Experience with Tesla Solar and Powerwall 2, by Davey

I’d like to relate my experience with installing and operating the Tesla Solar and Powerwall 2 system.

Being able to be off-grid is a goal that most folks prepping aspire to achieve. There are many ways to accomplish this depending on your individual budget, location and needs. Take a moment and think about modern life. Modern life runs on electricity. All the things like your household appliances, lights, HVAC plus your fridge, water heater, and the chest freezer in the garage. The outdoor security lights plus your infrared camera systems and your security alarm system.

What about your driveway notifier like the Dakota Alert system, or similar so you know something (A deer or a people) at 3 AM just started down the driveway or up from the rear fence line gate? I have an input to the television in the bedroom that if the alert goes off, I can flip on the television screen and see the outdoor wired night vision camera feeds 24/7 from my bed and they are set up overlapping to see all the approaches possible. Saves me having to get out of bed for another deer moseying through, and not have to grab the rifle and nighttime “bump in the night” go kit to check it out. (Yeah, I only went to visit the deer in the dark a few times before coming up with a better plan). I would have to get up and go at 3 AM if I want to see who is there without electricity. How about charging and running all your electronics day today. Even things like charging your ham/GMRS/FRS radios, tactical lights, and Eneloop batteries. Electricity is a force multiplier if you have it and if you don’t can really make life a lot more work and a bigger challenge for sure.

There is an old joke I heard as a kid on the farm about snow and ice storms that goes something like “What would people do when the power goes away”, and the young child answers: “We can watch television by candlelight.” Just think about all the things electricity allows us to have and do. Some folks and groups like the Amish go “old school and traditional” and for long-term that can make a lot of sense, plus help inform and inspire our choices too.

Some Assumptions

Let’s say you have a homestead and several acres of land under production for animal feed and pantry dry goods crops. You have a barn and animals and small homestead livestock. Let’s imagine that you have your own water well or perhaps even a couple of them on your place. Perhaps you live at the edge of a small town in a semi-rural farming community. Perhaps you were able to choose a location or happen to live near a water source like a natural lake or river that is within walking distance, but you don’t own shoreline access. Do you really want to try and go to the local watering hole to get water daily, and all the difficulties and risk that entails? I hope you can see where I am going with this and the biggest reason to get an off-grid energy system up and operating is water security.

Water is one of the most important things we all need as humans to survive. In some environments like the desert you can dehydrate in a day and the general rule for survivalist in the rule of 3’s is 3 days without water. That is humans, but what about your animals and plants, your crops, flocks, and herds? What is your true water needs to keep the homestead functioning and how does that change seasonally?

Let’s say you have a couple deep water wells. One is used for your barn, pasture stock tanks and garden as well as for small crop irrigation as needed. The other is used for your house needs. Both the wells are modern with 220V submersible pumps and put out a reasonable volume of over 20 gallons per minute from the underground aquifer that they are drilled and cased into. You have a sweet modern homestead set up or you have your own small house and water well but not a large homestead. Suddenly one of our worst fears is realized. The power grid goes down and may not come back up for a very long time. You know you have a generator in the garage that was bought at Home Depot and it will run a couple hours a day and burn about 20-25 gallons of gas/week and it will get you through possibly a few weeks of being able to keep the freezer cold and being able to speed shower and fill water containers for washing and cooking and of course drinking.

What happens if the Genset goes down or when the fuel runs out? Is there a spare because “2 is 1 and 1 is none”? Perhaps you acquired an older well pump jack and windmill for the barn water well so you can at least head out to the barn and get water for the house to camp at home. I have been on a bunch of farms and homesteads and other than the Amish I see very few windmill pumpjacks and cisterns anymore. Some out in the fields for a stock tank but not many other places. Not many folks I know even keep a spare pump on the shelf for their water well as it is with the grid up. It is a lot of work to pull and replace a well pump but not really complicated.

Our situation here in Northern California, on our semi-rural acreage in the Sierra Nevada mountains, led us to consider a stand-alone solar system and a large set of battery banks with a whole house inverter. Last year our local power company began something they call PSSOs (Power Safety Shut Offs) in our area when the wind blows, and the ground is even a little bit dry to prevent wildfires. After the Paradise, California fires this began in earnest. The first time they shut off our power was for five days. They turned it back on for three days and shut it off for two more days.

My Existing Power Production

I had on hand a small camping generator and my MPC (Mobile Power Cart). It consists of 2 6V high capacity golf cart batteries (480 AH) and a large inverter and a couple of heavy-duty extension cords on a cart I can roll into the living room to power lights and plug in the fridge, my handicapped son’s electric hospital type bed and bi-pap for sleeping. I have a couple 100W Renogy Solar panels and a charge controller to sit out in the yard and charge during daylight. I could run the freezer but not the water well and the pressurized / pumped septic system on our property. Water was not a problem for us as the property has both district metered water, and we have a high-output water well that I had all new equipment installed down the hole three years ago when we bought this place, and it works wonderfully for us. I switched the water supply valves manually to district water so we could easily camp at home. We have a propane fireplace that does not require AC to operate so we were set pretty well for at least a couple weeks. But no one likes showering in cold water and I wondered how long the septic system would go before backing up due to the pressurized septic leach system.

I knew I had an electric sump pump I could put into the equipment side of the septic tank and just push off the tank liquid to the surface worst case but that is not legal and would be more smelly than anyone would like. But I could keep my septic tank operating without the macerating pump and computerized controller that it has. Luckily it had enough room in the equipment tank to go the five days before filling up. I then got thinking about earthquakes because we do live in California and of possible broken water mains from the district.

To Install any whole house or whole property electric system is going to take some money. Modern living does and doing what we do here, where we live a hybrid life of small family homestead with many like-minded neighbors around us. Both my wife and I have modern careers though my wife was just able to retire recently from a .gov career. So, we decided to take further action and searched for what might serve us best and we could afford.

The Powerwall

Our solution for now, was to call/online order the Tesla Energy Systems and see what they could offer. I knew they provided solar and they were on the second generation of something called the Powerwall system. A stand-alone or grid inter-tie combo system that uses the latest tech in batteries and there are no large battery banks to ventilate and maintain with distilled water. We sent them our three months of electric utility bills for the highest months usage (AC and irrigation in the summer months) and they designed a system for our specific needs. No, it is not cheap. However, there is a return on investment (ROI) calculation if you go with the grid inter-tie system. This means it will pay for itself versus what would have been the utility bill you will now not be paying.

There are tax credits both federal and state to consider as well. They designed a hybrid 13.6 KW solar system of 36 roof-mounted panels, with three Powerwall 2 units, a smart inverter. So we now have a battery backup and grid-feeding system. The three Powerwalls combined store 40.5 KWH of energy. For us and our power usage it cost less/month than our current electric utility bill and had an 8-year ROI. Also, it will allow us to operate completely off-grid indefinitely. The thing takes the house off-grid daily during high power rate usage and feeds the grid after topping off the Powerwalls.

I was impressed with the entire Tesla experience. The panels are low profile to the roof and the 3 Powerwall 2 units along with the inverter and control box (between the power meter and the breaker box). They were installed in about five hours by their team. No kidding: On the roof at 07:15 AM and out by 12:30 PM and all ready for the country inspector for the complete system. There is a Tesla app that allows you to monitor the system and what is happening, but it really is a hands-off system. When power goes out, we don’t even know until we leave our place and see the neighbors are without power.

Will it survive a high-altitude EMP attck? I don’t know. And from what I understand, as with all EMP, it will depend on many specifics of the event, like where is the burst and how the propagation flows and lots of details. I have never been able to get a solar or battery company to answer that question. I do know I can throw the switch at the power meter and my house runs normally without even a blink of a light and unless I get crazy with usage can continue for years.

I understand that this system would not pencil out financially for some people but for us, we are reducing our annual cost almost $1,000/year out of pocket and are now off-grid. The math worked for us and our situation. The system comes with a 10-year all-included warranty and 20 years on the solar panels. Since our ROI is less than that it made sense as well for risking possible repairs if any ever are needed. I can only speak to my experience and so far, it is a good one, and if it is an option for you, it is worth considering in keeping your personal grid up.

Stay powered up out there! It may help you survive and for sure it can be that force multiplier in your modern survival endeavors. I love primitive skills training and remote wilderness camping, but if things go haywire it will be much better to have electricity for your retreat or home than to not. Blessings!




96 Comments

    1. I did read another article out there that recommended even with the Tesla batteries you would be advised to install them in a fairly inexpensive cinder block enclosure. While they are relatively safe they still can catch on fire.

