8 Alternative Ways to Cook without Power Whether stranded in the wilderness by accident, or relaxing at your campsite on a weekend getaway, hunger will come calling – and without traditional cooking instruments or appliances readily accessible, keeping your party fed means trying new methods of cooking. Don’t wait to experiment in the woods; review … Continue reading 8 Alternative Ways to Cook without Power!
The world has been focused on the threat from North Korea in recent weeks, concerned about the reclusive country setting off a traditional nuclear weapon or even an EMP. But there is a more persistent threat out there that we rarely think about – and there’s very little that we can do about it.
It is the sun, and, yes, it can take down the power grid with little warning.
This week’s guest on Off The Grid Radio is Arthur Bradley, a NASA engineer who is an expert on solar storms and disaster preparedness, having authored 15 books on the subject.
The last major solar storm to hit the Earth took place in 1859 – long before the power grid was put in place. If such a storm were to hit us now, Bradley says, it would cause a “global catastrophe,” crippling the grid for a year or more and causing millions of deaths.
Even worse: Bradley says we’re “past due” for such a storm.
Bradley also tells us:
- Why the power grid essentially would be “un-repairable” and down for so long.
- Whether the grid truly can be hardened to protect it from solar threats.
- How Earth barely survived a solar storm just five years ago.
If you’re concerned about the future of your family and want to be prepared, then this is one show you don’t want to miss!
As more and more people are installing solar panels on their roof, I hear my friends talking about wanting to do grid tied solar so that they can make their electric meters run backwards and get a check from the electric company. I always hate to burst their bubbles, it is possible to do that, but it’s never as easy as it seems.
The electric companies are there to make money, that’s their bottom line, nothing wrong with that, but they will protect their ability to earn a profit at every turn. They need to be able to maintain the infrastructure they have developed that gets electricity from point A to point B and beyond. When just a few people were putting solar panels on their rooftops, it wasn’t a problem, but once solar panels came down in price and more people could afford them, it is becoming more commonplace to see solar panels adorning rooftops in neighborhoods.
Earning money from the power companies is a bit more complicated than just turning your meter backwards when you are generating more power than you are using. Many power companies would require a second separate meter to measure how much electricity you were putting back into the grid. They didn’t pay you what you were paying them per kilowatt either, just like any other industry, there is a wholesale and retail price. You are paying the retail price for your power, anything you sell back to the power company is done at wholesale price.
The power companies are trying to keep themselves ahead of the game, some are experimenting with charging extra fees if you are generating your own power while their customer, though in the case of the power company in the podcast, they quickly dumped that idea. They state that they aren’t trying to stop people from using solar, but are trying to make it work for everyone.
Listen to the show and let me know what you think.
Cooking with the Sun and the 12th Planet Forrest & Kyle “The Prepping Academy” Audio in player below! On this episode episode in player below Forrest and Kyle welcome Paul Munsen, President of Sun Ovens, to the show. For the past 28 years SUN OVENS has been proudly made in the U.S. They believe in free … Continue reading Cooking with the Sun and the 12th Planet
Power Needs When You Need It Bob Hawkins “The APN Report“ Audio in player below! April Showers bring May Flowers, as well as Thunderstorms. We had a doozy sweep by this week, which put a hurting’ on the local power grid. There were power outages in parts of the county which give inspiration for this … Continue reading Power Needs When You Need It
DIY Solar Oven Prototype 1 Cooking is an everyday part of survival unless you’re happy to crouch in the dark eating straight from a cold can of beans. Collecting firewood isn’t too hard – but in a long term survival situation, you’ll have to travel farther and farther to find the fuel you need, especially …
UNITY, Maine – 11 April – For Joas Hochstetler, manager of the Amish-owned Backyard Buildings, the idea of manufacturing a solar shed equipped with solar panels was always in the back of his mind.
After all, as part of their mission Hochstetler’s family and others in the Amish community that has settled in Unity use solar power technology in a variety of ways, from powering lights on their carriages to charging power tool batteries.
“Solar is pretty passive, there’s no moving parts, you don’t have to feed it, it doesn’t take gas,” Hochstetler said. “We’ve already made the decision to not be on the grid […] so the benefits of solar for us are just endless.”
Despite perceptions of Amish communities being wary of technology, off-grid solar power technology offers a way for those in the community to stay off of the mainstream power grid in a way that is minimally intrusive to their lifestyle. Hochstetler said that Amish people were some of the early adopters of solar.
