How to Avoid Expensive Damage Caused by Electrical Power Outages

Power outages and surges can wreak havoc on homes and disrupt daily life. Today, many homeowners are facing extended blackouts that put property and safety at risk.

This guide covers smart preparations and preventative measures you can take to keep your home and family secure when the power goes out.

Prepare for Outages Before Severe Weather Strikes

Advance planning for power failures helps you ride out blackouts safely with minimal disruption. Follow these tips to get ready before storm clouds gather:

  • Unplug sensitive electronics – When heavy winds, lightning storms or grid failures threaten, unplug computers, TVs, modems, phone chargers and other vulnerable electronics. This safeguards delicate circuitry and prevents damage from power fluctuations. Surge protectors don’t guard against direct lightning strikes. Disconnecting devices completely removes the risk.
  • Stock emergency supplies – Keep at least a three to four day supply of drinking water and non-perishable foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking. Flashlights, batteries, first aid kits and battery-powered radios and chargers are also essentials to have on hand.
  • Fuel generators – If you rely on a portable generator for backup power, make sure it’s fully fueled with fresh gasoline. Position it outside, away from doors, vents and windows to prevent deadly carbon monoxide buildup indoors.
  • Preserve refrigerated food – Food will keep for up to 4 hours in a closed refrigerator and 24 hours in a half-full freezer when the power is out. Avoid opening the doors unnecessarily so cool air is retained. If extended outages threaten to spoil food, consider moving refrigerated items outdoors in cooler months.
  • Prepare your sump pump – Heavy rains often accompany storms, raising flooding risks. Ensure your sump pump can operate without electricity by installing a backup battery system. This protects your basement from water damage when the power fails.

Verify Your Home Insurance Covers Power Surge Damage

When lightning, grid spikes or malfunctions send a surge of electricity through your home, the results can be catastrophic for unsuspecting appliances and devices. Inventory your policy to be sure power surge damage is included in your personal property coverage. Here’s what to look for:

  • Surge damage coverage – Confirm your policy lists power surge damage under covered perils. This pays to repair or replace electronics, appliances, and equipment zapped by power spikes originating either inside or outside your home.
  • Food spoilage reimbursement – Some policies reimburse up to $500 for food losses if your refrigerator or freezer contents spoil due to an outage. Review details and limits.
  • Loss of use coverage – Standard policies don’t cover temporary living expenses if you must relocate when a power failure makes your home unlivable. “Loss of use” coverage is usually optional and comes with dollar limits.

Understanding exactly what your insurance does and does not cover for power disruptions helps you fill any gaps cost-effectively. Contact your agent to discuss amending your policy if you don’t have the surge damage or loss of use coverage you need.

Safeguard Your Home with Backup Power Solutions

To keep your home livable and family secure whenever the lights go out, consider investing in reliable backup power sources along with whole-home surge protection. These solutions can literally pay for themselves by preventing food losses and expensive appliance damage.

Install a Home Standby Generator

For full home backup power that comes on automatically, home standby generators are the gold standard. Models from brands like Add On Electric allow you to:

  • Runs on natural gas or propane so there’s no need to refuel or recharge
  • Connects to your home’s electrical panel and existing fuel line
  • Senses when the utility power fails and starts up within seconds
  • Provides electricity to your entire home or just selected circuits
  • Shuts off automatically when utility power is restored

With a standby generator, you can run lights, appliances, heating/cooling systems, water heater, home office equipment and more, giving your household full normal functionality. Units run quietly and are emission-certified, making them safe for indoor installation. Prices range from around $3,000 for a 7kW unit up to $15,000 or more for a 30kW whole-home model.

Install Whole House Surge Protectors

Even with backup power, electrical spikes can damage electronics and appliances when utility power returns online. Whole house surge protectors are installed at your circuit breaker panel or electrical meter to guard against surges coming through lines from the utility company and elsewhere. Add On Electric offers protectors that monitor power 24/7 and divert excess voltage before it can reach your devices. Professional installation runs $800 to $1,500 but is well worth it to safeguard your household systems and valuables.

Consider Solar + Battery Power

Going solar with a battery storage system allows you to disconnect from the grid entirely and provide your own electricity around the clock. Excess solar energy charges the home battery packs during the day to power you overnight or during multi-day outages. With sufficient solar panels and battery capacity, you can meet 100% of your home’s electrical needs with clean, renewable energy and take full control over your power supply. The upfront investment is higher but produces long term savings on energy costs.

Invest in Portable Backup Power Stations

These compact, portable all-in-one devices integrate batteries, inverters and outlets in one convenient package. Charge them up in advance so when an outage hits, you can plug in lights, phones, medical devices, small appliances and more. Models with solar panel charging allow you to recharge the batteries using the sun. With capacities from 500 watts up to over 2000 watts, keep one fueled up for emergency outages. Top brands include Goal Zero, Bluetti, Jackery and Anker.

Final Thoughts

By combining reliable backup power with high-quality surge protection, you can rest easy knowing you have the best safeguards in place against power disruptions. Your family and home electronics will be guarded even in prolonged blackouts.

Be proactive in preparing for outages before emergencies arise to minimize inconvenience and prevent thousands in damage costs down the road.

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