Last updated on January 6th, 2015
Guest post: by Ted K.
Long ago and far away, I lived without electricity for several years. Water quality was also questionable at times so I had to be aware of my treatment system at all times. Since this was many years ago, much has changed in way of equipment. Here are my ideas regarding equipment and upgrades for a home without power and water supply of questionable quality:
(1) All portable lights should share a common battery type. such as AA or AAA and hopefully they will be mostly LED lighting. I like to provision out one LED headlamp per responsible adult and a back-up LED flashlight on their person. LED lamps will shine for so long, it is a huge improvement over the flashlights of yore. A headlamp makes it easier to wash dishes at night. About the only time a headlamp might be a bad idea is if you are hunting a critter that shoots back at night. (think tactical) Anyway, it is nice to be able to use BOTH hands sometimes. An LED lantern would be good too.
(2) In a well ventilated home, I have opted for propane over the years. If a white gas stove and lantern is purchased, It has to be used and serviced periodically in order to maintain the integrity of the seals. The years I lived off grid found me purchasing either a repair kit annually or a new stove/lantern. When you use it everyday, the liquid fuel just seems to wear things out faster. Those years saw me switch almost exclusively to using propane and propane appliances. Be sure to keep plenty of lantern mantles on hand as well.
(3) My sierra cups have been replaced by insulated mugs over 20 years ago. This former woodsman got sick and tired of burning his lips on hot metal long ago. They do make insulated mugs out of metal, you just have to look. I found a good one at Eddy Baur travel section the other day.
(4) Whether you burn wood, charcoal, propane or white gas, keep a set of work gloves on hand to protect your hands from heat, slivers the occasional nasty bug the might be hiding in the firewood.
(5) Diamond sharpening stones to sharpen your knives. They are lighter, they work well and they seem to last a long time. Over the years, I believe I lost more of these to theft than to wearing out.
(6) A good supply of metal cookwear including metal pails in which to haul away hot ashes, embers. The Ultimate water treatment almost always involves boiling it for a full minute at sea level. (longer at high altitude) I boiled my water for several months until my paychecks started rolling in. I survived. Just remember that filters can clog, filters can break and the filter element must be protected from freezing. (frozen and thawed filters do not work very well if at all) The funnel with a coffee filter works well to prefilter your water. Ultrafine sediments must be allowed to settle out.
(7) A gallon of plain bleach (clorox) can be a wonderful thing to have in the off grid home. Especially if your water supply is questionable. You may have noticed that many of the items I just mentioned can be found at your local hardware store, grocery store or kitchen shop. Camping stores are like an adult version of Toys R Us for recreational campers. The items are expensive and frequently do not work well. Before you go to the sporting goods outlets, go to the local farm supply, hardware store or grocery store to see what is available. It is not very sexy but the stuff will work.
Ken adds: Here are a few items that Ted spoke about above, which may give you ideas to be better prepared.