PREPS

Without Electricity (Level 1 Prepping & Preparedness)

Without Electricity

Being without electricity for a few hours is no big deal, right? Well maybe it isn’t too much of a problem if the power outage only lasts a few hours. But when it drags on into the day (or longer), then you will certainly have some issues to deal with.

When you really think about it, our modern way of life is hinged on the availability of electricity – the grid!

Now imagine the possibility of being without electricity for up to one week (Level-1 Preparedness). Let me explain how to get through it:

 
First of all, this is Level-1 preparedness and a temporary power outage is not the end of the world. So we’re only going to address some of the disruptive aspects of a power outage.

 

What Will You Miss When The Power Goes Out?

 

No Internet

One of the first things people will miss when the power goes out is their internet connection. The home’s WiFi router will no longer be enabling connection to the internet for any of the computers or “smart” devices that normally connect.

That said, most people do have a data plan to go along with their cell phone plan, so if the power outage isn’t terribly wide reaching then the towers will still be operational. This may enable you to contact others if needed.

Note: Text messaging often works even when cell towers are busy.

I think we can all survive without the internet for awhile, and besides, this is Level-1 preparedness (1 week or less) so no big deal… although today’s kids may go through internet withdrawal…

 

No TV

Most people watch way too much TV anyway. The point is that this form of ‘Entertainment’ (or news gathering) will be down. A highly recommended prep in this department is a battery operated portable radio.

I have written a number of articles about portable radios including these:

Best Cheap Portable Radio For AM/FM

Best AM Radio For DX Long Range Listening

3 Best Emergency Radios For Around 50 Bucks…

 

The Kitchen Without Electricity

For a short term power outage lasting just a few hours, no big deal. If it drags on into a day or longer, there will definitely be some concerns regarding the kitchen.

-Refrigerator
-Freezer
-Cooking
-Coffee!

 

Without Electricity: Refrigerator & Freezer

Okay, so you know the refrigerator will warm up pretty quick without electricity. Your best course of action will be to consume the foods that you’re keeping in there first. This will minimize waste.

The freezer that’s part of your refrigerator will keep the foods frozen probably for 24 hours. So don’t open the freezer unless you’re taking something out.

If you have a chest freezer, they are typically insulated better than a refrigerator freezer. This may sound funny, but drape blankets over your chest freezer for even more insulation during a power outage expected to last longer than just a few hours. Your chest freezer may keep things frozen for several days this way.

After that, if the outage is ongoing, it will be time to start eating that freezer food.

I have two chest freezers and I rely on this set of wireless thermometers (they have a temperature alarm) to monitor for problems. It would be very helpful during a power outage to know the internal temperature without opening the freezer.

Wireless Refrigerator / Freezer Thermometer Alarm

Without Electricity: Cooking

As you know, not all foods need to be cooked to eat. Canned foods for example can be eaten without cooking because they have already been safely processed. Do you have a good manual can opener?

OXO SteeL Can Opener

That said, your options will include your barbecue grill. I keep several extra tanks in reserve. Not only do I NOT want to run out during a BBQ, but having extra will go a long way towards cooking without electricity.

A camp stove is a great option too. It’s more suited for cooking with pots and pans.

Coleman 2-Burner Propane Stove

Without Electricity: Coffee!

Given that it’s not the end of the world for Level-1 preparedness, it might be if you’re a coffee drinker…

This is what you’re going to need (I have one for just in case). A coffee percolator.

Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 8-Cup Coffee Percolator

 

Lights Out!

Although the novel with the same name was a great read, if the power outage drags into the night and beyond, you’re going to need an adequate supply of flashlights and light sources.

You probably already have a flashlight or two at home, but do you have extra batteries? That’s important! Check your inventory and do what you need to do…

I also have two of the following LED Lanterns which are a great light source. I wrote an article about it several years ago:

LED Lantern For Survival Preparedness

Another thing you can do is buy some of those cheap yard landscaping solar lights. You can take them in at night and have light! Then recharge the next day outside…

 

A Generator

Whenever there is a situation resulting in power outage longer than several hours, there is always a run on generators. Don’t let it be you. Perhaps it’s a smart thing to pick one up now before you might ever need it and they’re all sold out.

Remember that talk about the refrigerator and freezer? Well with a generator you could run it for an hour or two every so often and keep that fridge and freezer nice and cold…

There are all sorts of generators out there. Those that are less expensive are generally LOUD and don’t provide “clean” power. That said, most of them will do in a pinch. You can pay lots of money for a quiet generator too.

Although not for everyone due to cost, one of the best in that department is the Yamaha generators. Super quiet, and clean power.

Yamaha Generators

Do you have spare gas for the generator? How much do you have? That’s another thing that sells out quick during a longer lasting power outage.

Speaking of which, it’s important (very important) too treat your gas for long term storage. Here’s an article I wrote about it awhile ago:

Fuel Treatment For Generators

 
CONCLUSION

While our modern lives are very much disrupted without electricity, you can easily get through a relatively short term power outage with a few preparations. Hopefully this has helped get you thinking about it.

