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Continuity of power

Last night my residential area lost power for about 2 hours, between 2-4 am. This reminded me of something, and there’s analogies to MySQL infrastructure. Power companies have over recent years invested a lot of money in making the supply more reliable. But, it does fail occasionally still.

From my perspective, the question becomes: is it worth the additional investment for the power companies? Those extra few decimal points in reliability come at a very high cost, and still things can go wrong. So a household (or business) that relies on continuity has to put other measures in place anyway. If the power company has an obligation to deliver to certain standards, it might be more economical for them to provide suitable equipment (UPS, small generator) to these households and business (for free!) and the resulting setup would provide actual continuity rather than merely higher reliability with occasional failures. Everybody wins.

As a general architectural considering, new houses can be designed with low voltage circuits (12-24V) in most areas and 110/240V just in kitchen, laundry. Why? Because most stuff around your house actually runs on low voltage anyway, but uses inefficient heat-generating transformer blocks (power adapters) to get it. Cut out the middleman! It saves money, looks better, is safer (no transformers in ceiling for halogen lighting, etc), and there are fewer points of failure. It’d be fed from central batteries, charged by solar if you wish, and a single transformer (basically like a car battery charger) from mains power. Also think about led lighting for some places and uses, very cheap to run. Apart from all the aforementioned advantages, again it delivers higher uptime since a power failure will then not affect your lights and other stuff running off the low voltage circuit, since its direct power source is a battery – essentially a UPS for most of your house’s electricity needs.

Mind you, I didn’t invent any of this this. It’s been done. All it takes is builders with vision, and/or home owners with initiative. Appying existing technology.