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Friday, June 3, 2016

on grid 12v 3 of 3


ON GRID 12v part 3

Not every place has natural gas and some places such as apartments have electric cooking appliances just because it was cheaper for the landlord ( he could care less if it is far less efficient because he isn’t paying the power bill ).  Now, remember, we are concerned with future brown-outs but mainly insane rate hikes you can’t afford.  You are already trying to install solar panels so as to provide lighting ( which, while not very expensive to run, is also not very expensive to provide for with alternate energy and hence is a good place to start ).  It won’t hurt to have multiple panels and batteries, if the budget allows, to run whole house lighting.  With LED 60 watt equivalent bulbs running $4 each in bulk at Home Depot it is easy to switch the whole house over now, plus have back-ups, and be able to switch over to battery power easily.  You could also buy that $55 unit that turns your chest freezer into a refrigerator if you get enough panels, to ensure a cheap fridge ( diabetic insulin, anyone? ) that functions off grid.  You are already using the freezer, so the cost in negligible.

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Propane is great for cooking ( unless you want to go with panels and a microwave-but that doesn’t provide wintertime heat as a supplement ) and if you simply can’t do wood, better than nothing for heating.  If you can’t sell the wife on buying a propane unit for future rate hikes and blackouts, try selling her on turning the back porch into a covered screened in summer kitchen ( it can be moved inside as needed ).  That way you save on air conditioning which pays for a separate oven with propane tank.  Then the oven/stovetop pays for itself ( you should be able to buy a used RV unit cheaply, if a new one is too expensive ) and isn’t a “crazy prepping expense”.  If you do buy a new propane oven, check out the gas companies ( like AmericiGas ) and RV dealers.  Do NOT buy a camping unit.  They are garbage.  If you can only afford a stovetop rather than the oven, and can’t find a used RV range top, I’d recommend Sportsman’s Guide cast iron unit.  It is the same price as a sheet metal camping stove but much better ( it uses a propane line with the gas regulator attached, rather than the crap Wal-Mart stoves that include the regulator on the stove, which is what breaks-although everything bends and rusts quickly enough ).  That would be the only camping stove I’d say would be worth the money.  Just beware the prongs over the flame easily snap off, if the wife is a stickler for pretty, Yuppie, good looking appliances. 

*

For a heater, do NOT buy any of the Mr. Heater’s.  They are now pure trash, at the same old high price.  Look for an ice fishing or cabin unit, one that doesn’t need an outside vent, but make sure it isn’t Mr. Heater.  Of course, getting a long enough propane line ( see the RV dealer ) and getting it to the outside tank will be problematic.  Perhaps through the Doggie Door in the kitchen into the living room, and only used to heat that one room.  A wool blanket over the window ( or, a Space Blanket taped over ) and wool sweaters will complete your cheap heat preps, along with the wool and feather comforters for each bed to keep the house at 50 rather than much higher.  This combines cheapening the heat along with its use as an emergency blackout heat source.  If you can sell the propane heater as needed for the detached garage, or to keep the chicken coop going through a cold snap, it once again loses its prepper label.

*

Some things won’t be an easy sell.  A solar panel is dirt cheap compared to what it used to be, but when an LED bulb can stay lit all night every night for a month for a half dollar’s worth of grid juice, spending $100 for a panel and another $100 for a battery isn’t going to convince anyone you aren’t crazy.  I’d try to convince the wife that it is the start of going alternate energy.  It might not make sense now, but will with days long brown-outs and extreme rate hikes ( if a kilowatt of electric sold for a buck, suddenly it all makes sense.  And inflation doesn’t include wages anymore, so it isn’t an impossible scenario even without any kind of collapse ).  If nothing else, try convincing her that come retirement, you will have almost zero utility bills with your plan.  Seeing what medical costs, it only makes sense to eliminate the mortgage ( if the excuse “I don‘t want to be at the mercy of evil bankers or being laid off“ won‘t work ), a car payment ( also an excuse for bicycles, rather than the “bug-out or Peak Oil“ one ), a utility bill and most of your fresh vegetable costs ( excuse for an extensive garden, besides the organic health reasoning ). 

