coping with frequent power outages

I feel I've blogged at length about how we combat the unreliable water supply  and about how sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. Especially in Kilifi, water is a huge challenge.

Our tiny freezer, stocked with ice pops, spare coffee,
a small container of bone broth, and a bag of chicken bones
But living with unpredictable electricity is a challenge, too. We have a small refrigerator, by American standards. With the exception of the micro-fridge in my college dorm room, it is the smallest refrigerator I've ever had. And it's rarely full.

It took us a few months to adjust our grocery habits to unreliable refrigeration. We lost fridge-fuls of food due to power being out for too long, and have saved some by moving everything to the freezer and driving all over town to find a bag of ice to keep it all cold. Now, we're usually ok if the power is out for a whole day, but it's because of our changed shopping habits. We have not yet acquired solar backup for the fridge. It will be a momentous day when that happens! I'd be able to keep the fridge stocked like I used to!

Obviously, we can't use the microwave when the power is out, but our stove is gas and lights with a match, so I can cook without power, as long as I can see! We keep flashlights in every room of the house, in case it is already dark when the power goes out. We don't have to stumble through the whole house searching in the dark. And we also had a solar powered lantern, which could light up a room.

But it broke.

When we went to replace it, we tried to find a solar lantern with a USB plug in it so that I could also charge my phone from it. Rodgers usually has the car during the day, so he can always charge his phone there, but my only option is to hope that the laptop battery is fully charged and drain it into my phone.

We looked at various options and settled on something way more awesome than we were shopping for. We haven't mounted the solar panel yet, it just sits on the edge of the veranda for now, with the cord going through a window (always open anyway).

The battery is slightly smaller than a riding lawn mower battery. It has a USB plug, and I was able to charge my phone with it the last time we had no power during the day. We haven't lost power at night since we bought it, so we haven't tested the lights yet. (We could just turn off the lights one evening and test them, but we haven't done that either.) There are 4 lights with long cords. We can keep the battery in the middle of the house and mount lights in 4 different rooms! It also came with all manner of plug converters. How does your cell phone plug in? I bet I have a converter for that. I can also plug in a car charger. I can plug almost anything into this battery, except for actual electric plugs.

I think we'd need a bigger battery for the fridge anyway. Next on the solar power list: bigger battery and bigger solar panel so that I can plug in the fridge. After that maybe a solar water heater...


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