How to keep your smart home online when you lose power

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A power outage is never convenient. But when you rely on technology for heating and security, losing power can be a real problem. Here’s how you can keep your smart home online when the grid lets you down.

  • What happens to smart home tech in a power outage? While many devices require power, some (e.g. smart speakers, security cameras) can be battery operated.
  • Do you need Wi-Fi to keep your smart home online? Yes, in most cases — for the full list of features, anyway. That said, most devices have some form of offline backup system.
  • What is the best power backup for smart home tech? It’s a good idea to have more than one. Keep reading to see our list of recommended backup options!

There are many good reasons to install smart home technology — convenience, better security, energy savings, and so on. But what happens in the event that you lose power? Here’s how to keep your smart home online when the grid fails you.

Choose battery-powered devices

Many smart home devices demand constant power and an uninterrupted Internet connection. This is fine under normal circumstances. But when the power network goes down in your area, it’s nice to have a plan B.

Hence, when you purchase new smart home devices, it’s worth checking whether they can operate on battery power. Here are a few examples:

Arlo Pro 2 Smart HD Security Camera by NETGEAR

This waterproof security camera has a rechargeable battery that should last for between three and six months on a full charge. You can also hook it up to a solar panel for daily trickle-charging.

Price: $156.99 USD

New Eve Room Smart Home Sensor by Elgato

When you’re away from home, this sensor from Elgato will keep watch — even if the power drops. Eve Room can track indoor temperature, humidity, and air quality, with six weeks of coverage on a full charge.

Price: $99.95 USD

Ikea Smart Window Blinds

These new smart blinds from Ikea come with a battery pack, so they don’t need to be plugged in. They work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, plus you get a small remote.

Price: $113 USD

Add a backup power supply

While some smart devices can survive on their own, others (such as the all-important Wi-Fi router) are a little more power hungry. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a significant power reserve on standby.

Backup batteries come in many shapes and sizes. Some can power your entire home, while others will just keep your essential gadgets ticking over for a few more hours. Here are our favorites:

APC Back-UPS Pro Battery Backup

This UPS, or uninterruptible power supply, offers eight sockets for your smart home devices. If you ever suffer a power outage, the device will seamlessly transfer to battery power. With 1000VA available, this box can keep you going for some time.

Price: $189.05 USD

APC Back-UPS Pro Battery Backup - How to keep your smart home online when you lose power

APC’s backup UPS will keep four devices online

River Mobile Power Station

If you’re primarily concerned with keeping two or three devices online, this compact backup battery should suffice. River is a 412Wh energy reserve with two AC and two DC outlets, along with USB-C ports and other options.

Price: $599.95 USD

Tesla Powerwall Home Battery

This wall-mounted beast is the ultimate backup power supply. Powerwall holds enough energy to power not only your smart devices, but also your entire home for seven days straight. Furthermore, the battery constantly reloads while you’re connected to the grid.

Price: $3,000 USD

Turn to renewable energy

Of course, battery power will only last you so long. If you want to keep your smart home tech online for days rather than hours, it might be worth investing in renewable energy. If nothing else, you can use solar or wind power to keep your power reserve topped up.

Some smart home devices are designed specifically to be solar powered — smart garden lights and the Arlo Pro 2 camera, for instance. For the others, try these renewable power sources:

Goal Zero Boulder 50 Watt Solar Panel

This sturdy solar panel is made from tempered glass, and the built-in kickstand lets you find the perfect angle. Boulder 50 is portable, but you can just as easily use the device as a permanent solar backup.

Price: $149.95 USD

Legion Solar DIY Solar Panel Starter Set

This advanced solar system is designed to be installed on your roof. It’s easy to set up, and the Legion starter set lets you generate 300W from a single panel. In addition, you can hook up more panels when you need extra power.

Price: $420 USD (with tax incentives)

Don’t panic!

While it’s definitely a good idea to have a back-up plan, it’s worth remembering that most essential smart home devices can be operated manually.

If you do suffer a power outage, you will still be able to open your smart lock with a key. Likewise, the lights can still be turned on at the flick of a switch.

Keeping your smart home online

Have you ever struggled with smart home devices during a power outage? Tell your story in the comments!

The Gadget Flow Daily Digest highlights and explores the latest in tech trends to keep you informed. Want it straight to your inbox? Subscribe now.

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Meet Mark Myerson

Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic.

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