Emergency Power Generation/Storage, EMP Protection, Heating/Cooling, Handy Tools and Tricks

Cosmos

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
I thought it might be a good idea to get a discussion going about ideas and solutions for emergency power generation/storage in case of power outages, EMP Protection and Heating/Cooling as well as handy devices. I did some research over the years on those topics and thought it might be a good idea to share some of my results, as well as my personal setup for power generation/storage, EMP protection and Heating/Cooling as well as handy devices.

Here are a couple of basic rules to consider first:

- In general, if you want to power anything that is even slightly power hungry in an acute emergency, it is almost impossible to so for longer periods of time especially for small emergency setups. Those devices can be powered just for small amounts of time (at most, for hours or a couple of days) even with big or huge energy reserves at your disposal (such as a big fuel/gas tank). Power hungry appliances/devices devour lots of energy very fast, and you can't expect them to run normally in an emergency "off grid" situation.

- In general, the most power hungry appliances are those that generate/create lots of heat (such as a welder) or moderate heat (such as a heater), or reversely, cold (such as Refrigerator), followed by devices/appliances that need to generate lots of mechanical force to operate (such as a washing machine, power drill, buzz saw etc.) followed by old-fashioned light bulbs.

- If you thought you could power such high-power devices via solar energy, wind energy etc. "Off Grid" in any reliably/normal and/or long-term way, just forget it. It doesn't work. Generally speaking, you need an energy source that has a high-energy density such as fossil fuels (Diesel, Petrol, LPG-Gas etc) to power such in any sensible devices, but even then, the fuel will be consumed pretty quickly.

- So in an emergency, it is a good idea to rethink what you actually really need to power (most especially in terms of those high-power devices). And if you really have to power any of those high-power devices, you need to know that you should be careful with your energy reserves. For example: let's say you need heat to cook and/or to generate warmth; think it through and look for a solution that is the most energy saving and long-term reliable solution you can think of under specific circumstances. Here are some ideas, especially in terms of high-power consumption.

  • For Cooking: If you can, get yourself a gas oven with as many propane gas tanks in storage as possible (see later points: Propane Gas Tanks are pretty handy for emergencies!). I have one from a company called Kaiser. And more importantly; a gas powered stove! (There are also solutions that include a gas oven as well as a gas stove together in one package). For example: If you have a gas powered stove and a normal sizes 11kg Propane Tank (such as this one), you can easily cook with it and a regular pan/pot for many months, several times a day! And if you have several tanks in storage you could easily cook for years! One such tank can hold very long for just cooking via a pan/pot (and smartly prepared food such as thinly sliced up meat (which is done quicker= less energy consumed)). If you want to get fancy in an emergency and actually use the gas oven instead of the stove you can do that as well, just know that it eats quite a lot more gas fuel, but still can get you through for quite a long time with no need for any outside power. Our Gas-Oven can be easily operated every second day or so for cooking a large junk of meat for quite a number of months.
  • For Cooking: you can of course also do it via wood and fire if you can.
  • For Heating: If you have one or can install/get one, a wood stove is of course one of the best solutions
  • For Heating: You can use a 11kg Propane Gas Tank pretty effectively for heating, just be aware that heating consumes a lot of fuel/energy. So be smart about it: If you have to heat a room; think of the smallest and/or best isolated room in your house and just heat that room whenever needed with a device like this one and a Propane Gas Tank
  • For Heating: If you want to get really smart/nerdy about it, you could for example install the Propane Gas Oven in said small room and kill two birds with one stone: You cook and heat the room at the same time!
  • For Heating/Cooking: If you have a Diesel and or Petrol Tank you can use that to your advantage as a fuel. Just be aware that especially heating consumes a lot of fuel/energy.
  • For Heating/Power: Cars with fuel Tanks can produce quite a good amount of heat/energy
  • For Heating/Power/Travel: If you can, get yourself a car that can run on petrol as well as on LPG, or alternatively install a LPG-system into your petrol engine powered car relatively cheaply. I'm not so sure yet but I guess you could also use your Propane Gas to power the car.
  • For Power: A Propane Gas Tank can be used quite well in combination with an energy storage such as a good battery/energy generator. See later points.
  • For Power: If you have the means and space to do so, an old Diesel generator might be an option, since apparently (I'm not sure), they can eat not just Diesel, but also things like salad oils etc.
  • For Power: if you can and have the means you could also consider a so-called Multifuel Generator that "can be operated with diesel, heating oil, straight vegetable oil (rapeseed oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, copra oil, corn oil, soy bean oil, palm oil, jatropha oil, ...), cleaned waste vegetable oil or pyrolysis oil." When I looked into it a while ago, I found the following one quite interesting: ATG MULTIFUEL 3SP Power Generator 3 kW | ATG and this one Multifuel Biofuel Power Generator Diesel Biodiesel vegetable oil waste oil. The Multifuel idea for emergencies was something I researched a bit more extensively in the past, since there seem to be smaller type of devices that can do that you could actually carry. See following posts/points.

