Getting ready for a Hurricane – from Mi-Grid

Getting ready for a Hurricane – from Mi-Grid

I live in the Gulf Coast area and hurricane preparedness is extremely important. About every 10 years, my area is hit with a hurricane, tropical storm or other disasters. It is much more important to prepare ahead, than wait until the announcement by the weather forecasters.

Run or Hide?

The saying is run from the water, hide from the wind. It means if your area will flood, get out of there! If your area won’t flood, you can “hunker down”, protect yourself and generally stay in your area.

Run from the water. Flooding is no joke. There isn’t anything you can do except evacuate. If you are in a flood-prone area, your preparedness is to have an inland location in mind, and your irreplaceable items “ready” to go. Know your evacuation route. Consider side roads and county roads which the rest of the public are not familiar. Keep extra fuel handy since there is usually a run on fuel just before the storm. Be prepared with a few days of food and water, since it may take time to evacuate. Remember, there will be LOTS of other people, so it will take much more time to get out of your area than normal.

Hide from the wind. Most people should stay where they are. First, the roads will be clogged with the people who need to evacuate. People in areas which won’t flood do not need to leave. If they do, they make the evacuation routes worse. So stay if you are not in a flood-prone area.

What do you need if you will be in a place to stay?

Food, water, and shelter. Your house is generally enough for shelter. If you are inland, the winds may be strong, but they generally not high enough to destroy your house. Most serious damage is storm surge and flooding. You may consider boarding up windows. Focus on the south and east windows, as this is usually where the wind comes from. Also look around your yard and remove anything which the wind can move. If you have a pool, tables and chairs can go in the water.

Food and water. Most people think they need bottled water. The water that comes out of your tap is EXCELLENT. But the power may be out and the water pumps off. So store water. How? Trash cans. Buy new ones!!! And you might want to put line them with trash bags. You also want to fill bathtubs and have a small bucket for pouring into toilets for flushing. Just buy the trash cans early and store them away unused.

Food you have a lot of choices if you prepare ahead. You can buy survival food. Not super tasty, but it is better than nothing. You can buy canned food. If anything needs heat to prepare, make sure you have a portable stove and fuel. Have a minimum of 2 weeks of food for every person in the house. That is about how long it will take to get emergency systems in place!

One real issue is post hurricane. In many places, the power may be out for weeks. Many people use generators to help them through. Portable generators need fuel and long-term storage of enough liquid fuel for 2 weeks can be a problem. They are loud!

Permanently installed natural gas or propane generators are much better. They have a big fuel source and they are not as noisy as portable units. They do require maintenance, so be prepared to change oil and spark plugs every 100 hours or every 4 days!

The best solution is a hybrid solar system combining solar panels, energy storage and a generator. It provides the power you need with minimal use of the generator. And the solar panels will save you money the rest of the time!

For help with hurricane preparedness, contact Tetra West Technology and ask about a Mi-Grid!

Off-Grid Solar Power System: Can I run my Air Conditioning too?

Off-Grid Solar Power System: Can I run my Air Conditioning too?

Several individuals have always considered off the grid and air conditioning never to belong in the same sentence, suggesting that you cannot have air conditioning off the grid.

The general response has been NO. Reasonably priced Off- grid solar power cannot run Air Conditioning. They are not powerful enough or the cost of a system is too great.

Mi-Grid is different. Mi-Grid is a hybrid solar energy system, combining battery storage PV solar with a backup generator. Even the smallest Mi-Grid can operate an Air Conditioner. The inverters and generators are sized to be able to start and run appropriately sized units. A tiny Mi-250 can run any 15 amp 110VAC window unit or even a 15,000 BTU/hr RV air conditioner. A Mi-Grid 4000, can run two 5-ton Air Conditioners with properly installed soft-starters.

The BEST choice for Air Conditioning is always a Mini-Split or inverter drive air conditioner. They require little startup power and are extremely efficient, reducing the amount of energy used for cooling. For the smaller Mi-Grid units, choose a 110VAC unit. For the Mi-Grid 1000 and up, 220VAC units can used.

Standard window air conditioning units can also be a good choice for the smaller Mi-Grid systems since they are 110VAC. Usually these are installed in bedrooms or small areas. 110VAC units work great with an essential circuits Mi-Grid. Get the most efficient one you can afford. Again, a mini-split is always best for your “essential” room.

Large whole house type Air Conditioning units can work with larger Mi-Grid units, especially with the addition of a small A/C soft start unit. The normal problem with running Air Conditioners is the power needed for startup. It can be as much as 5 times the operating power. A properly installed soft starter limits the starting power to only 50% over running power. This means a smaller inverter or generator can startup a larger air conditioner. And as always, get the most efficient one as possible.

One type of air conditioner/heat pump works extremely well with whole house Mi-Grid systems. Geothermal heat-pumps circulate coolant into the earth where year-round temperatures are far more moderate. This allows the heat pump to work much more efficiently and use much less power. Some of them have SEER’s between 40 and 50!!!

Mi-Grid can also be setup to provide power to all your essential circuits and outlets. High power circuits, for example air conditioners, are setup to only run with the generator. This allows the comfort of air conditioning while minimizing generator operation.

One final note: Insulation and shade. The cheapest way to keep cool is to not get hot in the first place. A shaded home/RV will use much less power. The more insulation, and the higher R-value insulation, the less heating or cooling you will need. And finally, cook outside in the summer. The less heat you add, the less air conditioning you need. Solar doesn’t work in the shade, but potable solar panels or ground mount arrays, can be placed in the sun with your house or RV in the shade.

You don’t have to give up comfort off-grid. Mi-Grid provides the power for everything.