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In light of the California power outages

3 min read

Years ago, in my mid-teens, the power went out. I lived in Washington state at the time and power outages weren’t all that uncommon. But this one was different: it spanned several cities and happened right at the cusp of winter. Fall leaves had long ago fluttered to the earth and fell apart in the constantly rain-soaked grass. Crispy snow was just starting its cycle of coating our vehicles in thin sheets of glass-like ice. There was nothing pleasant about it, though. It wasn’t the kind of snow you’d find in a Hallmark movie. It would cling to anything it touched, freezing car doors shut and making scraping off your windshield a particular chore.

But honestly, I loved power outages. There was something so novel about them. For a few hours, everything reverted back to an earlier era. The family would tiptoe carefully in the dark, trading off headlamps and piling up blankets in the living room where we would all sit and talk while we waited for the lights to come back on. So we waited, slept, and woke up the next morning. Still no power.

There was no clear estimate as to when we’d have electricity again. Apparently, a storm had knocked several trees over, causing them to fall across the powerlines. Electricians were scheduled day and night to repair problems across several miles of wire. We had no idea how long it would take to bring the power back on. Our local utility company could offer best guesses, but no promises.

It didn’t take long for the novelty of the power outage to wear off. What warmth had been preserved in the walls of our home gave way to frigid air. We had a fireplace, but its flames did almost nothing to heat the space. Luckily, we had a gas stove for cooking. After about a week of restless, frozen-toed nights, Dad decided it was time to book a hotel. We drove about an hour to the closest city with power. I remember I was messing with a Rubix Cube in the car, which had become my main source of entertainment (The Pursuit of Happiness with Will Smith had just been released and revitalized the classic toy’s popularity.)

When we entered the city, I watched the newly hung Christmas lights. I’d grown used to seeing by nothing more than a flame or flashlight. The hotel reminded me of the beauties of central heating. There were so many things I’d never really realized had played such an important role in my daily comfort. Not because I didn’t know about them, but because I’d never really noticed. Nothing like a mandatory step into the stone age to remind you of what you should be grateful for.

The recent power outages in California brought these memories to mind. While the residents there probably don’t deal with the same frigid nights you find in the northwest, there is a certain confidence that is stolen from you when you’re confined to dark nights in your home, light usually just a flick away. You wonder if your doors are truly secure, if your family is safe as your phone batteries die, and whether there isn’t someone lurking in the dark.

Luckily, technology is always changing to bring us ever closer to a more secure future. With home solar energy + battery, people can access daily power as the sun comes out and charges their battery so preconfigured circuits can keep essentials running. What a relief even just to get a recharge for those devices we’ve come to rely on and a way to keep the food in the fridge from spoiling. True, people in the past survived on much less than we have today. But we’ve worked towards not just survival, but comfort — one of the main ingredients that make a house a home. And now you can have a home that is always on, always in your control.

See how much solar could save you!

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