Related article: Prepping and Preparedness 1 – 4 (Overview)
Related article: Prepping and Preparedness 1 -Overview

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78 Comments

  1. If you don’t have spare batteries and the FL goes out, reverse the batteries. Sometimes the lead batt goes dead and the other will still have sufficient power. If you have (dead) batteries, test them before throwing them away. The power threshold for most appliances (such as a flashlight) is between .9 and 1.1 volts per battery (usually closer to .9). That means that if your batteries get down to .9 volts the appliance will go out. That’s still 2/3 of the available power! But the power threshold for a 2 batt appliance is between 1.8 and 2.2 volts, so if your lead battery goes dead you may still have a fully charged battery in the back. Replace the dead battery with a .9 v battery and you’re good to go. The two batteries will likely equalize and you have 1.3 v in each battery, more than enough to run the flashlight.

    1. Lauren
      In saying “reversing” the batteries, that does NOT mean reversing the polarity, it means the stacking arrangement, as in one on top the other “inline”……
      Correct?

      1. Right. Do NOT reverse polarity. I always forget about the human factor when writing stuff like this…

    2. @ Lauren, I agree with checking the batteries. If something goes dead, the first thing I do is check the batteries with my tester. At least one time in six, one battery will be completely dead. A good battery tester pays for itself in no time. The one I use is Amprobe BAT-200 Battery Tester

    3. ”Tis why I generally use flashlights that take a single AA cell.
      Zebralight SC53c
      Pricy, but well-respected by the backpacking crowd, and my EDC.

    4. also those little solar yard lights mostly use rechargeable AA batteries. we use them to recharge our batteries when the power is out. and it goes out for at least a week once a winter like clockwork!

  2. Oddly enough I agree with Ken on all of his Level 1 suggestions. See there is always a first HAHAHA
    Of course one could add hundreds of other items to the electrical discussion, but he has the Basics covered.
    I believe I would add during this ‘phase’ of Level One; I suggest reviewing your Plan for “If/When” the situation becomes worse. I believe tis much better to be aware (hence the need for a good radio as per yesterdays article) than to just sit drinking a cup of Java waiting for Mr. .gov to save the day.
    I would NOT tho suggest one running out and start buying a bunch of stuff you think ya might need, for the masses of un-prepared Human Animals will be dangerous and unpredictable. Stay away from them at all cost.
    Just my 3¢ worth
    PS; as Ken suggested, a small Gen-Set could be a life saver, especially if one needs any medical support systems to keep the heart pumping.

  3. One Area not covered – Keeping Cool! Here in TX, it reaches 100F nearly every day in the summer, and no basements are available for retreat. Having a pool would be a major help, if you have the yard room and money. Storing lots of water to prevent dehydration and hyperthermia is another important precaution.

  4. Living in a potential hurricane zone, I have prepared some additional ways that might be helpful.
    I have rinsed out some clear plastic containers and refilled with water leaving a few inches of void space and placed in the freezer sothe that if the grid goes down I can take about 2/3 of those containers out of the freezer and into the refrig.

    I purchased a flammable lig rated hand crank pump so if the power is out at the gas station I can arrange payment with the owner and still get gas. If you go this route, I suggest prearrangement with the gas station owner before disaster hits. I have a friend that has a few convience stores and I have pretested the pump’s ability. I had to premeasure the depth of pipe needed first and thread one end. Plus I wired a screen mesh on the end going into the tank. This is important cut the pipe to be about 12″ off the bottom to ensure you don’t puncher a hole in the tank since so many tanks these days are fiberglass and I put a wire screen mesh on the opposite end to prevent any setiment trash in the tank sucked into your gas.

    Regarding the generator, try not to overload the wattage usage capacity of the generator. The more power (watts) being consumed, the higher the engine rpms required, the more gas consumed. Never refuel the generator while it is running, Always allow it to cool off for about 15 mins before refueling. If your supply of gas is limited please consider running time the generator just long enough to keep your food from spoiling. example: two hours run time and three hours off.

    Depending on where you live you might also consider getting a small A/C window unit and/or a couple of box fans just incase the grid goes down in th warmer months.

    I also have a 500 gal fuel storage tank at my BOL and use the Pri-G preservative, great stuff!

    1. I would also like to add that another option for portable power to use while being mobile is to consider some foldable solar panels with corresponding battery packs that are ideal for recharging small electronics like laptops, tablets, walkie talkies, cell phones, etc. This could also be used in conjunction with other power sources mentioned above. to conserve run timeof the generator and gas to be used for the higher voltage uses.

  5. For us when we lose power we also lose our water as we are on well water. Sometimes there is enough water in the pressurized tank to get drinking water but there is no guarantee. So we have to keep water stored. We do have a generator but it is not big enough to power the well pump. When we replace it, we will get a slightly larger one to handle the load of the well pump. Until then we have to be ready at all times.

    1. Peanut Gallery
      For that emergency without power for your water source, you should make yourself a very inexpensive well bucket out of PVC pipe. Some plans are available on-line.

      1. Thanks Anonymous, but our well is too deep to go that route. Even the heavy duty hand pumps like Bison are just outside the depth that it will work.

