Alternative Energy Sources For Disasters

So you have stocked up on Food, Water, Shelter, and Clothing to be ready in the event of a disaster.  But have you considered Fuel?  What will you use to power that generator?  What will you use if there is power?

If you have stocked up on Freeze-Dried-Foods you are at least one step ahead the of the game since these foods don't need to be cooked. However there is still the matter of keeping warm, having good sources of light, and being able to get news and communicate.

Here are a few items you can take advantage of to help you be ready:

Keeping Warm:

Emergency Blankets
Hand Warmers
Magnesium Fire Starters
Water Proof Matches

Wood for Fuel

Sources of Light:
Flashlights
Dynamo Lights
Candles
Light Sticks
Lanterns

Communication:

Solar Powered Radios
Dynamo Powered Radios

Another way to be prepared is to think about using alternative energy sources as a backup for your local power grid.  There are many home wind-power kits you can purchase as well as solar-power kits.  These can be placed in areas of your yard or home where they will hardly be noticed.  You can store extra power in batteries and if you want you can even rid yourself of the need to connect to the local power company's system.

Some of the benefits of doing that include reduced costs and in some areas the power company will actually pay you for providing some of your extra power to them.

In addition to electricity, make sure that you store an adequate supply of fuel for the use of your generators in the case of a power outage.  Check with your local officials for

the proper way to store fuel safely.  Energy is something most of us take for granted these days.  Make sure you are not left without it when disasters strike.

76 thoughts on “Alternative Energy Sources For Disasters”

  • David P. Chesler
    David P. Chesler July 2, 2009 at 6:47 am

    Great ideas. Is all about working smarter not harder. Be a MacGuyver!

    Reply
  • D Land

    We have done some of these things and have considered solar panels. Have no experience with them, so am hesitant to spend the money. Do have a backup generator.

    Reply
  • Robin Ingram

    Currently we have things like emergency blankets, hand warmers, candles, and lanterns, and an emergency radio, but we do not yet have a back up method of power or fuel stocked up. My husband has mentioned fuel before, but I think I am going to look into storing it. My uncle has a large propane tank on his property as his back up source...I wish I had the kind of money to invest in something like that!

    Reply
  • Brian Emrich

    I love the newsletter updates!!

    Reply
  • Russell Lindsay
    Russell Lindsay July 2, 2009 at 6:49 am

    The 72 hour kits are a great way to have everything that you may need in a hurry. Just grab the bags for each person and you have every thing that you may need for three days. i actually have one week kits for myself and my wife, complete with water.

    Reply
  • Laura Piedimonte
    Laura Piedimonte July 2, 2009 at 6:49 am

    I think that is the hardest for most of us who are just beginning to get prepared for any disaster. My situation is that we live in a subdivision that has homeowner do's and don'ts which really limits us; would love to be able to do some sort of solar (can't alter the roof) or wind (can't put up any structure taller than the house); it's just crazy. I think that we need to try to change the laws in this country now that we are living in times like no other, otherwise, the laws will prevent most people from being able to survive when something terrible happens. I appreciate your site, your advice and always enjoy all the great information you provide. Energy is something that we all take for granted, and my biggest fear is living with no heat in the winter.

    Reply
  • Jim Smith

    Here's another way you can cook using 16 bricks to make a stove and use twigs for fuel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSMR2ANIZ7E

    I tried it out and it works great!

    Reply
  • Luke Nichols

    I try the shotgun approach to energy preparations. gas generator, propane/camp fuel for cooking, lots of batteries and rechargeable lights, I think solar chargers, or a good inverter system is the next step for me.

    Reply
  • Saskia

    I really like the hand-crank radio I bought here last year but I'm now a little stalled on buying supplies. It's really hard to find room for much more in a NYC apt! I get a little overwhelmed trying to figure out what is best to buy next. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated..

    www.disastermusings.blospot.com

    Reply
  • Chris Wales

    I also do the shotgun approach. I try to have a 'backup' way to do the most critical things. Hand crank flashlights, 115hour candles for lighting. MRE's, food (Mountain House/Saratoga Farms,) and water stashed throughout the house, not just in the kitchen. I recommend having a battery/hand operated radio for news and weather. Heck just having a charcoal grill and a propane 'camping' grill is a great way cook for yourself and your family. Besides, who wouldn't want to grill out every day for a week!

