Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Power Outage. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Power Outage. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, December 21, 2018

Backup Electricity for under $50

Most US families own a power generator, even if they don't realize it.   

It is your Car.

For this reason,  it is a PREPPER HANDBOOK RECOMMENDATION to have a good DC to AC inverter in your vehicle to use as a 120 VAC power supply. For under $50 you can use your vehicle as a back up power supply.  

This 300 watt (continuous) inverter is enough to power most refrigerators, or Freezers as long as your vehicle motor is running.  For this reason, it is good to never drive with your fuel tank near Empty.  Here is a list of estimated power requirements. that will allow you to see what you can run (power wise) using this.

A typical Car Battery stores about 50 Ah (Amp Hours) at 12 VDC (Volts Direct Current) which is 600 watts but you can only use a vehicle battery when the motor is running. You can however add an additional 200Ah Deep Cycle Battery for about $400 that will store 2,400 watts (12 VDC X 200 Ah) or 1,200 usable watts (2,400 X 0.5). While the above 300 watt charger could charge your 200Ah battery, it would take at least 4-5 hours.  Buying a dedicated Battery Charger for $200 could keep this 200Ah battery charged using your household electricity and have it at peak readiness when the power went out.  

Include a Battery Clip-on Car Cigarette Lighter Socket Adapter (above) for $10 and you have a standby battery back up system for about $660 that will provide 1,200 watts of power. Here is a list of estimated power requirements. to show what 1200 watts can run.  For example, it would keep a small refrigerator or freezer running for approximately 2 days, and a large one for over 1 day. 

Combine this with other Backup Power options to have more power available for longer periods.

Another low cost item for power outages are solar powered lights.

It provides solar powered lighting for outside security AND lighting for the inside of your home. In addition, these can be used as a solar charger for rechargeable batteries and make great stealth Prepper gifts for family members. With a package of extra rechargeable batteries, these will provide lighting for years.

Here are a few good passive lights that are solar powered and use common AA so they can double as solar battery chargers:

1) LED version
2) Economy version

I would avoid solar powered lights that use non-standard battery sizes as you will not be able to use these as battery chargers nor their batteries to run other devices like your radios.

Both of the Inverter and Solar Powered Lights are handy to have and very affordable (under $50), making them each a PREPPER HANDBOOK RECOMMENDATION.

For more information:
Blog Table of Contents

Power Outage Preps
Power Outage Heater

EMP Survival
The SHTF Day One
Survive a 2 week Power Outage
Complete Sustainable Living Plan
Backup Power Supply
Backup Electricity for under $50
See similar topics by clicking on the labels below

Monday, July 24, 2017

DIY Solar System

There are some good power systems like the enCube (left), with a 100 ah battery, and 150 watt solar panels, which are nicely packaged.  You can also build your own system with fewer bells and whistles but with more power for your money.  A Do It Yourself (DIY) system allows you to tailor it to your needs and it serves as good training too.

The first step is to determine your needs.  What do you want to power, and for how long?  The answer could range from powering a single outlet for a few hours to powering your entire house for ever.

Lower temperature settings on heating and cooling appliances will reduce energy consumption.

There are simple tools like the Kill-a-watt ($20) that will help you determine exactly what load you will need, or can run.  This is a wise investment to avoid building a system that doesn't meet your needs.

In this case, the small fan above is using 9.6 watts on its low setting and used 21 watts on its high setting.

So after we determine our power requirements, let's suppose that we need 2,000 watts per day under two scenarios.
  1. The first scenario is to have only enough power to last for 1 day
  2. The second scenario is to be sustainable at this level indefinitely
The first scenario (1 day) can be achieved with sufficient battery capacity, charged by your household electricity.  This is shown below.  Note that this includes using only 50% of the battery capacity which will extend the life. An alternative would be to have 6 of the enCube's ($1,000 each) above strategically located around your home to achieve the same results but at a much higher cost.

This is 126% of our daily needs.

The second scenario (indefinitely) will require the addition of power generating solar panels capable of generating the daily needs of electricity.

Here is the math: 4 - 100 watt solar panels ($600) with 8 hours of sun delivers  the following wattage/day:

Power generated (theoretical) = 4 X 100 X 8 = 3,200 watts.

