Switching to Backup Energy Sources During Blackouts

With the drought in the Western United States evaporating hydroelectric energy production that struggled to meet demands driven by high temperatures last year, switching to backup energy sources during blackouts will help you stay cool this summer.

The demand for energy in the United States is 10.5 percent higher than it was this time in 2021. In fact, it wasn’t until July 27th of last year that energy demand was as high as it is now. While the year-over-year supply in the states has increased 13.46 percent, that isn’t likely enough to handle increased demand and hydroelectric losses given the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s three-month forecast and drought outlook. In short, there’s a high probability for most of the United States to be hotter than normal through August.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, American electricity customers experienced an average of eight hours of power interruptions in 2020, mostly due to an increased number of major weather events. Unfortunately, the number of major weather events occurring in the U.S. is trending upward. More major weather events have occurred in each of the last two years than an any other year prior.

The result is longer power outages for more Americans regardless of location. Customers affected by outages in 2020 totaled 25.5 million – more than double the 10.6 million affected in 2019. Louisiana and Oklahoma are obvious places where power outages are to be expected given the tropical storms and tornadoes those states have historically had. But Connecticut had the third-longest outages in 2020, and Iowa was tied for fourth in outage length as a result of something called a derecho (an incredibly damaging thunderstorm).

Expect the sales of backup generators to be way up this year, many of which feature high current rocker switches like the R4 Series illuminated rockers from E-switch. The R4 Series rocker switch is rated for up to 20 amps and can be ordered with or without illumination. This high power rocker switch features a curved actuator and comes with single- or double-pole circuits performing maintained (latching) functions.

Larger generators meant to provide homes with backup energy during blackouts often have user interfaces featuring tactile switches like the TL6120 Series tact switch from E-switch. The TL6120 Series tactile switches are process sealed for automated soldering and washing. These surface mountable switches are delivered in tape and reel packaging and feature multiple operating force and actuator options. More importantly, these tact switches operate in temperatures ranging from -40 to 85 degrees Celsius and have life expectancies ranging from 200,000 to one million cycles depending on options. This makes them perfect for outdoor applications like home energy backup systems. 

I’ve written about the inevitable demand increase for residential and commercial solar installation. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if more battery backup systems are installed along with those solar arrays despite increasing interest rates. That’s mostly due to an increased supply of and demand for electric vehicles. While individual consumers might balk at the increased cost to borrow, many businesses have the funds to avoid borrowing, and can replace auto fleets to save money on fuel now. Many EV chargers include battery backups, so with more EVs sold, more backup power systems are sold. Some EVs, like the Fisker Ocean, can even serve as a backup generator for your home when the power’s out.

Battery backup systems for solar arrays, like the Tesla Powerwall, tend to also feature power rocker switches like the RVW Series high current, power rocker switches from E-switch. The RVW Series high current rocker switch features an internal seal rated IP54 for dust and water protection, so they can be used in outdoor applications. These power rocker switches feature single- or double-pole circuits that are electrically rated for up to 20 amps and can complete maintained (latching) or momentary functions. Multiple body and actuator colors are available, as are multiple marking types and colors. Check out the data sheet to see all the RVW Series options.

Don’t be left without power on the hottest day of the year. Keep your essential appliances running by switching to generators, solar arrays, and battery backup systems during blackouts this summer. And if you’re in the backup power system industry, consider E-switch for all your applications requiring switches.

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