Power went out last night.

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Jay

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It's amazing how dependent we can become as far as the power grid. I have a manufactured home that is built total electric. Last night a car hit a utility pole and I lost power for a few hours. I have changed a few things over the years. I have a wood stove in the kitchen for heat and cooking but to fire it up during summer months would drive me out of the house, and for fixing a meal on it would not be cost effective. I do have a transistor radio for entertainment, and kerosene lamps for light. I have just recently set up rain barrels for water, and now waiting for my berkey purifier to be shipped to me. Boiling water for purification kind of sucks, and is time consuming. I thought of making myself a cup of tea before I realized my stove wouldn't work. I then realized this morning that I have my bushcraft type stoves, both alcohol, and twig, but my mind was in a fog last night and I didn't think. My thoughts also were concerning the food in the fridge, as to how long stuff would last. I'm thinking about keeping a frozen gallon of water where I can transfer food to the ice chest that I haven't used for who knows when, but, then again, my freezer isn't very big. It's amazing what one thinks of when emergency needs arise.
 
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UrbanHunter

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@Jay it is amazing how dependent we can be without realizing it. We were in an all electric townhouse when 2 large snow storms came through. We were snowed in without power for just short of 10 days with daytime temperatures in the 20s and the things you discover are astounding. Yes, having no kitchen, no hot water, no heat, no light, and no access to fast food really help you realize just how dependent you can be. The good news is when it is that cold you just move the stuff from the freezer to the back porch in the shade. The stuff in the fridge will last longer if you don't open the door. Chest freezers will keep the cold longer because the cold air is trapped, it will pour out of an upright freezer like water flowing out of a glass.

We have learned to always stop right after an "EVENT" and make a list of what worked, what didn't work, and what we should do to prepare for the next event. 30 years later we are still learning.

We have learned that we are dependent on Electricity, Phones/internet, Natural Gas, Gasoline supplies, Water, Paper Goods (the great TP scare of 2020), and food; I am not stating this as a comprehensive list but as a starting point. I have many friends who would also add security to the list of things we are dependent on.

Trying to plan for the loss of any single or combination of these critical items could take a lifetime. But being unprepared for the loss of these things could be worse than you expected.
 

Morgan101

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Losing power is a major PITA. It has happened to us on occasion. My first line of defense is batteries. We have battery operated fans, radios, lights. If we had to cook I would fire up the BBQ grill, but we also have an ample supply of food that does not need to be cooked. We have been fortunate (I guess) that our power outages have all been in the Summer. JMHO, but I think it is easier to deal with the heat than the cold.

I am much more concerned for my wife. I don't mind the heat, but it affects her terribly. As long as I can keep her reasonably comfortable we are O.K.
 

UrbanHunter

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As @Morgan101 indicated, some folks have special needs. Older people and people with heart conditions may not be able to tolerate swings in temperature. Being able to meet the needs of these people requires special planning to provide short term relief from climate conditions.

Some medicines and medical equipment require special attention too, my wife's Oxygen concentrator is an energy hog, but if you take that away, stress her a little (heat/cold) and she is in the ER (if it is available).

We all have unique circumstances and how we prepare becomes a very personal mission. Some people have power outages every time the wind blows, they may have lots of short term solutions that address their needs, but their solutions might seem extreme to a 20 year old living next to a power station.

The nice thing about a site like this is that many of the folks here have already discovered solutions that "work" (sometimes based on trial and error) and can share their experience with the rest of us so we don't have to make all the expensive mistakes ourselves.
 

Camalot

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I'm shopping for small portable propane heaters after this last Winter's cold snap exposed how unprepared in that area I was. Ran out of firewood right before, just kinda figured I would buy more when I ran out. House runs of natural gas/electricity. Woke up on morning with no electricity. Blower fans don't work without electricity. Anyway I calculate that I need 3 18,000 btu heaters for the house and 2, 9,000 btu heaters for the outbuilding that have water.
 