At a realistic 70% efficiency (3,200 X 0.7 = 2,240 watts/day) the actual watts/day generated is 112% of our daily needs which would allow an additional safety factor.

Our 4 solar panels will generate 100% of our 2000 watt daily power needs plus 12% extra per day.  The battery will handle our daily needs (using only 50% of the battery capacity to extend its life) and hold an extra 26%.  This Solar Power Kit sells for $1,500.

It will take the extra solar generation capacity two days to charge our battery's extra storage capacity.  This extra will deliver 3 hours of extra power per day, or 6 hours (1/4 day) of extra power every other day. Any extra power generated beyond two days will be lost as there is no more battery storage capacity.
So suppose we add additional battery capacity.  This gives us 168% of our daily storage needs or an extra 16 hours.  However, it will take our extra solar generating capacity about 5-6 days to charge this extra battery storage.

Supposed we add two additional batteries. This gives us 210% of our daily storage needs or an extra 26 hours.  However, it will take our extra solar generating capacity about 9-10 days to charge this extra battery storage.

Our next step would be to add additional solar power generation, providing that our electrical infrastructure can handle it.  This may include our wiring, charge controller and 12 VDC to 120 VAC inverter.  With this (below), it would only take 3 average days or 24 hours to charge the extra battery power.

Below is a rough example of what a simple standby system would look like.  Buying a Solar Power Kit will make your first solar project much easier. 

In most cases, home solar systems require a licensed installer, but small stand-alone systems are something most handy men can do, but do NOT try to integrate them into your home wiring unless you are an electrician. 

E-mail us with questions; good luck.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Power Outage Heater

Its freezing cold and the power is out for who knows how long.

Even if you have solar power with a battery back-up it won't last long using an electric heater.  A 100 Ah 12 VDC Battery will run a 1,500 watt heater for about 48 minutes. So here is what the author of the Prepper Handbook recommends.

This is a top rated heater that doesn't use electricity. It is safe for indoor or outdoor use.  This Mr Heater is one that I've tested and found to work great during cold winter nights.  I even used mine in a car when my heater was out. 

It uses these small propane bottles below  One bottle will last 6 hours on low and 3 hours on high, and produce about 2.6 times more heat than a 1500 watt electric heater.  Walmart sells these fuel bottles for $3.50 each.You can often get a multi-pack for even less per bottle.

Six of these cost about $21 and will keep you warm for 24 hours. This makes a good Prepper Gift for someone who does NOT have a fire place AND wood or natural gas.  If they have a fire place and NO wood or natural gas, they need help. They are also good for running a cooking stove.  For under $150, you can stay warm and cook your food.  These are also great for camping. 

For more information:
Blog Table of Contents
Power Outage Preps
Power Outage Heater
DIY Solar System 
The SHTF Day One
Survive a 2 week Power Outage

See similar topics by clicking on the labels below

Friday, March 3, 2017

The SHTF Day One

THE BIG EVENT HAS HIT, things are in TOTAL CHAOS. Thanks to the Red Flag Warnings, we are safe at our Retreat.

What now?

What do we do first?

