Friday, November 1, 2019

guest article ( 1 of 2 articles today )

GUEST ARTICLE ( article 1 of 2 today )

Off-Grid Living

I’m in Commiefornia. As I’m sure that many of you residing in

different states have heard, we’ve been having a lot of problems

with our grid system lately. Well, at least it’s mostly come in the

form of our primary utility company (Pacific Gas & Electric)

shutting down the grid in certain areas, mostly rural areas, due to

high wind conditions, and paranoia of fire hazzard. At least that’s

what we’re being told. There are many different theories out there,

but since I’m not up on them, I’ll refrain from commenting for 


We were without power for a few days. It just came back on last

night, and it appears that it will be going down again in a day or so.

The 350lb, dead weight, affirmative action, PG&E, hillbilly chick

that we know (Cue up a mental image of Jethrine Bodine, from the 

Beverly hillbillies, and you’re 80% of the way there :D ) has

informed us that this will be an ongoing thing for the next decade.

Lessons I’ve learned.

Generators. If you’re dependent on a generator for back up (And

you shouldn’t be) have the following ready.

A generator. If you don’t already have one, but think that you will

be needing one, don’t wait. There were, I believe 80, in stock, just

at the home despot alone, within a 25 mile radius of where we

were. Following one day of power outage, there were none to be

found anywhere. For long term use, try to get an 1800rpm 

generator, as opposed to a 3600rpm generator.

A full tank of gas in the generator, and plenty of spare fuel cans

. Remember, the gas stations (along with practically everything 

else) will not be in working order. Yes, you can still drive out of the

area to get gas if need be, but must burn more gas in order to do so.

A spare pull rope. If the pull rope even looks remotely iffy, replace

it. Even if it doesn’t, have a spare. There’s an unwritten rule 

that states that when you need a generator the most, the pull rope

will break (Yes, this happened. Fortunately, it broke near the end

of the rope, and I was still able to use it).

Other accessories. Spare oil and a spare spark plug is also a good

idea. Really, anything that you think that you might need, should be

on hand. Larger generators, as is ours, can be difficult to start. 

Have a can of starting fluid handy in such cases.

The biggest problem with generators, is the constant 

inputs required to keep them going (Oil and gas, and remember, gas

is on average, $4 a gal in Commiefornia). Solar has no moving 

parts, and is long lasting. The main drawbacks for solar, is the

initial start up cost, and the cost of the batteries, inverters, etc. Still,

solar is the option to shoot for in the long run.

Water. We have a well for water. This means that when the power

goes out, we lose all water about a half hour later, whether we use it

or not. Yes, our generator does power our well, but again, in 

keeping with not having to rely on the generator, should it fail, have

spare jugs of water set aside.

Lighting. Flashlights. Also oil lamps, candles, and LED lanterns.

LED lighting is the safest alternative of the 3.

And most important of all. My decision to not be dependent on a

utility company for life’s basic necessities, has been reinforced. 

The topic came up about going off-grid. Our house, being of

modern construction, was not laid out in a way as to be 

independent of the grid. It gets very hot here in summer time, and

without AC, it would be a miserable existence. We do not have a

basement, but if we did, it would be easy enough to be independent

of AC.

For anyone considering purchasing a rural property (And I’m not 

suggesting that taking on a 30 year mortgage is a good idea in 

today’s economic climate) here are things that I would look for in a


A basement. Most older homes have them, and to me at least, I

would consider this a necessary addition to homesteading.

A spring, pond, year round creek, etc, are all bonuses. Though not

necessary if you have a cistern set up to collect and store rain 

water. Look for a well that isn’t so deep, that it allows you to pump

water with an old style hand pump (This is something that every 

homesteader should have). It’s also not a bad idea to have a large

holding tank, for when the well is non-operative.

Nearby forests, ideally with hardwoods, that allow for the 

issuance of permits to harvest firewood. If not, then you might have

to find an alternative to heating/cooling (Earth tubes, Earth 

sheltered, etc).

You want to minimize your need for electric power. A solar oven

would be nice for when the sun is shining, but consider a gas range

stove, for when it’s not. An energy efficient washing machine

would be nice to have. A dryer is also nice to have, but optional

 (I’d forgo having one myself). There are also propane refrigerators

,but they are very expensive. So I’d go with the most energy

efficient electric refrigerator that I could find instead, and add a few

more solar panels to the mix.

The key is to minimize your power needs. Your main system

should be solar panels, and as most of you already know, that’s 

very limited (Unless of course you have thousands of dollars worth

of panels and deep cycle batteries) particularly in the winter time,

when they are operating at 10% efficiency, when the sun is absent.

I will be putting a similar plan into practice, but not at this place.

Currently, I’m a resident, here on the family farm, but I will be

moving on. I do not have the option for grid power on my remote

desert parcel. But even if I did, I would still choose to be off grid. I

plan on having a root cellar, possibly an ice house (Perhaps 

combine the two, if I can do so) as well as an earth sheltered abode.