    2. We live in an area where solar panels are very common, and 99% of houses with them don’t have house batteries, they just feed the power grid. None of those houses had power during the blackouts this week. I wouldn’t worry about solar panels being bait.

      1. Because thieves ask, right?
        knock, knock.
        H.O. : Whaddaya want?

        Unknown person: I’m casing your place for solar panels. You got you batteries tpp. or are ya grid-tied?

        H.O. : No, we’re too cheap to go off-grid.

        Unknown person : Ok then. Well, you have a nice apocalypse. By chance you got some 9mm or .308?

        Bang.

  1. Thank you so much for writing such a helpful article. About six years ago we installed solar at our place, 9 kW of DC. At that time we went with lead acid batteries. Cycle lifetimes being low for lead-acid, I calculated the cost of energy in and out of the batteries at $.25 per kilowatt hour, twice that of energy purchased from the utility. But we make about $1400 a year in reduced electrical purchases, and the tax savings on top of that. The batteries are there for emergencies, and they have done well for that. I think the newer lithium zero phosphate and other lithium metal technologies are changing that equation. we are now installing a 4 kW system at a back up home location. That one will use a lithium type battery.

    However an unexpected cost was that we have had at least two equipment failures. One was a $1700 inverter failure, despite my warning the vendor that the fan on that unit had gone out. The vendor delayed reaching us, we were out of state and the inverter failed, and we lost two freezers worth of food when we returned out of state. Est of food: $500. It took hours and it was a stinking mess to fix. That took out a good bit of profit!

    For EMP Hardening we have installed metal oxide varistor type protection at every point of the system that we can. And we keep a back up inverter and back up charge controller in a trashcan. That’s about all we can do, along with a few spare panels.
    The second problem has been radio frequency interference to our ham radio communications gear. It’s worse on lower bands and it seems to have gotten better with a replacement of the inverter, and as much filtering as I could do. There are online stories that the new string systems that operate at six or 900 V are even worse— so I went with the tried and true 48 V system at the second home that will be installed this summer. But lithium batteries.

    Thanks again for taking the time to give us your experiences, it makes me feel like our coming newer system may be a good idea

    1. Prepper Doc!
      Would you share your thoughts about key priorities related to survival and TEOTWAWKI emergency medical care? In a grid down scenario, what are — statistically speaking — the most preventable and/or treatable medical emergencies that might otherwise lead to loss of life or limb. I am thinking about the subject of this article alongside the report by Aesop at the Raconteur Report, and wanted to check in for your recommendations. I’m thinking “household level” at this point with an eye to post-disaster development of some centralized kinds of sites (would love to see these before a disaster, but think this is unlikely). Thanks so much for any guidance and suggestions!

      1. OH my, Telesilla of Argos, I struggle with this one. I have served twice in 3rd world countries in dirt-floor mission “clinics” and I volunteer now in a “homeless clinic”….the medical care that I can give in such circumstances is extraordinarily limited.
        1 Cuts and lacerations, boils — you can do a tolerable job preventing people from going on to die of an abscess without a hospital, using a kitchen.
        2. Chronic ills: People with heartfailure aren’t going to live long without real care; hypertension people will survive “for a while” depending on the severity but increase in stroke risk with really high pressure; people with auto-immune diseases are going to have a very very hard time; people with transplanted organs and no access to anti-rejection drugs….will die Type 1 diabetics will die unless someone with some REAL KNOWLEDGE starts harvesting pancreases from livestock….this can be done but you need a really sharp individual. In Haiti no one had any really severe chronic illnesses (beause they had already perished…..)
        3. Broken bones. Well you can tolerably treat simple fractures of long bones if they aren’t badly displaced. But a broken hip??? Bad news. Skull fracture? Bad outcome. And people who break large bones had taken a huge amount of force and may have significant internal bleeding…and convalescence may produce a pulmonary embolism….
        4. Gunshots: oh my, if it perforates the abdomen you are pretty much done for. Trying to save someone from sepsis with a perforated viscus will be impossible without a hospital/surgeon. Peripheral? You may lose function (nerve injury, vascular injury) but may survive. Lung? If you survive the sucking chest wound you may actually do OK. Heart or brain? You’re dead.
        5. Perhaps the MOST TREATABLE will be simple infections like urinary tract, kidney infecition (pyelonephritis), bacterial pneumonia (no treatment for viral pneumonia). That is if you guess the right antibiotic and don’t run out!! The death rate from pneumonia I’m told has been about the same thru centuries and depends more on the status of the patient….than the treatment.
        6. Childhood diseases? The infant mortality will return to HORRIBLE with no access to the myriad vaccines. Smallpox, diptheria, measles (a killer of the infirm), and many others will ravage the newly born. But social contact may be less which may help?
        7. Childbirth: People have survived having babies for millenia — as long as the child CAN be born. A breech that won’t progress? Mom and baby are going to die if you can’t find a surgeon. We worked for HOURS driving from hospital to hospital in Haiti to save one mom’s life…. Pre-eclampsia? High mortality without treatment.

        A lot of people forget what a Godsend the development of ANESTHESIA was…. in a world without medical care, we will be back to opium and alcohol….or freezing extremities to try saw-amputations. Its pretty gruesome.

        I have very limited experience at all of this. So others might have better input. But what saved lives on battlefields was RAPID EXTRACTION and movement to high quality care locations during the “golden hour” before the soldier bled to death. Even then, modern high power firearms generally destroy extremities. What does my family do? I have a reasonable stock of antibiotics and a tiny amount of gear to do minor suturing…and a few items for people with chronic diseases. Venezuela gives a good view of what can happen — people just don’t live as long. Modern medicine (what I practiced) depends on CT scanners, incredible blood-laboratories, Xray and fluroscopy machines, anesthesia (you can do a LOT with lidocaine and needles if you know what you are doing but if you don’t, you’ll kill the patient) and incredible organization of services. America spends about 20% of its GDP on healthcare…which gives you an idea of the effort required….

        I hope this was in some way helpful….

          1. AP in CO!
            Absolutely agreed. I wonder if Prepper Doc’s post might be converted to a feature length article. It’s excellent in terms of insight and guidance. It’s also a serious reality check for all of us.

          2. Prepperdoc: well thought out essay. Indeed, our hospitals have bought in to the “Just in Time” delivery/inventory/logistics theory, such that there is no “bench”, no “back room”, no real “store room” full of supplies to dip into should the need arise.

            The tales of no PPE for clinical staff, from a year ago, should illustrate that problem.

            Once electricity goes away (for whatever reason, for whatever time frame), there is only so much fuel for the back up generators, and in a world in which there is no mains electricity, there is no pumping fuel into a truck to deliver, to refill those fuel tanks.

            Bad times.

        1. THANK YOU, Prepper Doc. Your response was so helpful, filled with insight and guidance, and is firmly grounded in facts and reality — as difficult as those might be. You are also confirming what we have believed for some time and the knowledge base on which we have based our own preparedness planning. You have also helped us revisit the subject this morning in good and constructive ways so we can continue to continue to build in as many was as possible going forward.

          Also a thought… As a society, we ought to think long and hard about the need to protect and preserve access to medical centers even if those are not possible as we know them in the present. I’m thinking decentralization and the supports necessary to operate in a disaster and for some extended period of time (indefinitely would be ideal, but probably not possible).

          As a preventive measure, we should be looking very seriously at hardening our grid and building in redundancy.

          This is a good and important conversation. Again, so many thanks for the sharing your thoughts, ideas, experience, and guidance!

        2. Not a pretty picture, but rings true to me. I often wonder how long I will survive when the inevitable happens. I suspect that as soon as my meds run out that will be the end, never mind gun shot wounds, chains saw accidents or other hazards.

        3. Prepper Doc

          As a believer and prepper I frankly see the coming decade as a depression, ( courtesy of CV19, hyperinflation etc ) factor in an electronic marking buy & sell system ( Revelation?), possibly coming worldwide, means huge numbers of people will die off, your write up of medical problems is a very, very bleak picture I have to say……geeze

      2. Not Prepperdoc but prevention is key. Like he said about minor boils, cuts and abrasions keep them clean! Minor surgery after SHTF isn’t Minor. Early treatment for boils is often simple warm salt water soaks to get it to relive itself. Then wash and dress to keep nasties out. Keep an eye on it until healed or reoccurrences WILL occur.

        Eye protection! Gloves, Heavy Duty work aprons, will prevent a lot of what I saw in Africa. Thinking before doing helps. Impulsive actions get trees-trucks dropped on folks.

