No Power? No Problem! The iForway T-Rex 2000Wh Power Station

May 19, 2021 13:28 · 2695 words · 13 minute read

Hey everyone! Last year was pretty crazy and even though we’re past the worst of things, I think it’s safe to say we need to be a little more prepared for the unexpected than we used to be.

00:22 - Infrastructure is just not something we can take for granted anymore.

00:27 - Without being too paranoid, in this video, I’m going to talk about some of the things I use to prepare for different potential situations, explain my thinking, and look at some cool tech I’ve picked up to help.

00:41 - What I have here is the iForway T-Rex, basically, it’s a huge battery, a giant power bank like some of you use to charge your cellphones, but bigger, smarter, and with more tricks up its sleeve.

00:54 - While I unbox it, I need to explain my threat model- what risks I’m trying to mitigate, then you can see how my model matches up with yours and what ideas you think you can use.

01:08 - As most of you know, I live in Shenzhen China.

01:11 - Shenzhen is a very new city, 40 years ago it was just a small fishing village.

01:17 - Now it’s a huge modern city of 14 million. It’s also gotten pretty expensive to live here.

01:24 - Because I need space for all my tools and a workshop to shoot my videos in, I rent a run-down townhouse way on the outskirts of the city.

01:34 - It’s what Americans would call a McMansion.

01:37 - Big but very poorly constructed. I was able to rent it pretty cheaply because the roof leaks, there was no kitchen, no hot water, no air-conditioning- and slowly I’ve been working on fixing some of that, and making it a bit more livable.

01:54 - But obviously, I don’t want to put too much into it because the lease is only for a few years.

02:00 - Because the neighborhood is growing so quickly, construction is pretty much constant.

02:07 - The roads here are being dug up to put in new water mains, new power lines, new fiber optic cables.

02:15 - So power and water outages occur about once a month, and usually last about half a day.

02:22 - While Shenzhen is not prone to any sort of natural disaster, it’s not crazy that a water main could burst or something could happen to the local infrastructure to cause a water or power outage for a few days.

02:37 - And that’s what I’ve been trying to prepare for.

02:40 - It’s a pretty realistic threat model, nothing too paranoid or outlandish, and I try to do what I can to prepare for it while staying within a reasonable budget.

02:52 - I have a solar hot water heater on the roof which paid for itself in the first year, and last month I added a 2000 liter water tank.

03:02 - Let me show you how the neighborhood plumbing uncles put it in.

03:33 - The total cost for the tank and installation was about $500 US dollars, I split the cost with the landlord.

03:40 - So not too bad since it means I don’t have to worry about the toilets not flushing when I have sponsors and advertisers over for meetings.

03:49 - So I can go a little while without water, but I still have to think about electricity.

03:57 - Ok, I have my AC outlets here, I have USB, I have the 12-volt outputs, and the AC inputs and the solar inputs.

04:13 - I want to try out the solar inputs, so I’m going to bring the solar panel upstairs and test it.

04:39 - Ok, the nice thing is that even though this is a large, high-capacity setup, it breaks down into multiple parts so it’s still portable enough for me to carry up the stairs.

04:51 - Now obviously normally I can keep it topped up with mains power, but if there’s an emergency for more than a couple of days I’ll need solar, let’s see how that works.

05:42 - Ok I’ve got my light meter, it’s a pretty cloudy day.

05:47 - It says 376 lux. That’s why there’s only 25 watts of power going in from the solar panel.

05:57 - Okay, let’s leave that to charge and let me show you what I use to get the most out of a battery like this.

06:04 - Ok so why a giant battery like the iForway T-Rex and not a gas generator? I’ve got nothing against generators- they’re great, but they have very specific requirements.

06:19 - Because you need to store gasoline with them, they need to be kept in a separate structure away from the house due to risk of fire.

06:29 - Which makes them out of the question for apartments.

06:33 - You can’t store the gasoline in the generator- it will corrode the lines, and they use quite a bit of gas- or other fuels, about 12 liters or three gallons a day, which means eventually you have to go get more.