        1. Okay, get some light aircraft cable, a pulley, and a donkey. Then lower the bucket the 500 feet or whatever depth and get the donkey to walk that distance to get a handful of feed for each bucket of water. :)

    2. Peanut Gallery
      If you have space I would suggest water storage tanks. There are several different kinds available on the market. We have the 225 gallon on skids, but the one I am in the midst of repairing is the original it is 1550. It is gravity fed to the livestock or can be switch it back to the household, not great pressure but we would have water.
      Have you thought about this for your place? The 225 can be placed on a scaffolding to raise it up for gravity fed or give you water for drinking without extra work.
      Word of caution to those who may wish to purchase a 225 tank..make sure that they did not have ‘non potable’ materials inside. Cost depends on the area you live in $50 to $200+.

      1. We bought 20 (30) gallon water drums in July, 2011 at a facility called Lexington Containers near Lexington, Ky.
        That was 175 miles from home. It took two trips carrying 10 each time.
        The price then was 10 for $100. And of course, gas was about $4 a gallon then.
        Those drums are no longer $10 each, but $60 each.
        Great timing for us.

        1. JJ
          Interesting how the price on the Drums jumped, ya think maybe it’s the Supply and Demand kicking in? Such as more people are preparing?

          1. You can buy a new one for 55. Cant remember where but im sure i found it on Amazon. That’s crazy the the used ones at Lexington are 60. We have a guy on the other side of town that sells the white 50 gal. Food quality for $8 per but you get to clean the soda syrup out of them. A great deal but a lot of work to clean and sanitize.

      2. Thanks Antique Collector, we do have water stored in 1 gallon, 3 gallon and 5 gallon containers, plus a rain barrel. Our storage area is very small with no other building or sheds. Our water containers have to be small to fit into tight spaces. We have revisited this problem over and over and over. I am not too worried about water as we have several sources not too far from our door, we just don’t have enough stored to last a week. Eventually we would like to drill another well somewhere else on our property and hopefully the static water level will be closer to the surface so we can put a manual pump on it.

  6. Extra oil for the generator (if you go that route) to top off the engine, or an oil change with some spare after. A two burner gas stove adapter hose to fit the grill tank, the small bottles run out pretty quick and they have gotten pricey (to me). Some unscented pillar candles, they burn quite a while, back up the batteries. Never have enough matches and disposable lighters, hard to light something without them.

    1. We bought several adapters to refill the little green bottles from a 20LB. bottle plus we have a hose and splitter (You can buy these at most sporting good stores) to run 2 Coleman propane camp stoves at once from a single 20 pound bottle. DS1 was a hot dog vendor so he had several 20 pound bottles plus he scours yard sales and Craigslist for these. We now have over 50 of these bottles full plus many green bottles.

      1. @OldAlaskan, I didn’t now adapters for the small bottles existed, thanks! Back when we camped I had a tank tree that had a screw on lantern at the top and two more hookups for a stoves. Slick.

  7. I have extra can openers including one of the large ones for #10 cans.
    Have extra propane tanks for cooking and also for heating with a big buddy heater.
    Right now I’m dead in the water with a decent flashlight but have a good lantern. Good time to be checking batteries.
    Have a ‘so so’ single burner camp stove and bought a rocket stove last year.

    When I moved a couple of months ago I spent 3 weeks with a small clock radio and a flip phone. Really, really missed the internet!

  8. We have had it happen,
    Have a pair of 3500w quiet generators to run refer and my 11kw miller bobcat can be pluged in and running everything in about 5 minutes. Keep about 300 gallons of treated fuel that i rotate fairly regularly. The small generators hold about 3 gallons and run for 10 hours, so will run one then switch it when it shuts off. The welder sucks the fuel, not sure exactly but it holds 10 gallons or something like that and it depends on the load, but think i can only get about 6 hours.
    Not a real good long term solution but better than nothing.
    Our biggest culprit for power loss is Mother nature.

  9. Not lvl. 1 but still good. If it was not an emp and you don’t see any return to normal life, you could cannibalize solar panels off the highway systems. Lights, traffic meters, heck, even some tollbooths have them on for some use. More than likely, all the hardware and power components are there as well.

  10. Brings back memories of 10 days without power(1996). Yes I was the crazy woman, NO hot water, NO way to cook, we had an all electric home. Saving grace were the small generators, one that we used to power the extra fridge & freezer in the outbuilding. The other to power the COFFEE MAKER, yes… oh, tv, wood pellet stove along with the other fridge and freezer on a rotating bases. We had stored water for emergencies, not days upon days.
    It was our defining moment in time, we have since corrected a lot of errors but not all. Last item is a 14 or 16k generator runs on propane, the other generator will be designated for the well, jet pump and freezers.
    As of this posting have been storing up water in jugs outside, ran out of room in the house. Converting areas in the carport to make it convenient for me to bring it in should the need arise.

  11. Some other good options for coffee are a French press, an Italian espresso pot, or a No. 4 Malita cone with the correct filters. If you’re like me and grind beans every morning before brewing a pot, do you have a manual coffee grinder? I have an adjustable grind backpacking style manual grinder that has been great. I haven’t used it since I discovered Medaglia d’ Oro instant espresso. Amazing stuff!

  12. Regarding flashlight batteries–I have two solar chargers-AA and AAA. Just charged a few yesterday and Sunday when the sun was totally horrid the entire day.
    In Ky., with prevalent chemtrail spraying, I don’t have a choice when to charge–it’s whenever the sun is not blocked.

