Letter Re: The Importance of Stocking Up on Batteries

I have been corresponding with an infantry soldier (E-6 [pay grade]) in Iraq named Ray that I met through AnySoldier.com. BTW, thanks for running that free ad for them on SurvivalBlog. All those “forgotten” soldiers need our real support–not just a “Support Our Troops” yellow ribbon magnet on the backs of our cars. In the last 8 or 9 months I have sent more than 30 “care packages” in [Priority Mail] Flat Rate boxes to [AnySoldier.com addressees in] Iraq and Afghanistan.

In our e-mails, one of the things that Ray mentioned a couple of times really impressed me: It is that one of the crucial logistics for modern armies is spare batteries. He described how they go through hundreds of them, for radios, tactical flashlights, sensors, laser target illuminators and designators, and night vision gear/thermal sights. As I look forward to potential hard times in this country, I think that we should learn a lesson from the Iraq experience: never run out of batteries.

So I’ve resolved to never let my family run out of batteries, even if the “problem” lasts for a decade. I took your advice and got a small [5 watt] solar [photovoltaic] panel from Northern Tool & Equipment which I’ve already rigged to charge batteries, using an “automobile” (12 volt DC) charging tray. (It looks like a regular home charger, but it has a 12 volt [input power] cable with a cig[arette] lighter plug.) This gives me straight DC-to-DC charging, without an energy hogging inverter in the middle of the equation. Thanks also for making that suggestion! For my retreat , I’m planning to buy one of the 8 watt panels from Safecastle, in a similar battery charging arrangement. That way I’ll have a separate charging system, even if I have to E&E on foot and leave my 5 watt battery charging panel at home. I’ve also stocked up very heavily on nickel [metal] hydride [NiMH] batteries.of various and sundry sizes, plus some of the older nickel cadmium [NiCd] batteries, and some Duracells. My question is: What more should I do, and what is the best way to store all of the batteries that I’m acquiring? Thanks for all that you provide for free in SurvivalBlog. You should make the 10 Cent Challenge mandatory. Maybe with a password for most of what is on your site that only paid subscribers would have. You are way too generous. Giving it all away is no way to make a living. With Kind Regards – Paul G.

JWR Replies: Thank you very much for raising this important issue. You are absolutely right. Without a reliable long term supply of batteries we will lose some of our best tactical advantages for retreat security: radio communication, electronic intrusion detection systems, and night vision goggles/sights. Think about it: The only way that a small group can effectively defend a rural retreat is with these technological advantages. Without batteries, we would soon be back to 19th Century technology and tactics. Since modern tactical electronics are “force multipliers”, the lack of them would reduce the effectiveness of our defensive measures. Making up for that loss would necessitate having a lot more manpower. And more manpower means more retreat floor space and more food. That additional food means more land under cultivation, and more land under cultivation and means a larger perimeter to defend, and so forth. You can see where this logic leads: Instead of owning a little two family 20 acre low profile retreat, you’d need 10 to 12 armed and trained adults and perhaps 40 to 100 acres, depending on rainfall and soil fertility. Being the local Lord of the Manor is not conducive to keeping a low profile!

You are right that it is wise to stock up on batteries. Try to get rechargeable batteries for as many devices as possible. In fact, compatibility with rechargeables (versus expendable “throw away” batteries) should be a key determining factor when selecting any electrical or electronic equipment. My favorite source for batteries via mail order is All-Battery.com. (One of our affiliate advertisers.) They have great prices and a huge selection.

If space permits, you should store all of your small batteries in a sealed bag (to prevent condensation) in the back of your refrigerator. This will extend their useful life.