UrbanHunter

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I'm shopping for small portable propane heaters after this last Winter's cold snap exposed how unprepared in that area I was. Ran out of firewood right before, just kinda figured I would buy more when I ran out. House runs of natural gas/electricity. Woke up on morning with no electricity. Blower fans don't work without electricity. Anyway I calculate that I need 3 18,000 btu heaters for the house and 2, 9,000 btu heaters for the outbuilding that have water.
How much power does your blower fan need? Just looking at it from a different angle....
 

Camalot

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How much power does your blower fan need? Just looking at it from a different angle....

That is actually an excellent question. More than zero electricity for sure. I'm sure I will go solar and geothermal eventually here. The natural gas pipeline crosses the pasture and we used to have free house gas, till Arkla broke the contracts and kicked everyone off.
 

dademoss

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I have propane and Kerosene backups. Propane is this one: Big Buddy Portable Heater. it will run on 1 lb cans or 20 lb cyliners if you get the hose. If you get the hose, get the Mr heater hose and a couple extra filters :)

The kerosene heater is a giant wick type, it is stinky but will heat what needs heated.

For grid down but the natural gas is working, I have a 2000 watt inverter generator to run the furnace and electronics, and a 4000 watt generator for fridges, freezers and lights.
 

Caribou

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I have a wood stove for heat in the winter. There is a coal mine not too far away so I have coal for my wood stove and a grate installed so I can burn my coal in my wood stove. I can't split a lot of wood so coal is great answer. A couple of Coleman stoves, one propane and one Coleman fuel. I always wanted a summer kitchen. Some people move their wood range out to the summer kitchen in the spring and back into the home in the fall. The closest I got was a gas BBQ with a burner on the side for pots. We also have a charcoal BBQ.

I have Coleman lanterns, candles, and various oil lamps. I also have blackout shades to keep the heat in and to not broadcast to the neighbours that we have light and/or power.

I have two generators to keep the power going and a solar system that needs to be installed.
 

50ShadesOfDirt

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We are off-grid, and never notice power outages until someone tells us an outage is happening in our county.

However, it is very easy to operate in an "off-grid" fashion, even when on-grid with no renewable energy system, with some forethought into your systems and needs. And, it is possible to have everything do double-duty in most cases. Utilize your bbq pit tank as your heat source. Utilize your power tool batteries as your power source. Add some low-power refrigeration into your mix. Get a "mini" renewable energy system (portable).

Heat - "upgrade" your BBQ pit propane tank to a 30-lb or 40-lb tank ... add an indoor ventless propane heater and hose that reaches through a wall; move the propane tank off the pit and over to the wall, and hook up the hose. Instant, safe heat for the room with the heater (living room, bedroom). No external power source is needed to drive the heater.

Power - if you have a favorite power tool brand, like Ryobi, you can add a ryobi inverter, and utilize all those batteries to power lights, small electronics, etc.

Refrigeration - adding a small "electric" ice chest to your camping supplies will give you an alternate source of refrigeration (utilizing the ryobi battery/inverter combination) for the most vunerable cold stock (milk, eggs, etc.)

Finally, lithium batteries have really dropped down in price, to the point where you can have a complete small "renewable energy system" (12-volt inverter, LiFePO4 battery, small solar panel), and further extend your power capability if the outage lasts longer than anticipated. This also can go with you on camping trips or such, for more double-duty.

Hope this helps ...
 
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Peanut

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I live at the end of very, very long power line. It feeds a few houses way out here in the country. Literally, I lose power on average of once per month. This has been happening for more than 50years so we’re used to it. Until recently my dad and I raised beef cattle here on the farm so we have all sorts of equipment, tractors, gasoline generators… For heat and cooking the house is on LP, also a large fire place is available but not currently used. None of which helps you…

Thinking about your situation… Set a goal, for instance plan to equip your situation for 1 week or less without power or water. A friend and his wife had hard times during the obummer years, out of work for months, lost their home. Maybe their story will give you some ideas.

They bought a pos used 5th wheel travel trailer and a couple acres out here in the country with the little cash they had. The trailer had a small LP fridge. They had no power or water for months. They did most of their shopping at a salvage yard.