    1. You can use small vanity mirrors to direct more light towards your charger. Just keep any eye on it so it doesn’t get too hot.

    2. I store my batteries in a fishing tackle box.
      Nice litle plastics that let me design the size of compartment…AA or AAA or larger.

  13. One more suggestion…the greatest place to store gas for that generator is in your vehicle. Keep it filled as often as possible.
    It’s smarter to stop and fill @ half empty as letting it get to EMPTY.

    1. If you do store gasoline in car tank, check to see if fuel contains ethanol. Ethanol is not good for long term usage in small engine users. If the gasoline does contain ethanol, use an OTC ethanol neutralizer available at auto parts stores in addition to Stabil or PRI. If not, the ethanol can cause long time useage damage to small engine parts and seals.

  14. I find that the cheaper Duromax generators are a great value. Im on my second one and it is a dual fuel that runs on propane or gasoline. I can get about 14 – 16 hours per propane tank per load and at just over 4000 watts I can run the frig, chest freezer, lights and portable ac unit just fine. I highly recommend using only propane in these as it keeps the gen from having fuel problems and since i can refuel my propane tanks at Costco for about 8 bucks each, it makes it very economical. Also I store propane tanks in my utility shed and they dont need to be rotated every 6 months like gas.
    Just my 2 cents. Love your forum, most of the time i just read and never post.

  15. That’s why I installed a Kohler 17.5 KW gas powered generator. It goes through my meter to a manual transfer switch that takes the power company source off line so there won’t be any back feed when the power comes back on. I opted for a manual transfer switch because the power goes out too often around here for 5 minutes or less and an automatic switch would just add unnecessary start and stop runs and is just something else to break. If the power doesn’t come back on after 45 minutes, then I’ll crank up my generator.

    I got burned out on small gasoline powered generators during Katrina. After losing a bunch of stuff in a couple freezers besides my patience screwing around with small gasoline powered generators which notoriously break down at the wrong times and are not big enough to run a central air system and that doesn’t include the inconvenience of having extension cords strewn all over the house.

    A big natural gas or propane powered emergency home generator is a luxury though. But, if we lose power for a long period (2 or 3 months or longer) because of something stupid our rulers do then at least I have a way to segue off the power grid slowly and pressure can all of the meat and other things we have in the freezer without it all thawing out at once. A couple weeks of auxiliary power should be enough time to can up a lot of beef and pork chunks, beef stews, green chili, seafood gumbos, chickens and everything else I can think of. Just saying. I hope it never comes to that but given the maniacs running amok in Washington and a lot of State houses, one never knows.

    1. CrabbeNebulae
      The Kohler is what we will have installed, like you we will do the transfer ourselves. We had the transfer switch installed by our neighbor(electrician).

  16. Generator talk, Maybe also not level one, but if you’re going to invest in a small Gen-Set I would look into a Bi-Fuel generator. Gas and Propane (sometimes Nat Gas), they usually run about 25-50% more that just a gas unit, but remembering that Propane will store almost indefinitely, Gas not so much even with Pri-G you may get a year or so. SO Propane maybe the way to go. Also for those that live in the boonies as I do, the 250, 500, or bigger House Tank can be hooked to the Gen-Set (make arraignments beforehand), or you can use the 45 smaller 5 gallon tanks you have for the BBQ, Ken.
    One more thing on Propane, there is a thing they call a “Wet Hose” used to ‘refill’ smaller tanks, I would suggest installing on your LARGER tank, IF your State and Supplier will allow it, AND if your capable to know how to use it SAFELY!. Please don’t blow yourself up if you don’t have the know-how.

  17. I have several battery operated fans. Purchased from a marine/boat supply store. They’re small, run on 4 D batteries and will last 2-3 days if you run on low and off when not in use. Really helps sleeping in hot weather. Beach’n

    1. I have a battery operated fan for years and never bought batteries…that is on my list of ‘things to get’ as of now!!
      Thanks for the reminder.

  18. We have a dedicated 125 gal. propane tank, for cook stove only. An outdoor propane cooker (turkey or fish type) turned down for using pots and pans is more efficient than a grill. IMHO. I have and would recommend making your own rocket stove, lots of plans out there and can be made from many things. I must be hungry by the look of this post.

  19. This being a thread on Level 1 preparedness for electric grid failure, my comment may be out of place, but since the subject of generators has been brought up, I’ll go ahead.

    Due to my remote retirement location, I routinely have electrical service outages ranging from a few hours to as long as two weeks. My first couple of outages were no problem since I had a 5kw generator I had used to run my tools when I built our home, prior to service being brought to our location. This involved using a number of long extension cords running from the generator through a door or window to the appliance being fed.

    Being someone who tries to solve his own problems and having developed some construction skills and knowledge over the years, and realizing power outages were going to be a constant in my new environs, I decided to attack the problem of numerous extension cords to power up my appliances.

    This post is for informational use only. I do not recommend this be used by anyone. It could be illegal in some jurisdictions. Stupid people should never tamper with electricity.

    With those warnings in mind, locate the electrical service panel in your home. There will be a master breaker at the top or bottom, two “hot” breaker bars and two ground buses. If I’ve lost you, hire an electrician. The objective is to wire a plug or plugs, using two individual breakers, one on each “leg”, mounted outside the panel box. In my case, I wired a 240volt 30amp RV type plug. These plugs/plug will function as any other outlet.

