Greg's power outages
Wantadilla
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This page describes the situation at Wantadilla, where we lived from July 1997 to July 2007. After that I have a new page for the new house.

What do you need in the way of essential services (“utilities”) from the community? Water, electricity, telephone, postal service and sewage and rubbish disposal come to mind, and nowadays I'd say that “telephone” must include an Internet connection.

Of these, we don't have too many. We supply our own water, we have to pick up mail from the post office 5 km away, there's no sewage disposal (we use a septic tank instead), and the rubbish is removed by an independent contractor. I've discussed my concerns with telephone and network connections elsewhere, but we also have a less-than-adequate electricity supply.

The problems we have are mainly short power failures, less than a few seconds. We have a surprising number of electrical devices that are connected to the power all the time, and which require attention when the power goes away even briefly:

So after every brief outage we have to go into the kitchen and reset three clocks, and into the bedrooms and reset another three, and maybe reset the air conditioner settings. Total time about 10 minutes (you have to wait a minute for each clock so that the seconds are in synchronization).

Longer outages

If the power goes away and doesn't come back within about 10 seconds, it's probably going to be away for two hours. This is what I've called the “possum outage”: a possum walks along an overhead power line and across an insulator, turns to charcoal and shorts out the power. It takes about 2 hours to find it and clean the insulator. We're relatively well protected against this kind of problem with an emergency generator which has served us well, and I don't have too many complaints about the situation.

Power surges

A good UPS should handle voltage fluctuations, not just power outages. They're very varied in the way the handle this situation. Twice we've had what must have been very strong overvoltages, and they've destroyed lots of equipment. At the time of writing, I'm still waiting for ETSA to address the damage caused by the power spikes on 6 December 2005 and 10 January 2007, which together caused about $5000 worth of damage. In addition, these situations have caused me a large amount of recovery work, going into days.

Outage statistics

I've noted power failures from time to time, but I haven't kept formal records. Starting from 18 March 2007 I kept an overview page.


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