    Reply
  • Jen

    I have just finished preparing the basics for our 72 hour kits and have a small supply of freeze dried food stored. One thing I need to work on is an alternate fuel source. I love reading everyone else's replies to get some good ideas.

    Reply
  • Oneavgjoe

    Wind-ups can power more than you thought. Well, more than I thought until I looked around. See this site for more ideas on wind-up and crank solutions to get power to your apliances:

    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2007/12/wind-up-your-la.html

    Joe

    Reply
  • Michael Barnett
    Michael Barnett July 2, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Another good device is the hand crank charger for cell phones. Communication may or may not be affected by a disaster, depending on what it is, but if it is one that affects power and requires either a shelter in place or isolation (quarantine), like in the case of a Pandemic, then one of these chargers with the multi connectors really comes in handy. It also helps to have items like propane, sterno and matches available as well.

    Reply
  • Walter

    We live on a boat full time and have 600 gallons of water, a diesel generator with 700 gallons of fuel, and a 2-week supply of canned rations from the Ready Store - but this sounds like a nice, easy technique for food storage & prep (compared to the #10 cans).

    Reply
  • Ai Kelley

    Living in So. Cal., solar power is the way to go in terms of alternative energy. However, keeping warm isn't usually a problem here so much as finding ways to beat the heat.

    Reply
  • Eileen

    I like the idea of the MRE's that have self contained heating & water for a grab and go. What I have done is created a grab and go from your blog suggestions, and it's in the garage in a backpacking pack ready to go if needed.

    I'd like to add the MRE's to the list.

    Reply
  • Russell Lindsay
    Russell Lindsay July 2, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Another good thing to have fuel source that is good is extra propane tanks for your grill to cook on if you don't have electricity

    Reply
  • Jim Welborn

    Has anyone tried the natural gas/ propane back-up generators? I was trying to find out how long they will run on each, grill sized, propane tank if the gas lines fail. Can anyone point me to the information please?

    Reply
  • Lynn Hilliard
    Lynn Hilliard July 2, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Thanks for the ideas. I'm limited to those that I can use in my apartment, so propane is best suited for me (cooking on my outside balcony).

    Reply
  • Tyler Drinkard
    Tyler Drinkard July 2, 2009 at 7:59 am

    They had an article on the New Scientist website that detailed how solar energy was getting a big boost by shifting the wavelength based on location - to get the most out of the panels based on where you're physically located. I'm buying a home currently, and I'm seriously considering this in the near future.

    Thanks for the newsletter :D

    Reply
  • Theresa Newbauer
    Theresa Newbauer July 2, 2009 at 8:28 am

    I think the wind power is an interesting alternative...I wouln't mind having a wind tower in my yard. Would be useful even if there wasn't an emergency.

    Reply
  • Adrien Neely

    As a member of the NRA and a subscriber to The Ready Store newsletters, I find that a growing number of folks are truly getting prepared for a breakdown in our society. It is most important that we stock up with the essentials and encourage our friends and families to do the same.

    Reply
  • Shawn M

    Good articles! Keep it up!!
    Shawn

    Reply
  • Tori Lee

    I also appreciate all the great information I have been provided with. Not only on your website but also on your blogg. I work in the energy industry and so I am constantly made aware of what is going on as far as energy goes. I have been studying up on the various methods of energy and I think Solar is the way to go. I have read reports of wind energy and the recent decrease in winds over periods of time since wind power has been used. I am convinced that solar power is definately in everyones near future and we should all be think alternate energy!

    Reply
  • Tori Lee

    Hello again, my return is to tell Jim Welborn where to get the information he requested. Just go to this website:
    www.propane101.com/propanevsnaturalgas.htm Just go to this website for an answer to your question and more.

    Reply
  • Tori Lee

    Natural gas is a naturally occurring fuel extracted from deep within the earth.
    It is not one gas but a mixture of various naturally-occurring gases. The types of gasses in this stew vary from well to well. Natural gas is primarily methane (alias "cow" flatulence), but also contains other flammable gases such as propane, butane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The main uses for natural gas in homes are for heating, hot water, clothes drying and cooking.

