Four Letters Re: Diabetic Preparedness – Storing Insulin in a Grid Down World

Dear Editor:
Robert M. should also look at a propane refrigerator such as found in campers.  It only takes enough gas to run a pilot light to keep things cold.  A 20 pound propane cylinder will last us several seasons and also do the cooking.  A  200 gallon tank would last for several years if it were only used to cool your medications.  I have seen used propane refrigerators going for next to nothing when people scrap out old campers.  – Bob P.

Hi There,
Kudos to the author who wrote about off-grid electric refrigerators for storing insulin; other options he may wish to consider as part of his contingency planning include: – Propane powered refrigerators.  These tend to be very efficient, particularly if you get a model with a lid that opens upward (like a chest freezer) rather than outward (like most household fridges).  If propane figures heavily into your prep plans for heating or cooking, it is only logical to include high efficiency refrigeration to the mix.  Even if it does not, it bears looking into as another cost effective option. – Frio bags.  These are made by the Frio company in a number of sizes and configurations for the express purpose of keeping insulin cool without refrigeration, using evaporative cooling.  The bags are soaked for several minutes in water and the small crystals inside absorb this water, slowly evaporating it over many hours and keeping the insulin inside cool.  While not quite as cold as a good fridge for long term storage (years), I personally know diabetics that have used them to keep insulin cool in some of the hottest deserts on earth for weeks and months at a time.   Best regards (and hoping my stored insulin lasts longer than TEOTWAWKI) – L.J. 

Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the letter, Diabetic Preparedness – Storing Insulin in a Grid Down World, by Robert M, , a couple of other options might be a kerosene powered refrigerator, or a solar ice maker.

The kerosene powered refrigerator, using 1/4 gal of kerosene per day, would allow a 55 gallon drum to power it for 220 days, and four drums on a pallet would power it for 880 days, over two years.

The solar ice maker mentioned at this web site,, produces about 50 Kg of ice each day.

Mr Rawles, 
I follow your blog often and it is a wealth of information that I pull from often. I would like to respond to Robert M. and his issue with insulin. I to have the same problem because my son in a Type 1 diabetic and I would rather die than see him suffer a slow painful death from lack of insulin should TEOTWAWKI happen. As an professionally licensed master electrical contractor for years that has/is experimenting with both wind and solar. I would like to share my findings on this with your readers in the future but the experiment is ongoing for use with pressure water, well pumping and communications. I would though, like to offer some immediate suggestions to Robert.  

First off, if at all possible do not use any kind of motor. If you have to use a motor only DC and certain AC types with a soft start, this I will discuss in a later letter. When using any type alternative power system, any motor or resistance devices like electric heaters or incandescent light bulbs are the biggest drain on a power system either on or off grid, but motors are by far the worst of the three.   

Robert should invest in a propane refrigerator like a Diamond or other quality brand (not an inefficient camper multi fuel type) and not depend on electricity for insulin storage This is what I use to store my sons insulin that I have been storing up in quantity along with rechargeable batteries for his insulin pump and hundreds of syringes an slow acting insulin should the pump fail. I am in the electrical business (well not so much since 2008 LOL) and I would never depend on electricity for my sons insulin storage and as a result his life. Added note: the Diamond LP refrigerator is EMP proof! A double win.  

I have my refrigerator connected to a 1,000 gallon LP tank filled to its 80% maximum of 800 gallons. This will run that 17 cubic foot refrigirator for 12 years if I use it for nothing else! The LP will also store that long. The only other thing I have connected to the LP tank is a very small very efficent 2.5KW 120V Generac camper style generator to use only to supplement my solar panels and wind mills when needed. It can also be used to direct power the 120 VAC soft start well pump to fill a 500 gallon static tank that we can pump water from at 50 psi with a 12V DC pump to two houses and four bathrooms. I do not use a 120 volt motor to distibute the water when off grid, but again I’ll write more on that later.  

I also would like to suggest you find a doctor like I have that is awake and will over prescribe the insulin your wife needs for life so you can save 3 or 4 bottles a month until you can store up what you need for several months. My doctor also prescribed a six month one-time purchase for my son because “he was leaving the country” and we needed it to take with him. Though insurance will not pay for it, I am sure your wifes life is worth it. It was a big cost to me but well worth it. You then can use those six months worth of bottles to rotate out with the new that you purchase always having a supply within expiration dates.  

Good luck Robert and all the others like us that have loved ones that suffer from this or any other drug-dependant disease. – Mike W.