So when Matt Wagner of Insource Renewables approached him in January about teaming up to produce a shed that was equipped with the same solar technology found on traditional roof-mounted systems, Hochstetler was sold. After all, the sheds he makes were already solar powered – in the sense that solar is his only power source.
“We’ve talked about it before but didn’t have a reputable company to collaborate with, or the solar expertise,” Hochstetler said. “I like the principle of solar, so I would gladly do work in a field that will generate more solar power for the state.”
For the last six years, Backyard Buildings has been manufacturing a wide range of portable structures including storage sheds of varying sizes, animal shelters and even small cabins. In some instances, Insource Renewables was contracted by customers of Hochstetler’s to install heat pumps in large sheds they’d purchased with the intention of using them as off-grid camps.
Wagner initially proposed the idea of just collaborating on installing heat pumps in some of the buildings before they were sold, and the idea quickly morphed into making storage-type structures with solar panels mounted on the roof.
For both parties, the opportunity to work with another local company to bring a new solar energy option to their customers was a boon. “What we found is we can basically deliver the same size solar array we would put on someone’s roof onto this solar [shed] building for about the same cost, and you get this great shed. It’s sort of a no brainer,” Wagner said.
With Insource Renewables bringing the solar expertise and Backyard Buildings bringing the construction know-how, prospective customers are able buy a shed that is outfitted with a solar array that can capture enough energy to power their entire home, as well as a soundly constructed shed that can serve a range of storage purposes.
Since the shed will be constructed to hold solar panels, Hochstetler and his crew have come up with a new design that can bear the weight of the array while also having the roof sloped at an angle that will provide maximum solar gain.
Wagner says the solar shed serves as a great alternative to roof-mounted solar systems in instances when a home’s roof might not be south-facing, is not in the best condition or is heavily shaded by trees. Typically, when a home’s roof is not optimal for mounted solar panels, the alternative option is installing a ground mounted array. However, between the aluminum fabrication that serves as the ground mounts and bringing in an excavator and cement truck to make a concrete base, ground mounts are about 25 to 30 percent more expensive than roof mounted systems.
By offering a solar shed at a cost comparable to roof-mounted systems, the collaboration could make solar more attainable. The state’s net-metering rules would also apply to these systems.
“All of the people that have been looking at solar for a long time and have wanted to do it, a lot of them are just waiting for something to tip in their favor. [For example], if they were put off by the high cost of a ground mount, if their roof needed to be replaced, if their roof wasn’t in a great location. We can put these [sheds] anywhere,” Wagner said.
The solar sheds will be constructed at Backyard Building’s workshop in Unity, where Hochstetler and five employees are able to build a shed in two days using tools that have been retrofitted to be powered by compressed air or storage batteries, to keep their production process off the larger power grid. While the base model for the solar shed must feature a long slanted back roof to accommodate the solar array, customers can work with Hochstetler to customize the appearance and features of the building to suit a host of uses.
Once the shed is constructed, the work is then turned over to Insource Renewables, who work at the Unity site to mount the solar array and do the electric work on the shed. Before being delivered to a customer, the shed must undergo an inspection by a state licensed electrical inspector. Once delivered, the solar array can be wired to the home, and the power grid, by a licensed electrician.
For both Wagner and Hochstetler, the beauty of the solar shed lies in the efficiency of the collaboration, in both terms of cost, time and the ability to work locally to bring new solar options to Mainers – and beyond.
“We can build almost any type of building that can fit on a trailer and go down the road. We just assume build solar sheds.”
Solar Generator vs Fuel Generator One of the first purchases I made when getting into serious preparedness was a gas generator. Not only the necessity for electrify drove me but also the importance of creature comforts. My power goes out and then it comes back on. I am happy with my gas generator. That said …
In October 2015, Spain’s Council of Ministers approved a controversial tax on those using electricity produced by their own solar installations. However, a new government says solar panel owners could soon see the back of the so called sun tax.
What is the sun tax?
This legislation causes those with self-consumptive photovoltaic systems to pay the same grid fees as those without solar panels. This covers the power contracted from an electricity company. But they also have to pay a second “sun tax” which means solar panel owners pay for the electricity they generate and use from their PV systems, even though it doesn’t come into contact with the grid.
There are other facets of the legislation which also caused more outrage. Photovoltaic systems up to 100 kW are not able to sell any excess electricity they produce. Instead, they must “donate” the extra to the grid free of charge. Systems over 100 kW must register if they wish to sell the extra electricity. Community ownership of PV systems, of all sizes, under this legislation is prohibited. Not only this, but the legislation is retroactive; meaning installations prior to the introduction of the tax must comply. If the conditions are not met, then the PV system owners are subject to a penalty fee of up to €60 million ($64 million). To put this in perspective, this is twice the penalty of a radioactive leak from a nuclear plant. Unsurprisingly, this caused outrage.
