Renewable Emergency Power Solutions
What will be your emergency power solution when there are no fossil fuels available for you to generate that all-important electricity?
When I had my generator running for several days after a rather long grid failure I was getting nervous about my fuel supply. After all, the gas stations did not have the power to run their pumps.
So what can I do in the future to solve that worrisome problem enough of not having enough fuel?
I started to look into some renewable energy alternatives such as:
- Solar Power
- Wind Power
- Biofuel Generators
They are all significant answers to the problem, however, they all have their challenges and their own pros and cons.
So before you get a little discouraged, do your self a favor and read on about these renewable DIY energy solutions for your peace of mind when it comes to emergency power for you and your family.
Solar Power Advantages And Disadvantages
Solar power and or photovoltaic cells are often seen as the crown jewel of homemade energy.
Solar power systems require very little maintenance, the systems make absolutely no noise(as opposed to a generator), along with no emissions what so ever.
You may also be able to obtain grants and tax deductions along with interest-free loans for your installation.
And if you make more energy than you use, you can often plug it back into the grid, and the electric company will pay you for it! how cool is that?
And the bad news, unfortunately, is the initial cost will be off-putting for some. Even though there may be financial incentives, not some. Even though there may be financial incentives, not everyone is eligible.
And if you want a system to cover your entire energy usage, you may have to invest in a large number of panels. First, you may want to find ways of reducing your energy use
In some locations, solar panels are available to rent. That means that the company that owns them gets all of the grants and tax cuts, but you can still save money on energy.
Another downside to solar power is that it only works when the sun is up. You can get storage batteries to save your energy for later.
However, in some locations, there is minimal direct sunlight for several months of winter, rendering your solar system useless for up to three months out of every year.
If your house is not oriented towards the south, don’t worry. You can often mount the photovoltaic panels on frames that can be angled in the direction of the sun.
Even the least efficient solar system tends to pay for itself within several years. A good system may pay for itself in as soon as three years; a less efficient system may take ten.
Meanwhile, the market standard as of this writing for photovoltaic cells is a 20 to 25-year guarantee.
At the very least, that makes over a decade of mostly free energy.
Solar power can be a big investment, especially if you intend to cover your roof with photovoltaic cells. To minimize grid reliance, though, it can be a worthwhile investment.
Depending on where you live, you might even be able to get a government grant or a 0% interest loan to help with the installation. And do not forget that in some locations, you can also rent photovoltaic systems.
Even if you only want a secondary system for those times when the power goes out, solar may still be an option for you. There are plenty of portable systems that can be set up to run temporarily.
You might not even need quite as much direct sunlight as you think. Overcast and gloomy Germany is currently the world’s largest solar power producer!
There are also ways of getting around a less than ideal house alignment.
If you choose a system with a battery, you will be able to save the energy that you create during sunny days and save it for the night and cloudy skies. This certainly has its benefit.
If you don’t choose a system with a battery, you will only be able to run your devices in sunlight – hardly the time when you’ll need your lights!
Wind Power Advantages And Disadvantages
If solar power is the king of alternative home energy, then wind power is the crown prince.
Every location has sunlight, but not every location has winds strong enough to power a house. If you are in the right location, though, wind power has its benefits.
Wind power is less of an investment than any of the other renewable energy sources. The turbines are also generally quite easy to install.
If they are going to pay off, however, they need a fair bit of wind, and that generally means buying an incredibly tall turbine or installing it on the top of a building.
Although wind turbines are often a smaller investment than solar panels, you are less likely to run into them on private property. This is because there are some drawbacks.
You will have to deal with your neighbors and if you have neighbors that are close by, it can be difficult to get them to sign off and accept your wind turbine. Many people find them ugly, and they make noise.
And here’s a thought: there will be concerns about birds flying into the rotating blades and children hurting themselves by trying to play on the turbine.
However, in reality, children are more likely to hurt themselves climbing a tree, and the number of birds killed by a turbine is nowhere near the average of a single pet cat.
So why are you thinking I brought up the solution of wind power?
There are many positive aspects of wind energy. Turbines pay for themselves within a few years and require even less maintenance than photovoltaic cells.
Wind power is also easier to install than solar power.
But as with solar power, you are going to need some kind of battery to keep you going when the wind is less strong.
However, you might be out of the game right away because your geographic location might not be suited for wind power, however, or you might have to get a very tall and invasive turbine to make it worth your while.
It is also difficult to get a wind power system only as a backup.
While a solar cell system can be brought out and placed on the ground when the grid goes down, due to its size the wind turbine must be a permanent fixture.
As with solar power, you are usually best off trying to minimize your household’s electric use if you are hoping to use homemade energy as your primary power source.
Advantages And Disadvantages of Biofuels
At first glance, your generator might not appear to be an option for homemade energy, but if you go through a lot of cooking oil or grow your own oil plants, it could be your best bet.
There are essentially two options for homemade generator energy: straight vegetable oil, often called SVO, and biodiesel. And of course, both have their pros and cons.
Straight vegetable oil systems can be very economical, clean and effective. The downside is that if you already own a generator, you will have to modify it to run on straight vegetable oil.
If you do not own now and are only now beginning to consider purchasing a generator, however, you can easily opt for a model made to run on pure vegetable oil (e.g., corn, soybean, peanut).
If you are using pure oil, there is no processing necessary. That’s great news for everyone, but especially if you have already spent time making your own oil.
However, if you want to use waste vegetable oil from cooking, you first have to filter out any impurities.
Some people feel that if they are going to do all that work, they might as well go all out and make biodiesel. Talk about ‘self-sufficiency!’
Biodiesel takes more work, but it has its benefits. For example, any diesel generator will also run on biodiesel.
This means that if you have an old generator, or want to buy an old one cheaply, then you can still run it on homemade fuel.
Let’s get technical:
Biodiesel is produced by adding methoxide to filtered and pretreated cooking oil that’s been used, thus producing glycerine and biodiesel.
After the glycerine sets so that it separates, the biodiesel can be removed and washed, allowing any remnant water in the fuel to evaporate.
The downside with biodiesel, aside from the more involved processing, is its fairly short shelf-life. Neither biodiesel nor straight vegetable oil generators are a viable option as a primary energy system in most homes on account of the cost per kilowatt hour.
They do make excellent secondary and backup systems, though!
Importance Of Renewable Energy
Survival is our first and foremost priority for obvious reasons. But there is one thing separating the great preppers from the good:
At first glance, the idea of comfort may seem like a bit of a luxury, when faced with a brave new world, or at the very least very extreme weather.
A little bit of discomfort doesn’t kill, after all.
However, it does affect your energy levels, how you sleep and how many calories you burn.
Even more so, it affects your mood, well being, and your good spirits that is very important when it comes to getting through any crisis situation.
The main comforts you’ll need in a disaster include staying entirely dry and not feeling cold, eating something that you like, and having enough food that you are not constantly fighting hunger.
Those elements are good for the body.
But something that goes a very long way for the spirit, helping retain a sense of normalcy, is electricity. With some planning, you could keep your house lit even when the whole neighborhood goes dark.