When Prepping Pays Off

Storms ripped through our area yesterday leaving thousands in the dark, but not all of us. I have to say I’m very proud of my wife as she executed the plan flawlessly. I was stuck at work 35 miles away when the storm took it’s toll, but she was ready. On my journey home I passed countless downed trees and darkened homes. I admit I was a bit surprised at how few homes I passed showed even a flicker of candlelight – most people were ill prepared for even such a common disruption of power. As I pulled in the driveway my wife met me at the porch with a flashlight, (she rocks) so I didn’t stumble in the darkness. Once inside I had to smile; she had our little LED lanterns strategically placed around the home, a few candles flickering in the main room, and a movie all lined up for me on the PC. Unlike our neighbors, our solar backup along with other preps, made this event a non-event. We were able to enjoy a meal, watch a movie, and go about our normal routine, (mostly anyway) as though nothing had happened. Although she’s always supportive I sometimes got the feeling she was a bit skeptical about my new solar experiment, but no more. We not only survived the storm, but while others sat in the dark, we were unscathed and even learned a lesson or two.

With our society so ill prepared for even common disruptions to normal life, can you imagine how they would react to a real SHTF situation?

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

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Solar Project Update 3-21-17

This project has turned out to be a GREAT deal easier than I initially thought it would be. The feeling of producing some usable energy independent of the grid is amazing for us and we feel it has taken us one step further in our journey. Even small steps eventually get you to your destination.

Update: Day 3

We woke up to about an inch of snow and cloudy overcast skies, but after clearing the snow from the solar panels the system immediately started charging the battery. So far our results are better than expected.

snow on panels

Update: Day 5

After 2 days of clouds rain/snow the battery finally dropped to below acceptable levels and the inverter shut down the show. The additional battery and 2 more panels should be arriving tomorrow, till then capacity is an issue.

Update Day 7

After a full day of sunshine the battery is full charged and in ‘float mode’ which is sort of a trickle charge.  We connected the 2 new Renogy panels, connected the new  1500 watt inverter and we’re back making power. With the additional panels and some nice full sun, the connected items don’t seem to be draining the battery at all. The additional battery, to be wired in parallel, is due in today so we’ll have another update soon!

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Day 11

The additional Renogy 12V 100Ah battery has been added and so far the system has been able to keep up with our usage. The amount we might save off the old electric bill still remains to be seen, but coupling the solar with other energy saving measures should reap some savings in the long run. Remember, our primary reason for this system is not replacing our grid power, but rather supplementing it while adding  back up power other than our gas generator. The total cost at this point is around $1600.

2nd battery

Day 13

So why solar a friend asked me, isn’t it cheaper and easier just to have a gas generator as back up – the answer is of course, yes. However, gas generators (and I have one) have drawbacks, primarily that they need fuel which could become hard to get and that they are LOUD! I do keep about 30 gallons of gas on hand for the generator, but how long will that hold out? Will more be readily available if the grid goes down due to a storm or other SHTF event? In a disaster situation generators are I high demand, will someone attempt to take yours from you? With solar there is no sound to attract the undesirables. Remember the old adage that 2 is 1 and 1 is none? Solar gives me that additional back up. It’s not necessarily cheap, but what price do you put on your family?

The adventure continues!

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

28 Day Countdown – Fear of Taking the Plunge

28 Days and 14 hours as of this writing until I take that next step, leaving the 60 hour a week job for solitude in the mountains. It’s been a 10 year journey with mixed results, but we think we’re ready, but there is always fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of bad decisions, fear of losing that safety net. Hope for a better life, hope for living a healthier life, and hope of finally fulfilling that dream. Spring is always a time of new beginnings as nature emerges from its hibernation, we hope the same will be true for us. We have improved our situation a great deal since we first moved to the mountains.

  • ·                       Retirement funds rebuilt
  • ·                       More cash in the bank
  • ·                       Debt is gone
  • ·                       2 new paid for cars
  • ·                       New, more efficient appliances
  • ·                       Improved security
  • ·                       Reduced costs of living
  • ·                       Large stash of food, water, etc.
  • ·                       Growing and saving more of our own food
  • ·                       Added solar power to our preps

I’m sure there are things we are missing, something we’ve overlooked, but here we go! We pray for guidance.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Why we’re not Doomsday Preppers

I imagine most people have at least heard of the show Doomsday Preppers, and I will be the first to admit that I do enjoy it, but I am not one of them. I watch the show for entertainment and sometimes pick up and idea or two, but our motivations are different.  The Doomsday folks seem to constantly be living in fear, sorry, to me that’s not living. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking them; I don’t have a crystal ball and for all I know they could be right. Natural and man made disasters can and do happen all the time. See What type of events or events are you preparing for? But I am a prepper for the same reason I have car insurance; just in case. I do not fear a car accident every time I get in to my car, but I do have insurance. Prepping is like having insurance or saving for retirement – it’s just common sense. Being well prepared should give you peace of mind – we can’t prevent world events, we can only prepare for the most likely events.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Why be Normal?