    Next, fabricate an extension cord/cords, 12ga, or larger, no longer in length than necessary to reach the generator placed in a safe location (no fumes reaching living area). The average portable generator will have 2-4 120 volt 15 amp outlets and one 30amp 240 volt. Connect the appropriate cord/cords after making sure the master breaker on the home panel is in the “off” position.

    This will “charge up” the entire house, so prior to starting the generator, throw the breakers that feed high consumption appliances (electric water heaters, clothes dryers, electric space heaters, etc.) Things like freezers, refrigerators, TV’s, lights etc. pull very little power. Now you can control lighting, fans, tv’s as usual.

    This method is called “back feeding”. It is illegal in most places as it is dependent on those doing it to ensure the master breaker is in the off position, separating the home from the grid. It makes no allowances for stupid people.

    1. Like you Dennis, we had to tip toe around all of the extension cords. We also have ours set up now to back feed the panel. It is so much easier, just shut off all of the breakers except what feeds the refrigerators/freezer.

    2. Dennis
      You are absolutely correct, this method is 100,000% illegal and if spotted by an Inspector, a Linesman, or anyone within the Power/Electrical (even a Meter Reader) realm they will immediately disconnect your electrical service by not only pulling your meter but disconnecting the wiring at the Power Pole/Transformer with ZERO notification. Plus drop a healthy Fine and/or Jail Time on you. This is well spelled out in the NEC and well advertised NOT to do this method by every electrical company everywhere.

      There have been a LOT of Linesman killed by people doing exactly what you described, Back Feeding.

      There are legal ways to do this with a simple and rather simply installed “Transfer Switch” (Manual OR Auto-switch) installed by an electrician and inspected by the Power Company and an Electrical Inspector these will solve all the problems with Solar or Generator “back Feeds”.

      Don’t do it this way.

      Sorry Dennis, I had a good friend in Colorado Die from this, and the ‘Owner’ was brought up on 2nd deg murder charges.

      1. I have several relatives who are Linesman. This scenario is one of their biggest fears. So sorry about your good friend. luv ya’ll, Beach’n

      2. NRP, you have no argument from me, Sorry about the loss of your friend. I now have the manual transfer switch.

        When I first considered this, we were well into our second week of a ice-storm induced power outage. I was able to locate a line crew who was working to restore our power. They were volunteers from another state called in to help rebuild the massive damage to the grid. I ran my plan by them and to a man they agreed that although it was illegal, it was safe as long as the master breaker was off. They told me to go ahead with my plans as a temporary solution. I placed a padlock on the panel to insure no one had access to the breaker except myself. A couple of days after meeting with that crew, they made it to my home late in the afternoon. They remembered me and agreed to work late that day to make sure I had power before they stopped for the day. After inspecting my handi-work, they re-iterated that it was illegal only when the generator was plugged in and perfectly safe for them when operating if the breaker was off. Two of the linesmen confessed to me this was exactly how they had their emergency generator and panel wired. They even told me I could leave it up and going until they got my meter back on line, which I did.

        A few thoughts. As I said repeatedly, this is illegal and can be dangerous. It was for informational use only, for those who find themselves in certain situations needing solutions. What I described is “back-feeding” the home, not the grid. It does not constitute “back-feeding the grid” until, if and when, the main breaker is returned to the “on” position while the generator is running and connected. It is perfectly safe (even though illegal) for all involved unless, as I also stated repeatedly, someone does something stupid like failing to throw the breaker before hooking up.

        You can’t fix stupid. Some folks can go through life handling dangerous objects and performing dangerous tasks daily without harm coming to anyone due to their actions. Others can manage to leave mayhem in their wake no matter how benign there endeavor. It’s called being a human being going through life with other human beings. It’s tougher for some to avoid screwing up, but we still have to navigate beside them as we make our way.

        One other note, when I first employed this method, I was staring at four miles of power lines and poles lying on the ground. Had I not disconnected from the grid by throwing the main breaker, my generator would have gone straight to ground when connected (of course its internal breaker would have tripped), showing I was wrong about the safety of what I had done. This method is not unsafe in of itself. I understand why laws were passed for the automatic or manual transfer switches. Anti-gun folks use many of the same arguments to try to ban guns. They always use the lowest denominator to stress their reason to regulate (acts by stupid people).

        1. Dennis,I share your sentiment about the lowest denominator being used for regulations to protect the idiots of the world. It’s our ancestors fault. They killed off all the large predators that would of kept the clueless in check.Worse yet,they are breeding like rabbits.

          I installed a manual disconnect right after the meter and I have manual disconnects before my breaker boxes at the house and shop. They put the meter 180′ from the road and the rest of the entrance wire I own and maintain that goes into the homestead. The meter reader uses binoculars to read most meters out here.

          I installed skylights in the rest of my outbuildings and I use 12 volt batteries for the ones I need more light in. I run a solar trickle charger on them to keep them up. Seems to work good.

          My cabins use skylights,solar power mostly. I do have power to them but don’t really need it.