Exceptions to the tax
There are some circumstances where the tax does not apply. Fear not off-gridders, this tax is only for those connected to the grid. If you run an off-grid system then no grid tax needs to be paid at all. Installations smaller than 10 kW are also exempt from paying the second sun tax. The Canary Islands and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla (Spanish territories in Africa) are also exempt from the second tax. Mallorca and Menorca pay the second sun tax at a reduced rate.
The Spanish government defended the legislation by saying the fees contribute to overall grid system costs. However, the Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF) pointed out how uneconomic the new law was. Their spokesperson stated, “Each kWh imported from the grid by a self-consumer will pay double the tolls compared to a kWh imported from the gird by another consumer.”
Change on the horizon
The current legislation is an unnecessary burden placed upon solar consumers who want to be more economical and environmentally friendly. This has been recognized by opposing political parties and other unions and consumers. The political party which initially brought in the sun tax is now a minority. Therefore, there is now the opportunity for all opposing parties to remove this expensive and impractical legislation.
In January 2017 a law proposal was registered in congress, beginning the process of the sun tax removal. The urgent changes to the legislation listed in the document include the right to self-consumption of solar energy without charge. Along with this, several consumers should be able to pool their resources to share a self-consumption facility to help tackle poverty. Plus, the proposal also adapts the sanctioning regime to avoid the multi-million euro fines, becoming more realistic. Finally, the importance of renewable energy as an appropriate instrument to help reduce environmental impact of electricity production has been recognised. Alongside, the role it can play in strengthening energy independence for Spain. The President of the UNEF, Jorge Barredo, said of the proposal, “it is a very important step in defining a different and more favourable regulatory framework for self-consumption.”
The law proposal has outlined a period of 3 months for the legislation to come into action.
This is the new way to generate power, sell it to your neighbours, and cut out the middleman – the Utility company. And it uses the same Blockchain technology as Bitcoin.
In the Gowanus and Park Slope regions of Brooklyn, dozens of solar panel arrays have been hooked up to the Brooklyn Microgrid. The project which currently has 50 participants signs residents up to a virtual trading platform. Those with solar panels are then able to sell excess electricity credits generated from their systems to buyers within the microgrid community.
Based on Blockchain
The virtual energy trading system is based on “blockchain” technology. This allows individuals to keep a secure and reliable record of transactions. It is essentially technology’s answer to a book keeping system. Giving more control to the consumer, it allows the turning of traditional relationships between utility companies and customers on its head. By bypassing the big electricity companies altogether it is allowing this community to have a sustainable, secure and cost-effective source of power. Lawrence Orsini, LO₃’s CEO, told the New York Times, “In order for transactive energy to take off as a whole, regulators have to be comfortable that markets can actually work this way and, more importantly, that people want markets like this.”
LO₃ Energy are the designers of this experiment. They used Google Earth to identify the Brooklyn neighbourhood as the first of potentially many more microgrids. By moving away from a centralized approach and creating local energy networks, should an emergency occur these systems can become grid independent. Residents approve of future project plans, which involve a microgrid located near to a hospital or other community resource. This way essential services could disconnect from the grid and operate independently during power failure. Garry Golden, a member of the Brooklyn Microgrid, said, “It’s a recognition of energy needs…you can feed the energy where it needs to go”.
The Brooklyn Microgrid is hardly the first community to explore microgrid options. In Bangladesh, Me SolShare, a company founded in 2014, has been working on setting up microgrids in rural areas. Offering peer to peer sharing and pay-as-you-go solutions for low income households, the company aims to help the 65 million people without central grid access. The SolBox is the key to the trading networks they set up. Acting as a DC power meter, solar charge controller and machine to machine communicator, it is a node in the electricity network. The decentralised peer to peer microgrid networks set up let people earn income directly from the sun. In a low income household, this can make a huge difference.
German based company Sonnen, have set up a community of 8,000 sonnenBatterie owners who share the energy they produce. By using the energy exclusively from the community, there is no need to go back to a utility supplier. The virtual energy pool is monitored by central software which balances supply and demand throughout the system. There is a monthly membership fee of €19.99 ($21) to join the sonnenCommunity. However, Sonnen justifies this with a number of benefits for joining the community aside from cheaper energy prices. These include: a discount on a sonnenBatterie with a 10 year guarantee; plus free remote maintenance and monitoring and weather forecast updates, amongst others.