    Propane is extracted from natural gas, and is one of the so-called LP gases. 'LP' is an acronym for "liquefied petroleum". Many years ago, it was found that propane could be turned into a liquid, or "liquefied", under fairly low pressure. This quality allows shipping and storage of large volumes of propane gas in relatively small containers. Other gases can also be liquefied, but propane is by far the most common LP gas. Because of this the terms LP gas and propane are often used interchangeably.

    Propane is the fuel commonly used for portable appliances such as gas grills, stoves, lanterns, soldering guns and heaters. However, homes without access to natural gas can install large LP tanks outside and pipe the gas in for use with stationary appliances. Because of the consistency of the product, LP gas appliances can be designed to be more efficient than natural gas appliances. The portability of the fuel makes LP gas accessible to a wider number of people.

    Because all homes do not have access to natural gas, many manufacturers design their products to use LP gas instead. This makes them more widely useful and, of course, salable!! Depending on the product and its design, it may also be compatible with natural gas. This, of course, is something the company must determine so that their product is used safely. In the case of your fireplace logs, for example, if you cannot legally use the fuel gas they were designed for within your fireplace, contact the manufacturer.

    They may have a conversion kit available to allow the logs to use the other gas. State safety departments have written laws concerning the use of gas appliances. These laws are not consistent across the country. The best source of information concerning your local regulations would be the state regulatory agency involved.

    Reply
  • Benjamin Dorer
    Benjamin Dorer July 2, 2009 at 9:22 am

    For those of us who are apartment dwellers, a camping stove and an extra tank of gas are important-- as well as batteries, radio/flashlight, and lots of tasty freeze dried food!

    Reply
  • Mona Leon

    Living in hurricane-prone south Florida -- keeping warm is not an issue -- it is keeping cool & avoiding heat stroke/exhaustion. Also avoiding the relentless disease-carrying mosquitoes. An article about those would be nice. I have been looking into survival books on how to make your own stove to boil water using debris, ie: tin foil & cardboard box. Having lost my roof in 2004 double hurricanes, I can tell you that having enough supplies does you no good if they are scattered over 3 counties. Having stuff stored in waterproof containers in differnt locations is NOT a sure proof way of knowing you will have access when you need it.

    Reply
  • Laura Fager

    I need these ideas to keep rolling in. I worry about fuel sources and hope that I can be prepared.

    Reply
  • D. Whitehill

    I realized how important it is to be prepared after the ice storms that went thru our town. We spent 2 weeks without power. We had a fireplace but other than that we were totally unprepared. I am trying to learn basic survival skills. Heat, light, food, water... these were all issues that we had to deal with in December. I've got a lot to learn yet... I'm been looking at the freeze dried foods & mres...I can't decide which is the better way to go. any comments would be great.

    Reply
  • Lawrence Roberge

    This was a very good post. Several things to consider.

    First, for generators that use fuel, find out from your local fire dept. how much fuel (gasoline, diesel fuel, etc.) that you can store on your property WITHOUT requiring a permit. Thsi is VERY important! In Massachusetts, the rules are so outdated-law states only ONE gallon of gasoline for ANY non-auto use-yet, every one breaks it-that the law is useless (as told to me by the local fire marshall).

    Next, if using light sticks, be careful how you need them-general lighting or for necessary viewing. Sounds confusing. Consider that WHITE light sticks give off the full spectrum of light, whereas YELLOW or GREEN light sticks give off only the yellow or green part of the spectrum.

    If you need to discriminate between red switches, blue versus yellow wires in a circuit box, or other colored but important items; the colored light sticks will make it harder to clearly observe.

    Best wishes to all.

    Lawrence

    Reply
  • Noel Napolitan

    I think "good sources of light" is key, mainly the plural part. If you're in the dark and need light quickly and quiety, a shack-light or dynamo-light is not going to do the trick. In addition to those, you should have a back-up battery powered light. In addition to that, I have actually used my Mag-Lite and a magnifying glass to start a fire (with standard lightbulb, not the L.E.D.).

    Reply
  • Matthew Truax
    Matthew Truax July 2, 2009 at 10:29 am

    An idea that I heard about was rigging up a bicycle to charge a large rechargeable battery or group of batteries and using excercise as an alternative source of electricity. This way you can kill two birds with one stone.