          Some of us can work around dangerous equipment with out problems. Then there are some who would hurt themselves changing batteries out of a flashlight…

          1. Bill Jenkins Horse,
            My situation is similar to yours. My power service comes to a pole some 150ft from the road where the electric co-op required me to furnish a meter base and breaker box pre-wired by a local supplier. From the power pole to my home, over 200ft. was my responsibility, involving burying three oo stranded copper cables in conduit underground to another 200amp breaker and box in my home. I could have easily connected my generator at either location. Had I connected at the house and kept silent, no one would ever known, but because of who I am, I discussed it with the power folks, who could actually be affected, who surprisingly didn’t have a hemorrhage, as some folks here have. Of course they knew electricity and respected my commonsense in return for my respect for them in consulting with them. They ignored the “violation” for the duration of the disaster, trusting me to insure the main breaker remained off. Not unusual for mature men who are upfront with each other.

    3. If thee is any mention of the “suicide cord” as a method of feeding juice to the home circuits, absolutely NOT!!

  20. HI ALL ,, my , my a timely subject for me , we have lived with generators it seams like for ever ,, I have the habit of buying land that the PUD wants big bucks to run power in to, sooooo generators are a way of life. Solar is OK but not my personal favorite, same for hydro power. As a engineer I look at the real numbers involved , I like a diesel generator with a battery/ inverted backup ,for lights and the freezer at night ,we have 11 diesel generators and one gasoline unit. All of the diesel power units are used units ,an example is two units we picked up last week, both are name brand rental equipment with 4/5k hours on 20k hour units ,7kw surge 5 kw continuous ,were on light towers with trailers,
    We gave 650$ +tax each
    Next example , 2kw ,12v one cylinder diesel , We use one to charge the battery bank ,uses 1 gal in 24 hrs , We picked up these for 2/3 hundred dollars each again 20k hr units ours had under 2k hrs and came on hiway sign boards with a nice little trailer

    Next example 25kw single or 3 phases ,real power ,in a sound cabinet ,i use it to run the shop and the house if the load is to great,10gal a day yes a lot of fuel but don’t need it very often , 3k hrs on a 20k system gave 950$+tax
    The above is a good example of what is out there
    I NEVER BUY NEW!!!! A good place to look is Ritchie bros auctions or farm auctions. Ritchie bros has yards all over ,i bid on the web.

    As far as fuel we 5k gal of vegetable oil in storage ,ten year old veg works just fine with treatment of one gal of #2 diesel fuel per 20gal of veg ,on really old veg also add one gal of regular gas yes I did say regular gas in the diesel fuel made of veg , ,the one down side is the oil MUST BE WARM to use it and can be messy and hard to clean up, for years we have been getting waste veg oil from the deli deep frier and can also grow canola for fuel, the amount of land that it takes to make hay to feed a horse can run a tractor and generators ,1a of canola will make about 200gals of fuel ,
    I’m fazeing out most of the solar system ,except for a few things (fence power and yard lights)
    Have a stack of good panels that I don’t expect to ever use again both water and electric

    I also like the idea of micro reactors but there time is yet to come for the masses
    More about that later

    Ice tea time

  21. I put LED pushbutton flashlights on hooks within a couple inches of all the most frequently used light switches. If there’s a blackout, it’s handy (and fewer things to remember) to know the flashlight will be right there wherever I impulsively try to turn on a switch.

    1. I bought some small battery operated, stick-on, motion detector wall lights from Amazon. I have them next to every light switch including the ones for my porches. They are great. I have a solar lantern from Amazon hanging by my back door and solar motion-detector lights all over both my front and back yards. In addition, I keep a small flashlight in my pocket. I don’t carry a purse so my money and one or more small plastic bags for picking up dog waste is always in my left jeans pocket and my key ring and flashlight are in my right hand jeans pocket. I check often to make sure they are still there. I feel naked without them.

  22. Most any gasoline generator can be converted to “tri-fuel” with a conversion kit. We installed a designated 500 gallon propane tank for our 8,5 kw set. We got our kit from http://www.uscarburetion.com/type_4.htm I installed one on our backup 4 kw generator as well.

    We were without power for 4 days a couple months ago due to heavy flooding. Didn’t lose anything in the freezers or fridges, just ran the genny every 4-5 hours for a half hour.

  23. We finally “bit the bullet”, “pulled the trigger”, etc. and sold our home in the suburbs at a LOSS to get a fixer-upper in the country.

    Waaaay out in the country!

    We have a pond with some fish, turtles, etc. and almost 95% of our property is densely wooded. I’ve lived in the country before and have always preferred it, although it does present it’s own challenges. For instance…

    We are on our own private well. We love it. Earlier this year, the well pump went out and had to be replaced. That’s when I learned how deep our well is.

    140 feet.

    They hit water at 60 feet when dropping the new pump back in, but the pump sits 140 feet down. The well company said it’s a good well, is highly unlikely to become a slow well, etc.

    My quandry- how do I get clean drinking water in a prolonged grid down scenario?

    The Flo-jacks are way too expensive for us and their lift calculator isn’t working so I am not certain one would work anyway.

    We can get water from the pond, but that will require filtering and boiling.

    Any ideas?

    The only thing I could think of would be to pull up the pipe the well pump is attached to, remove the pump, install a flutter valve, drop it back in, pull it up, empty the water, and repeat. I don’t see the pipe lasting long though.