        Burns mostly preventable, think before. Keep an eye on the impulsive ones even children :-).

        Chainsaws weapons of mass destruction, Wear ALL Protective Devices EVERY TIME. It’s the “Just a limb” injuries I see the most in my ER.

        Get your shots up to date, get your dental work done. Preventable troubles for a few years.

          1. Great comments here from PrepperDoc and Michael with real world experience. Seems like today’s annoyance/minor injury will become tomorrow’s emergency and maybe life threatening when things go bad (badder I guess). This is the second time someone has mentioned work aprons in the last couple weeks, it’s an interesting topic I’ve never given much though to.

          2. Work Aprons, easy to wash post SHTF compared to jeans and shirts. A heavy duty one has saved me from many a slip of a pruning knife when I am doing grafting and such. I’ll never know how many potential rusty barbed wire episodes also.

            Having USEFUL pockets for needed tools. I have a pocket for my work gloves so I don’t misplace them. I even have a pocket for my Heritage Arms pest remover that keeps it secure and clean while I am working.

            Get thee hence to a thrift store and ask about “Unsellable” Jeans and such. For the price of a little kindness and occasional Dunkin Doughnuts I have been given BAGS of stuff I can repair and reuse.

            ALL my Aprons and most of my work wear comes that way.

            A worthwhile set of skills friends. Learn how to Darn Socks (BTW also fixes holes in sweaters-gloves-watch caps eh?). Learn how to Replace Zippers (I get mine from old clothing). Learn how to sew a button and patches.

          3. Work gloves are terribly important as well. I’ve been on our prepper property two months and have lost count of the number of scraped knuckles, abraded hands and splinters. These are easy to shake off at the time, but several become infected enough that I had to soak them in hydrogen peroxide a couple times a day and bandage them with triple antibiotic oiintment.

            I now wear our big heavy heat-resistant gloves when I am putting wood in the stove more to protect myself from splinters than I do to protect myself from the heat.

            I had an 8-pack of work gloves in my stored supplies but I have worn a hole in the index finger of one and the index and middle finger of a second pair. I’ll cut off the other fingers and use them to repair the other glove, but it was a lesson in how sometimes eight is not enough.

    2. If you are worried about the high cost of lithium batteries you should look at forklift batteries. I sell a line that have a five year unconditional guarantee. Projected life in solar applications is 15-25 years.

      1. I managed to obtain a set of top quality batteries for my solar rig at a very low cost by buying a cosmetically blemished set that an industrial customer had returned. These things are usually not listed online, so you will need to be near a factory or big distributor and go talk to them. They are generally sold without a warranty, but I have had no problems over 3 years. No quality company will let anything out the door that will harm their reputation.

  2. You are going to have to prepare for that horde of marauders no mater what, Your garden, orchard, animals or what not, will give you away. You can only do the best you can if they show up. The thing about having good back up power is that it is not only about convenience but it lightens the work load. For example, do you want to grind your wheat on a rock, or take a few minutes to grind a weeks worth with an electric mill? Will you enjoy doing the laundry by hand down by the creek? Do you want to drill holes in a piece of steel to repair something by hand, or use an electric drill or welder? How about long term food keeping; refrigerator/freezer, dehydrator? I anticipate that there will be a lot more things taking up my time just to stay alive than there are at the moment so any help is worth while. As for costs, think of it this way, all those dollars you have been working so hard for will be worthless so you might as well put some into cost reducing tangibles today that will help now and later while things are readily available. Today solar panels are everywhere so you shouldn’t stand out to badly if they are on your roof. As far as solar panels are concerned there is only a couple of reason to put them on a roof , convenience of installation and lack of space. There are several reasons not to. If you have room ground mounting makes more sense. 1.They can be placed behind a building out of sight, or at a distance. I have installed them 600 feet from the battery bank due to the need for sun exposure. 2. Maintenance, most folks are not aware that this means periodic cleaning as dirt, dust, and bird droppings decrease output. Most solar installation companies fail to mention this cleaning issue. I would certainly rather have even a small system to run a few lights than sit in the dark. Bigger is better in this case.

    1. Hey Joe, you beat me to the punch on most of this so all I can say is, Amen brother!

      I’ve never bought the roving-hordes story so I’d be interested in hearing why people think that way about solar panels. My thinking is, 1.) roving hordes aren’t going to pass up a single house just because there’s one ¼ mile away with solar panels. 2.) most people who have solar panels aren’t even preppers, they’re environmentalists and other “greenies” trying to save the planet. 3.) Anyone in a roving horde who associate them with preppers will also be aware that preppers have the bullets stacked even more deeply than the beans, In that case, solar panels might actually make your property safer from the roving hordes.

      My panels have been very low maintenance, dust being the biggest problem since I live on a dirt road. I use a brass jet nozzle ($5) that shoots water 25 feet so it’s not a problem to wash the dust off a few times a month or even weekly.

      All the examples you give on why solar panels are important are things people haven’t thought through very well and are romanticizing how life will be in a TEOTWAWKI situation. I used to grind all my flour by hand and it takes a lot more calories than people realize and it does a number on your shoulders, which is why I quit doing it. Water is also going to be one of the single biggest issues for most people and to go through all the inconvenience of hauling and sanitizing it is just plain insane IMO when you can have a water pump wired directly to a solar panel doing all that work for you. We’ll have more than enough manual labor and not enough hours in the day after the SHTF to be adding water duty to the line up. Add winter to the mix and water hauling becomes a pure torture.

      Double amen to what you said about solar panels being an excellent tangibles investment. How many people have WAY more guns than they need or could possibly use in a SHTF scenario, who don’t have solar panels? Maybe sell some to buy a PV system. How many people have stacks of PM’s, which will be not as useful as they think in TEOTWAWKI compared to solar panels. I’m guessing that many of us are way overbalanced in our tangibles investments. Think about the barter value of being a battery charging station for your neighbors. They can yank the batteries out of their useless vehicles and get them charged which would power a lot of things with just a cheap little 400 watt inverter ($40). My washing machine is only 600 watts so like you said, why waste time washing by hand when you can use a machine?

      And why the heck not buy something that is going to pay for itself if you do it the right way, then save you money every month after that????

      Lighting is one of the huge benefits of solar panels. Kerosene lamps seem like a waste of good kerosene, it will run out quickly, and stinks as well as irritates the eyes. I took a car battery that was worn out but instead of turning it in for the core charge, I kept it. I charged it up and ran a 6 watt LED light, the normal one next to my reading chair, and ran it for 41 hours straight using a 100 watt inverter I got at an auction for $5. Kerosene and anything with an open flame is an unnecessary fire risk and also covers the ceiling with black grime and soot. And all of those sources, candles, kerosene, etc will run out quickly. Then what?

      People give a lot of reasons for not getting solar panels but if they are preparing for TEOTWAWKI it, and most are probably not since it’s a low-probability event, but if you are then not having solar panels should be rethought. The best way is to throw the main breaker in your house and spend 30 days living without electricity in February and see how quickly all those romanticized ideas become loud curses and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

      1. In my youth, I lived, for a while, in a house in a northern state that didn’t have whole house heat and the pipes froze. My brother and I would walk a hundred yards over to a neighbor for water. We had to do this several times a day just for a family of five. At eight years old, I could only carry two gallons at a time while my older brother carried four gallons.

        1. Hey BWL, my hands and shoulders hurt just thinking about that. I have a relative in a far north state a stone’s throw from Canada. Their off-grid cabin would get far below zero when they weren’t there in winter. They had a hand pump right at the kitchen sink, which I thought was the coolest thing ever as a kid. It didn’t hold a prime so the pipes never froze. Needless to say, the first thing they did when they got there in the winter was to fire up the wood stove.

          I hope your hands and shoulders have recovered from your Gunga Din days. 🙂

          1. Before we had a generator our power went out for 5 days and my daughter and I would go down to the lake behind our house and fill up a huge blue plastic bucket we had (the kind you load with ice for a party) and fill it up for water to flush the toilets. At this time, there was a big controversy in town over the ridiculous school tax they were proposing. The people who wanted to vote no were being called “ignorant hillbillies” and the people who wanted everyone to vote yest were being called (real town name removed for OPSEC) Fancytown-wannabes. This being mid-summer, my daughter and I are at the lake (we had to drive there, there’s no real access from behind my house) filling up the bucket and wearing the normal mid-summer/power’s been out for days outfit: flip flops, tank tops and shorts. As people are driving by my daughter says: “well, one look at us and they’ll know which way we’re voting on the school tax hike”! She was 8!