Jumping continents again, in Australia Power Ledger have used blockchain technology to set up the first residential electricity trading market. Located in Perth, the system will allow renewable energy owners to decide who they want to sell their surplus energy too and at what cost. Power Ledger is also working on a 500 site trial in Auckland, with New Zealand’s largest electricity distributor.
It’s clear that the benefits of microgrids are becoming more well-known and wide spread as technology allows its facilitation. Do you have any microgrid experiences or opinions? Let us know in the comments below!
The post A Microgrid Revolution – Blockchains spreading everywhere appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.
Hot springs offer much-needed peace, quiet and relaxation. The naturally occurring, geothermally heated bliss provided in beautiful surroundings is second to none. Plus, if you don’t want to be in a more developed hot spring spa, there are plenty of options to exploreoff-the-beaten-track . Here are 6 off-grid hot springs you definitely need to visit!
If you want off the beaten track then try:
Ringbolt Hot Springs – Arizona
Located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, this set of pools is visited by thousands of people per year. A 6 mile round trail takes you up through a dramatic volcanic canyon, south of the Hoover Dam. Volcanic rock and granite boulders litter the landscape and lead you to a spot just downstream of the Ringbolt Rapids. After climbing a 20 foot ladder to access the best springs you can bathe to your heart’s content. Directly at the source of the springs the water is the warmest, reaching up to 110°F. The highly mineralized water spews out of the source at approximately 30 gallons per minute! The strenuous hike takes approximately 5 hours to complete (excluding time spent bathing in those beautiful springs) and is closed during the summer months due to it being hazardous because of high temperatures.
Read this couple’s experience of trekking and camping in the area. Alternatively, watch this father and son duo take the trail up through the canyon and reach their destination:
Steep Ravine Hot Springs – California
These hot springs are rather unique, trading mountainous vistas for a beach front! The warm water seeps up through the sand at the Steep Ravine Beach in Marin County. These springs are quite a phenomenon, only being exposed for a couple of hours a day. Therefore, it is important to consult a Californian Tide Chart and opt for a minus tide, to avoid disappointment. However, due to the very slight window in the day in which the springs can be accessed it can get rather busy! It’s worth it though, even just to paddle in these warm waters.
Goldbug Hot Springs – Idaho
Between the small towns of Salmon and Challis, high up in the desert, lies a chain of six waterfall fed pools. These small but perfectly formed features are accessed by a very up-hill 2 mile hike. The trail offers little shade for respite and the majority of the climb is done in the last quarter of the trek. The pools are a definite reward after that steep incline! Water temperature varies depending on the time of year, so don’t dive in (literally) until you’ve judged the temperature with a hand or foot first! Be warned clothing is optional at the pools, so don’t be surprised if you see some not entirely clothed hikers in the area.
For other hot springs in Idaho, check this out.
If you want a bit of luxury, then visit:
Wilbur Hot Springs – California
This is an off-grid sanctuary, providing a natural digital detox from the very on-grid, tech-loving world. The solar-powered resort is set in the heart of a 1,800 acre nature preserve, and it has its own hot mineral springs. The geothermal water contains 3 ounces of dissolved minerals per gallon and is undiluted, untreated and unheated. This is a true relaxation haven with massage treatments and yoga sessions also available. You can take a day trip, or camping grounds, cabins and a solar lodge are all available, giving the option to extend your stay.
Watch this video to get your first impressions of Wilbur Hot Springs:
Strawberry Park Hot Springs – Colorado
Up a winding track a few miles out of Steamboat springs, lies this beautiful off-grid retreat. No big signs point to its location and during the winter only big 4x4s are allowed up dirt road. Alternatively, the springs can be reached via a 3 mile trail through the surrounding national forest. This has a real off-the-beaten-track feel. Several large soaking pools with warm to rather hot waters are available next to a cold creek for some cooling off. During the day the springs are family friendly, however during the evening an optional clothes policy means adults only! The resort is currently working on replacing their solar panels, batteries and controllers to keep their off-grid status.
Watch the video below to get a feel of Strawberry Park Hot Springs:
Breitenbush Hot Springs – Oregon
Last but not least, is the remote forest sanctuary named Breitenbush. In 154 acres of beautiful landscape including a glacier fed river, an ancient forest and mountains on the horizon, sanctuary really is the right word. Three natural pools with smooth river rocks allow you to sit back and take in the beautiful landscape. Temperatures range from warm to very hot, with a cool plunge pool available to cool off. Powered by hydroelectric from the nearby Breitenbush River and heated by the geothermal water, this sanctuary is entirely off-grid. Hiking throughout the surrounding landscape, massage treatments and several “Well-Being” programs are also available.