My electrical system will consist of only a few solar panels, and

 maybe a couple of batteries. I have a low power, mini notebook 

PC, that I’ll be using when that time comes. I’ll probably opt for

one of those new fangled thermoelectric refrigerators (No

refrigerant, thermoelectric cooler/warmer which performs the

cooling or warming function by means of heat exchange theory) for

my minimal refrigeration needs. Water will be hauled initially, but

I’d really like to set up a cistern for the long term, if I can figure 

out a good, low cost way to do so.



  1. Good write up. The takeaway in the sitiuation in Ca. Is that Pg&e as well as .gov actions and logics is forcing normie people who were insulated in American comforts to wake up suddenly in an oh shit! moment begin to embrace prepping and survivalism seriously. Welcome to new normal.

    1. Jelly filled donuts to dollars, 99% of them finally buy a generator. Then call themselves a prepper. And ten to one, the improperly stored gas for the gennies starts more fires than PG&E ever did.

    2. True story from loserville vegas: knucklehead ran a generator in the attached garage to provide electricity for the precious family to watch t.v. (their power was turned off for non payment previously, i.e.=losers) end result gassed them. Four dead. Darwin tests and grim reaper will be busy from stupid people.

    3. Why isn't Darwin busier with crackheads? Why aren't there more meth lab explosions? Crack heads sure are multiplying faster than they die off.

    4. I watched the PBS Frontline show about the fire in Paradise, California and it's good watching. The fire started from an electric company line, OK, but it turns out the road to get in to stop the fire wasn't maintained well enough for fire trucks to get in. After that it was a matter of just wind and the fact that it's a "fire ecosystem", pine trees and the eucalyptus trees here use fire to clear the forest of competition and germinate their seeds.

      The initial fire could have been started by a homeless crackhead or anyone. Billy-Bob plinking at golden eagles and flicks his cig butt into the brush, anything.

    5. Satan's handmaidens as well. He is a dark angel with dark powers to protect scumbags for his goals. Or maybe Satan was a female all as long, which explains a lot.

  2. Don't go to a Thermo electric refrigerator. They are major power hogs and don't work very well either.
    Better to use solar and a refrigerator that has a twelve volt compressor. Then you don't need the losses of an invertor to just run a refrigerator.

  3. Here is a link to a Biolite solar light kit/USB charger/radio for $150.

    I have been favorably impressed with their design and build quality on the several products I have bought from them.

  4. I am researching the small lp gas or even kerosene refridge little freezer units. Serville I think is one of many. Pricey but last long time. As a stop gap equipment during intermittent type grid down. Not total collapse proof answer though. It kinda would be nice to extend storage time of that tasty harvested wild game, or you know:'long pork' before subsisting only on those ratholed grains and rats.

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    1. Sounds about like what you do to butter to keep it shelf stable for a time. Make it SEVEN politicians, and we'll talk :)

  6. As stated above forget tge thermoelectric crap. Here's a link to a how to hook up a 3cf (or 5cf) freezer-fridge conversion. Use a Johnson controls thermostat switch. Use a lifepo battery to get maximum amps without sun. And a mppt charge controller.


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    2. Should be half that price if you aren't buying the best of everything. Of course, yes, cheaper in the long run to go Best, but if you just want the cheapest way to ice water-used freezer, $50. Panel $90 ( one 100 watt )( uses about 150-200 watts a day, so you'll need 3 or 4 hours sun ). The gizmo, $70. $15 charge controller. $90 Wal-Mart RV batt. $325 put the inverter, however much that is ( $150? ). Under $500. I only got two years out of a Wally batt, but it had to slog through bad winters.

    3. Don’t know if you saw my earlier thread about digging a pit, and lowering a styrofoam cooler into the hole, but I’d try that first DG. I’m hesitant to suggest this after the other minions input, but the little cooler below, seems to have good ratings, and is also energy efficient. In Eco-mode, it will run off of a USB battery pack. It’s only big enough for drinks though. $45 so not too much of a gamble.

      Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer (4 Liter / 6 Can): AC/DC Portable Thermoelectric System w/ Exclusive On the Go USB Power Bank Option

      Here’s the solar panel that I got. It’s $150 for everything, minus the battery, which I think I paid $70 for. I’m probably looking at it the wrong way, but my thoughts are that I will make this work, or do without. Though I could see perhaps adding a few more panels at a later date. No way though that I’m going to spend thousands on a solar system. Probably the absolute most would be $1k. Past that, I’m getting into the territory of funds that I’m not willing to part with.

