Showing posts with label Goal 0. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Goal 0. Show all posts

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pre Power Outage Test, Drill and Checklist Sorely Needed

We get power outages down here when it rains heavily, especially for a few days in a row. Usually it is an hour or two. It has been raining real hard and flooding south of here so my threat meter was pegged a bit higher. If power dropped it could be widespread and maybe even last awhile. 

The weather down here has been nuts for the last few days. It's like a monsoon or something. Tons of rain and thunder/ lightning all over the place. We had a couple blips in the power. It seemed prudent to take some steps. Here is what I did. Not saying this was really thought out or perfect by any means, it is just what I decided to do between aproximately noon and two.

-Started the dryer to finish the load that had been sitting in the washer from this morning. (Incidentally I was trying to get ahead on chores so I'd already washed clothes and ran the dishwasher.)

-Went to the store for a couple bags of ice. One to toss in the freezer and another for the cooler.

Incidentally and almost surely due to the power brown out's the small stores card reading machine was down. Between the ice and some snacks it was $9 something. The guy was apologetic and I paid cash. That left $143 in my pocket. I considered hitting the ATM but didn't bother. We keep cash at home so it wasn't a concern. If a hurricane was coming I'd grab more cash, mostly so we could spot friends or co workers some if needed. Left the store.

-Plugged in the power supply.

-Plugged in Goal 0 battery powered lantern I'm testing.

(More on both of these later after I do some more testing)

-Nuked some leftovers for lunch.

-Filled up the bathtub water bladder. These things are pretty cool and can really work for semi predictable events like hurricanes or power outage. I really need to save a bit of coin then swing by Titan Ready Water to get a couple of 55 gallon barrels or even better one of their hydrant storage systems to boost out water storage to more acceptable levels.

-Took a shower.

After that I was pretty much done with everything I wanted to do. The storms are supposed to continue through early tomorrow. I don't really care much as I'm prepared for what is expected.

Again note that I'm not saying these actions were perfect. I had a realization that we might lose power then acted.In fact I'm open to your thoughts on what I could do better. My realization is that it would be awful handy to figure out what, in order of priority I would want to accomplish then make a list so it is easy.

Do you have a checklist for power outages? Pre outage and post or just one of them? If you don't mind sharing I would be quite interested in what is on your list. By all means answer in the comments section.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Alternative Energy Levels of Capability, Foundations and Concepts

In our discussions on Honda EU2000 Generators and an excellent Alternative Energy Guest Post by Chris made it apparent to me that a more foundational post is needed.

Alternative Energy is sort of an umbrella term for all electrical power that is not from the conventional power grid IE the lines that run to most homes and businesses. In the most narrow sense generators that run on gas, diesel and propane are 'alternative energy'  though for some inclinations people are more inclined to lean towards 'green' options such as solar, wind and or water power.

People are interested in alternative energy for many diverse reasons. Some people have an application that simply not able to be met with grid power. Maybe they are in a place where grid power is not available or is prohibitively expensive. This is the case for many small home/ cabin/ retreat sites. Also there can be permitting issues that prohibit bringing available grid power to some alternative type (ie not conventionally built or necessarily permitted) structures.

Along these lines temporary applications that require a fair amount of power are often met by generators. This is big for contractors who might need to run power tools to build a shed, gate or structure where power might not be available. 

Other people are interested in alternative energy due to environmental and or 'global warming' and carbon footprint issues. I do not want to get into a discussion on the science (or lack thereof) any more than  I want to get into the politics involved. While I might disagree with a lot of things these folks think I respect that they are taking steps to help the causes that concern them.

Another reason people pursue alternative energy in order to meet their needs and wants during times when normal grid power is interrupted. At home in the PNW ice storms during the winter are a common culprit for power outages. In the Southern coastal regions hurricanes are the primary concern. Ice storms often knock out power for a week or more and hurricanes can go from a week to over a month. The emergency angle is where the majority of our focus is going to be directed.

It is often useful to break concepts down into levels of capability s they exist in my mind so we will do that. It is worth noting that I believe these systems should be acquired sequentially. Having a more robust setup doesn't detract from the benefits of a box o Duracell batteries and a couple kerosene lanterns.

I Dowanna

Concept of Use: Maybe you are not interested in alternative sources of electric power. Maybe you are interested but just haven't got there yet. In any case you are not currently putting resources into alternative energy.

Systems: Spare normal batteries to get you through whatever type event concerns you are essential here. Area lighting is probably going to be done via kerosene lamps/ lanterns. This leaves energy for stuff that really has to be electric such as radios and a few flashlights. If you are reasonable about goals and conservative about items used (# and amount of total use) a hundred bucks worth of Energizer/ Duracell batteries in a shoe box will go a really long way.