They built an open shed 12ftx12ft, sloped roof, no slab but a gravel pad. They closed the western and northern walls to shield against winter weather and from summer afternoon sun/heat. He borrowed a chainsaw from me to build it. Cut 4 tall posts and used poles for framing and rafters. He got tin from the scrap yard, used a quart of roofing tar to patch all the holes in the tin. He had less than $200 in it. The gravel he shoveled a bucket at the time from a creek bed and hauled it to their new “home”. Eventually he shoveled and hauled enough gravel for a walkway and a parking area so they didn't have to park in the mud but that came months later.

One thing that was ingenious… They bought a junk tool cart like mechanics use, didn’t even have wheels. They also bought a 26-gallon gas tank out of junk truck and mounted it on the cart. Tapped it and installed small valve. This was their fuel storage. They bough 2 gas cans for transport to keep their tank filled. They had fuel transport and storage for about $100. For lights they had a small 3.5K gasoline generator purchased new, around $350. Eventually they bought two marine grade batteries and strung led lights in the trailer and outside so they had some light at night without running the generator. At first they used kerosene lanterns. After a year he added a couple of solar panels.

They got a used 30g LP tank and a camping LP grill for about $150. Eventually they got a second LP tank used for trailer heat. For fresh water they bought ceramic filters and made themselves a Berkey substitute and two food grade plastic barrels 30g each. One barrel stayed in the back of an old Datsun pickup he had. One barrel was for storage in the shed, one for transporting water from a creek. They ordered/bought a hand crank transfer pump for moving water.

For cooking they already had a lot of cast iron pots and pans. After a few months he built a nice fire pit beside the shed from salvaged brick and block. He brought me scrap metal and I welded up a nice grate.

During all this she had gotten a job as a receptionist and he did odd jobs. It took a year but they a nice place to live and never had electricity from the power company, city water or a well.

Hope their story can give you some ideas. Once you have the basic set up for a few days without power it's real easy to stretch that to a month, two months then...
 
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Newbri

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Power outages are common here. Although, it's been a while and that makes me suspicious.

Last year for instance there was a lot of load shedding, so there was a schedule all over the city and in ours the power would be out from around 11am to 1pm..often longer. It would happen once every couple days or every couple of weeks.

During this past rainy season, the power would go out if there was a heavy enough rain, which was very annoying.


I'm surprised that battery-powered equipment isn't more common, considering. There is a solar power company here but it's very small and expensive. I've been toying with getting some stuff from them. But their website doesn't show reviews or testimonials and I don't want to pay for anything unless I know it's worth the money.
 

LadyLocust

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@Jay I guess I still find it "funny" when folks mention entertainment. We don't have TV (for about 20 yrs now) and usually our evenings are quiet. When the kids were home, my son in particular loved when the power went out. We had wood heat so I could cook, heat, etc. with that in winter. Summer, I was going to mention what @Morgan101 and @Caribou said, a BBQ. If you get one with a burner on the side, you can cook in a pot/pan or grill. We also had a generator so if it was summer when power was out, we would plug in the freezers/refer. for a little while every however often and not open them. We have recently sold that place and now have all electric and are renting so are limited in making changes. We do have a buddy heater and a BBQ.
@Caribou I have a summer kitchen but with an electric stove which I still like in summer months. I've only read of folks moving their stove indoors or out with the seasons (historically) didn't know anyone still did that. I find that interesting.
Oh one more afterthought: When I was trying to nix our power to my greatest capabilities, I went around and unplugged everything but the fridge and freezers and well pump. As I needed an item, I would plug it in but asked myself if there was something I could do as a replacement (example electric alarm clock vs. battery). Many of those things never got plugged in again and went to donation or yard sale or whatever.
 

Aerindel

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PS: I love this topic!
I don't actually want solar or batteries & such.
I want to figure out ways that work and meet my needs without electric.
Coming at this all from a medieval history background....that was my starting point.

As I got older, and busier, and technology got better and cheaper, I eventually ended up with solar.

Getting on without power is fun. Sometimes you end up too tired and busy however for 'fun'.
 