      DOKIO 100w(50x2) 12v Monocrystalline Foldable Solar Panel, Portable Folding Solar Panel Suitcase with Charge Controller

    4. People that spend thousands for solar are trying to duplicate a middle class home. If I was being VERY generous with myself, including a microwave and fridge, I could get away with $300 in panels. One panel is more than enough for lots of lighting, and another one for a not-too-small TV and laptop computer. $500 panels, to live in luxury. $100 if you just want lighting and a small amount of TV. I don't believe in battery banks. I like small batts individually sourced out to each appliance. Sealed 12v batt, 33 amp hr is $70. A 110 amp hr marine batt at Wally is the same amount, but are built for crap. I won't buy anymore of those. Charge controllers are $15 each and small inverters are $30 ( best to have several in case one goes tits up, rather than one large one ). $700-$800 and you are living in luxury ( yeah, off grid, a fridge is a luxury. But eating store bought canned meat is a terrible way to live )

    5. I mentioned this to my brother, Jim, and he informed me that Glen Beck spent over $200k on his system, for his off-grid ranch in Texas :D Yeah, most people just don’t get it. But if you’re rich, what the hell :D

      I’m the non-tv watching minion (Or at least I don’t watch the modern filth) so I don’t have that to worry about. When I watch tv, it’s usually an old tv series on youtube, or DailyMotion. I also have a lot of DVDs, and one of those portable DVD players, with its own battery. I specifically picked up a notebook pc for my computing needs, for when the time comes (50 watts if I recall correctly?). So it will just be lights, and the little PC for the most part. A small microwave would be nice though, but I suppose that I could live without if I had to.

      The old timers used to saw blocks of ice from the nearby creeks, ponds, and lakes. That ice lasted all through the summer in an ice house. That’s what I’m going to shoot for myself. I’ll probably just make my own ice molds, and let the brutal Elko winters do the rest :D

    6. Much better long term than batteries to power a fridge.

  7. James the Deplorable in ArkansasNovember 1, 2019 at 8:04 PM

    My interest was triggered by the mention of an 1800 rpm generator. I would like to know where to look at one. Diesel and 1800 rpm would be exactly what I need. I currently have a Generac 4000XL which is good but it screems away at 3600 rpm and won't last in the long run even though it has a pressure oil system and uses a spin on oil filter.
    James the Deplorable in Arkansas

    1. I just had a look at some 1800 rpm generators James. They appear to be a specialty item, with not so many places selling them unfortunately. In this sense, I apologize for mentioning them, since they are no where near a frugal item, costing in the thousands. I just googled: “used 1800 rpm generators for sale”. The best price ($6,495.00) that I found was at Ebay, on some 0 hour, refurbished generators (4 at the time of this writing). They are an awesome design, and in conjunction with diesel fuel, are pretty much bulletproof. So if you can afford one, by all means get one. You will never have to buy another, so long as it’s properly maintained. Rather than relying on spinning at twice the RPMs, as with most generators, they rely on a bigger generator. In other words, all of the other generator manufacturers “cheaped out” on their designs.

    2. I think most folks just do the best they can with the high RPM machines and get a Honda. I tried a gennie, but panels were $3 a watt then. Now, at 90cents a watt, I won't buy a generator. But I can see why most folks want one.

    3. Yeah, that’s what mine is Jim, a Honda. Well, technically, it’s not a Honda generator, but it has a Honda engine. The only thing that they’re good for in my opinion, is for back up; say, when the sun hasn’t shined for a long time, and your batteries are getting low. Yes, they’re very loud, and it screams like a Banshee. Everyone in the area would know where you were. The only solution that I can think of is to buy even more panels for the winter time, but then you’re starting to get into some high cost, to make up the inefficiency of the panels in winter time. Probably not worth it.

    4. My formula was whatever my solar generates in one hour is all I'm allowed to use in one day. It got me through all my winters.

    5. Jim, I completely agree with your assessment of the average person "wanting to go solar". I spent a decade putting very small systems in homes (thatched roof huts ) in Central America and people would ask me "Why can't I do that here". My answer was "Because you can't survive on 3 or 4 hundred watts of total usage for the entire day."

    6. Yeah, I never considered less power a sacrifice, because I was lucky to have anything at all to begin with.

  8. Thanks for the comments from everyone!

    Thanks to the two minions that pointed out the ineffectiveness of the thermoelectric refrigerators. I knew that they didn’t work very well, but had no idea that they were energy hogs. I’ll just stick to my original plan of the ice-house. But I’ll probably start off by excavating a pit for one of those Styrofoam coolers on the north side of my shelter, then when not in use, covering over with straw flake, or some other lofty or well insulated covering. That’s what I would try first demented guy. It’s a cheap enough experiment to gamble with. Block ice would probably hold up a lot longer than the crushed ice.

  9. Try this...

    1. Thanks Solarman. I’ve heard of this principle before, and will look further into it.

  10. Convert that generator to propane, never need to worry about fuel going bad, and runs more efficiently. Plus, if you have a 400 gal propane tank for heating the house like we do you're already in business.

    FWIW, a basement under a house almost DOUBLES the cost. Somebody has to dig that big hole and dispose of the dirt, the walls are more structural than regular walls, and you have another floor. Also, you have to insulate the outside of the basement walls too otherwise the whole thing will turn into a freezer in the winter, which will transfer into the living area above by way of thermal bridging. Having said all of that, if you don't insulate it you'll have a nice big fridge for storing cold foods.

    1. Thanks for the input GS. I’m not in the market for a home (At least not in the conventional sense of the word; shelter might be a better word for what I’ll end up with) and probably never will be, but I’d get an older home that already had a basement, if I did. Yes, I have heard that basements can be really cold in the winter. I’m thinking more in terms of cold storage, for a basement. But one could always partition an area off in the basement, and super insulate it beyond the rest of the basement, if so desired.

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