There is a lot more to say, and I will try to do so in the coming days/weeks on follow-up posts. For example, I'll describe how you can set up a relatively low-cost emergency power system that should be more or less EMP proof, so that you can power basic electric stuff and even some more power intensive stuff for short periods of time, from time to time. I'll also present some tools, electric stuff etc. I bought over the years that could come in quite handy in an emergency.
 
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Cosmos

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
  • For Power: If you have the means and space to do so, an old Diesel generator might be an option, since apparently (I'm not sure), they can eat not just Diesel, but also things like salad oils etc.
  • For Power: if you can and have the means you could also consider a so-called Multifuel Generator that "can be operated with diesel, heating oil, straight vegetable oil (rapeseed oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, copra oil, corn oil, soy bean oil, palm oil, jatropha oil, ...), cleaned waste vegetable oil or pyrolysis oil." When I looked into it a while ago, I found the following one quite interesting: ATG MULTIFUEL 3SP Power Generator 3 kW | ATG and this one Multifuel Biofuel Power Generator Diesel Biodiesel vegetable oil waste oil. The Multifuel idea for emergencies was something I researched a bit more extensively in the past, since there seem to be smaller type of devices that can do that you could actually carry. See following posts/points.

I'll try to summarize the follow-up to the above two points, in a "short fashion". If anyone is interested in a longer version with more details, I could dig up some of the specifics I gathered awhile ago about those topics.

The short version is that old style multifuel generators are usually referred to as Diesel type engines that could handle more or less well different types of (the right) fuel input. Generally speaking though, those diesel type engines are very heavy and big. So back when I was researching it I was asking myself if there might be other or newer types of multifuel type engines that generate power, are far less heavy and can handle as much variety of fuel as possible. So I searched and indeed those engines exist. One of the criteria for the search was that the multifuel power engine should be as small and handy as possible. The idea was to find such a handy multifuel power engine that can run pretty much on any kind of more or less high-energy density source (such as, see above: "diesel, heating oil, straight vegetable oil") without running the risk of the engine going kaput easily/fast if fueled with less than optimal fuel over time.

Long story short: I think I found about three such multifuel power generators that match those criteria (I think two american brands and one swiss one), with the catch that all of them without exception are very expensive. At least one, but I think all of them can handle even both diesel and petrol, in addition to all kinds of crappy oils, gases and vegatable oils! The other catch was that those three or so power generators I could find, couldn't be purchased by ordinary people, but only through being in the military. So all those engines seem to be for military use/purchase only. At the same time, I think at least some of those engines can be purchased by someone in or connected to the military without much hassle. But who is, really?

I also found a number of new and funky multifuel engines, which all again seemed to be (even farther) out of the public domain and only reserved for military use/purchase. If I remember correctly, some of those funky multifuel engines were really tiny (I mean, really tiny, like a bigger coin size!) jet type engines/mechanics/setups that can generate astounding amounts of power for the size! For example, one such type engine does run a really funky and heavy-duty military motorcycle while at the same time being astoundingly quiet! (If I remember correctly). So they can throw pretty much any crappy more or less power dense fuel into that tiny engine and it generates incredible amounts of power/energy!

Sadly, but not surprisingly, none of the above seems to be available to the public.

But there is hope. As you can see later, there are what is called "Bi-Fuel" power generators available (preciously few good ones though) for a decent amount of money for public use! They are also called "dual fuel" generators. I found what I consider the best of those options fairly cheaply, which can be used in the power generating setup (described later) both with a Propane Gas Tank and with Petrol.
 
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Kari Baba

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
A few years ago I bought this little tealight oven on the Internet.

IMG_9239.jpgIMG_9240.jpgIMG_9241.jpg

3 tea lights come in. I use it in my office, which is in the attic of our house. The room is about 12 square meters and the stove is actually warming. I tested it last winter when it was really cold outside (-10 degrees Celsius). The warming is of course very slow. But after 2 hours I was at least 20 degrees Celsius in the room, before it was 17 degrees Celsius (it is not completely meaningful, since the rooms underneath were heated). I always use tea lights that burn for 8 hours. After 5 hours it was 22 degrees Celsius. The pot gets really very hot and should definitely be placed on a fire-proof surface.
 

Kari Baba

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
However, I think that in the case of real cold and a total failure of a heating source, this type of "oven" can at best help to make the temperature in the room bearable. Then they probably don't bring any real warmth. For this reason I also bought a kerosene heater for emergencies and enough fuel for heating.
 

PerfectCircle

Jedi Master
Thanks Kari Baba. Only downside I managed to find from reading online (except it needs some time as you said) is to avoid paraffin candles, cause if the air does not vent enough, explosion might occur.
I guess as long as you have a hole on top,you are safe.
 

Channa

Jedi
Hello Kari Baba
I searched for this candle oven on the internet but I did not find it
Can you give me more information?