  3. With whole house solar and life cycle care, there will probably never be a decent ROI, but that is not really the predominant thing to me. What’s important is continued operation of the homestead and safety for my family, until such time as we learn how to survive and adjust to going back in time 100 years.

    Can you tell us how much did it cost?

    1. Animal House… You make a very good point re: ROI and your own prioritization of continued household operations while adjusting to new conditions faced in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. We want to be wise with the investment of our resources (including money), and an important part of that wisdom is understanding the development of worst-case-scenario safety nets. One of the objectives should be to survive not only an cute crisis event, but also the transitional period that follows. Thank you for raising this!

      1. Before we had our big solar system, I had planned (and still do) for a “minimalist” solution. Panels are running about 50-75 cents per watt. Two or three panels able to make about 600-900 watts and you have a significant amount of production capacity by just putting on the ground and setting an angle with simple wood braces. MPPT controllers that handle about 10A @ 12V from 30V input are in the $50 range right now — I have several. Sine wave inverters capable of running a fridge (a fridge is a costly luxury, folks….consider simpler solutions or a dorm fridge) generrally have to have 2kw capacity to handle starting and better if you can get a 24V input one (smaller wire requirement). We ran our county Emergency Operation Center ham radio station at 150watt vacuum tube amplifier output for 24 hours using batteries and combination solar/gas generators…a LOT of work. But for modest outlays of precious $$ you can have a least a tiny bit of electricity. FAR cheaper than the fancy installed grid-connected systems that do have a significant return on investment but may be destroyed by roving bands. I’d suggest to start simple. The panels at Harbor Freight are horribly overpriced. Go to a real solar dealer and get much more for your $$$. The price of lithium ferrophosphate (LIFEPO4) batteries is plumeting and will represent a better choice than lead acid very soon. (Even I am switching to them…) Batteries are a rapidly depreciating item, especially lead acid. AVOID moving power in and out of them as much as possible. Use the power when generated where possible. There is a reason the tennessee valley authority stored energy in lakes on the top of mountains: far cheaper overall costs.

        (And, might I add…LEARN TO RELOAD METALLIC CARTRIDGES)

        1. Hey PrepperDoc, agreed, places like Harbor Freight have horrible overpriced solar panels. Home Depot had them last year for 61¢ a watt ($185/300 watt panels), but everything now is in the $1 range. But still a good bargain. Like you said, a whole lot can be done with just a single panel and some cheap inverters and in a TEOTWAWKI situation, will be literally worth their weight in silver.

    2. St. Funogas, A lot of us Texans are finding out the hard way what it’s like to have to haul water in buckets in wintertime and to live without electricity in February. We’d all be dead if an event like this lasted for 30 days! Don’t get me started on the water issue.

  4. First off you should get your self a “Hand Pump” for one of your wells. Dump the propane fire place and go to Wood. Get your self a composting toilet or build an outhouse. There are ways to take a shower and bath by using “Zodi outdoor shower.”Also don’t forget a wash tub.
    Make sure you have some oil lamps. I have be using kerosene lamps for years when the power is out. You can burn #1 diesel and add a table spoon of paint thinner so it will burn cleaner. Learn how to trim the wick’s so they don’t smoke a lot.
    My best suggestion is to get the “H*LL” out of California.
    I left 43 years ago and never looked back. After 30 years in Alaska I go out due to a bad back injury.
    You need to do some checking about a better place to live.

    I wish you well. Gman

  5. This, folks, is otherwise known as a WARNING.

    From the Texas Tribune: “Texas was “seconds and minutes” away from catastrophic monthslong blackouts, officials say”

    https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/18/texas-power-outages-ercot/

    Our vulnerabilities are greater than most people know. Communicate with your utilities officials, local and state politicians, security experts and others about the need for the country to have a sturdy, stable and secure power grid. Understand also that outages like those so many have faced across the last several days don’t just come in the winter. They can come at any time. They can be caused by natural weather events or other disasters, acts of terrorism, and acts of war. Don’t wait for public authorities to course correct. Create your own course corrections in the present. Prepare for safety and survival in the absence of the usual utilities.

    …and while you’re at it! Take a close look at foreign countries being allowed access to systems (such as wind farms) that tie into the electrical grid. Rethink the level at which you want this to be allowed going forward. This is potentially a national security nightmare. If you think a winter storm can wreck havoc, imagine what might happen if — in an act of terrorism or act of war — utilities were lost for a much longer time period.

    1. Hey T of A, I think most are blissfully unaware of the things you mentioned. If people are bored on a Saturday morning, google “terrorists power grid” if you want to know how easy it would be to create havoc that would be 95% as effective as an EMP and could be pulled off by relatively few terrorists. Depending on which EMP stats you believe, it would be even more effective than an EMP.

      The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did a report and if the stories quoted by the Wall Street Journal and many other sources are true, then terrorists could take out just 8 major substations and the US would be without power for up to 18 months. If the guesstimates are true, then after a year with the grid down, 90% of Americans will be dead. Most of the major parts to fix the substations come from China, where else, and are created on demand, not sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

      1. St. Funogas!
        You make good points. Absolutely agree with you, and we track these reports closely because this risk flashes red on our personal radar screens. Really hoping the recent events will serve as a wake-up call to the broader population. I’m not sure that will happen, but I hope so…. The reports you referenced are important and telling, and should be read by everyone.

        1. Funny, i had always heard that terrorist power grid thing and it always seemed to say everyone but Texas would be screwed because Texas basically had their own grid. Guess that didn’t work out too well…

    1. Francis — my original 9KW system 6 years ago included a pole barn, which escaped property taxes and HOA issues because it held the solar panels — and allowed storage for the TRACTOR and other implements. That part alone was about $12000. The entire system I think was $60,000 but we got a TON of rewiring done to our requests as a result and we could run our house on minimal conveniences (no central air in main house) INDEFINITELY. I’m about to install a 4kW system at a second home and use lithium type batteries. This will be a slightly complicated install in an 80-year old frame house and will cost $30,000 in today dollars. I gulped at that price but decided to proceed for the survival benefits The battery part alone is about $10,000. The structure was $300,000 when we purchased it earlier this year.

    2. Hi Francis, it you ask that question to 10 different people you’ll get 13 different answers so it will be interesting to hear the replies.

      Here’s a link below I wrote last September on how what I think is the absolute cheapest way to install solar panels if you have some simple DIY skills and can wire up an electric water heater. If I had to rebuild my system today, it would cost $4,000.

      If money is an issue, you can start with an inverter, then add solar panels as you get more money. If you want a 3,000 watt system for example, buy a 3,000 watt inverter, then buy a $300 solar panel each month until you reach 3,000 watts of panels. The key is to plan your system all out ahead of time, then add on to it. My article is for a grid-tied system. Once you get your feet wet, then it can be switched over to a battery system. Battery systems have a much longer payback time and some never do have a payback time so unless it’s your only option or money isn’t your primary concern, grid-tied is a better way to start IMO.

      If you get the right type of inverter like my Sunny Boy 3,000, you can start grid tied and then if the grid goes down forever next Wednesday, you use the same inverter to pull off 1,500 watts on sunny days. By adjusting your schedules and learning the work arounds, even that would suffice in a TEOTWAWKI situation for many applications. And certainly better than what most people will have when the SHTF. All the normally wall plugs in your house are rated up to 1,500 watts so on a sunny day anything you are plugging into the wall today would run off my inverter without even having a battery system.

      This is the last year the IRS is still giving a 22% tax credit on solar panel installations so even if someone had to take out a low-interest loan to get their installation done this year, it may be worth the 22% savings. You’d have to punch the numbers. If the IRS is going to let me keep 22% of my money for the total cost, I’m all for that.

      https://survivalblog.com/2020/09/29/pv-solar-panels-can-pay-st-funogas/

      1. also note that part of the covid relief measures passed earlier in 2020 extended the 26% (not 22%) federal tax credit on the solar materials (panels, inverters, powerwalls/batteries, etc. so you have all of 2021 to get this done and still get that credit. on top of that, most states (with income taxes) also give a state credit, further reducing your actual cost.