Camalot

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My electricity literally went out last night. My transformer started going out just about the time I had decided I wanted to go to bed. I stayed up 2 more hours to verify that it was my transformer, then call it in and it was repaired within 2 hours of that time. very efficient. Should be good for another 45 years hopefully!
 

Alaskajohn

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PS: I love this topic!
I don't actually want solar or batteries & such.
I want to figure out ways that work and meet my needs without electric.
Like you and @Aerindel, this has always been my foundation. It took me a few years to acquire all that we needed to live without electricity. Now that I have a solid foundation, I am working on building up alternative solutions to generating power.

I always forget about my small 21 foot Class C RV with the 5KW Onan generator which is a capable backup energy producer.

This spring I got a lithium battery solar power station that is 1000W Rated Power and 2000W Surge Power for one of my remote cabins and it works great. I am actually typing this while in this tucked away little cabin with a cellular hot spot with all my electrical needs being powered by this thing. Amazing how it has opened up my ability to do my consulting work while living the lifestyle that I want to live.

I have a thread gong on adding a more substantial solar/backup generator to my operation that has me really thinking if I want to make that type of investment to ensure sustainability. Solar has limitations and is expensive, so I still haven’t decided how deep I want to go down that path. But my initial experience with solar has been very positive.
 

UrbanHunter

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Like you and @Aerindel, this has always been my foundation. It took me a few years to acquire all that we needed to live without electricity. Now that I have a solid foundation, I am working on building up alternative solutions to generating power.

I always forget about my small 21 foot Class C RV with the 5KW Onan generator which is a capable backup energy producer.

This spring I got a lithium battery solar power station that is 1000W Rated Power and 2000W Surge Power for one of my remote cabins and it works great. I am actually typing this while in this tucked away little cabin with a cellular hot spot with all my electrical needs being powered by this thing. Amazing how it has opened up my ability to do my consulting work while living the lifestyle that I want to live.

I have a thread gong on adding a more substantial solar/backup generator to my operation that has me really thinking if I want to make that type of investment to ensure sustainability. Solar has limitations and is expensive, so I still haven’t decided how deep I want to go down that path. But my initial experience with solar has been very positive.
You have a thread going on solar? could you add a link? I am thinking about adding a little solar to my mix, I would like 1000Watts, but I think I can afford a 400Watt unit. I would love to learn from what you have done, thus the request for the link to the thread.
 

SheepDog

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UrbanHunter,
What do you want to power with solar?
 

Alaskajohn

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UrbanHunter

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I want silent standby capability, I have some batteries (~800ah @12v), I have a 5Kw generator, and I have an assortment of inverters (300 to 2000 watts), and a several 1500 UPCs, but I don't have a long term way to keep my batteries charged. If I had a steady supply of electricity to the batteries I think I would use them to power my indoor garden lights at first, it is 3 stations with ~1500 watts total on timers, so there is a potential to having 3 - 500 Watt loads, one or more could be addressed using solar. But in a SHTF event I would like to be able to switch over to meeting the loads of some medical equipment. I would like to start slow and learn a little more before making a large investment.
 

LadyLocust

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@Alaskajohn & @Aerindel I appreciate this. I know there will be some level of compromise. I don't want to have to can all meat so freezers have been my hang-up. There are some sub terrain options that require far less power to maintain & Hubby likes internet. With those 2 exceptions, we've done pretty well in the past - again now a different game with all electric house. I like the research ahead of the need though. So with that, do any of you have experience with wind or hydro power? They would be preferred over solar panels.
 

Alaskajohn

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@Alaskajohn & @Aerindel I appreciate this. I know there will be some level of compromise. I don't want to have to can all meat so freezers have been my hang-up. There are some sub terrain options that require far less power to maintain & Hubby likes internet. With those 2 exceptions, we've done pretty well in the past - again now a different game with all electric house. I like the research ahead of the need though. So with that, do any of you have experience with wind or hydro power? They would be preferred over solar panels.
I have thought hard about wind and hydro. I have a running stream that could probably turn a turbine about 6 months each year, but I haven't seen a small portable that I think looks decent for the price. The idea of a wind turbine blade sticking up high might allow travelers who navigate the only road in an area the size of most eastern states to see it, causing me to not want one. Otherwise, my place is well hidden except for the bush pilots who navigate the pass. We also have periods with almost no wind during the long winter months when solar is less of an option as well.

