Sunday, December 2, 2012

Power outage checklist

My lovely wife and I came home late from a friend's birthday party. We'd left the porch light on so we could more easily make our way into the house. We got home, walked the dog, loaded up the woodstove, and took care of a few other chores.

Eventually one of the light switches I tried didn't work. My first thought was that the bulb had burned out, but then checked to see that the grid had gone down. Most of my lights run on the solar electric system. There's a few lights still hooked directly to the grid. The don't get used all that often and it would have been inconvenient to rewire them to the solar side of my power system.

There's a street light down the road that I can see from my driveway. That was out too, so I figured the problem was with the grid instead of with just my house.

Then I noticed the Internet had also gone down, along with my phone. Most of the time a grid down situation is pretty localized. Living out in the woods, our grid connection is pretty rickety. That's why we put in significant solar generated electricity years ago. Just in case it was something more serious, I checked my AM/FM/Shortwave radio to find out what was happening in the world. Once it became clear there was nothing extraordinary happening, my lovely wife and I went to bed.

I don't know the grid went down, but since the Internet and phone went too, my guess is something knocked the lines down. It could have been a tree falling. Roads are snow covered so it might have even been someone colliding with a power pole. Whatever it was, crews had it fixed the next morning.

So here's my checklist when a light doesn't work: Is it a burned bulb? Tripped breaker? Problem with the house power? With the local grid? The regional grid? National grid? The world? Zombie apocalypse?



  1. I'd be inclined to check out the most likely cause first, the Zombie Apocalypse...

  2. Yep, that last one will trick you every time!

  3. I like your check list. I use amateur radio to check if the world is still here.

    1. Good to know what's really going on out there. If I got static on all bands, I would have worried.

  4. My first thought is Zombie Apocalypse. No matter, I just keep calm and carry on. Bullets in gun, Check! Ha!

  5. Bullets in gun, right. That's a fine checklist too. Maybe I can bump Zombie Apocalypse up the list.