  1. Set up 24-7 Security with Night Vision and Communications.  Our post on Country Security can help.  If you are stuck in the city, put together a neighborhood security watch.  See Urban Security Plan. and the Security Patrol Pack post.  City dwellers should be prepared for Rioting and Looting.  The Prepper Handbook, available for $4.99 on Amazon, outlines a detailed home security plan.
  2. Set up your Intruder Alarm systems and trip wires so you can detect unwanted visitors. Expect a Power Outage soon, if it has not already occurred. If you do have power, black it out at night, so you do not attract people to your home during the most difficult time to defend it.
  3. Move your cars to set up a protective cover around your house to better secure the area. Block the road/drive to restrict access to unwanted guests.
  4. Distribute Ammo at strategic lookout points and cache some off site for future needs (should already be done).  Hopefully you have enough Ammo.
  5. If conditions permit, make one last trip out (armed) to stock up on any last minute supplies as in the future, Salvaging may be the only way left. Use credit cards as long as they are accepted. Then you should have enough cash to cover inflated prices while "Only Cash" is being accepted.  Then have enough Silver and goods for Barter after paper money becomes worthless. First Aid supplies will become important soon.
  6. Store all the Water you can.  Fill tubs, pots, bottles, etc.
  7. Reach out to your neighbors.  Set up Communications and begin to develop Actionable Intelligence.
  8. Initiate Pandemic precautions if necessary. 
  9. Rehearse your Group Security Drills (should already be done).
  10. Along the road, or near the church, plant some Turnip seeds for the masses, perhaps some other Seeds for Survival. Turnips are cheap, grow well and are ready to eat in 20 days. This is for your defense because if people are starving, they will be willing to kill to feed their children. 
  11. Hunker down, stay hidden and quite.  Do not draw attention to yourself.  Communicate only with trusted neighbors.  Try to survive the next few days without any casualties. Then start trying to organize your neighborhood. The Prepper Handbook, available for $4.99 on Amazon, outlines a detailed neighborhood organization plan. 
Later, plant any crops you can for this time of the year. See our post on Vegetable Planting Dates. Start as soon as you safely can because the Vegetable Days to Harvest is 20 to 120 days IF it is the right season.  You must have enough food stored to carry you through to the spring when planting normally occurs for most vegetables.
Do NOT expect to live on Wilderness Survival alone.
IF  you are NOT ready, see our Step by Step Prepper Plan to help get you there.
Print this out, along with other key information and save it in a file or note book.
Good Luck!
For more information:
Blog Table of Contents
Power Outage Preps
Power Outage Heater
DIY Solar System 
The SHTF Day One
Survive a 2 week Power Outage

Alone Survival Show Pack Contents

Friday, June 25, 2021

Secret Garden

You can turn your living area and surroundings into a Secret Garden by planting edible perennials around your house, apartment, condo, park, trails, woods, creeks, ponds and any public access area.

Start by looking at your nearby area for garden beds, hedges, planters, etc. to see what you can plant close by.  Then look at a Satellite Map of your area to identify places like trails, waterways, parks, etc. that you can legally get access to. 

Around your area, try and plant some of the following:

  1. Fruit & Nut trees; Figs & native pecans are good, but any other low maintenance tree that produces food each year without humans action necessary.  Fig trees can be grown from cuttings, or cutting a finger size limb off of a regional variety that performs well and putting it in moist soil.  
  2. Asparagus is a great vegetable that produce early spring food, and continues to produce for several months, as long as it is not over harvested.  It resembles a flower bed or hedge plant that most people would not recognize and can be grown most anywhere.  Plant roots are available to purchase for a few bucks, or Heirloom Seeds or the Mary Washington variety can be planted and grown, but may take more care to get them going.
  3. Black berries, blue berries, muscadines, wild plums, and persimmons are all good to plant most anywhere. 
  4. Jerusalem Artichokes and Sweet Potatoes are a good root vegetable that will be largely unnoticeable by others and can be grown most any place.
  5. Spinach is a good cool weather plant that will be largely unnoticeable by others and can be grown most any place.

If necessary, grow some in pots inside, on your patio or porch to get them started. 

Once you know what grows well, begin transplanting some to surrounding areas.  Plant things that will blend in with the surroundings, and look similar to other vegetation in the area.  For example, if a hedge bush dies, replace it with a tea or blue berry bush.  Plant them on holidays, when the apartment staff is off, &/or early in the morning when few are awake.

Look for places that are already dirt surfaces like flower beds, and transplant a single plant there, with a label, or something to show this was intentionally planted, so the Gardner or lawn care people will not destroy them.  Once you get one plant growing successfully, add more. 

In nearby ponds and along creeks, you want to plant Cat Tails and Arrowhead, which are wild edible plants.

Over time, you can develop a large collection of edible plants.  In addition, if there is a park near by, feed the ducks and pigeons there. They would be a great source of emergency food if ever needed. 

Also good to identify the locations of any places that might have food or supplies for Salvaging if necessary.  For example a grocery store distribution warehouse is a good idea.  Keep old paper phone books and maps to use if the internet is down like in a power outage.

We have a number of gardening links below and in our Table of Contents that you should also visit.