Limits: You are relying exclusively on disposable batteries. Works for a short period but once your box o batteries runs out you'll be back in the 1890's.

Cost: Maybe a hundred bucks in batteries. A bit more money to make sure other non electric systems can compensate. 

Absolute Bare Bones

Concept of Use: Getting started in alternative energy. This will be a very small/ light system with modest capabilities. This is a good place to start as it can become the redundant/ travel/ back up system if/ when you develop other systems.

Systems: A small compact solar charger, probably in the 5-7 watt range. This system will be able too rechargeable batteries to power small devices and potentially charge some small devices themselves. Most chargers will do AA and AAA batteries. If you pick carefully it is reasonable to power a radio for communication, some flashlights and maybe some Motorola type radios for inter group communication. You probably want 2-3 sets off batteries per device.

Limits: You are limited to recharging a few batteries and maybe some small devices. Use of all this stuff will have to be pretty limited due to the modest nature of your recharging capabilities.

Cost: Approximately $100 for a charger and $150-200 for batteries. Of course a harbor freight setup will be cheaper than say a Goal 0 setup.

Almost  Getting There 

Concept of Use: A more robust solar setup with some capacity for energy storage. This will allow for a larger amount of use (in the first setup charging time/ capacity off the small panel is a log jam), the capacity to charge some larger devices and storage to get through short overcast periods.

Systems: A 10-15 watt solar panel and a battery cell to store energy. You might want to pick up a few small lights and or individual devices (like a lantern or radio) that could be charged by the battery taking the strain off your rechargeable battery stash.

Limitations: (Edited the name from almost there to getting there after Chris brought up a good point about power use and functionality. While far better than the previous absolute bare bones level there are still significant limitations of total amounts of device use here even when we are just talking small electronics. This level will not let you run a base station type radio for communication all day long, talk to 4 family members all day on motorola's and watch dvd's on a laptop all night in a room lit up by 6 led lanterns or lights.)

Cost: Somewhere between $250 for a harbor freight type setup and closer  $500 for a ready made setup like a Goal 00. As a guideline name brand setups are more expensive and ready made portable setups are also more expensive.


Concept of Use: A small generator to power a variety of small devices up to fairly large household items such as a TV/ fridge/ freezer/ small AC unit. Typically these generators will run most household items (exceptions being water pumps, large heating/ ac units and other high demand items) but not all at once. Running a couple small lights, charging some stuff and powering a fridge/ freezer is reasonable.

These generators typically come in between 1,000 to 3,000 watts. Looking at the market and how people use them 1800-2200 seems to be the popular 'sweet spot'. This makes a lot of sense. The 1k units are on the verge of being too small for many applications and users will be pretty limited on using multiple items at once. The 3k units are almost too big to merit for a limited concept of use (especially due to lower fuel efficiency)  without being big enough to just run everything. These generators are generally pretty easy on fuel consumption which makes stocking sufficient fuel a reasonable proposition.

Limitations: Cannot run some larger household devices. You are limited in terms of how many smaller items can be used at once.  Obviously you need to store fuel and keep it fresh via preservation and rotation.

Cost: There are many options from $300ish Chinese made no name brands all the way up to the Honda and Yamaha's at about $1,000. The cheaper generators can work fine but a notable percentage do not. Finding horror stories about people having endless problems is not uncommon. There are issues with getting spare parts and maintenance.

The Honda and Yamaha are standard setters for small generators and roughly equivalent though minor differences might make one person choose a Honda and the next guy a Yamaha.

Chris mentioned the Hyundai 2200 watt generator.  I looked at the Hyundai a lot and we had some discussions about it. It is worth noting these generators are not made in Hyundai plants in the US or South Korea but are instead made in China. They are priced between $550 and 600ish. They are 2200 peak and 2k running load but also come in closer to 70 pounds than 50.Fuel consumption is similar to the Hond/Yamaha. They have been described as a middle ground between the cheaper Chinese made generators and the much more expensive Honda and Yamaha. There are however several factors that concerned me. First of the available reviews a notable percentage (10%ish) were very bad. Like 'opened the box and it wouldn't work' type bad. This was compounded by universally poor reviews of the customer service and warranty. Also of the good reviews nobody had used theirs all that much. Folks got them, used it a few times and are happy. This is notably different from the Honda and Yamaha who have a real following with the offshore sailing and RV community who use their generators an an almost daily basis for years.


Concept of Use: A large generator sufficient to power any household devices as well as many items, including larger ones at once. Basically fire up the generator and go back to business as usual.

