When I returned home from St Andrews this evening the whole of Anstruther was in darkness. There was a town-wide power cut. It turns out the power cut extended right down the Fife coast, as far as Leven, someone reported.
It was really quite eerie. Most houses were in complete darkness, a few had the flickering glow from candles at the windows. A couple of people were walking down the street using torches (‘flashlights’ for American readers).
The sky was spectacular: a blanket of pin holes. I had never seen so many stars while standing outside my house.
I walked into the house and found everyone walking around with torches. There were a couple of candles lit on the dinner table.
“We can’t find your bike light!” a tiny voice exclaimed in the darkness.
“It’s under my bed,” I replied. “I charged it over night.”
I handed Reuben and Isaac my keys and they went racing up the stairs to find it. The small LED torch on my keyring lighting the way. (I always carry a torch with me!)
I walked upstairs, ducked under my desk for a moment and then asked Isaac to switch on my desk lamp.
Suddenly the room was bathed in light from a 7.5 watt 3000K LED bulb.
“How did you do that?!” Isaac quizzed.
“Aha!” I said, “I have an uninterruptable power supply. It’s like a giant battery.”
We saw out the rest of the power cut sitting in my study: the only room in the house with any electric light.
I opened my curtains to show off to the neighbours that we had electricity.
Uninterruptible power supply
A few years ago we experienced quite a few power cuts here in the East Neuk. I got fed up of my PC suddenly dying when the power went out, even just with short blips in power. So I bought myself a UPS, an unterruptible power supply.
As I said, it’s like a giant battery into which you plug your equipment. It monitors your power supply and if the voltage suddenly drops out then the UPS immediately kicks you over to battery power. It announces it with a satisfying ‘click’, and sometimes even a ‘beep’.
The UPS I have — the APC Back-UPS ES-700VA — which cost me about £80 a few years ago, doesn’t have a massive amount of power but it does give me a few minutes to save my work and shut down my PC safely.
But this evening it occurred to me that I could simply plug in my 7.5W desk lamp into it and get maybe over two hours out of it.
I certainly recommend getting a UPS or two, not just to safeguard your data but look how handy it is in a power cut.