    Reply
  • Jeff Clark

    My area is not good for wind or solar - do you have recommendations on generators?

    Reply
  • Sam

    Living in South Florida, we are long used to being prepared. I went through Andrew and had NO IDEA what I would be in for. In subsequent years, I have honed our preparation. I have settled on freeze fried food as our main emergency food source. The 30 year shelf life and the taste sold me. I invested in one of the really good water purifiers, since there are canals full of water everywhere here. In order to be prepared for the unthinkable, put serious thought into what types of things you would need if the stores were closed or empty for a month or so. Make sure you have some cash on hand.. ATM's don't work without electricity. For cooking, consider a propane camping stove. The cannisters last a REALLY long time, are easily stored and safe. If you have a generator, you really should ground it directly to earth using a 5 foot copper rod and a copper jumper cable. Whatever vehicle you designate as your "main" emergency vehicle should also be grounded if possible.

    Reply
  • Tricia J

    Backup heating is especially important for us pet lovers. Me and the dog can tough out the cold for a while (extra socks!). But my peachfaced lovebird won't fare so well in cold conditions. Reptile and fish enthustasts also share this problem. Also, many alternate heat sources give off fumes that are toxic to birds.

    Hand warmers, emergency blankets, and firewood in a well maintained fireplace is our warm bird plan for now.

    Reply
  • Hayley Locke

    A lot of good ideas that I hadn't taken much thought into alternate energy sources. I was just building my food supply. Need to get a barbecue for food.

    Reply
  • chris boren sr
    chris boren sr July 2, 2009 at 11:45 am

    my family has a generator with extra fuel for it,we have extra propane for camp stove,charcoal for grill,firewood for heating and campfire cooking. i have been thinking about the solar panels and a windmill. already started on a battery bank for storage.

    Reply
  • Get Ready Now
    Get Ready Now July 2, 2009 at 11:46 am

    A great item is a solar oven. (hint, hint, you guys should be selling them) They don't weigh much at all and can boil water, bake bread and cook meats. Even on a cloudy day you can get a great meal. No fire, safe with kids.
    There are also portable solar generators. Yeah! no more gasoline! They can run up to 4 110 small appliances and the solar panel is portable, so your homeowner associations (I live in one too, it stinks) can't bark at you. The panel is on wheels and you can direct it where you need it. In an emergency, the HOA's can live with it for a while.
    And when all else runs out. Make sure you have charcoal. We stock up on it every hurricane season. Don't forget your foil and lighter fluid too.

    Reply
  • Chris

    We have a large propane tank, but we need a backup generator. Thats next for us.

    Reply
  • Sharon Woodard
    Sharon Woodard July 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks for all you do to help us help ourselves. I have never given much thought to preparedness and if not for your website wouldn't know how to get started.

    Reply
  • Laurie

    Once you start seeing what you actually have within your house a whole new world of "oh- Maybe I'm a bit ready - and need to just organize myself a bit more". To know I have a grill, a fire pit and now a volcano stove- I have more resources available. Next is starting a solar oven- for under $10- a car window reflector and a few cardboard boxes and aluminum foil. We already have dutch ovens. Thanks for all the ideas from everyone!!

    Reply
  • Lisa Harvey

    I live out in the country with my family. We have installed 40 solar pannels that run the entire compound. We pump our own water, and have a deep well..but are preparing to drill to 750 to 1000 feet more. We have most of the survival tools...food,sanitary supplies, waste disposal solutions, Water storage solutions, Several emergency blankets, Alternative comfortable sleeping solutions, "everything proof" matches, Firestarters, Several lanterns,Canned fuel, Candles,Lightsticks,Flashlights, More than one radio..(in case something happens to one of them!) Firearms and ammo, First aid kit, (if you have kids..make sure that you have pediatric size first aid supplies).We have small and large denominations of curancy, lot's of pocket change,several cell phones (even though they probably wouldn't work in a global emergency)& all of the chargers to go with them, We have arranged an out of state contact person..(so if the family is seperated, we can all contact this out of state person to let each other know we are all o.k.) This would only work if the disaster is only in our state and not global. We also have a collection of precious, and semi precious metals and stones (We may need to barter if money is worthless) And remember...There is no better currancy than extra food, fuel and water to trade!! We also have 2 generators.(The Honda generator is my favorite. It's powerfull, and so quiet you can hardly hear it). we have tons of firewood, and lots of tools to fix stuff.