    1. I’m on city water, but know where I can get plenty of clean water in such a case. For you, from what I have read for/from others, would be a Bison well hand pump. They make different styles depending on your set up. Gonna be some work involved, but a good supply of fresh potable water is worth it. They run a few hundred bucks, but once again, the long term payoff is worth it.

    2. restoringBrad
      Same scenario I explained to Peanut Gallery. You will need at least 5,000 gallon water storage tank(s)(look 4 low profile)which will be connected to the water line that comes out of the well. You can install a ‘Y’ valve off the main line to fill the tank, adding shut off valves to both the main line and the fill line for the storage tank.
      Believe me you will be thankful you did, when the tank is full you can shut off that line and keep that water as a back up for the household should something happen. Somewhere you will have a pressure tank that keeps the water pressure at a level for the household.
      Here is our setup so you can visualize what was done for our household.
      The well water goes into our 6,000 gallon tank, from there the water feeds to a jet pump from there it goes to the pressure tank. The jet pump stabilizes the pressure to the pressure tank which flows to the household.
      Our well sets below the house by at least 15 feet so we had an elevation challenge, another reason for the jet pump.
      Your 60ft water level is your static water level, which means that is the level the water stays at ‘ IF’ your well is a fast recovering well. The depth you said was 140 ft, the well pump should be at least 10ft off the bottom of the well, due to sediment being churned up when the pump kicks on.
      Hope this assists you.

    3. restoringBrad
      First of all, and Ken is going to yell at me, but congratulations on getting the heck OUT of the Burbs. GREAT MOVE, even if you sold your place at a loss, it will be well worth it.
      Your question on the water situation may have been better off on the Saturday Post, but tis a good question, I agree with Antique Collector, a few “Tanks” would be the best solution, BUT being able to hook a Generator to the pump could work also……
      I have a LOT of water stored, and plan, it a very long term outage, firing up a pump with a smaller Gen-Set to pressurize my household water.
      Hope it don’t come to that.

  24. L.P. stove,refrigerator,freezer, on demand hot water and two 1000 gal. tanks below grade concrete vault. Installed three Velex skylights that open and have screens. Convection airflow is old time way houses were cooled here in the South. It’s not A.C. but can make life bearable in the summer.

  25. this is in reference to having a well and no electricity. it would seem the earlier comment concerning the donkey and aircraft cable was misunderstood. if you have a well, you have water stored. my grandaddy “drew” water from a well his whole life.. the system was a homemade wooden windlass, rope and galvanized bucket. drop it in, it fills up, draw it back out. what i am talkin about is not a bucket as commonly known, do a search for “well bucket”. depth and diameter of your well are largely irrelevant. you can buy one or you can make one from pvc pipe, use a rubber ball for a check valve. fills from the bottom. drop it in, pull it out. whatever diameter well you have, use appropiate diameter pvc to make bucket. like was stated earlier, use a pulley at the top, could even be an old car wheel with whatever support you can rig. run cable or rope over pulley and walk with the rope. depth doesn’t matter, you just need more rope. you might want to sanitize your bucket and rope once in a while, although our ancestors didn’t. requires a little effort but its CLEAN WATER. think about the value of clean water for barter. lots of info on youtube. alternative fuel for the tinkerin types: woodgasification

  26. Rainwater collection system and a Sawyer camp filter for water past 30 days at our place. Reasonable price, no power needed and will refill with avg rain fall.

    One item I noticed is no one mentioned having enough extension cords to plug frig and freezer into. No one wants a noisy fume emitting generator in the house or next to the bedroom. Also take into consideration voltage drop if greater than a 100′ run.
    My set up goes on the covered back porch with a 12g 50’extensuon cord with a 3 way plug and a surge protector to run into the house. Then I run 14g cords to the appliances from there. Only need to crack a window to run the cord.

    1. That’s a great suggestion regarding 12 gauge extension cords. All of mine are as such and it makes a difference for distance and/or if using lots of power.

  27. We had a power outage in the Midwest a week ago. Over 70,000 without power. We have generators and also solar power so, not really a big deal. Actually it gave us a reason to finally make pickles that we had been putting off because it had been so hot lately. LOL
    Our solar system(s) are modest ones. We have a few that can be combined if necessary, or operated separately. I ran 1 generator to keep 3 refrigerators and the freezer running. I could have used another gen. to run the A/C but then we wouldn’t have made pickles.
    I wanted to point out that you don’t need a 5 or 10 thousand dollar solar system for it to still be useful. Our batteries usually are fully charged by 9 or 10 am. We are able to do laundry, have lights, fans, TV, charge cell phones etc. without draining the batteries. We have 12 volt TV, ceiling fan and lites etc. so there is no power loss converting DC to ac power. The washing machine is powered with a 750 watt inverter.

    1. It was kinda laffable when people were calling, freaking out because of the power outage. “What are you guys doing?”
      Our answer was,” Making Dill Pickles, doing laundry, watching the 12 o’clock news, and having a popsicle!” ” We’ll be grilling a chicken and having a cold beer later this afternoon. Why? What are you doing?” LOL

  28. I have in my backyard a large burn barrel. Many of you may have a fire pit. About 3/4 of a chord of wood. I have a screen to keep large embers from floating into the air and a solid cover that completely covers the opening. A means to put the fire out is close by.
    What will I miss when the power goes out? Have to enjoy the silence and calmness while it lasts as we will be back in the rat race soon enough.