    3. Electric Power for the Lean and Mean.

      For less than $1000.00 we can buy the components and wiring for a PV system that can supply water to the house, power radios, a laptop, fans in the summer, led lighting, a 12vdc Shurflow pump for the house, and irrigate up to a 20,000 square feet of garden with 700 gallons per day, with a Dankoff #1303 taking water from a creek, a pond, or shallow well, or cistern if spring fed. All this can be done with only 5 Renolgy 100 watts panels, 2 golf cart batteries, and a PWM charge controller (buy two or three. MPPT charge controllers are better). I have little need for wasteful inverters. If I can afford the propane, I’ll run one of two propane refrigerators. It would be also good to have a small gasoline generator, and 20 gallons of fuel on standby for a contingency. I can also convert, and run carburated generators and motors on propane, but do not recommend this for others. I also know how to build a wood gas generator. Download the plans…

      As an emergency power plan, I can run a treadmill motor as a 12 or 24, 36, or 48vdc generator using a bicycle on a stand, and a long serpentine belt. This set up cost me $50.00, and $50.00 for the belt. It uses an inexpensive and widely available 15 amp diode from PV panels to turn an electric motor into a generator. Better for most, I can also turn a 12vdc one-wire GM alternator with the bicycle. Both of these options can also run the 12vdc Dankoff water pump as in most cases it would need only 4 amps to deliver 2.5 gallons per minute. The bicycle can also be connected to a Country Living Mill, or the mill can be run off PV panels and a treadmill motor using a variable home built, or store-bought potentiometer to regulate the speed to below 90rpms. Look up video on how. It is easy. An automotive 30amp heater blower motor switch can also be used. We can also use a gas motor that has a reduction gear to run the mill. And we can also crank it by hand…

      If really tight on dough (money), we can do without the golf cart batteries by charging devices directly, but this requires a bit of technical knowledge. Kerosene lamps can burn a brand of kerosene substitute called Kleen Fuel. This fuel does not produce the fumes that standard kerosene does. Ventilating the house in the winter and summer reduces humidity and fumes that can build up inside.
      Download the plans for a DYI micro hydroelectric set.

      The two most import reasons we need power is to irrigate a garden, and to power devices need for a security operation if radios are used. We can however make our own field phones that require a minimal amount of power such as a 9 volt battery.
      During heavy cloud cover that is the norm during winter, a 100-watt panel produces at best 10 watts. 10 watts is enough power to charge up a Boafeng UV5R or other handheld each day. If we only had one OP (Observation Post), then it would need a radio, but it does not have to be turned on unless contacting the base station. The base station would need to have a scanner that scan two or more frequencies, or a handheld radio, either on all the time, that uses only .075 amps, or 75mA, on stand-by. This means that this minimal communications capability could be powered by two 100 watt panels through a dark winter. Therefore in my estimation, the least amount of PV power I would have on hand would be 200 watts. This is also enough to run a Dankoff Solar pump, and power additional radios during the seasons when there is full sunlight available. We do not need lead-acid batteries to accomplish this, but we would need a charge controller, or certain step down transformers that eliminate the need for a charger controller. Have both would be best…..

    4. Francis,

      I took inspiration from St Funogas’s article last fall a built a test system on my shed just to learn the basics. A super simple, small battery system. Just a single 100w panel hooked up to a 12v battery. I went with a larger battery (140 amp/hr), so I can redo the array with larger panels later if I want or add additional batteries. With an inverter I can easily power small electronics, or even charge my battery tools. Is this ideal? No, but in a SHTF situation it is still very useful and I put it together for $300-$400. If I wanted to be able to run some serious appliances I would need a larger array of panels, larger battery capacity, and a larger inverter. I am definitely giving consideration to this while we can still access the parts.

  6. The future of battery storage systems is promising, especially as technology improves.

    Being in the electric utility industry there are concerns about fire. A large scale battery utility system exploded outside of Phoenix and sent police and firemen to the hospital, one with very serious injuries.

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/surprise-breaking/2019/04/19/firefighters-hurt-battling-transformer-fire-surprise/3527645002/

    The thing that bothers me is the hidden ways the finances work. When you hear the terms like tax breaks, subsidies and incentives. That is another way of saying other people are paying for it which is a form of corporate socialism.

    Elon Musk made most of his billions off of subsidies and incentives, not selling batteries.

    1. Cactus Jack,

      In Phoenix, the ’cause’ of the exploding electric station is unknown.
      The explosion is ‘under investigation’.

      If I was a conspiracy realist, I might think ‘outside influencers’ could be a factor.
      As in:
      * all those hundreds of forest fires last summer credited to ne’er-do-wells… branching-out from ‘nobody will miss a few trees’ to ‘this will get their attention!’.

      And, if I was a fire-fighter called to the next vaping electric-station, I might observe from a distance.
      Of course, my caution has the potential to darken thousands of homes.
      (I was going to write thousands of ‘homes/businesses’, but part of that equation was dealt the death-blow by ‘chuckles-19 the virus’.)

  7. I love the idea of being self-suffucient in electrical power. I think it makes sense to befriend people who have it. When the power goes out, they may be nice enough to recharge a few necessities for your Batteries:

    Radios
    Electric chain saw
    Drills
    Flashlites and lanterns

    For those totally without any solar power now, look online. There are simple units for less than 200 bucks with all the parts you need.

    I have one Renogy single panel system tucked away in our shop for future emergency use, and an AGM Costco deep cycle battery which cost 175 bucks.

    It won’t do a lot but will do some things for sure.

    I bought several of the small battery maintainer solar panels years ago and love their functional success on batteries only used seasonally.

    The battery/power cart is a great thing to have, and when I can push my way past all the piles in our shop I’ll see about making one.

    Thanks for the article, and comments so far!

    God Bless

    1. Hey Wheatly, you mentioned electric chainsaws. That alone would make it worth having some solar panels. Those who live in areas where it takes 5 cords of wood to heat during the winter are going to have one heck of a time getting that much with hand tools. Our ancestors were able to do it because they lived in teeny little homes that only took two cords to heat and had multiple children to help with the task.

      1. I’ve been running an electric chainsaw and splitter for three years now, and can highly recommend it for firewood. Both run off a standard receptacle. You will need to think about where your logs are delivered to and stored so an extension cable can reach (you’ll need 12AWG cables). The setup has paid for itself already in blocking and splitting costs. I use a small, wheeled gas genny if I have to go cut trees in the forest or around the property.
        It’s a bit slower than a gas saw, but it’s very easy work and I’m not in a hurry.
        Seasoning the wood for at least 2 years is good, and also gives you 2 years supply at least. Splitting at least one year dried wood means your splitter can handle much bigger diameter logs than it claims, so I let the big blocked logs dry for a year before splitting them.
        I use the chainsaw with the quick sharpening system, which is so much easier than manual filing. I’m still on the first chain after 20 cord of hardwood. The trick is never sawing into the dirt.

      2. I’ve used a corded electric saw, and run it off my generator as well as on grid power.

        I just bought a battery powered Ryobi chain saw. I’m looking forward to using it.

        I also have a gas powered Still. Three is me. Funny thing is, I got it over ebay long ago, from someone who got it for hurricane tree cut up and got rid of it.

  8. I have been off-grid for 30 years, self-designed and built PV power system for 12 years.
    Living with no elec at all is excellent practice for having an affordable electrical system, because you learn to regard electricity as luxury.
    The PV panels themselves are now reasonably cheap, $.50 a watt.
    You can build a system with just the panels, an old car battery, and a charge-controller ($500-ish), that will let you run a variety of DC applicances during the day, and LED lights at night…DC well-pumps and small thermoelectric refrigerators are available. DC (“car-charger”) power supplies are available for most electronics.
    The big spend comes if you want AC power, because you then need an inverter.The bigger one if you want it 24/7, because then you need a battery-bank.
    The inverter can pay for itself because with AC power you can use standard cheap (secondhand) ubiquitous AC-powered appliances.

    1. Hey John, it would be nice to see you put an article together to give us all some ideas on how live on the cheap and how to put things together for a more reasonable cost.

  9. Davey,
    An associate of mine recently purchased a Tesla, he also purchased the home charging system, which I can assure you was RIDICULOUSLY priced, and so steep in fact, he could have purchased a Toyota sedan for not much more. His claim is that the Home will increase in value. He also claims that he is essentially paying about “four cents a gallon” to home power his Tesla, This is a HUGE win for our Nation to move toward energy independence from the OPEC countries. . .So I wonder, does this system allow you to power your Home, outbuildings AND an Electric Car? I am asking because the moment Tesla come out with a Pickup truck with reliable 4X4, I’m in!
    I am located in the same region you are. I was wondering, this system you have, does it do the trick for the whole home? How many Square feet? Does it do the trick for your out buildings? What kind of Surge protections are built into the system? How efficient is your Battery storage, when is the projected Life of the Battery Farm? My specific micro climate has about 285 day a year of hard sunshine, how does this play into your energy usage?
    Also, being that the battery factory for Tesla is in Sparks Nevada, I don’t worry too much about service calls and the like, this region of the East Sierra is also home to the world’s fourth largest geo-thermal power plant, so alternative energy sources are a real hot topic here.
    Also wanted to know did you do a self-install? Did it save you a substantial sum? Or did you leave the grunt work to the Professionals?