Systems: Power requirements vary but this range of generators is typically over 5,000 watts though of course the needs of one household may differ widely from another. These generators are widely available in gas, diesel and propane. Often they are hard wired into the house letting you use existing circuits vs running extension cords all over the place.

 Pineslayer brought up propane as having some advantages. I agree it does offer some good stuff but personally if/ when I look at a large generator like this I am inclined to go with diesel. I think that for a few reasons. First of all diesel engines are notoriously reliable.

Second and in my mind most significantly diesel is more divisible and portable for the average end user than propane. Can't exactly walk over to the neighbors with an empty can and say "Hey Brother could you loan me a gallon of propane?" let alone buy large amounts from most anybody except those set up for retail sale. Propane on a large scale (vs BBQ tanks, etc) is set up to be delivered into your tanks. I think the exception here is if you already are deeply vested in propane and have a few big tanks already.

Limitations: These generators burn through fuel. Stashing a few cans will let a small generator, especially an efficient one run for awhile. What would run an EU2000 for a week might run one of these for a day. It's sort of like saying you have 2 months worth of Whiskey, till Ron White comes over then it is a wild weekend's worth.

For all but those willing to store huge amounts of fuel these generators work best for very short term events or as an option in conjunction with a smaller generator and or very robust solar setup to run bigger devices for high demand times. Say you use a small generator to run the freezer, charge batteries and have a few lights then when you need to use a bunch of power tools and some big shop lights fire up the big generator.

Cost: From a few hundred bucks at the low end to many thousands of dollars for the generator. Fuel will need to be stored also and that costs something. I wouldn't go through the hassle and expense of getting a big generator then stock enough fuel to run it for 3 days.


Concept of use: Honestly this is getting out of the short to mid term emergency range into an alternative energy lifestyle that is handy for today and would let you maintain some capabilities over a long term energy shortage. For the long term you need to get past burning stored fuel to producing your own energy.

Systems: What works best depends on where you are. Usually folks use some combination of solar plus wind and potentially water power. In any case you are probably looking at multiple ways to produce power in conjunction with a robust battery bank.

Limitations: It is cost prohibitive to run a normal American home with all of it's high and or constant energy demands with solar. You need to expect a whole lot less power and make choices within the amount of power you will have.

Cost: From several hundred dollars for a good solar setup and a few batteries to whatever you can afford to spend.

In due time I will go over my Absolute Bare Bones and Almost There systems.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 New Years Resolutions Recap

 So I realized it is about end of the year time. Figured I'd see how this years New Years Resolutions turned out. Obviously completed ones will be lined through. Comments will be in italics


Maintain a consistent weight lifting program. It wasn't 100% perfect but I have been lifting much more than I have for years. Overall I'll call it a W.

Run over 1,000 miles. Didn't track this honestly. Rough mental math says it was closer to 600.

Ruck at least 1x a week . Didn't do this but have been rucking more consistently than in years so I'll call it a partial W.

Eat reasonably with decent consistency so I don't gain and lose the same weight 2-3 times over the year. Eh did better than the year before so it's something.

Skills/ Training:

Attend a defensive handgun course. Did not happen, tried but things kept falling through. This will roll over to next year with a high probability it will happen.

Attend a trauma based first aid class (I am due for retraining). Negatron.

Work on developing a variety of other skills as they come up by doing as much myself as possible. Did some DIY home stuff which was good. I'll call it a W

Guns and Gun Junk:

Pick up a couple holsters, pouches and assorted other stuff to get squared away for what we have.  I went a long way on this one. It is always a work in progress but a Raven Concealment Vanguard 2 and Safariland 6285 plus the War Belt it lives on were enough to make this a solid W.

Buy 2 cases of .223 ammo. Did not happen, prices are getting better but slower than I figured they would. Ended up buying 7.62x39 instead as it's prices went back to relatively normal faster.

Free float the barrel on project AR. Pending I ordered the rail in July but it hasn't showed up yet. Honestly I'm so angry about the whole thing I don't want to talk about it.

Get more spare parts. Beef up on core stuff (AR's and Glocks) and get some basic stuff for other guns. I got a fair bit of AR parts including a full BCG and a spare buttstock. Will call this a W though the non AR side of the house can still use some love.

Finally get my (already sporterized) 1903 30'06 tapped and mount a scope on it.  Sold the '03 so this one is moot.

If this gun ban madness calms down start building an AR pistol. Parts prices are getting better but I haven't gotten to this one yet. May roll over to next year.


Build up to a 1 year supply of food for 4 people. We made progress on this one. Not a win but at least a partial one.

Can something. Tried and failed (underestimated the cooking piece, no point canning junk).