    We have toys for the kids, teaching tools, books for various age ranges, paper,pens,pencils,reading glasses,etc...

    Don't forget gas masks. and if you have children be sure to get child size gas masks! they can't help if they don't fit. Chemical suites are also available in lots of sizes.

    There are also full size solar and Fuel powered freezers and fridges that can be purchased.

    Take a course on CPR. Learn first aid. Pass a hunter saftey class. And then learn about wilderness survival. You will need to know these things BEFORE you have to use them to be effective.

    I hope this helps those who read it, to build up your own survival bunker.

    .Lisa.

    Reply
  • Thomas

    I live in an area that is affected by hurricanes. My backup fuel for my generator comes from my old truck. It holds 16 gallons that can be siphoned off easily with a pump. That's enough to run my generator for about a week.

    If you have to refuel during the emergency, people in line at the gas station are a lot more understanding when you are filling up a vehicle than they would be if you were filling up 3 five-gallon cans.

    So if you have an old work truck and the gas tank is in good shape, go ahead and fill it up now before you need it. If it takes more than a year to burn off a tank of gas in it, add some fuel stabilizer for good measure.

    Reply
  • Lisa Harvey

    You probably already know this but....For those who have large propane tanks...Make sure you have the proper adapters to get the propane out of the tank so it isn't lost :) (You might have to do some searching to find these)

    We have 3 propane tanks that hold several hundreds of gallons total.. But this would be worthless if we couldn't get it out of the tanks.

    Reply
  • Rd

    Generators are nice for the short term emergency (like keeping the fridge and freezer going until their contents can be utilized). I'm thinking that using valuable/expensive resources to attempt to keep things "status quo" may not be the best for longer term emergencies. I think people need to plan on how to substitute or do with out some of the resource gobbling fuel/power options.

    Reply
  • Clemente Moreno
    Clemente Moreno July 2, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I've been assembling as many of these items as my budget allows.

    Reply
  • Thea

    I would love to have solar panels on my roof. But I live in a townhome complex and things on roofs are not permitted. We do have a generator and fuel for it. Under communication you could also put Ham Radios. There is a feeling of comfort when you are prepared.

    Reply
  • D. Garner

    Being prepared is fairly simple! Start small, build a good base, and hope;wish; and pray you selected ALL the correct items you need for yourself and family. But of course it will be that one item you don't include or forget OR don't get enough of -

    TOILET PAPER !

    Reply
  • Anthony Fraino
    Anthony Fraino July 2, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    As with many others that blog on this site, keeping warm is far from my mind. The coldest winter in the area in which I live was about 38•f. This can easily be remedied with a warm jacket, hat and socks. Now air con is the problem. Fans would obviously be a more energy efficient choice since air con compressors use an inordinate amout of electricity. Is there any shelter (tent type structure) that is designed to be a solar energy collector, ventilated by fan with the use of this power and comfortable to survive in for a time span of a week or more. Please let me know if anyone has heard of such a device...or simply split the royalties with me if someone develops something similar to this solar reflective self powered tent.(hehehe). Anthony F.

    Reply
  • Brett

    Since my area has experienced 3 hurricanes and one tropical storm in 4 years, we decided to purchase a 4kw generator and keep 25 gallons of gas (properly stored of course) on hand. We don't stay for the storms, but have returned within a few days of them. Last summer when Ike hit we were without power for 9 days. Some had it off for much longer. I can tell you it is expensive to run a generator all day. Ours consumed about 8 gallons a day with sporadic use during daylight and continuous use at night to run the window a/c unit. It gets expensive burning 8 gallons of gas a day every day for a week. This is where I saw that solar would be perfect for my area. The only problem is the steep upfront cost for a unit big enough to power your whole home. These are usually in the $30,000-$60,000 range.
    For those that could afford it I couldn't recommend it enough. There is also a 30% tax credit right now. For my area of the deep south solar would definitely be the way to go. I hope that industry keeps working on geting the cost down and efficiency up so this can become a reality for more people including myself.