*

Granted, you’ll want to continue to upgrade.  Such as wood or pellet stove rather than propane.  More insulation, an attached southern greenhouse for solar heating, hard wiring for the battery run lamp rather than carrying in the batt., etc.  But the whole idea is to start cheap and keep it affordable.  And to sneak in your preps under other arguments ( I have on occasion told you to trade in the old wife for a new one if she won’t embrace prepping, but I know that is hard advice to follow ).  Plus, to multi-task.  Reducing dependency, covering emergencies, cushioning rate hikes and of course for post-apocalypse use.

END

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18 comments:

  1. I had propane at the BOL already that is connected to the hot water heater and a propane heating stove, that is now gone and in it's place a wood stove that you CAN cook on, but is not a purpose built wood cook stove. Had electric range that is now a propane one in stainless to please the wife. Now I need a bigger tank. DO NOT go with Suburban Propane. I called them for a fill and wanted to butt rape me at almost $4 a gallon. I'm having vehicle repair bills so I need to put off buying at least a 500 gallon tank. When you own it, you are not stuck with any propane provider and can negotiate prices. Yes the tank is expensive, but in the long run, worth it. I would prefer an underground tank, but they are even more expensive. My thinking is if people don't see a tank they may assume an all electric house.

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    1. I stuck with buying a butt load of 5 gallon tanks, as money allowed. Not convenient, but allows complete freedom. When we had a mid-winter propane out of stock all over town-extreme temps for a long period, big tanks didn't get filled any time soon. Granted, you shouldn't run out in winter, but it highlights JIT. Also, you drive the tank to a re-supplier and you get a pretty low price.

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    2. We've stocked up on the 25 gallon/100 pound tanks. No problem to move with a hand cart or a sled.

      Our neighbor found out the hard way that you shouldn't depend on the propane company. One winter, their tank got low and the propane company refused to deliver up our ice covered, 10% grade private road.

      Idaho Homesteader

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    3. The way people drive around here, they think their 4x4 pick-up with one sock of sand in the back can dance up ice covered roads with nary a slip. So they think everyone else should be able to also.

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  2. Jim practical advice for most preppers to sneak prepps in to the budget. This series is a change from your normal hard line. So it leads me to believe you are becoming DOMESTICATED (insert whip crack) by the girlfriend. Now this isn't a bad thing you had been a little removed and harsh on 98% of male preppers. While I doubt the old Bison compound is her idea of a vacation spot you take pride in knowing it is there. While this series has been very good, has it been for your readers or were you writing how you now must now sell your paranoia to the new Misses?

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    1. Actually it is strictly for the readers. The NOL is becoming more paranoid, starting at zero. Yes, she does it to please me. She is the Slow Collapse prepper ( money investments ) and I am the Quick Collapse. We compliment, and she goes along with me as an accomidation. As we are both complete, mostly, in both our preps we don't need to sell our view to the other. She spends money maintaining rental properties and I add to my Die-Off supplies. I think my different view is from now experiencing life on grid and in town, from "their viewpoint". You don't really get that living in an RV, even if it is parked in town.

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  3. I installed a ProCom wall mounted propane heater here in my office 2 winters ago and I'm pretty pleaded with it all the way around. I got it at Menards for $129 and they also have a model that can sit on the floor. I installed it and and the piping out the wall (do your homework, propane is dangerous but doable) and the local propane supplier ran the line from the tank 50' away to my outside pipe, and installed a regulator for $75. We own our own 400 gallon tank (down over the hill behind the garage and not visible from the road) and propane was less than $2 a gallon last winter. I also installed a fitting on the outside down pipe (1/2") that is a shutoff valve and adapter for the 40lb grill tanks. Incidently, one of my grill tanks had a messed up valve that wouldn't allow it to be filled to the maximum 17% so I traded it in at the store for a filled one that was all new and inspected. Yeah I paid a few bucks more for it but the old tank was failing so I took the cheapest way out. A new tank around here is about $40.

    My wife doesn't give me any shit about my prepping as my money is mine and she has her own. We both run our own perspective businesses. I recently talked her into paying for half of a new chest freezer that I'm going to sit on 3/4" plywood and 2x4 frame with casters so I can wheel it out on the screened in back porch in the winter. Leave the lid cracked open with a #40 bag of salt on it to keep the coons out, and save a little coin on the electricity.

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    1. Whenever the thrift store got in an old valve propane tank they would put it in the metal scrap bin. I took it and traded at the tank exchange at Home Despot. AmeriGas has made so much off me over the decades I didn't feel bad at all.