  10. Very nice article Davey. I was aware of Tesla’s solar system, but had never read much on it.

    A few years ago I posted an article on using a tractor-powered generator to feed your residence here, and I am happy to confirm that it has functioned beautifully this week, keeping our power on in sub-zero temps! I will be making a few tweaks to the voltage regulation, however, we are really not having any significant issues at the house (the pipes in the barn, however, did not fare as well and will require some rework in the spring).

    Senator Cruz was on Fox last night, telling Hannity how his house was without power for a couple of days… anyone who resides in the Houston area and doesn’t invest in a backup generator just isn’t thinking, IMO. We were able to share/invite neighbors over for a hot meal, or to stay the night.

    Blessings to all,

    FLT

  11. I live in northern Vermont and had 33 panels and 2 tesla powerwall batteries installed 14 months ago. Since then the system has paid for all electric usage, all cooling, and all heating through the cold Vermont winters by using a heat pump. I will probably still have a electric credit of around 3,000 KWH come springtime. I didn’t think for a second about ROI, even though I’m sure its fairly quick based on heating house. I don’t know when power goes out, the computer doesn’t even flicker. For the entire system installed after incentives was $22k. For those concerned about incentives meaning others pay for it, there are tax breaks for nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydro, ethanol, etc.
    I will say that our local power company (Green Mountain Power) is very forward thinking, they have a goal of being totally on renewable power by 2030. They offer a great deal on powerwalls, $3k to lease the 2 batteries for 10 years, they cover any issues. The only thing they want is to use the power in the batteries during peak loads, i.e. hot humid days when people come home from work and turn on air conditioner. They will take power from batteries and feed the grid during peak time and replace it later that night, if there is a storm coming they will not take power. After the 10 year lease, odds are they aren’t going to want batteries back, new technology will probably make batteries obsolete but they will still be good to use, so they will probably give them to homeowners for free or a small amount of money.
    For those that think its to expensive, how many of you recently bought a new car?
    If this is a no brainer for northern Vermont, I don’t understand why people in other sunnier locations aren’t jumping on these systems.

    1. Hey Carl, you make a lot of good points.

      “For those concerned about incentives meaning others pay for it, there are tax breaks for nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydro, ethanol, etc.”

      For me there’s only one thing to consider: The only ones paying the “incentives” for a home installation is the homeowner himself. You have to be paying taxes to the IRS because the incentives are just a credit on your tax forms. If your PV system cost $5,000 and you’re getting a 22% credit, that $1,1000 comes straight off the taxes you owe that year. If you only owed $600 to begin with, then the other $500 can be rolled over to the next year. So nobody subsidized my solar panels, the IRS just stole less of my money that year. If you don’t have taxable income, then the incentives don’t apply to you.

    2. ” For those concerned about incentives meaning others pay for it, there are tax breaks for nuclear, coal, natural gas, hydro, ethanol, etc.”

      This is often stated but not true. There are the normal tax rules that any business has but no subsidies. No government will pay me 50% of the cost to install a oil or gas furnace but they will for solar.

      The simple truth is that energy from PV solar will never in it’s lifetime exceed the energy used to manufacture and install the system. The ONLY reason it appears to ever bring an ROI is because other tax payers subsidized it. Simple as that. It is like stealing but with the approval of the government.

  12. I can’t possibly be the only person who sees the folly in buying something for tens of thosands of dollars to save a few bucks a month. These things are too expensive and are contradictory to “self sufficiency”. A very simple system with a small panel and cheap battery to power/charge a phone or laptop might make sense. But a $30,000 system so that you can power your whole house seems to me to be overkill.

    1. It all depends on your investment options. When I looked at our 1st real system, I wasn’t willing to do the work myself but I could still see a 6% return on investment when taxation and other issues were considered, and that was better than you can get with bonds by far and almost as good as the stock market or collectibles. Let me assure you I have made plenty of money in many diversified tangible’s. We had started very very simply with just a few panels but the return on investment from a grid connected system was fairly enticing when the survival benefits were also factored in. If you can do the work yourself it becomes very very lucrative. I have a friend who did just that and has done very well.

      To each, his own! My tractor has a terrible “return on investment” if looked at simply from financial viewpoint — But I could turn our entire neighborhood into so-so crop-producing farms in a few days. My beat up cars (3 beyond 1/4 million miles )keep chugging along and transporting me but cannot till the land. So each stewardship item has its purpose. I’m sure you are wisely deploying your resources as well.

        1. Yep, you’re probably right. I did the engine overhaul with my own bare hands of one of them, only screwed up a fair bit. But it was well worth the experience. I just could never see the benefit of putting huge money into a depreciating asset

          1. Hey Doc, I’ve always felt the same way. I’ve always paid cash and the newest vehicle I ever owned had 87K miles on it. My dad and I completely overhauled the first vehicle I ever owned and I think we did everything it’s possible do except put some WD-40 on the glovebox hinges. By the time the summer was over, I felt like I knew everything there was to know about engines. Reality hit later but it was a good feeling for a few months while I enjoyed the ignorance / innocence of youth. 🙂

    2. Hey OneGuy,

      I think it was Ayn Rand who said, “When things just don’t make sense, check your premises.”

      There are a lot of reasons why people have solar panels and many of them don’t fall into the category of saving money. Some do it for self-sufficiecy, which is why I installed mine. They’re not contradictory to self-sufficiency compared to buying your electricity from someone or making your own using generators. Others do it to feel more secure. Others to save the planet. If you have to mortgage your house to spend $30K, I agree with you, it’s crazy. If you have tons of bucks, then it’s not a waste of money any more than buying a $60K 4WD or a $500K house. If you have DIY skills and can do it for $4,000 with the IRS giving you a 22% credit, that’s another story. And for those systems that will pay for themselves, why the heck not? Especially for those who believe TEOTWAWKI could happen in our lifetimes.

      1. I can not morally take taxpayer money to buy a alternate energy product and no one should. Just because our lawmakers are corrupt does not mean we should join them.

        I grew up poor and even when my parents had hard time feeding the family they would not accept “being on the dole”. I won’t accept it, period! Not to buy an electric car or to buy a solar power system.

        1. Hey OneGuy, sounds like we’re in total agreement on handouts. On a home installation, you’re not taking taxpayer money when you get a 22% credit. What it amounts to is if you put in a $5,000 system, there is a tax credit of $1,100 this year. When filing your taxes, you can either subtract that amount from what you owe the IRS or you can keep it in your bank account. It’s your money. Keep it or give it to Uncle Sam. No other taxpayer is paying for your 22% credit, you’re just keeping more of your own money as opposed to sending it to the IRS. If you’re not already paying taxes, you don’t get the $1,100. Period. If the credit was coming from “Uncle Sam” then everybody would qualify but they don’t. Not filing for the the credit would be the same as not claiming all your children on your taxes. I don’t know of anyone who would leave dependents off just so they can pay more to Uncle Sam. For those who want to pay more to Uncle Sam, there’s an office called the Bureau of the National Debt that accepts donations.

          1. It’s fun to think of it that way. Imagine if they gave you a “credit” for being black or gay or an illegal alien. Or a “credit” for having an abortion. We could just make believe it wasn’t a subsidy and declare it was really our money so no harm done. But the government must have money to run and if they give solar credits of a few billion dollars than everyone who didn’t get the credit must make up the difference. See how that works? The other taxpayers are actually paying for your “free stuff”. Should they? Should the government use the tax system to incentivize what they want and approve of and to penalize what they don’t want or approve of? There is only one right answer. This is a slippery slope.

      2. St. Funogas- WD-40 is NOT a lubricant- it is a cleaning fluid. Although it will WORK as a lubricant, it will attract and hold dust and dirt and cause the ‘lubricated’ item to fail. Many people do not know this.

  13. Ditch electric for Gas appliances.
    Insulate attic, walls and better windows.
    Add a woodburning stove for heat and cooking.
    small, but expandable solar system.
    DC appliances like 12volt freezer.
    Inline Generator, multifueled
    CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE !
    Conserve before you create.
    Check out the amish cataloge
    PBCE,
    Take a que from Texas and keep them in your prayers as well.
    God Bless

  14. JWR (for whom I have a huge amount of respect, and who has helped me greatly) made a important comment late last night that I didn’t see until this morning:

    Re:
    < <https://mymedicalscore.com/medical-error-statistics/

    So, if your goal is to prevent needless deaths…

    Just sayin’.”

