Letter Re: Advice on Options for a Small Alternative Power System?

I’m new here and am starting to prepare for long-term survival. I have tons of questions but will ask only one. Do you know, or have any recommendations, how one might use battery power to, say, power as DVD player. If so, what are the best batteries to buy for long-term storage and use? I realize a small power generator could be used, but that also makes noise and uses gas. Thanks for any help. – Andy

JWR Replies: There are two distinct approaches to alternative power systems. The first is the simplest, most efficient, and most cost effective: ALL 12 volt DC. But for this sort of system you need to get all 12 VDC lighting and appliances. Here is how it works: You charge your DC batteries from photovoltaic (PV) panels using a charge controller and draw current directly from them. DC appliances can be found at companies like Camping World.

The second approach is less efficient: Use an inverter to turn the DC voltage from your battery bank (typically 24 VDC) into AC power for standard 120 volt AC appliances.

A small DC-only system (two PV Panels, battery bank and charge controller) can be assembled for around $800 to $1,100.
In contrast, expandable AC inverter type systems start at around $1,500.

I recommend that you talk to Bob Griswald at Ready Made Resources. (One of our advertisers.) He makes both packaged and custom power systems for all budgets. Bob does free consulting on PV system design and sizing. He can be reached at: (800) 627-3809.