    Reply
  • William Woods
    William Woods July 3, 2009 at 3:40 am

    I would like to know more about solar-power kits, solar battery rechargers, solar powered radios, solar flashlights/lanterns, etc. How many of these products are carried by the Ready Store? Can anyone tell me more about these type of items and/or make any recomendations? Can anyone provide links to more info?

    Reply
  • Benjamin Ramsey
    Benjamin Ramsey July 3, 2009 at 3:49 am

    I bought the ULTIMATE Year Supply of Freeze-Dried Fruit - #10 CANS.
    I will be getting the Magnesium Fire Starter next.

    Reply
  • RTSTEVE

    I've been looking at solar power for the house. Seems that the collector grid is not too expensive, and can be build. But the power converter, converting the DC solar power to AC house current and some related components can really get pricy ($800 and up, when you add switches, wiring, etc)

    Does anyone have a less expensive alternative ?
    What about dual-fuel generators, like those that can be powered with gasoline as well as natural gas ?

    Reply
  • RTSTEVE

    A handy website that I found is www.thedisasterguard.com
    It has a food storage calculator, you put in the number of people in your family and it calculates how much of the essentials you should have for a year. It appears that the calculations are based on the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) recommendations. I am trying to build a pantry with a balance of basic recipe ingredients as well as some freeze-dried meals, and MREs for short-term and bug-out situations.
    Get a bread-maker, very handy assuming you have electricity.
    Also have 2-3 weeks of "normal" grocery items that we use, rotate and re-stock as needed. Also saves gas by reducing the number of trips to the grocery store. Be sure to check the expiration dates.

    Reply
  • Randy

    I have an infrared heater like one you might see for ice fishing. I have three propane tanks ready to fuel it. I also bought an adapters to run the 20lb propane right into the Coleman propane stove for cocking. I would love to get a pellet or wood stove also.

    Reply
  • Debora Kerr

    This is one area where I do feel partially prepared. I have addressed these needs and have several kits, for my home, for my bug-out kit, and in the cars. This article has me thinking about the power grid alternatives. I need to learn in more detail what can be done there.

    Reply
  • Fran Kozicki

    Fran Kozicki

    A very good blog, with good points. I have been more or less focusing on food storage, and need to work more on preparedness. Really like the idea of solar, yet we rent so our options are limited. Solar oven is next big item on my list. Thanks for all the helpful information, and ideas to think about.
    Fran

    Reply
  • Kyle Tupin

    Having survived hurricane Ike, I keep a 72 hour supply of food and water. I use the bbq grill (propane) for cooking. Gasoline was in very short supply so keeping a generator running required planning and/or a long drive for gas.

    Reply
  • Maureen Abbott
    Maureen Abbott July 3, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    We went through Gustav and have gradually started working towards keeping everything ready in case of another one, but honestly I had not really considered the energy aspect. We just cooked on the grill and coleman stove

    Reply
  • Holly Robinson
    Holly Robinson July 5, 2009 at 3:19 am

    I have food storage and a well, but only a gas powered generator for power. I would like to have solar panels installed on my roof, but I can't afford it. I'm doing all of this in small steps and wish there was a way to do solar energy for less.

    Reply
  • David Crouthers
    David Crouthers July 5, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips--a portable solar generator (Thanks, Get Ready Now!) sounds like a great investment. I have looked at some wind turbines available thru a farm industry magazine, but I am concerned that we would not have a reliable supply of wind available in our area. Solar power might be a better option for us here. We survived a major ice storm this past winter, and are true believers in staying prepared. And yes, have some cash on hand in a safe place. Cell phones, ATM's, and credit cards are WORTHLESS if the whole telephone system goes down. Also, consider having enough food and water (and TP) for other family members or friends that may have to live with you during a crisis. As a volunteer firefighter, I am also taking a First Responder's class next month to assist in medical emergencies. As a farmer, I already have gas generators, chain saws and a thousand gallon LP tank with a transfer pump to fill one grain truck that runs on LP, as well as our forklift and other portable LP tanks. Just don't forget to check on your neighbors!

    Reply
  • Rebecca Kumar
    Rebecca Kumar July 5, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    I have heard negative things about wind power. I am curious how much power is generated by the kits mentioned in the blog.

    Reply
  • Jason Thompson
    Jason Thompson July 6, 2009 at 2:32 am

    I think it is important to remember to tie any backup generator into your house properly with a cut-off-switch. Every year during hurricane season electrical linemen get killed becasue someone with a home generator is not tied in properly and thus sending voltage back into the grid. A step down transformer works as a step up transformer when the current flows in the opposite direction. So, a 110V 30 amp source gets stepped up to whatever the line voltage is (easily 1000's of volts). I wired a completely separate circuit into my house just for my generator. It consists of an outlet on the outside for the generator (power in) and 2 outlets in the house (1 for the kitchen (fridge/microwave and 1 for TV/lights/etc.). This setup saved the cost of an automactic switch for the entire house at the breaker box and this also means I can get by with a smaller generator.

    Reply
  • Michael

    To generate electricity, there are many methods that are outside of the box thinking. Peltier junctions are employed by the military to generate electricity with waste heat.

    Reply
  • Lee

    I'm in the process of ordering/installing a whole house liquid cooled generator (Generac QuietSource) that will run off of large LP tanks buried in my yard so that they are less obvious should fuel become a real issue. I recently bought the 72 day MRE box from the Ready Store to back up my canned & dry food staples. I am also restoring some back-up water storage from rain water (cistern) should "city water" become interrupted. I've been doing cost comparison shopping on wind turbines to save on long-term cost should this "Cap & Tax" Energy Tax legislation be rail-roaded through. However I have not yet determined the feasibility of going "off-grid" full time with alternative energy options.

    Reply
  • Pierre Montsion
    Pierre Montsion July 7, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Alternative energy is something I've been thinking a lot about lately, but dont have the funds to do anything. At this time, my best bet is to just stock up on some propane tanks. I can use these with my BBQ to cook with, and also plug my heater directly into a tank. In a perfect world, I would have a large generator supplied by a large underground fuel tank PLUS solar panels and wind generators - but is all that really needed? In all reality, all I need is a heat source to help out over the winter months....

    Reply
  • Eileen

    I've also been thinking a lot about long term alternative energy. Would love to have the whole house running on solar, but don't have the money to invest in that right now. So I am gathering the smaller solar powered items now.Getting them at the ready store.

    I would really like to hear your opinion on solar powered generators

    Reply
  • bajajim

    Here are just a few comments about fuel and emergency power.

    The absolute best fuel (in terms of storage longevity) is Propane. Propane can be stored almost indefinitely without degradation. It also is much easier on an engine than gasoline. It can also supply heat, light and refrigeration. Propane prices are seasonal and vary from one dealer to another as well as from one location to another.
    In terms of storage (best to worst) of generator fuels consider the following;
    Propane
    Natural or liquefied natural gas
    Diesel fuel
    Gasoline
    Batteries are a great way to store energy however one must remember that they require proper maintenance, are expensive and require a rather large amount of space to store a meaningful amount of energy. They contain a finite amount of energy so once you have discharged them you need a way to recharge them or they will be damaged. The quickest way to recharge them is with a generator, or utility power. Solar panels will also recharge them but at a much slower rate and at a much higher cost as well as requiring large areas of direct sunlight to collect the energy.
    I recommend that you carefully consider the minimum amount of power you can get by with in an emergency and tailor your emergency power accordingly. Consider the purchase of a smaller refrigerator that can be powered by Propane, 12 volts or 120 volts. Limit the use of power-hungry devices like electric heating, toasters, irons and the like. Wash dishes and clothes the old fashioned way, by hand. Use compact fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs.

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  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl September 14, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Personally, even though I live in the fairly harsh northern Wisconsin environment, I am not planning to have alternative power. By "alternative", I am talking solar panels, windmills, etc. Those are VERY costly and I am a single with only 1 income. When I moved up here, I managed the 1st 2 years without ANY electric or running water. I heated the place with the wood burning kitchen stove in one side of the house and an old time Parlor Stove near the bedroom and sitting room areas. I learned to cook on that kitchen stove in a hurry! I did have a few flashlights, but other than that used an oil lamp. I still have the outhouse up in working order (the county made me put a tank under it) a treadle sewing machine as well as the big hand pump in the garage. The hand pump doesn't have a check valve (or it would freeze in winter) so it must be primed every time it's used. I was lucky in that my job let any who wanted to, shower there. Lots of us did to save money. Otherwise, hair was washed by heating water on the stove, and big time sponge baths were taken. In summer, I washed under a downspout on the eaves troughs system wearing a 2 piece swim suit just in case. I live a LONG ways from the next neighbor, so it wasn't an issue. If all falls apart and the grid goes down, I will be going back to doing those things. I have all the pipe needed for the wood burning system, 64 acres of "fuel", and my extensive hand-dug garden system. All I am doing is planning on living like my grandparents did years ago. Yeah, I am pushing 60, but find the self sufficiency to be very satisfying. I am now teaching my grand daughter the same things I learned.

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  • Claudius of Troy

    I have come across several articles about what is called a modern-day "prairie generator". I have watched most of the hour+ long videos that repeat the same information using slightly different terms, and the short version is this; this generator comes with a set of drawings and a follow me type DVD to supplant the written how-to directions.

    This is their claim - using only "very dry twigs and/or grasses" this generator can make enough electrical power, after several weeks of operation, to power your home and potentially make excess power that the power company will pay you for, but they say that it will generally eliminate 90% or more of your monthly electricity bills. In addition to electricity, this generator will make gas (not specified but it says it is a common gas) that can help power various devices that use gases (not gasoline but some type of LP) as well as the obvious use of burning it to cook, or heat.

    A child of eight is supposed to be able to assemble/fabricate about $20 worth of materials to build this generator, or less cost if one goes to a typical junk yard for the materials.

    They claim that there will be regular maintenance required, but they have prints to show how to build a weather tight area for it, how to hook up the power line to power your home and sent excess power to the utility company, and how to get the gas so it is useful, or in a useful condition/container.

    If anyone has done this project would you please share your experiences with this generator package, and your results? If it works as claimed it would be a God-send! Simple, easy power, and gas to use all from a "bale of hay" per week.

    Thanks so much, just another family guy

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  • Sonja

    Very good responses....thanks to all for sharing. Within our preps, I have a WonderBag (check it out on the Net). You can heat a pot of food on a fuel source to boiling; put the lid on; place the pot in the WonderBag and your food will continue to cook for up to 12 hours. Think of an unplugged crock pot/slow cooker on steroids! Another fuel/cooking source we have is a GasOne Stove - it uses butane and can be purchased either online or your closest Sam's or Costco. Happy prepping!

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  • Upstate NY Ready

    Those solar garden lights you stick in the ground can also be brought in the house for a safe source of light (put one in a vase to stand upright). Take it back out in the morning to recharge. In a true emergency, propane and gas may be hard to come by. Investing in a rocket stove which uses small twigs for fuel is a smart investment. You can also use the stove to cook or purify water, etc and they give off little smoke.

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  • ew

    As far as generators goes there are some that run on dual gas you can use either propane or gas so you can store propane as you chose and have a choice of if you run low on one you can use the other.

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  • Sammi

    Like Northwoods Cheryl, I live in an area where, when I first moved here, I had no neighbors, my road was gravel, and I brought gallon jugs of water home from work. Unlike Cheryl, I live in the desert, and my two biggest needs in an emergency would be first, water, and second, cooling in the summer. I've been looking into putting a small solar system in, to pump water from my well, and a second one to power my freezers. All the affordable solar generators I've found so far brag about all the things they'll power--a laptop, a coffeemaker, a tv, recharging a cellphone--not a word about really practical things like freezers, refrigerators, hot plates, etc. I have no problem doing things "the old fashioned way". An electric coffee maker and a TV will be the last things I worry about if there's no power!
    I have all the skills the pioneer women had, and a few more. Money is a problem, though, as, like Cheryl, I live alone, with only one income--social security--but I have a few years on her--I'm pushing 80. Can't do as much, or as fast, as I could at 60, but I can take care of my house, my garden, and my livestock. The Ready store has provided a great deal in the way of freeze-dried foods, and a few other items (OK, I wait til something's on sale, and buy a bit at a time), but I also can, and dehydrate foods to round out my preps. I grew up in hurricane country, so "prepping" isn't anything new for me. The only "new" part is all the conveniences like freeze-dried foods.

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  • wendy

    I was thinking of the free energy units sold by the KESHE Foundation, called Magrav generators. Apparently for 900. it needs no fuel once its running and it can power a house.

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