What is Powering Your Prep? It’s the idea of ensuring self-reliance, security and vitality in any situation; and doing so while keeping the lights on and communication systems up and running. For many preppers and self-sufficiency enthusiasts, food and security are at the top of the list. Often the need for electricity is overlooked. At Off Grid Depot, we feel electricity should be on the top of everyone’s list. Our goal is to help people sustain reliable electricity during a grid down scenario and for this reason we have created the Top 5 Rules to Power Your Prep:
1. Create Options
Can you create a system that both needs as little as possible but gives plenty? Can the inputs and outputs coexist in a sustainable way? There are a variety of energy options out there that can provide you with reliable electricity and the answer is often YES! Solar, wind and waterpower systems are traditional sources of options that need little from you but give back much more in return. Biomass, gasification and geothermal energy are options as well. When considering energy options it is important to look at the resources available to you, and decide which system will give you the most reward for your dollar. One way to create options is to embody a Permaculture mindset in design of your off grid energy system. Using the principles of Permaculture can lead to some creative and ultimately, sustainable means of energy use. Two principles weave perfectly into a discussion on creating options: Each Element performs multiple Functions and Each Function is supported by multiple Elements. This means that anything you are using energy for should hopefully have multiple functions that support your life, the same way that anything you get energy from should have multiple elements that support it. Utilizing some or all of the principles of Permaculture, at least in the design stage, can create many options for power generation.
2. Backup, Backup, Backup
If your main plan for a grid down situation is relying on a generator to power your prep you face many challenges. Have you thought about all the inputs needed to make that generator run for the long haul? How is your fuel supply? Do you have the parts necessary to repair the generator as needed? What’s the backup plan for when you run out of fuel or parts? If you think that generator is your fail safe plan for powering your location, cooking, and keeping warm or cool, think again. When that generator fails you are dead in the water unless you have a backup plan. Powering your prep means diversifying your power sources and focusing on redundancy. Every option has its pros and cons which is why diversity is key. Combining multiple power sources multiplies the pros while minimizing the cons. Typically when one source of power is lacking, another is abundant which is why backups of backups is a requirement for keeping the lights on while others are in the dark. A great example of this is combining a wind turbine and solar array to an off grid system. When the sun is shining the wind turbine typically just sits there motionless, but when the weather turns bad and the solar isn’t producing, it is often windy. You come out ahead because you have diversified your inputs and have created backups.
Multiple means of power generation can prove necessary for keeping the lights on while others are in the dark.
3. What do you Need Vs What do you Want?
In terms of electrical power this is a big one. Knowing what you need is the first step in off grid power system design. Energy systems cannot produce unlimited power so it is up to you to live within the limitations of your system. Knowing what you need to power is crucial from this perspective. Being able to focus on your needs more than your wants will allow you to live comfortably with less and keep your energy system costs down. When you save money in one area you can then put it to use in another area. We all want electricity to make it comfortably through the day, but focusing on your needs will help keep your energy system small, efficient and affordable. Remember to consider all your needs like sanitation, water, communication, lighting and refrigeration. What requires power and what doesn’t? These are common examples of needs that can easily be supported by a simple off grid solar system. With enough creativity and support, Off Grid Energy Systems are even able to power the largest energy hogging homes when the grid is down. The sky really is the limit but being sensible will save you (and your funds) in the long run.
Small systems can still provide necessary power in securing electricity or water in an off grid location.
4. Will your Needs/Wants change? Plan for it now or pay the price later?
Will your power system allow for future expansion? This is a fairly obvious question, but many people fail to think ahead when it comes to their future power needs. Sure your single pole mount suffices now, but do you have the space and capacity to add onto it when another child is born or grandma moves home? Planning for expansion early on may add some up front cost but trust us, you will save in the long run. There is nothing worse than spending your money on a top of the line energy system that suffices today only to learn that it is not expandable in the future. Part of powering your prep is anticipating future power needs and building in that cushion today.
5. Portability vs Permanency
Portability vs Permanency is the very idea behind bugging in or bugging out. Do you want to have the ability to stay powered on the go? Or are you more concerned with creating a safe and powerful permanent system? Both sides of the coin have their benefits and limitations. When you stay put you can realistically build the energy system of your dreams since it and you are not going anywhere. If this is the case, go as big as you can afford since portability isn’t a concern. If you do decide to bug out you are now hit with the power vs weight dilemma. How much power do you need and will it be possible to be on the go with that system. Remember, batteries, solar panels and inverters are heavy and although we offer some great portable systems you ultimately need to decide how much weight you can carry and how you plan to transport it. If you must go portable we recommend going for the largest system you can reasonably transport. That ultra deluxe 400LB battery pack will do very little for you when you have to leave it behind so be reasonable and realistic about what you can transport. Bugging out means only taking what is necessary for survival and this should extend to your energy systems as well.