clamp of the inverter on the wrong terminal.

Power Inverter

As you can see in this picture, there is clearly a red (POSITIVE) and a black (NEGATIVE) clamp on the inverter. SOOO…when you use an inverter (which you will want to do after having read this post) make sure you put the RED on the positive (+) side of the car battery and the BLACK on the negative (-) side of the car battery. Otherwise you might end up with an inverter that doesn’t work and some very hairy men in your house until you can get a replacement (or until one of your best friends sends you one).

What Can an Inverter Do?

When you go without power for any amount of time you get intimately acquainted with the wattage and volts you use in your home. You will find yourself lifting your toaster, your sewing machine, or your computer charging cord to see how many watts it uses. You will know these things because things like an inverter use a certain amount of power before they are overloaded and will shut off.

This inverter that we used has a 400 watt output. That means we could plug anything in that would use 400 watts or less.

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What Did We Use It For?

We were able to give haircuts…the boys were getting pretty hairy.

  • Haircut
  • Haircut

Gabe decided that he wanted to be a Cobra for Halloween and I committed to creating a costume. I use fabric that I had on hand. I even took apart an old pillow to stuff the tail. Got to be resourceful when you don’t have resources!

  • Halloween Costume
  • Cobra Costume

We couldn’t run our fridge. I had the thought that surely, somewhere out there, there would be a cooler that we could plug in. Bless AMAZON and being able to find this iceless cooler and our WONDERFUL friend who sent it to us! When we were given the inverter, we were also given a female car lighter socket adapter. That meant we could take the plug that would go in the car socket and use our car battery or the inverter to use the cooler.

After we lost power, I received, from my sister-in-law, a rotary tool to help me in my jewelry making endeavors. I was itching to try it out and thought I would give it a whirl with the inverter. Not too bad for a little bit of power!

When we moved we simplified our stuff. We got rid of a lot of things…including our Christmas Tree that Stewart had purchased prior to us getting married. It was getting to be Christmastime and I actually enjoy decorating for the holidays. Those of you who know Stewart know that he doesn’t really enjoy the decorating or shopping part of the holidays. Well, we were at Home Depot one day and there were some pre-lit trees and we needed one. Mr. “Bah-Humbug” himself opted to get one! We didn’t have power but we were determined to not let that put a damper on our holiday spirit. We hooked up the inverter and were able to enjoy the lights!

We did not leave these things plugged in for long as it would drain our batteries that we had. We had a couple of batteries that we had on rotation. We would have one at home to charge phones and run a couple of things and Stewart would take one to his school to recharge using the power generated by their large generator.

You never know the simple things that can really make your life a little more normal in times if trial. This little power inverter was such a HUGE blessing in our lives. It was something so simple that brought such JOY!

What are some simple joys in your life right now?
Share in a comment below!

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