For additional information see the following links:

Also check out our Prepper Livestock series 

Power Outage Preps
Power Outage Heater
DIY Solar System 
The SHTF Day One
Survive a 2 week Power Outage


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Starter Solar System

A typical solar power system has several main components as shown below:

  1. Solar Panel - converts sunlight to electricity. Price starts at about $200.
  2. Charge Controller - controls battery charging (included with panel)
  3. Battery - stores electricity.  Price starts at $65 - $75 for a 12 VDC 35 Ah Deep Cycle battery
  4. DC to AC Inverter - converts DC battery power to 120 VAC.  Prices start at $80
Total cost for a low cost DIY starter solar system is about $350 in 2015. Compare this with an equivalent cost generator.
Generator - a good low cost generator (~$350 - $400) that in theory produces 3,500 watts per hour (as long as you have gasoline) is the DuroMax XP4400E from Amazon:
 It has a 4 gallon gas tank that reportedly lasts about 8 hours. A model hooked to your propane tank or natural gas might be a good option too.  Either way, this generator is a good deal, For a few hours it is very practical as it produces more than 10X the power of an equivalent costing solar system. But its worthless when there is no gasoline.  I would figure on having three 5 gallon cans of gas per day which costs 30 to $45 per day at $2 - $3 per gallon.  This equates to about $1,125 per month at $2.50/gallon. This is very expensive, and gasoline with ethanol has a short shelf life (6-12 months) so you can't store too much with out rotating it.  Propane on the other hand has an indefinite shelf life.

After buying one of these generators and several cans of gasoline to cover my short term needs, I would get the solar panels below.

 Solar Panel - Here is a sample 100 watt solar panel below.  A 100 watt solar panel can in theory run a 100 watt bulb while the sun is shining directly on it.  The charge controller is included with this unit and shown in the upper left hand corner of the picture below.  This controller will handle 3 - 100 watt solar panels allowing for expanding your power generation. 

Battery - A 12 volt 35 Amp hour (Ah) battery will provide 12 X 35 = 420 watt-hours of power.  This in theory will power a power a 100 watt bulb for 4.2 hours or take 4.2 hours for one 100 watt solar panel to charge it.  To preserve the life of the battery, you only want to use a maximum of 50% or 210 watt-hours.  So to recharge your half discharged battery would only take about 2.1 hours of sunshine and your 100 watt light would only run for 2.1 hours.

Often the battery cannot hold all the power the solar cell can generate.  If you don't use this extra power, it goes to waste.  So the remaining power from the solar cells after the battery is charged could be used to power other things during the day.  Only the battery is used to power things at night.  Note that such systems are only about 70% efficient. 

A 12 volt AGM Deep Cycle rated in 100 Ah battery costing about $250 will store 1200 watts-hours of electricity (12 volts X 100 amp hours).  Recharging a half discharged battery would only take about 6 hours of sunshine for 600 watt-hours to use each night.  Two (2), 100 watt Solar panels would recharge this 50% spent battery with 3 hours of sunshine leaving several hours of power while the sun is still shining to run other things.
Ideally, you should get the largest battery you can afford.  A 12 VDC, 250 Ah battery costing $550 will provide 12 x 250 = 3,000 watt-hours.  To recharge your half discharged battery (1500 watt-hours) would take about 15 hours of sunshine.  You can add 2 more solar panels (3 total) to charge it in 5 hours of sunshine and have an hour or more per day of additional power. 

DC - AC Inverter - takes your 12 volts of Direct Current (VDC) power from the battery and converts it to 120 volts Alternating Current (VAC) like you use in your home.  Below is a 1,000 watt 12 VDC - 120 VAC Inverter.  It is inexpensive and has battery cables that can be connected to your solar battery OR your car battery, which is why this would be my first purchase.  This will power about 8 amps of 120 VAC electrical devices.  This will work for a starter system, but it is what limits how much you can run at one time so you may want to get 1,500 to 2,000 watts later on, especially when you have more than 2 - 3 solar panels.

Now what can you run with this?  Lights, a refrigerator or a freezer OR a small water pump can each be ran off this system (not at the same time) for as long as your battery can support it. Any lighting should be 25 to 40 watt LED bulbs.  Do not use incandescent bulbs, heaters, A/C's or microwaves as they use too much power.