Thoughts from me as I read this forum link and another one:
I live in a big city and have no garden, but a small yard in the back of my kitchen.
Everything in my house runs on electricity...
I don't have the ability to do or buy everything you advised.
You talk about the power being out for a few days...
And if it lasts longer, what do you do?
You eat everything you have in your freezers in one day ????

I bought a small cast iron barbecue, easy to move.
It can be used for my meals or to warm me up.
On some survival sites, they advise to store dry lentils, etc.
And if you don't have water, how do you cook them?
So I thought it was better to buy cooked lentils in cans
At the very least, just open the can and put it on a candle dish or the barbecue
Although I have two freezers, I am wary because of possible breakdowns.
So, I go for canned food: vegetables, lentils, meat, rillettes, pâtés, cassoulet, etc
I buy, I taste and if it's good I stock up by looking at the expiration dates.
While writing this, I thought of the famous "corned beef" during the English and US soldiers:
Corned-beef — Wikipédia

Any other ideas?
Channa

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
 

Brewer

Jedi Master
Here's a simple but effective device my brother is constructing at the moment. In favourable conditions these panels will charge this battery which will run a 200 litre chest freezer and charge tools, lights and other useful gadgets. I've been given some solar panels and we're expanding the system.

1635623302855.jpeg
 

SummerLite

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Here is a simple stove for cooking made of cement blocks and twigs as a fuel source. Regular bricks can be used as well.


Tent sleeping:

If the heat is off during a cold winter, a small tent can be pitched inside and slept in. If several people are inside their body heat is contained and affectively helps to keep everyone warm. The video I watched on this had 3 small children sleeping inside and when the mother checked on them in the middle of the night, the air was steamy and warm. The kids where sleeping on top of their sleeping bags because they where to hot. The parents turned off the heat in the middle of winter to help them be prepared incase of a power outage and it looked as though they lived in the northern US somewhere.
 

Debra

Jedi Council Member
Here is a simple stove for cooking made of cement blocks and twigs as a fuel source. Regular bricks can be used as well.
Thanks for sharing this video, that stove is so simple and easy to fab up. I also thought the man and woman making the video were adorable. Her voice and mannerisms reminded me so much of the actress Cathy Bates, it was kind of trippy, though, I was waiting for her to snap... If you have seen the movie “Misery” you’ll know what I mean. :shock:
 

BHelmet

The Living Force
Here's a simple but effective device my brother is constructing at the moment. In favourable conditions these panels will charge this battery which will run a 200 litre chest freezer and charge tools, lights and other useful gadgets. I've been given some solar panels and we're expanding the system.

View attachment 50924
Perhaps a “how to” or “what is it” or “how do you make this” would be cool.
 

JGeropoulas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've read that 2 pieces of charcoal can create enough heat to bring a pressure cooker up to max pressure. After that, it can be wrapped in a sleeping bad to retain the heat long enough to cook anything. I've never tried this but suspect it would work very well and be a very fuel efficient way to cook.
 

Woodsman

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I have a bunch of solar panels and battery tech sitting in various pieces in my closet. I've never been in a situation where setting everything up made a lot of sense, nor have I really had the space to do it properly. -I might make a project of it this Winter on my apartment balcony; better to work out the kinks now rather than during a period when I actually need it to function.

Anyway, while doing an inventory last year, I realized that I might benefit from picking up another little tool which I didn't already have; A butane soldering iron.

I realized that if I'm stuck in the middle of an extended power outage, then my plug-in soldering iron wouldn't do me much good. I figure once I have a battery system up and running, then performing little electronics jobs would be possible; just plug in my tools to the battery power. But until there is electricity flowing, any basic soldering will need to be performed with combustibles. -Plus, in trying it out, I learned how nice it was to not be tethered to a wall socket.

I'm also a big fan of candles. I have one of these little guys...

candle lantern.jpg

They burn beeswax or regular candles which are specifically shaped to fit this lantern, so you need to also have a bunch of them on hand, -which makes the lantern of limited use over the long haul. But in the short term (if you're in a situation where things are in chaos), it's nice to have a reliable little light and limited heat source which doesn't depend on batteries, and which can live in a drawer or backpack pocket for years without requiring maintenance.

It burns super efficiently; the candle is inserted into a metal cartridge which is spring loaded, advancing the wax as it burns. It doesn't allow any wax to spill away, so every drop is burned at a steady rate. The result is that a single candle will burn for around 9 hours! I had no idea that so much fuel is wasted by traditional candles.

Anyway, I pull this lantern out any time there's a power outage; it's probably one of my favorite camping/survival tools. It's a safe way to keep a light and heat source burning in a tent, and when not in use, it collapses down to half its height (pictured above is fully extended), so it packs up as a durable little canister.

I've had mine for years, and I've given them as gifts to friends. It's probably one of my favorite inventions. (The other is the Leatherman mini-tool.)
 
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