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  4. My grandma (died in the late 1980”s) had a 100 gal / pound propane tank that sat outside her house and ran the stove. She got 8-months use out of a tank, but all it ran was the kitchen range.


    As far as propane for hot water use I have an Ecotemp L-5 demand water heater. I got it on sale (Amazon) for $100.00, they normally sell for $120.00.

    https://www.eccotemp.com/eccotemp-l5-portable-tankless-water-heater/

    It runs on 2 D-Batts for the ignition, it lights up when water flows through it. Hot water comes out in 5-seconds or so.

    Lots of people are using them off-grid, look on U-Tube to see how they work.

    I also bought a Butterfly kero cook stove, it has 2 burners, runs 12.5 hours on a tank of fuel. I figure 20-gallons of fuel will last a year.

    The one I bought is very similar to this one

    http://stpaulmercantile.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=73&products_id=285&zenid=0s8tg0ka2j9b3aras6igh5log0


    I also have a matching oven you put on top of a burner on the Butterfly stove. Both the stove and oven work quite well. I use them when camping.

    I’m planning a move off-grid within a few years (Parents are 86 and 88 years old, and I’m the only one that steps up to help them and I’m not moving till they pass on.) and am buying all the stuff I think I will need. The butterfly stove and Ecotemp water heater are part of the stuff I’m putting away. Also have 800-wats of solar panels, 2 wood stoves, a 1950’s propane bathroom heater (Old but works like the day it was made) I also parted out the kit range, water tanks, furnace out of an old travel trailer a friend was going to junk. It all works (as tested so far) other then I have not tested the furnace yet.


    Chuck Findlay

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    1. Ah, the planning stages. Almost as enjoyable as using all the stuff come the time. I know kero/propane is all Oil Age dependent, but it is still a nice feeling being one step removed from the utility companies ( and banks ).

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  5. FYI for anyone that has 20-pound propane tanks.


    If you go to a place that exchanges them you are getting screwed.

    Those exchange places only fill the tanks to 14-pounds, not 20-pounds.

    And yet they charge for a full tank, while giving you less then 3/4 of a tank.

    I’ve even seen one that only give you 12-pounds of propane.

    Look at the fine-print and you will see that they give you 14-pounds of propane.


    Better to take your tank to some place that will fill it for you so you get a full 20-pounds of propane.

    One advantage to these exchange places is that you can get a new tank and trade in your old outdated tank. Do this once to get a newer certified tank and then from that point on have someone fill it for you.

    Next time you are at anyplace that has one of these tank exchanges look at the (very small so it’s easy to miss) white sticker that says 14-pounds on it.


    Chuck Findlay

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    1. I forgot about that little trick of theirs. I only exchanged a short period when my regular filler went out of business and I was looking for another ( this was when I had a truck to come into town once a week and was getting 4 mpg at $4 a gal.- I couldn't just run around randomly ). I can get $2 a gal propane so it costs about $9 to fill up my tank. When you exchange, it is costing you $18 at a minimum.

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    2. Chuck's right, except for the "full" part.
      No sane refiller will fill a tank 100%, they need to leave some headspace for expansion. Same with our 400 gal tank, they will only fill to 80%.

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    3. That was the excuse they used, the expansion. I think the problem was, you didn't need THAT much.

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  6. Just a quick note about the sustainability of Propane and Propane devices- when fossil fuels run out your propane shipments will probably run out too.
    BUT
    1) Propane lasts forever - or at least as long as the container it is stored in.
    2) Propane devices can be adapted to run on bio-gas that you can make from your own septic tank - you need to get the materials for that plus the adapters but it can be done.
    So- though propane reliance isn't great, it is probably doable to transition from it eventually for at least a few little things (i.e. :cooking your beans that allow you to produce the waste to produce the bio gas...)

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    1. Plus, if you make bio gas from your crap, then it becomes a safer fertilizer ( not saying it is a good idea, but if you must... )

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    2. In central America, used propane tanks are used by local "terrorists" as improvised cannon. Sneaky jungle monkeys don't like Dole-run Banana Republic slave wages and political domination? Err, "Freedom Fighters", depending on circumstances, like Pentagon-proxies vs. CIA-proxies in Kurdistan/Syria.

      pdxr13

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    3. Well, crap, buy all your tanks, filled, now. Next thing to be banned? You should anyway, as prices just go up.

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