    It’s important and sobering to consider these facts. I have made medical errors. I don’t know any Doctor who hasn’t. There are some who are more callous, for whom it doesn’t affect, but for me it was almost 2 years before I could practice again. It was the hardest two years of my life. Even though I didn’t really cause the major portion of the damage that the patient suffered from their OWN medical problem that killed them.

    Many of these medical errors occur in desperate situations where there are not very many good options left. We were trying to say the life of a person who was in desperate situation already.

    It’s very sad when a person who is not in a desperate situation, or very young, is badly harmed by a miscalculation as happened in one of the departments of my hospital a couple years ago. It’s a good hospital, and they made big changes to try to prevent that happening again.

    People think the doctors are gods. They aren’t. Just human beings who have spent literally tens of thousands of hours reading and studying and practicing in order to try to help Other human beings…. who have a medical problem that they can’t solve for themselves. Sometimes my homeless patients get irritated at me for reading and looking up their particular medical issue. “Why don’t you know about that doc?” Well of course, my specialty wasn’t family practice, and I’m there as a volunteer giving away my time at zero cost to help out people who are homeless (and often have psychiatric problems) . So sure, like every doctor, I have to read and figure out if I don’t know the exact right answer for their issue. Since I’m old, I’ve been through a fair number of medical problems myself and many times I can tell them from personal experience what exercise or pill will solve their problem.

    My father-in-law got rather poor care at the little hospital he went to, during his near fatal experience recently. He was near comatose for over 24 hours. I finally stepped in and strongly asked for a certain procedure which resulted in the correct diagnosis. If you want to get the best care, seek out doctors who really care about you, and do your own reading to try to best interact with them. A caring hospitalist at that institution listened to me and began to arrange for much better care— he was clearly frightened of the risks my father-in-law posed at his little bitty hospital. We were truly between a rock and a hard place…

    We moved him back to my hospital where friends of mine came up with an innovative treatment that may allow him to survive. so far it is working.

    Doctors are not perfect. Understanding their advantages and disadvantages may get you better care. But surviving seven years of medical training was many MANY times more difficult than six years of engineering training. (now that I’m retired all I do is ham radio!) I have saved many lives by split-second decisions in life or death situations because I worked in a crucial part of medicine. My engineering background helped me to understand the physiology of critically ill patients better than many others. but I’m sure that I also made mistakes. Simply human.

    1. Seriously advocating for yourself and/or your loved ones is critical. My sister and I, in caring for our parents often has to push doctors or even change doctors to try to get the best care for them. For those of us that are not medical professionals use the internet to educate yourself.

  15. I’m sorry, we are just spoiled! I appreciate all the blessings of our once-free society. It is because of this freedom we, and much of the rest of the world, can appreciate all those things that have been being discussed here. And yes, I would much rather ‘live’ rather than just ‘survive’ but the first priority is to survive!

    Electricity is NOT necessary for survival! Now I’m talking TEOTWAWKI! Inconvenience is not survival.

    Really what is necessary? Yes, yes the basics, food, water, shelter, means of protection. Most all of us are really in a big HURT when it comes to survival IF we have health problems. I’m sorry but if you do not have a way to address your health issues, BY YOUR OWN MEANS, the chances of survival, in the end as we know it is very doubtful. We need to take upon ourselves the responsibility of our own health.
    We need to escape from the clutches of modern medicine as much as possible.

    Please, please, hear me through. First of all I do appreciate the role of Western Medicine ‘allopathic medicine’ in emergency intervention. If I have a heart attack or get run over by a Mac truck, get me to the hospital! As far as ‘health’ goes it is woefully inadequate! Modern medicine addresses symptoms, not base root causes! You have a pain and receive a ‘pill’ the pill causes side effects that is answered by another pill. This in NOT the answer! God has given us ‘everything’ we need here on this earth to be healthy! It takes a lot of work to get to know ourselves well enough to address our health issues.

    Back to the basic problem. If we lose ‘modern medicine’ what do we do? If we haven’t thought of that question before it is ‘too late’ it just might be ToO LATE! There are ‘Naturopathic’ answers to most all health issues. It takes study and an open mind. Take a given ailment and see what other answers there are other than the ‘modern’ answer. Mankind survived hundreds of thousands of years BEFORE modern medicine.

    You need to just dig! Here is a little personal example. Twenty-five years ago, when I was fifty, I had a problem with hemorrhoids. Yes, I know not a real pleasant subject. I tried all the normal stuff and it just didn’t work consistently. I knew a lot of it had to do with ‘diet’ that I just didn’t wish to address. As things continued I did start addressing diet, big help, but still flare-ups from time to time. A very simple answer (for me) can’t say it will work a 100% for everyone, everyone is different. After your shower take a dab of ‘natural raw honey’ just a very little bit and apply it around the affected area. Within a couple of days of doing this, the problem was gone! Honey is a natural anti-viral/bacterial agent and helps heal abraded skin.

    Now yes, this was not a life-threatening situation but there are many cures for those thing we only feel ‘medicine’ can help. Be willing to look OUTSIDE the box! Do your homework, due diligence!

  16. Francis and others,

    I am a contrarian.

    During the 1970s:
    Instead of a 2,600sf 3/2 split-ranch on a quarter-acre in a HOA-controlled subdivision as my final resting place, I looked at a few dozen of those as semi-liquid income-producers.
    My rental-properties were pretty good investments then, and were a nice way to supplement my salary as a commercial pilot.

    That was Sacramento.
    During the 1970s, I contracted for any property acquisition with insanely long escrows.
    Why?
    Example — locking-up a 3/2 at us$32,000 with a six-month escrow often increased the (paper) value of such a property by 10% or more during that half-year.
    Scribbling my name on the dotted line increased my wealth by ten or twenty or more percent annualized.

    Although those rentals all long gone — sold at us$80-100,000, a major score (I thought…) — I still own a very nice 4/2 split-level in a Sacramento suburb.
    Four decades ago, its property taxes were us$60… the same number of today’s cost to fill the tank on my pickup truck.
    2019, property taxes on that home are around sixty tank fill-ups… twice, one in December, a second installment in May.
    Does ‘you get what you pay for’ apply here?

    Early on, I discovered I could separate my living-space from my household pride-of-ownership.
    What does this look like?
    A long line of RecreationVehicles!
    Did I go to the RecreationVehicle dealer to acquire my mobiling home at ‘full retail’?
    If you know me at all, you probably guess my contrarian self reversed the ‘normal’ way of doing stuff.

    I acquired used.
    In some cases, just like the occasional unwanted rental properties, folks were glad to give ’em to me.

    Side-hustle!
    On top of my other side-hustle of fussing with rental properties.
    On top of my other side-hustle of knocking on the door of elderly shut-ins around my neighborhoods to enlist them as 24/7 watchmen to report to me any goofballs messing with my rental… and my better-than-inflation returns-on-investment.

    How much better?
    According to my math, if I get something for free or next-to-free, then get income while owning it, then profit upon its sale… what is my ROI?
    Does the word ‘infinite’ look interesting?

    By now, you might get the impression I take a long time to get to the point.
    OK, the point:
    * instead of looking at cost, my contrarian brains see the value long-term.

    2003, we converted a 1997 Ford CF8000 commercial truck to our concept of an ExpeditionVehicle.
    After nearly two decades of full-time live-aboard, my amortized cost-per-use is close to zero-zero-zero.

    Because I am a scrounger — and probably always will be — my photovoltaic system was acquired after I saw an A-frame sign on the sidewalk in front of Grape Solar in Eugene Oregon.
    At that instant, I knew nothing about designing and engineering a photovoltaic system.
    But you can bet, within days, I knew almost enough to build it right.

    If you knew me, you would know I am constitutionally incapable of hiring somebody to do a job if I can learn to do it reasonably close to functional.

    My photovoltaic system:
    * six 305-Watt panels for a total of 1,830-Watts.
    * a 2,000-Watt inverter, rarely used
    * a dozen or so 750-Watt inverters, used in rotation (the ‘twelve is eleven’ promoted by our adorable SurvivalBlog hosts)
    * AGM batteries, new a dozen years ago and rarely cycled beyond 97% full (a 3% discharge is a couple-three days use for us)
    My cost — about two grand.

    That two grand amortized per use is next to nothing.