I feel I am fortunate to live in a northern climate where food storage is less complicated, and I don't have to worry about air conditioners. Without power, getting wood for the woodstove and drawing water from a 110 foot well with galvanized well buckets would simply be a hassle, but doable. My woodstove has the ability to burn coal, so I have that as a backup to wood. Power is a luxury that I would like to keep, but I can manage without it. The one caveat is age, at a certain point, not having power and advanced age would be limiting. But age does complicate things.

Since the solar power station is working out well, I did get an eneloop charger and a bunch of the batteries. Now that I have a reliable alternate power source in the power station, it made sense to get rechargeable batteries. The power station can also keep my radio/short wave going so I can hopefully get news if all else goes to pot.

I think I will be adding, bit by bit, as budget allows, towards this technology.
 
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Newbri

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PS: I love this topic!
I don't actually want solar or batteries & such.
I want to figure out ways that work and meet my needs without electric.
Same here. My hope is to create a good enough foundation to survive without electricity, like Alaskajohn said. But if I can have the luxury of power and internet, I'll take it.
 

LadyLocust

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Same here. My hope is to create a good enough foundation to survive without electricity, like Alaskajohn said. But if I can have the luxury of power and internet, I'll take it.
Exactly! Up the river, we were set up so when the power went out, it was an inconvenience at most. I think the longest we were without power was 4.5 days and in winter so freezers weren't a big issue. If it were a different time of year &/or a longer period of time, then what? Might not ever need to cross that bridge, but I like the idea of low maintenance at low or zero cost. If I have things set up to cater to that situation than it's easy peasy.
 

viking

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Basically, the main reason we built a solar system was to keep things from going bad in our two freezers and two refrigerators, after all the food is used from them, electricity from solar will be used for a bit of lighting and perhaps DVD and TV, we have a lot of educational type DVD's as well as entertainment. In all honesty, we would probably do fine without electricity, one can still read by kerosene or candle light and we do have plenty of books. One thing I need to do is to build a small shed for a cooking area, our cook stove runs on propane and more than likely propane will also go away, we don't have a large tank, we run the stove on 5 gallon tanks, they run two to three months and we have about 12 of them. We have two Volcano stoves stashed away just for when there is no long any propane available, that's why I need to have a cook shed set up. Plenty of projects to do, enough to keep me out of trouble and that's not east do.
 

50ShadesOfDirt

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If you are "on-grid", and the discussion entails getting over the majority of (small) outages, you really only need a small battery bank, a battery charger, and an inverter. Most outages (when I was last on a power grid) were small (brownouts of a few minutes to blackouts of a few hours), and some were large (a day to a few days). The items below would ride you over all the small ones, and a good portion of the large ones.

The list:
- one 12v 100Ah LiFePO4 battery (Ampere Time), and some battery cables (Amazon).
- a 12v 1000 or 2000-watt pure sine wave inverter (Windy Nation)
- a battery charger (NOCO Genius 10-amp 12v model)

With the LiFePO4 battery, everything can safely be kept inside ... no fumes or spills, no purchase or mounting of solar panels, no mppt device or programming, etc. You are basically building your own "solar battery" box.

With this list, you'll be able to use about 90% of the power (90Ah) per battery (vs lead acid batteries), and your system operates as a simple 12v system. When the power goes out, turn on the inverter, run some extension cords to your critical devices (refrigerator or freezer), and ride out the outage. When the power is back on from the power utility, recharge the battery with the battery charger from the grid.

If you want a heavier duty system, just get two LiFePO4 12v 100Ah batteries, and a 24v 3000w inverter, and now you have a 24v 3000w system, able to do larger loads, or run for longer outages.

All of this does double-duty, as you can take it camping, or use it in an outbuilding.
 

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