06:50 - Which as a small person might not be the best or safest idea, depending on the situation I’m facing and why there is no power, and how people are handling that.

07:03 - If things are bad I want to be able to hole up in my house- not go out scrounging for supplies.

07:10 - Even very quiet generators make a pretty distinct noise, which means everyone knows you have power- and they, probably don’t.

07:20 - Again if you are a larger person, or live someplace where gun ownership is legal, this might not matter.

07:28 - But for me, planning ahead for unknown circumstances, a lot of my risk management strategy is not advertising to the neighborhood that I’ve managed that risk and am doing ok because that’s just asking for trouble.

07:47 - I want to keep a very low profile until services are restored even if that means getting by without a lot of comforts.

07:57 - Same thing goes for those of you with camping vans or cabins, the noise a gas generator makes may attract unwanted attention.

08:07 - But, a gas generator may make good sense for you depending on where you live and what your threat model is so it’s certainly worth looking into.

08:18 - This video is made possible by the generous support of JLCPCB, China’s largest PCB manufacturer.

08:25 - With JLC you can have your PCB manufactured in under 24 hours. All while you track the process in real-time.

08:33 - Prototype board starts just at $2 dollars in any color.

08:36 - Check the description for more info. One of the best ways to support me is to support the companies that fund this channel.

08:42 - Some of you may have noticed my Monero t-shirt.

08:45 - For those of you who don’t know, Monero is a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

08:52 - I get a little every month, and some months it’s even paid my grocery bills.

08:57 - I try not to get into too much discussion about cryptocurrencies because I don’t want to come off as another E-girl trying to jump on the crypto bandwagon. I’m more focused on hardware.

09:11 - That said Monero is the technology I prefer and have the most confidence in, if you’re a member of the Monero community and would like me to do a video on the subject, if you think I’d be a helpful voice, send a donation to the address in the description box and I’ll take that as a vote of confidence.

09:33 - If you think it’s better left to the cryptocurrency professionals and maybe my image isn’t a good fit, no offense taken, I’ll take a lack of donations as indication to leave the evangelism up to others.

09:49 - Ok it’s cloudy out it’s going to take all day to charge and I have a review to do.

09:55 - In my opinion the key to using a backup battery like the iForway T-Rex, is careful power management.

10:04 - Now generating your own power, installing permanent solar panels on your home or van is a huge and complex subject well outside the scope of this video.

10:16 - We’re talking about just enough power to get by camping or in an emergency for a few days.

10:24 - In my opinion, one of the main mistakes people make is trying to use battery power, in similar quantities and in a similar fashion as they use mains power- and scaling up their hardware until they can do that.

10:40 - That gets pretty expensive, large, and complicated.

10:43 - I’d rather carefully ration my power usage during an emergency, use what I have in a smarter way, so I can get by with less hardware and a lower profile.

10:56 - Now the iForway T-Rex has a built in inverter so you can get easily get plenty of AC power out of it, plug appliances into it etc- and that’s very important.

11:09 - I’ll be using mine as a UPS- an uninterruptible power supply, so my cameras and servers don’t go offline when I lose power.

11:19 - But in my opinion it’s best to limit how much you use the inverter during a blackout.

11:26 - Anytime you go through an inverter you lose power, and anything designed to run off AC current like space heaters and TVs are usually not designed to be power efficient so not the kind of thing you want to run off a battery for very long.

11:45 - Something like this- you don’t just plug it into your house wiring, crank up the heat or AC and sit around watching TV in a t-shirt like everything is normal.

11:57 - The tech is very smart- but that’s an inefficient way to use it and you’re limiting yourself if you do use it that way.

12:07 - Here in Asia, historically fuel has been scarce.

12:11 - If you watch Korean or Japanese dramas you’ll notice the use of small space heaters that people gather around.

12:20 - It’s the same here in China, employees in offices may work in full winter coats.

12:27 - It does not really make sense to us to heat the entire building and often older buildings are concrete or brick with poor insulation so this would be very difficult.

12:41 - But as we recently saw in Texas, a cold snap in a historically warm place can be devastating.