  29. A point in the article easily overlooked (in all the generator talk), is the mental prep for life without the grid. It’s surprising how thoroughly people have let grid-based things become ‘essential’ to their happiness. If you don’t “need” television (DVDs, etc.) or constant music or video games, you’ll need a lot less generator time.

    A couple oil lamps can provide off-grid lighting, but again, it’s going to be a lifestyle change. Modern folks have made themselves accustomed to staying up many hours after sundown. No “need” for that. Go to bed when it’s dark, and you don’t need generator time to power lights.

    Water can be heated over a fire for dishes or bathing. What you give up, is the luxury of on-demand hot water. I know a few folks who have deep emotional addictions to taking hot showers every morning. Without grid power, they’ll lose both the well-pump AND the heater. Sponge baths with a bucket of fire-heated water will satisfy the hygiene needs — if not the emotional ones.

    So, for Level 1 grid-less preparedness, do the things in the article, but especially, prepare your mind for the change in lifestyle. Being able to roll with the outage will make it so much easier to get through. Maintaining your power addictions is a very expensive luxury.

    — Mic

    1. I have an oil lamp and have had to use it for short power outages. It really doesn’t put out much light at all. I’ve read that there are some that put out a fair amount but from what I remember they were sort of spendy.

      1. Light goes in all directions unless somehow focused. Place the lamp near a corner with a couple of mirrors behind it to reflect the light shed onto the walls back into the room. Mirrors are more reflective than walls, so it will help. It’s not much, but it will give you a bit more light into the room.

  30. Having lived off grid for several years in my younger days I bought my last house in the suburbs with the following considerations:
    1. No central air conditioning instead using smaller plug-in units in 2 rooms in our house making it easier to use with a generator.
    2. flashlights and headlamps scattered around the house in key locations (beneath light switches beside doorways on the floor).
    3. Most appliances like BBQ and lanterns are propane based items as it gives more USABLE light in order to read by.
    4. Stand up freezer contains gallon water bottles that are 3/4 full of ice to be used in ice chests in vehicles. This limits the amount of frozen food we have on hand but it allows us flexibility by always having a cool ice chest within each vehicle each day (Desert Rat Habits)

    Many thanks to folks on this site for your input regarding generators and the fuel they use. I am in process of saving up for a natural gas/propane/multifuel generator for my house.

    1. Calirefugee ,, if I can help you find a gen set, just ask , your not to far down the road from us ,last week some nice cross over fuel units that were age pulls went very reasonable , age pulls are pulled based on date of install not hours of use ,you will have to do your own bibbing but I can let you know when and ware I see them

      ICE TEA TIME

  31. Have any of you tried the non enthanol premium gas available in some areas? I have switched over to this for storage fuel,still put in stabil fuel treatment but have found it a better choice. Mixed up some with two cycle oil,put it in my small water pump and had an increase in RPM immediately as new gas was picked up. Chain saw runs better also. It is a little more expensive but seems well worth it. And yes I know I should not be fueling a running pump but sometimes you have to break the rules.

    1. I use Ethanol-free gas for all of my engines and long-term gas storage (with fuel treatment as you said). Fortunately there’s a Vallero station that sells it not too far away… There was a website that listed and mapped all stations in the country that sell non-ethanol gas. Those interested could surely find it if they web-search. It’s especially better for your small engines (lawnmowers, rototillers, chainsaw, ATV, etc..).

  32. Ken
    Could you create a BOM and then topic for discussion for a rechargeable solar battery system with an inverter to operate a CPAP (no heater) machine pulling 2 amps per hour for under $250. I am building one and need a spot check on my calculations on power consumption.

    I am thinking 50 AH battery so I can draw down to 70-80% each night (assuming 6 hr use) then recharge the next day. This article brought the solution back to light when I consider I really don’t need to run a generator at night just for the CPAP.

    1. If you have a 50 amp battery and you are only drawing 2 amps then you will only draw 12 amps a day assuming you sleep 6 hours. Heck, you could go 3 days without recharging at that rate and still only be down 36 amps on a 50 amp battery. A 50 amp battery seems plenty big enough to me.

  33. My power has been down literally hundreds of times since I moved to my current location over 30 years ago. Most of the outages are short but several have been in the 1-2 day category. The thing I hate the most is the loss of the well pump (which means a loss of toilet flushing ability after the first flush). Fortunately, I have a couple 55-gallon water barrels and I can transfer water to the toilets without too much difficulty. With a little care, I could probably go a month before I ran out of water for flushing, drinking, and cooking.

  34. Taking a page out of a new technology refrigerator, use your smart phone and take a picture of both the freezer (s) and refrigerator. (Preferably before a power outage) , using the pictures will give you an idea of what you want to remove to eat rather than “digging” thru. Eliminating the loss of cool refrigerated air. Remember that a fuller freezer will last longer than one that loosely packed or empty. I often fill zip locks bags with ice (and who always never has enough ice?) Also items towards the back of a freezer tend to stay frozen longer.

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