“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take gets us closer to the wrong place.” – Stephen Covey

Normal is running non-stop through life. Normal is working hard, paying bills and still piling up debt. Normal is buying things you don’t need because we think we’re supposed to. Normal is taking selfies for Facebook to impress people you don’t know and hope they click the ‘Like’ button. Normal is grabbing a Starbucks on the way to a job you hate, grabbing fast food for lunch, ordering takeout for dinner and watching some mindless TV before bed; stop-rinse-repeat. Normal is working too much, spending too much, sleeping too little, eating poorly and dying too young. If any of this sounds like you then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your situation. Trust me; the 70 year old working at Taco Bell isn’t there because he loves Chalupas, he’s there because he still has bills to pay. Is this really the life you want? Maybe you wonder how in the heck did I get here? You expected life to be a certain way and yet you’ve done what everyone else has done and forgotten why you do it. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t work hard, what I am saying is that maybe your hard work isn’t getting you all it could. Focus on what you want. Set goals, real goals, and focus your efforts on getting there.

Being normal is being broke and stressed out; look around and ask yourself if this is where you want to be 5 years from now. Life is about more than just working to buy things you don’t need, spending money you don’t have just to appear normal – the heck with normal!

One day over 10 years ago we came to the realization that we were ‘normal.’ We began a journey to change that: here’s our story Fear of taking that next step – the journey continues

What will yours be?

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping.

Solar Project Update: Feeling Like a New Prepper Again

All smiles; day 2 and the system is performing better than expected. Day one was sunny and the panels were producing well, day two was a mixed bag of clouds and sun, but again the system kept up with what we’ve put on it. So far we are running a lap top, an all-in-one desktop, modem, router and now a tower lamp. The forecast for today is calling for snow so this should prove to be a good test.

Again, our primary goal is to be able to generate power (aside from our gas generator) in a blackout situation. I should note that we live in a very rural area and are the very last house on this part of the grid; the power going out here is not unusual. We continue to use the  Kill A Watt meter to test and document what items burn how much energy to further assess what we might be able to power with the system. Our initial assessment has led us to order 2 additional panels, another 12v GEL battery, a larger 1500 watt inverter and of course various items to connect it all with. The upgrade will allow us generate and store more energy and run larger appliances.

This project has turned out to be a GREAT deal easier than I initially thought it would be. The feeling of producing some usable energy independent of the grid is amazing for us and we feel it has taken us one step further in our journey. Even small steps eventually get you to your destination.

Update: Day 3

We woke up to about an inch of snow and cloudy overcast skies, but after clearing the snow from the solar panels the system immediately started charging the battery. So far our results are better than expected.

Update: Day 5

After 2 days of clouds rain/snow the battery finally dropped to below acceptable levels and the inverter shut down the show. The additional battery and 2 more panels should be arriving tomorrow, till then capacity is an issue.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!

Solar Power is Here!

Well today is the day, our solar equipment has arrived and despite the boxes being wet it all seems to have survived the trip undamaged. The quality of the equipment seems top notch and the kit seems surprisingly complete. I’ve spent the last couple of days reading through the manuals (online) and watching YouTube videos for ideas and information on installation.

  • The kit came with 2 100 watt panels, wire and connectors, inline fuses and ‘Z brackets’ for mounting them.
  • One Renogy 12V 100Ah Gel battery that is apparently not considered hazardous material (at least not for shipping purposes.)
  • One 30 amp charge controller (requires that panels be wired in parallel)
  • One 500 watt pure sine wave inverter with 1 AC outlet and 1 USB outlet

We do plan on building a battery box in the future, but for now a sealed plastic tote should keep the cat from electrifying herself. Online resources say that the Gel batteries of this type do not need to be ventilated, but we will err to the side of caution on that one.

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Mounting the panels is probably our biggest issue as we are wanting to position them a few feet from the house with the ability to move them if necessary. We have opted to use PVC as the basis of our structure for its light weight and obvious resistance to weather. We also want to easily be able to add additional panels in the future, which this type of mounting would easily allow.

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The initial goal of this system is to power a few LED lights in the ‘bunker’ as well as regularly power our modem, router, desktop and laptop. In the future we hope to be able to power our chest freezer in a grid down situation.

The system is installed and the battery is charging. To make the system more user friendly and easier to maintain I have ordered 2 battery disconnect switches to avoid damaging the charge controller in the event I need to disconnect the battery and of course as a safety precaution. I will soon be adding a digital display to give better information on how much we are generating as well as the state of battery charge.

charge controler

Update: the panels began to generate energy at first light, far sooner than I expected and only an hour into the day the battery shows fully charged! So far so good.

More updates as the project continues.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Happy prepping!