Letter Re: Backup Electric Power Design Considerations, Expat and Other Thoughts

HJL: Welding cable is a fine way to cut amperage loss in your line. However, since it is intended by the manufacturer to be used for welding and not solar system, it is labeled for welding and not labeled for building installation. Code inspectors want to see a certain label. They will not accept deviation. After all, an abundance of engineering went into what is in that code. Welding cable use would make pulling a system when bugging out much easier. (I am assuming there are a range of “bugging out” versions with regard to situational haste.) Since you cannot …




Letter Re: Solar Power

Hugh: It seems straightforward to accumulate the beans, bullets, and band aids, and this site has been a tremendous help. However, solar power seems formidable. Every article I read quickly devolves into talk of how to wire and link things, amps, voltage, et cetera. I am an older professional woman with no mechanical expertise, but I do know that electricity can be dangerous, and I hesitate to do these things myself. It would be a tremendous help if someone could write an article listing simple plug-and-play systems that could be purchased from reputable companies. If they could do it by …




Letter Re: Backup Electric Power Design Considerations

Editor, As a full time user of off-grid power I’ve a few quibbles with this article. One is the casual reference to rooftop solar panels. Solar panels get dirty-fast. Solar panels in general are not all that wonderful in generating concentrated energy and dirty panels generate far less than optimal. They need to be cleaned with a soft brush and hose often. In northern parts snow sticks to panels real well and then generate nothing. Unless you have a widows walk installed below the panels, don’t even think about installing them on high roofs. Anything that gets in the way …




Backup Electric Power Design Considerations- Part 3, by Duliskov

Batteries can generate, without damage, several hundred amperes of DC current for short periods of time. In fact, you can arc weld using a battery. There are welders designed to run from battery power alone or able to run either from internal batteries and/or supplementing utility power with internal battery power. Though the Hobart Trek 180 welder, which I recommend, may have been discontinued or currently unavailable, it is useful if you wish to achieve higher amps than is possible via a single 120V household outlet. The higher the battery’s amperage, the easier the battery can start a car engine, …




Backup Electric Power Design Considerations- Part 2, by Duliskov

Solar Energy Generation For any significant solar power generation, plan to cover your entire roof with panels. Consider installing a few panels on the roof of your trailer, if you have one; this will give you mobile power and better concealment. If you make the panels tilt or slide out from under each other, you can significantly increase the total surface exposed to the sun while stationary. Alternatively, install the panels on a ground support for easy access and scalability. Make sure that the selected location does not have structures or trees casting a shadow over, and take photos in …




Backup Electric Power Design Considerations- Part 1, by Duliskov

This article covers a complex area, and to keep myself focused I will break it into three sections. In the following I would like to share what I learned researching and building an emergency power station. The content below assumes that the reader understands the basics of electricity (AC and DC), batteries, and solar power. I have no affiliation with any of the sellers of products I provided links to; the links are for your convenience only. I have no engineering degree and reserve the right to be completely wrong. It is possible to build the systems in many different …




Sarah Latimer: Unrealized Expectations – Part 2

In continuing with the idea of not relying upon others for the “sweet” wants and needs we have, here are a few more ideas that you can provide for yourself (and feel quite good about your independence in doing so!): Fresh and Dried Fruits and Vegetables– Want organic, highly nutritious fresh or dried fruits and vegetables year around, economically? Plant fruit trees and bushes and grow a garden as well as consider using a greenhouse for winter produce. Then, can, freeze, dehydrate, and/or freeze dry your excess produce for later seasonal use. We are still enjoying freeze-dried cubed tomatoes from …




Letter: Solar Fence Chargers as Alternate Power Supplies

To HJL and JWR:I’m a dry land crop farmer, cattle rancher, and hog producer in Montana. Through my work I find things that make me think I could use WTSHTF. (Yes, I’ve read your books). One thing I wanted to offer up, if you haven’t tried it, is a solar powered electric fence charger. These charges cost from $170 to $500. But to charge a few small items the PV panels on the smaller $170 to $300 models are plenty large enough. The chargers work by solar powering a gel cell battery. The [battery] terminals can be changed with a …




Letter Re: Solar Power Subsidies

HJL, The author of the article on Solar titled Cost Of Defecting From The Grid is a mistaken. It only affects people who are on the grid. It is an economic subsidy problem and should not affect prepping directly. What was happening is that the utilities were forced to buy solar energy at retail, whether they wanted it or not. If you were charged (for example) $0.15/kWh, the utility would have to pay you the same if your meter ran backward. This caused too many people to install solar systems not because they were worried about the grid going down …




Keeping Battery Devices Running In An Austere Environment, by Snaketzu

We all have at least a handful of battery-powered devices that can be very handy in an emergency or even a TEOTWAWKI situation. Weapon sights, flashlights, GPS, handheld radio, a tablet loaded with books and PDFs, night vision gear, and possibly even a cell phone are all things that could be very useful. Although everyone must be prepared to do without these devices, depending on the scenario there is no good reason to believe that these items must be discarded after the initial battery charge fails. Counting on scrounging more batteries or a power source to charge with is a …




Our Family’s Journey to Preparing For an Extended Grid Down Event- Part 1, by Old Man

To paraphrase an old saying, prepping is not a destination but a journey, or rather it’s a lifestyle. In this article I would like to share some highlights of our family’s journey to preparing for an extended grid down event, including what we found works and didn’t work for us. Hopefully, this might help some folks avoid the mistakes we made and stir some ideas for others. When I was a youngster, I joined the Boy Scouts. It was there that I was first bit by the prepping bug. I took to the Boy Scouts motto of “Be Prepared” like …




Solar Power Crash Course, by K.K.

First, this article is for entertainment purposes only. I have used all this equipment in the ways I describe, but I am not a licensed electrician. I am professionally trained in off-grid solar electric systems and have installed, consulted on, or maintained hundreds of systems, the most remote of which were in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. I do not advise setting up your own PV system without consulting an experienced and knowledgeable source. After perusing the survivalblog archives for new ideas and methods in off-grid solar, and finding very little at all in the way of solar power …




A Project to Produce and Store Heat, Energy, Water, and Food, by T.S.

We all know that we can’t survive very long without water, food, and heat. Because we live in uncertain times, the benefits gained by this project would more than offset the initial cost. In a grid down situation, the extra heat, stored water, energy, and food production would be invaluable. The list of benefits include but are not limited to: Heat production to help heat the house. Water storage plus heat storage. Solar energy production and storage. Food production. Three years ago on a sunny winter day, I went out on our south (well, more like a southwest facing) porch, …




A Beginners Guide to Practical Prepping: Lessons From a True Story of Disaster, by R.L.

It was September 1989, a time in history that is forever burned into my memory. I was working as a firefighter in a small town outside Columbia, South Carolina. Hurricane Hugo had developed in the Atlantic, it was ripping apart the Carribean islands and it was headed our way. All the news on television and radio were inundated with updates on this killer storm; we were tuned into the Weather Channel at the firehouse carefully watching and waiting. The original forecast was that the Category 4 hurricane would turn north and only threaten the North Carolina coast. It was assumed …




Scot’s Product Review: SGK 440 Portable Power Solar Go Kit

This is something I wish I had owned back in my old days at the newspaper. We sometimes had to go places where there was no electricity and coming up with power could be a real hassle. As the years rolled by, the need for power got bigger and bigger. When I started, the cameras were mechanical and we shot film. By the end, everything was digital and required batteries, plus we had computers and cell phones too. We often drove around blowing fuses in cars with inverters plugged into the lighter socket in a desperate effort to keep stuff …