12:48 - How can we prepare for a once-in-a-decade or so event, realistically, without breaking the bank? By putting the watts, where they will do the most good- directly into people in the form of thermal energy.

13:05 - This is a little trick I picked up from my buddy HamDad here on YouTube.

13:17 - He does a lot of things including making underwater colonies for hamsters but he put me onto the trick of heated clothing and suitcase batteries like the T-Rex.

13:31 - I’ll put his link in the description box. So this- is heated long underwear.

13:36 - Rather than heat a whole room- and deal with all that energy rising up and heating the ceiling, leaking out through windows and doors- you put the energy where it needs to be and only where it needs to be, your body, and add layers on top of it or even just an emergency mylar sheet to keep from leaking that thermal energy.

14:00 - No don’t worry it’s only 5 volts and insulated so it can’t electrocute you or anything if it gets wet.

14:07 - And it’s incredibly efficient compared to heating a space with something like this and an inverter.

14:15 - Likewise- people get stuck in their cars on the road in a snowstorm, your car will run out of gas running the engine and heating the whole interior but this can keep you warm and toasty for days on the charge a car battery holds.

14:32 - Heated clothes are fantastic for regular use in cold weather, but even if you live someplace warm like Texas or Shenzhen it’s a great, low cost emergency item to put in the closet and forget about.

14:46 - And, if you’re like me and like to wear small clothes even when it’s a bit cool out heated insoles like this put enough thermal energy into your body, to help keep you from getting cold.

15:20 - What about other things? Well, as I said- I try to get the most I can out of a little bit of power.

15:28 - So that means not wasting it, and not being showy with it when other people are without.

15:34 - One of the best things you can do is take advantage of the stored power you already have.

15:41 - I use Makita power tools or at least compatible knockoffs since they don’t sponsor me and tools are expensive.

15:49 - So I can always count on having four or five fully charged 18 volt battery packs because I pretty much use my cordless tools every day.

15:58 - If you’ve got a set of cordless power tools you’ll want to get something like this that converts their voltage to 5 volts USB, and 12 volts barrel jack.

16:10 - I also have a 12 volt charger so I can charge the iForway T-Rex with solar power.

16:38 - I also have this light, but I actually don’t use them during power outages, just when I’m working.

16:48 - For outages I use a small headlamp- it puts all the light where I need it, and none where I don’t.

16:56 - And lets me save power for other things. It also means I don’t have a string of bright 12 volt lights drawing attention and letting people know I have plenty of power.

17:16 - While I do have filtered water, I also have this 12 volt ozone generator so I can treat water if I want to.

17:27 - While it’s pretty unlikely I’ll ever freeze in Shenzhen, it does get very, very hot, and power outages are most common during heatwaves.

17:38 - While I’d probably be ok I’d like to be comfortable, and I need to make sure Momo does not get heatstroke.

17:46 - Since only a few of my rooms are air-conditioned I get good use out of this DIY cordless fan see it’s got an adapter on the back so I can use Makita batteries.

18:16 - Ok, that’s the iForway T-Rex and how I use it.

18:21 - I know it’s an unconventional purchase, the sort of thing many of us would have never considered just a few years ago but times are changing and the world is getting a little unpredictable.

18:36 - With a suitcase battery and a few well chosen accessories, you have a little insurance and some protection from blackouts, brownouts and similar issues with the power grid.

18:50 - The iForway T-Rex is well made, easy to use and I’ve got no problem recommending it if it’s in your budget.

18:58 - If you have any questions about it, please post in the comments section, That’s it for today, until next time, remember if I can do it, anyone can do it! Momo, move, move.

19:31 - Okay, don’t block the camera. Momo, move, move.

19:34 - Come here, come over here. Yes, yes, come over here, don’t block the camera.

19:47 - Okay, so I have my AC outlets here, 12 volt output, my USB here and the AC input.

20:00 - Right next to it is the solar input and I want to try out the solar input.

20:09 - So this is my solar panel. Momo, move. Who’s a good girl? Who’s a good puppy? So this is my solar panel, I am going to plug it into the solar input. .