kw: observations, storms
And here I am, reading by candlelight…
Last evening, with vague thoughts of what I might like to post running through my mind, I was putting my dinner dishes in the sink when the lights went out. They came back on briefly, then went out and stayed out. We had finished dinner as a thunderstorm raged outside, the kind with lightning at least every second.
We have FIOS, which has a half-day battery backup. However, with no power to run the router, no Internet. So we lit candles—we have a system worked out from past incidents—and talked and read for an hour or so. I set up the camera on a tripod and held still while my wife shot this image: f/4 and 1 sec, ISO 800.
After a half hour (most outages are less than that), I called in a trouble ticket to the power company. They estimated power would be restored at 10 PM. It actually came back up at 10:42. By then I had opened the windows, put out all the candles and gone to bed.
During about two hours in the (relative) dark, I found that my "emergency candles", from a tin I'd bought for the purpose, each lasted about an hour. The per-candle cost is a half dollar. We also have regular white tapers, twice as tall, that burn for four hours and cost somewhat just a bit more, maybe 60¢ each. They're a better deal. Either kind is bright enough to read by, or to navigate a room.
But candle lighting is actually quite expensive. The smallest compact fluorescent lamps (CFL's) are seven watts, brighter than several candles, and at 12¢ per kwh, make light for twelve hours for a penny. I have a few LCD night lights that are also at least as bright as a candle, that are a fraction of a watt. Maybe some day I'll figure out the economics of lighting with my LCD flashlight, which is at least as bright as a seven watt CFL, but battery power is much higher than utility electricity.