Blackouts and batteries

Cyclone Kirrily’s brief visit last Thursday (January 25) left about a third of Townsville without power for a few days, throwing us on whatever off-grid resources we had. Here at Green Path HQ we put Off-grid but not by choice into practice. I’m happy to report that it worked pretty well, but we were very glad to get power (and air-con!) back after only 36 hours.

We shared that blog post on social media in the hope that it would help others and received useful tips in return. Here I want to share and expand upon a comment from Michael Crozier, “Cordless tool companies are just starting to bring out 18V-DC to 240V-AC inverters. Not as powerful as your power station, but great if you already have lithium-ion power tools anyway.”

It was a good thought and prompted me, with his collaboration, to take it further.

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Off-grid but not by choice

Power blackouts can happen any time. When they do, we have to do the best we can with what we’ve got, and this post is mainly about using a camping fridge, power station and PV blanket, as described in my previous post, to keep ourselves safer and more comfortable off-grid.

If we have PV solar and a home battery that we can use off-grid, we’re fine. (They are not common, though.) Or if we have an EV with V2L (vehicle to load) capability (not common either), all we need is an extension lead. If we haven’t, here’s a plan.

But first, some useful basic emergency information

Power outages that are long enough to be problematic are usually due to cyclones and floods, so these key sources of safety information are worth noting. For the Townsville area:

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Going a little way off-grid

Portable power stations based around lithium batteries are relatively new on the market and I was tempted by them as soon as I saw them, on display at Eco-fiesta in June last year.

power stations display
A range of power stations

One neat, integrated package contains a Li-ion battery with an inverter, outlets for all sorts of appliances and inputs for 240V AC and the optional-extra solar panels. They are sold as direct replacements for the little portable petrol generators which campers have been using for years; but they are clean and quiet, and amazingly flexible in terms of how they might be used.

After thinking about that flexibility for a few months, and going camping at Bladensburg and wishing we had a camping fridge instead of eskies, and contemplating an approaching cyclone season with its possibility of power blackouts, I settled down to some serious research.

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Electric vehicles – an overview

Electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes have been developing so quickly over the last few years that it’s hard to keep up with the changes. This survey pulls together information on the current state of play of all sorts of EVs, from bikes and scooters to freight trains and ships. But first, a quick look at three technological issues common to all of them.



Batteries are crucial, and development is still pushing ahead quite quickly.

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