To be safe, figure on about 6 hours of sunlight per day.  If it takes 2 hours to recharge your batteries each day, then you have 4 hours of additional solar power you can use for other things.  Each 100 watt solar panel will in theory generate 100 watts per hour of direct sunshine or 100 watt-hours.  Keeping your panels pointed directly toward the sun will increase your output.

Here are some typical things that we need to run on solar power during power outages:

A new modern small refrigerator uses about 800 watt-hours per day.  An old large refrigerator or freezer will use up to 1500 watt-hours per day.

So with the 35 Ah battery, you could keep your small refrigerator running for about 6 hours each night and about 4 hours during the day. The large refrigerator would run about 3 hours each night and about 4 hours during the day. This would cover you for a short power outage which might save your food for several days.  If my power was going to be out for an extended period, I would also turn my refrigerator temperature setting up (45F) to use less electricity and keep things cool longer. 

With the 100 Ah battery, you could keep your small refrigerator running for about 20  hours each day. The large refrigerator would run about 9 hours each day.

With the 250 Ah battery, you could keep either refrigerator running all day as long as you have 3 solar panels (300 watts) to charge them each sunlight hour of the day.  This will deliver about 38 kwh (kilowatt hours) per month on average and more in the summer.  So let's look at some other things.
  1. A 1/3 HP well pump uses 500 - 1500 watt-hours per day, depending on how much you use it.  For drinking water only, you could figure 300 watt-hours per day.  Add  one tub of water per week for laundry, bathing, etc. and you should figure 400 watt-hours per day.
  2. A ceiling fan, portable fan or can opener would use about 100 watts while running.  So if we run a fan for 8 hours per day, it uses 800 watt-hours per day.
  3. Charging a radio or cell phone for an hour uses about 4 watt-hours and running a clock radio uses about 7 watts while running.
  4. Lighting has a lot of variation:  a 60 watt incandescent bulb uses 60 watts; a 60 watt florescent bulb uses 18 watts.  Even better, down size your bulbs to a 40 watt LED bulb that uses 4 to 7 watts.
Here is a good link to show you the power requirements for most items in your home:

Let's look at some electricity consumption for the following items:
  1.  Running a small efficient refrigerator at a low temp setting - 800 watt-hours per day;
  2.  Drinking well water at 300 watt-hours per day
  3.  Using 4 - 40 watt LED light bulbs for 4 hours at night or  80 watt-hours;
  4.  Radio at 7 watt-hours per day. 
The above items require 1187 watt hours per day and 12 (11.87) hours of sun for one 100 watt solar panel or 6 hours of sun for two 100 watt solar panels.  Considering the system is about 70% efficient, we should figure on having three (3) 100 watt solar panels.  With 6 hours of sun per day and 70% efficiency, this would deliver about 1,260 watt-hours of usable electricity to meet the above.

The 250 Ah battery above delivered 1,500 watt-hours of power, which meets the above needs. The cost is as follows:
  1. First 100 watt solar panel and charge controller - $200
  2. Two additional 100 watt solar panels - $300
  3. 250 Ah 12 VDC AGM Deep Cycle Battery - $550
  4. DC - AC Inverter - $150
     Total: $1,200, and you can start with $900 and add the additional 2 solar panels later.

You can get this full 300 watt system, or you can start with the initial 100 watt system at the top for $350 and easily expand it. You can add 2 more solar panels and add additional batteries (in parallel) as you can afford it.  The only thing you might need to replace would be the inverter, and I wouldn't do that unless I had some things that it would not support running.  If you do replace your 1,000 watt inverter with a larger one, you can still use this one with your car battery.

You may be able to use the solar panels to run some of your small household appliances and save on your electric bill to help pay for this.  However, it is not practical and you should NOT attempt to wire it in to your house wiring.  Also, your battery life is limited and should be saved for emergency outages only; not routine use.

Note it is a good idea to keep an extra solar panel and charge controller in a Faraday cage in case of an EMP.  Good luck with your solar system, and post comments to let us know how it is working!!

Please note that I'm NOT affiliated with nor endorsing any of these Solar products and list these brands only as examples that were easy to find and readily available at the time.  I will say that Amazon ratings are generally reliable and usually anything that is rated 4 starts or higher by 10 or more reviewers and has less than 10% rated as 1 star is usually a good product.

For additional information see the following links: