Just about every disaster scenario we think about will involve being without electricity in some capacity or another. We are constantly thinking about food, water and shelter, but what would we do if the lights went out for an extended period of time? These grid down energy solutions can be useful today as well as in a SHTF situation.
Don’t get me wrong, food and water should be our main concern because after all we do have the sun to depend on for at least 10 hours a day, but after a few dark nights we would be foaming at the mouth for a little light in the evenings before bed.
The ability to preserve food means that you won’t have to hunt, harvest, and process food daily, providing opportunities for rest. With ample rest you’ll feel and perform better. A reliable supply of electricity allows you to use a refrigerator and freezer for food preservation. You may also need refrigeration to keep medicine from spoiling.
The biggest challenges, that is to say devices that use the most electricity, are air conditioning and heating equipment. The system described here is not large enough to handle whole-house heating and cooling systems. If you have a fireplace, you probably consider that as your source of alternative heat. If not, you may consider a wood- or pellet-burning stove. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. If you rely on fuel such as propane or kerosene, do you have enough for a long-term situation? How much can you store safely, and how long will it last? Will you be able to replenish your supply when it runs low? Weigh your decision carefully, implement it, and then stock up on wood, pellets, or fuel. I chose to install a pellet stove. It can run up to 12 hours unattended and maintains a relatively constant output. I can safely store enough pellets to get me through the winter, and left-overs can be used the following winter. Most importantly, I’ll get a good night’s sleep, and I won’t be inhaling dangerous fumes.
Generated power needs to be stored. You will need to be able to store the electrical energy to bridge times where energy generation is not possible or when you temporarily draw more power than the sources will put in. Ideally, you will need two battery types – a regular car battery as well as a deep cycle marine battery. A bank of each of those for greater power storage and redundancy would be most effective.
Car batteries function differently than deep cycle batteries and have a different range of applications. A car battery is designed to provide a very large amount of current for a short period of time. This surge of current is used when starting the engine for example. While the engine runs, the alternator provides all the power that the car needs. The car battery might never be drained more than 20% of its total capacity. Used in this way, a car battery can last a number of years. The downside is that a car battery should never be continuously discharged more than 50%, as it will reduce its lifespan significantly.
A deep cycle battery on the other hand is designed to provide a steady amount of current over a long period of time. It is also designed to be deep discharged over and over again. A deep cycle battery can provide a surge when needed, but not in the same capacity as a car battery.
We have good generators and ones the use different fuels, they are still only a short term thing a week a month without power cut back run at a bare minimum even longer . The day will come they will shut down for the last time and no fuel truck will be coming.
Wind stuff can supply some for awhile then it breaks along with the rest of it. Solar is still a joke for the most part you can get some out of it but not what they try to tell you.
I have been in countries a couple times in my life where SHTF big time. Those that could live off their land. The knew how to do without and survived. They had food they had water they stayed warm enough. There were many mostly in cities that just sat and waited suffering wondering when the power would come back. It don’t come back as fast as it went off.
The wood stove hot water heat will provide hot showers life will not be all bad. At this point most if not all of your fuel will be gone, if there is gasoline or propane available the odds are it will be so expensive that you can’t afford it. Solar or renewable energy might be the only option if the power is out for longer than a month.
During the depression people would use wood from their houses, wood from fences and wood from abandoned buildings to heat their homes, if we have a solar powered battery bank we can avoid tearing down the walls.
Regardless what power options we have at this point the fact that we are still here shows that our plan worked, and the fact that we are still alive show we have the will to survive and the means to do so…and quite possibly a little luck.
Most power outages we will face only last a few hours to a few days at most, situations like these might not require a large generator, although it wouldn’t hurt. Our children might think that this is the end of the world, but the truth is it will probably only be an inconvenience. If you depend on electricity for medical reasons you should treat every power outage as a long term power outage and take the necessary measures.
I have been make this list of power sources that may be available during SHTF situations. Many of these sources are regularly maintained and are installed just for this kind of thing. There may come a time when you need to power or charge a device for continued use and there may be no power available. Here is the list. Feel free to add to this list and point out any potential hazards you may see for each of these sources.
# Cellular Antenna Sites – Typically have battery power available for several days. This may require climbing a fence or breaking into a building.
# TV and Radio Stations – Many TV and Radio Stations will have a generator and plenty of fuel, usually enough for a few days to keep them on the air. If the situation is severe enough the station may have been evacuated leaving the generator and power available to whoever finds it. You will often find generators at mountaintop radio sites.
# Telephone “Central Office” – Telephone systems rely on electricity and typically the local telco switch office will have battery backup and a generator capable of producing many kilowatts above the systems needs.
# Call Centers and Large Office Facilities – Call Centers, such as help desk offices and the like will often have a generator large enough to run the entire facility and they will often have a satellite uplink for their data and communications. This may be a double bonus. Not only can you get power but you may also be able to communicate to the outside world using the communications equipment available at the facility. Many banks will have similar setups
# ATM Machines – ATM machines may have a battery backup system but are a risky source of power.
# Construction and Service vehicles – Many construction crews will have a generator on their trucks. Roadside Assistance trucks will often have a welder/generator combo as well as an air compressor.
# Traffic Control Devices – Many signs with flashing caution lights will be battery powered with a solar charger. These can be reused over and over and will last longer if the device being powered is disconnected.
# Railroad Signaling Devices – Railroad Signaling devices are charged by the power grid but they run from batteries. In many cases remote signals may be powered by buried cables that come from other cities and grids. Commercial power may be available near working railroad signals.
# Airports – Air ports usually will have some form of backup power for runway lighting and other safety lighting and signaling systems.
# Flood Guages – These are the little boxes you see along rivers with the antennas that point up into space. These will often have a battery backup system.
# Disaster Relief Locations – Shelters and refugee camps may provide power that can be used to charge batteries, cell phones, radios and whatever else you may need temporary power for.
# Sewerage and Water Treatment Plants – These are risky, but they often have generators capable of producing thousands of kilowatts needed to pump and treat water.
As a substitute for your water heater, heating water over a fireplace or on a wood stove are good options. Since you won’t be using a fireplace or a wood stove when the weather is warm, you can heat water with one or more of your kitchen appliances, but the best option for heating water involves using the sun.
I’ve installed a PVC tubing grid in the attic portion of my storage shed for heating water. Mine is not the most efficient system, but I wanted a solution that would be out of sight and maintenance free. I use a hose to force water through the system when city water is available, but I can also use an electric pump. A fifty-gallon plastic barrel and a couple of hoses round out the system. Either way I can have a warm shower just about any afternoon or evening, using little or no electricity.
# Radio Repeater Sites – Usually on tall buildings and mountain tops. They will often have both battery backup and a generator. These installations will be used to save lives so only use the energy from these sites if there is no other option.
# Cable TV Amplifier Power Supplies. This is usually a large box mounted to a utility pole. There will also be a power meter and small breaker box on the pole and connected to the amplifier p/s. Yhe P/S box will typically have a section of CATV hardline connecting to it. These power supplies contain batteries. Now that CATV companies are also providing telephone service the CATV system has to meet the same uptime requirements as regular POTS telephone systems.
# Power Plants – Power Plants require power to operate. If the grid goes down most power plants have a “Off Grid Restart” capability. Many power plants will have diesel generators to provide power for starting the plant. DO NOT try to mooch power from a nuclear plants generator. That generator is running pumps to keep the reactor cool. We do NOT need to deal with Chernobyl while dealing with SHTF. These are the same type of generators that you will find at call centers and telephone offices.
Most buildings will typically have at least one external outlet somewhere. You may find that buildings that have whole-building backup power have a live outside outlet. With a little stealth and good cover you may be able to use that power.
Alternators are an alternate way to provide a pretty stable source of 12V of electrical power. Bigger short-term applications can be used with the help of an inverter. And that opens up a lot of possibilities that, quite frankly, are often overlooked because of the common belief that everything electronic will be useless in a SHTF event. Quite the opposite can be the case if the right planning and power generation is in place.
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