My home is in Philadelphia, so I am in direct danger of two major water-type disasters. In the summer, we get remnants of hurricanes and in winter, what is known as noreasters. (For those who are not from the Northeast, it is a cyclone that brings cold and frozen hate to our coast. Each brings its own set of natural strife but they make us all vulnerable to the worst nightmare for geeks: the power outage. My house runs entirely on electricity, so I had to create a plan for dark days.
We need electricity, no matter how much snow falls or whether the power lines are down. As a Cub Scout, I was a boy and I'm fortunately well-prepared. But, I know there are many others out there who aren't. This guide is yours to keep forever.
The most cost-effective solution for all situations is also the most expensive. A generator can be installed in your home to provide backup power for your main supply.
A generator is a great option for home protection. It will cost you a few thousand dollars. Although it may seem expensive, it is still an option for people who have the budget. It can solve almost everything in one go. A portable generator is a great way to save money. However, the time and power it can provide are not worth the savings. Regardless of your choice, these safety tips from US Department of Energy will help you keep your generator safe.
Protect your Electronics with Preventative Measures
First, protect your electronics. This is not paranoia. In my IT job, I've seen it all. Even boxes that have fried without apparent reasons. It is crucial to protect your gear from any surges or spikes that a power cut may cause. Cloud services may be convenient, but your gaming or desktop computer still requires you to watch out for them. You don't have to redownload everything again. Hardware replacement is a major headache these days. To replace a videocard, you may have to give your first-born away (not even one that supports ray trace).
Spikes happen. Power lines can collapse from the weight of snow and ice, and fallen trees can cause severe damage. Transformers can also explode in an array of sparks.
What does this mean? The $5.99 surge protector that you purchased and connected to your TV/computer/game console isn't doing much good. Battery backups and UPS units (uninterruptible energy supply) are better options to protect your hardware than cheap surge protectors. They provide protection against surges and spikes as well as a way to keep your equipment plugged in when the power goes out. This allows you to close down your equipment quickly without worrying about it going up in cinders, or losing data.
IT uses large UPS units to ensure servers and other large-scale devices are up in the event of power outages. However, you can also buy small home units to do the exact same thing. A 450 VA or650 VA UPS unit will work well for a typical user's computer system, including monitor and printer. It will cost you less than $100. You will get a higher VA rating the more you plug it in. You'll need something in the 1200-1500 VA range for a modern gaming system. This is still around $200.