Edited to include: Will upgrade this to a partial. Forgot to add that I canned some strawberry jam with an acquaintance. Could definitely repeat the process.

Pursue gardening/ fishing/ hunting as it fits with our environment and life.  Did a fair amount of fishing this late summer/ early fall.

 Energy/ Other:

Get a better solar setup. A bigger panel with a power supply and a few small lights is the answer. Goal 0 makes what I am looking for. It will cost about $400. Probably 500 once I get the lights. This would have gotten purchased late in 2012 but the whole ban madness shifted my priorities elsewhere.
Purchased the Goal 0 setup.

Get licensed to drive a motorcycle. Purchase a used enduro/ adventure touring motorcycle. Nada. Just maybe next year.

Continue putting together and refining our systems. Firm up the bug out bags and the heavy (vehicle) bug out setup. I hesitate to call this one complete as these systems are always evolving but substantial progress was made.

Re look and improve our cache situation. Substantial progress was made here.


Continue being debt free and saving. Along these lines continue not doing stupid things. 
We did some saving. Didn't do anything stupid.

Once we are done with the food storage goal get back to putting away some silver and gold. Worked food pretty hard. Did make a small gold and silver purchase when prices went down so technically it was a W.

Long Shots:

Get a DBAL for my AR. Done.

Buy some land (this mostly depends on some other things). Ended up going with the other thing. Will kick this one down the road.

Overall Assessment: Some goals were met, some others were partially met and some fell through the cracks. Overall not too bad.

Due to firearmagedon last year got pretty gun centric. Also if I am being intellectually honest it gave me an excuse to go on a bit of a gun buying spree. Last year I purchased mumble mumble number of guns including the 642, the 870 P and mumble, mumble, mumble.

I also ended up putting away 2 cases of 7.62x39 as I needed it and it was affordable, a fair bit of 12 gauge shotgun shells, several hundred rounds of .22lr and some various other ammo when it was available at sane prices and I had the cash to buy it. Ended up with a few more AR mags and a couple Glock mags also.

We moved into a better place when we got to Louisiana which is really nice. Also put some cash into getting furniture and generally upgrading our household. This isn't prep stuff but the Mrs wanted and deserved some decent stuff. The Broke College Kid home decorating plan stops being cute at some point. Of course we saved up and did it reasonably.

Along these lines we also purchased a large gun safe. An important purchase we've probably been putting off too long. 

A lot of little stuff was purchased towards getting my EDC and fighting loads right.

We got Dog. He's not actually that useful but is large and imposing looking. Odds he'll wake up, let alone eat a burglar are low but we don't actually need that, just need the burglar to go rob somebody else.

That is really all I can think of that happened in terms of preparedness.

On the down side (or not depending on how you look at it) we spent a lot of money. Of course we saved and planned for it but we ended up writing some huge checks. It goes without saying we didn't touch the emergency fund. That being said stuff isn't getting cheaper or better made so getting things we want, within reason, might not be such a bad plan anyway. Honestly limiting the percentage of our resources that is in digital accounts within the interwebz is something I wanted to do anyway.

What did you do to prepare this year?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Doomsday Preppers and Solar Charger Test

Today we caught a couple episodes of Doomsday Preppers on the tv. We hadn't seen that show before as it was not available in Germany so it was pretty interesting. Some things definitely jumped out at me.

First the amount of people who were very prepared but seriously overweight amazed me. I'm not talking could stand to lose a few pounds or a bit of a belly but strait up obese. I just don't get it. The odds they will have to walk more than a couple miles, maybe carrying a moderate load like a get home bag, face a physical confrontation or pull their body over an obstacle are far higher than that they will need a year's worth of food, a Faraday cage or whatever. Also even if they have the discrete skills to survive a gunfight their fat body might not be able to move fast enough and their already taxed heart might give out due to the stress. I talk physical fitness a lot here. Running, lifting heavy things, ruck marching and generally how to be a modern day guerrilla or whatever else you wanna call it. You do not have to do what I do exactly but for goodness sake do something.

Other than that rather obvious note the biggest thing that jumped out at me were gaping holes in peoples preps. Mostly it was people with otherwise great setups that had no serious security plans. Some were seemingly intimidated by the subject and others were back to nature gardening types that are rather naive to the ways of the world.

I decided to do some testing with our little Bruton solar charger. It did a great job charging 2 AA batteries (holds 4 but I only had 2 dead ones) in about 2 hours. I tried charging a device via the USB port some time ago and it failed for undiagnosed reasons. However it did just fine with the batteries and they are what is really important so that is good. Looking at getting a bigger setup. Something large enough to charge a few devices and run some lights. Goal 0 makes some pretty nice stuff.

Anyway I hope you all have a great Sunday

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