Admit it. You've been dreaming about packing up everything and retiring to your bug out location for a while now. The fantasy of living a simple life is calling, and we've all dreamed about our perfect off-the-grid home. In this article we're going to cover one of the most important steps towards becoming a self-sustainable household, which is generating your own power. Unfortunately, there's a little more to it than slapping a bunch of solar panels on your roof and calling it a day. Don't get me wrong, solar panels are great and a fantastic first step for many survivalists who are making the transition to self-sustainability, but you're going to need to integrate a few different systems to ensure you've always got access to the power you need. Without further ado, here's my favorite methods for generating your own power, so you'll be able to live a life of comfort, even when the grid goes down.
Solar power One of the easiest means of generating sustainable power is to invest in solar panels. It's usually the first answer that springs to mind when you ask a survivalist about off-grid power, especially if you live in a sunny area. Once installed the panels require little maintenance, soaking up the sun's rays to charge your batteries and power your home. The only real downside is the cost. It's not cost effective to install enough panels for all your homes power needs. Solar panels are extremely expensive, and they have another massive limitation. They only work when the sun is shining. Of course, a set of solar panels, along with the inverter and set of batteries should be your first purchase, but it's only the first step in creating a sustainable power source at your bug out location.
Wind power Once your solar panels are up and running, the next resource to tap is the power of the wind. Check the average wind speed from your local weather service, and invest in a residential wind-turbine to capture this power source. You'll be able to estimate the amount of power a system will generate using the average wind speed in your area, and make your purchase accordingly. Just remember that this will vary depending on the topography of your property. A turbine should be placed to capture the maximum force of the wind, which could be on the shore of a lake, or at the highest elevation on your property. The smallest turbines are usually around 400-watts and use a four-foot rotor. This will generate enough power to run a handful of appliances. As you increase the size of your turbine, the size of the rotors needed will increase. The average American home would require a 10,000-watt turbine to power, which has a typical rotor wingspan of 25 feet. This is a little big for most properties, and can also be a beacon to any unfriendly eyes as they stand around 100 feet tall. I'd recommend investing in a more low-key turbine and find ways to cut your power use. Much like solar panels, this power generation method relies heavily on one factor, the breeze. If it's not blowing, the rotors will not spin your turbine and you'll have no power.
Water power Using a similar turbine to what's in your wind generator, you can harvest the power of running water to generate electricity. This only works if you've got a running stream on your property of course, but it's actually the most cost-effective method of off-grid power generation, producing between 10 and 100 times more power (for the same investment) than solar or wind harnessing technologies. So long as the stream is running consistently, you'll have a system that's capturing and storing power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's also more covert, and less obvious than large fields full of solar panels, or massively high wind turbines on your property.
Backup generator While not one to be relied upon over the long term, having a fuel-powered generator and at least a couple of weeks worth of fuel to keep it running is critical for a survivalist who is planning to go off-grid. In addition to the peace of mind it allows because you've got a stable source of power that doesn't rely on the sun, wind or running water, it's there as a backup plan, just in case. The real key to survival in my books is having a strong backup plan, and then a backup plan for your backup plan. The more redundancies you can build into your survival planning, the better.
Conserving your energy Our final piece of advices is to find ways to dramatically cut your power needs. Just because the energy you're harnessing is free, the cost of the equipment you need to capture and convert this into electricity is often far more expensive than you'd be paying a utilities company for the same amount of electricity on the grid. The first step you should take as you start preparing to go off-grid is to reduce the energy needs of your household. Proper insulation, alternative fuels for heating and cooking, and selecting the right appliances and lighting make a big difference in your total energy needs, which can help you get by with a more economical energy-generation system. Living off-grid is most definitely a lifestyle choice that is neither cheap, or simple. When you're evaluating a location for your bug-out-location, ensure you're aware of the costs of getting the utility grid connected, as well as the independent options you could setup in addition to this. Despite the fantasy many people have about going off-the-grid, the reality requires planning and foresight to ensure you've got the power you need, and it's still there when you really need it.