    If that investment is beyond your abilities, play the ‘scrounge’ game:
    * ask around,
    * bug people,
    * drive by contractors installing new photovoltaic systems… because of tax or other incentives, they may be removing an existing system to install all new components.
    * bug solar sellers for their scratch-n-dent discards.

    My pickup truck is a quarter-century old.
    My ‘asking to haul that off to save you the trouble’ wardrobe is torn/scuffed/repaired clean-n-neat.
    I am polite and can be chatty (although you would never know it from my concise to-the-point posts on certain blogs…).

    My suggestion:
    * instead of acquiring the best house in the neighborhood at the max payments the bankers can drown you with, buy the rodent… the dump nobody in their right mind would buy because anything that bad can only be a ‘money-pit’.

    And probably the Key Concept Of The Day:
    * how much space do you need to store stuff you rarely use?
    Somebody said they were “…paying extremely expensive storage for bedrooms of stuff they rarely used…”.
    In other words:
    * quit them tuba lessons, and take up harmonica.

    My other suggestion:
    * vet your renters, get them invested in the neighborhood, educate them on the benefits of owning-vs-renting, and reluctantly accept a token down-payment so you get out of the rental business and get into the ‘going to the PO box to collect your mortgage checks’ business.

    My other suggestion:
    * learn the intricacies of foreclosure… and foreclosing if your former-renters go sour.

    My other suggestion:
    * remember your crews of elderly shut-ins with visits and treats and fun stuff.
    But, most of the time, being good company is enough.

    As my dearly-departed uncle Heimie Abramovitz always said:
    * “Retail is for schmucks!”
    But, then again, uncle Heimie was excitable and said everything with a full dose of exclamation marks…

  17. Here in NW Wyoming, we haven’t had longer than 15-minute power interruption in the past 20 years. I wonder how many solar panels, inverters, controllers and batteries we would have burned through in that same period if we were off-grid.

  18. My only real knock on Tesla Powerwall is the need for software updates. The system has fail-safe measures in place that are constantly updated. One such measure is, when the software has failed to update for an extended period, the control unit can shut down the batteries. While that sounds really bad, and it can be, it also prevents the lithium ion cells from failing in a spectacular fashion. The way I see it, having no power is better than having a house fire.

    Other than that, they are really the best thing going in batteries for an “off the shelf” solution. Other storage options would need to be replaced 2 or 3 times over the life of Tesla Powerwall and you would need quite a few more units.

    As far as residential solar as a whole, buy once, cry once. There’s a lot of fly by night operations out there peddling cheap panels that degrade really fast and have garbage warranties. Considering a system is likely the 2nd or 3rd largest investment you will ever make, do your diligence and make sure you’re getting quality materials.

    Souce: I’m a solar consultant for one of the largest residential installers in the US. We use Tesla Powerwall almost exclusively.

  19. St. Funogas, A lot of us Texans are finding out the hard way what it’s like to have to haul water in buckets in wintertime and to live without electricity in February. We’d all be dead if an event like this lasted for 30 days! Don’t get me started on the water issue.

  20. Revelation 8:7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all the green grass was burnt up. (KJV)

    The NASB adds “and a third of the earth was burnt up”…trees, grass.

    This may spell doom for both wind and solar systems! I think this hail will be a methyl ice (Methyl hydrate is frozen methane/water usually found on the bottom of the ocean). We saw this fall from the sky on Pharaoh as one of the ten plagues. The release of methane from permafrost regions with warmer temps may cause another bout of methyl hydrate hail to fall, but the Lord will add blood to the mix to make it unmistakable as to who sent it. The hail will damage wind turbines, and crack solar panels. The fire will damage the conductor insulation shorting things out, thermal stress the glass, and maybe thermally damage metal support towers. The fire will catch asphalt shingles on the power house and burn it down. The blood will coat the solar panels and prevent their operation.

    The hail will burn both forests and orchards, and our wheat crops (grass), so be prepared for another round of starvation.

    Make your location fireproof or you will loose it, and all your preps!

    Makes you want a hole in the ground, until you remember the earthquake that happened during the Sixth Seal, and another even worse at the end of the 7th Bowl. There is no way to escape the Lord’s judgement, except believe in Christ!

  21. Wow! Great article and heck of a comment section. Tesla definitely has some cutting edge technology. Only bit I can add to the conversation is for those considering Tesla Solar – If you ever sell your house prior to paying off the panels Tesla is an absolutely NIGHTMARE to deal with transferring the power purchase agreement. As a real estate agent I have had several home closings delayed solely due to Tesla’s horrific ‘customer service.’ Not the end and easy enough to work around but after many of these transactions involving Tesla Solar it has left a sour taste in my mouth.

  22. Thank you all for the comments and interactions on the article. I am really happy it stimulated thought and comments, and hopefully help to motivate a few more folks to continue to take actions to keep better prepared. Like I mentioned this system may not pencil out for most but for us it did. Our rates for the utility grid service provider (PGE) are among the highest in the nation and yes we have our Modern ranch style home very well insulated, radiant barrier under the attic roof and proper insulation, with low E windows and on demand water heater and such. Some may consider it an expensive option but my wife and handicap son need to stay powered up (Powered wheelchair, Hospital type bed and Bipap ventilator to sleep, and temperature controlled inside the house that I always think is to warm… ) Since I have already done what my family considers “reasonable energy reduction measures and considering most of my families home is electric” and my family does not wish to live daily with a less powered up lifestyle, if we do not have to driven by circumstances, this is what we chose. Since some of you asked, our electric bill typically ran in the $450-$550 / Month before this install. Rates here are going up! Since I have to pay that already for this place the system made financial sense for us as I mentioned. If you are in Montana and pay $90/ mo it would not pencil out for the financial and some of the other methods talked about in the comments make more sense, for people in different circumstances. Some of us here in the survival minded community want a more primitive and low tech solution and lifestyle and of course we can live without electricity if we know how and are prepared. I also prepare to do so and I even keep a “Water Well Torpedo and plenty of good nylon rope as a last ditch method to get water if the SHTF goes really bad. The thing is so many folks are not prepared and if the national grid went down for years there are plenty of studies and even congressional reports that say it could cause up to a 90% die off in the USA. Some commented about the “golden horde” and not advertising with solar panels and I assure you mine are only visible from the air and not from the front of my home (I live in the foothills on a few acres surrounded by rolling hills and at the very end of a road with other wooded parcels and pastures around). So many good comments and always the hope is to help people, and think in different ways about doing things. I think of electricity as a force multiplier for work and living. Literal horse power without horses to run motors and pumps and all the things that make modern life modern. I understand there are much simpler and inexpensive ways to go about powering your homestead, farm or house. I grew up on a mid-west dairy farm with horses and cows and hogs and chickens and hunted and fished. We heated with a coal and wood boiler system for years with radiators in a over 100 year old farm house. I remember as a teenager finally getting a fuel oil backup to the Boiler furnace so we would not have to go rebuild the fires in the basement boiler when it was 20 below zero outside at 2 AM. We were surrounded by homesteading small family farms some of whom are Amish and still friends of my family that remain in the same farm area. I learned the older ways of farming and living from my grandparents and parents, and neighbors so they run deep in me. Yet I cannot live that way where I am now and while I can work hard and enjoy that work, I also have no issue using modern tools and capabilities so long as I am able. I made my life career in the high tech medical world but I am a homesteading “farm boy of almost retirement age” to my core. I hope sharing my experience helps some folks. Blessings and Stay powered up if you can! Davey

  23. If you live in the Redoubt area I would recommend Backwoods Solar as an excellent resource for all of your offgrid needs. Several years ago I purchased a 4k system from them and the service was, and continues to be, exceptional. I would definitely use them again.

  24. A couple of years ago we had a solar system installed. 36 panels, ground mount, inverter etc. grid tied. We always wanted to have a battery system so we could untie from the grid. Last year we found out about a state program to install Tesla Powerwall batteries on rural properties with wells or medical needs for uninterrupted power. The State rebate was $14K per battery with the potential for 3.We were qualified for 2. Supposedly they would be installed after the rebate was approved. It didn’t work out quite that way. Instead we were hooked into a finance program with a credit union for payments. We have finally passed all inspections and are in line to receive the $28K of rebates. The final cost installed about 32K. Still grid tied, but like one of the above commenters we don’t even notice if we have a planned or unplanned power outage. Living in So Cal we are constantly at the mercy of the power companies capricious decisions to shut the power off because of wind events. In addition we can program the battery bank to charge and discharge when we want it to with an app on our phones. It is worth checking out if you qualify as described above and live in CA. The Program seems to renew on July 1, get onboard early as the money runs out quickly.

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