Have you visited any of these places or been to other hot springs not mentioned? Let us know in the comments below!
EcoSolarCool have kick-started 2017 with the release of two new Solar Refrigeration models. The new additions to the upright product line aim to minimise the daily power consumption of cooling appliances. Refrigerators are one of the most energy consuming appliances in the home, accounting for up to 25% of household energy cost. EcoSolarCool want to change this, “providing constant, reliable and energy efficient cooling at great value.”
Two New Models
Both of EcoSolarCool’s new models are approved by UL250 and CSA to US and Canadian standards. These are the only solar refrigerators in the world to hold this approval. Plus this is for the whole unit and not just the compressor. Both models have the most up to date and advanced Danfoss DC compressor and are manufactured in Europe. The power consumption for the models is also at a record low for the solar/DC appliances industry at 201 kWh per annum! This is also amongst the lowest in the AC refrigeration appliances market.
The ESCR260GE Metallic Grey model has a total capacity of 260 litres (9.2 cubic feet). The refrigeration compartment is larger in comparison to the freezer compartment at 235 litres (8.3 cubic feet) to 25 litres (0.9 cubic feet). The freezer is located at the top of the unit and the refrigeration compartment at the bottom. This model weighs in at 121.3 lb (55kg) and is 23.7 x 25.2 x 57.1 inches.
The ESCR355GE Stainless Steel model has a total capacity of 354 litres (12.5 cubic feet). The larger refrigeration compartment (258 litres/9.1 cubic feet) is located at the top of the unit, and the freezer compartment (96 litres/3.4 cubic feet) at the bottom. This model weighs in at 163.2 lb (74kg) and is 23.7 x 25.2 x 78.8 inches in size.
Features of Both
Both models have adjustable internal temperatures and reversible doors. The temperature range for the cooling compartment is between 0°C/32°F to 10°C/50°F. Whereas, the freezing compartment temperature can reach as low as -18°C/-0.4°F. For operation, both models need a solar panel, a 12 volt AGM, lithium or deep cycle battery and a 15 amp 12/24 volt solar charge controller. The battery ensures the refrigerator will continue running through the night and on not so sunny days. Whereas, the solar charge controller regulates the electric charge from the batteries and the solar panel(s). To find out how many solar panels/batteries needed to run your solar refrigeration appliance, check out EcoSolarCool’s blog post.
The refrigerators are perfect for a wide variety of situations from RVs, to cabins to on and off-grid homes.
Both refrigerator models can be bought from a local dealer or the Solar Power estore. Prices advertised on the EcoSolarCool website are $1,299.00 for the smaller Metallic Grey model and $1,650.00 for the larger Stainless Steel model.
EcoSolarCool Products all have these…
All the solar powered refrigeration and freezer appliances sold by EcoSolarCool have a 4.4 inch thick lining of polyurethane insulation. All products also have a built in energy-saving mode feature to make sure the units don’t guzzle more energy than what it needs. Plus, they also have an automatic shut off to ensure the appliances have a long service life. All units have a two year warranty and operate at an input voltage of 12/24 volts.
If you want to find out different methods of keeping food cool then check out this post.
You may also like to find out more about how solar refrigeration works in more detail, check out these articles:
After Elon Musk’s recent Twitter claim to solve South Australia’s energy problem in 100 days, Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister, seems to have sat up and taken notice. According to reports, Turnbull phoned Musk and had a positive conversation about the storage technology Tesla could offer. This has led to prominent figures in Australia’s energy sector encouraging Turnbull to give Australian companies a chance before turning to Tesla’s project.
Several Australian solar and battery companies have ongoing projects at various stages of completion, which are similar to Musk’s proposal. Zen Energy has recently unveiled its “Big Battery Project” which is being worked on ready for summer time when there is the greatest stress on the grid. The project is one of several taking place in the Upper Spencer Gulf region in South Australia. This area has been hit especially hard since the closure of the power station at Port Augusta. The large scale solar developments and storage at various places throughout the region aim to lower energy costs and improve energy security.
The Big Battery Project
Located at Port Augusta, funding has already been secured for the project. A battery with 50 megawatt hours of energy will not only stabilise the grid but also wholesale electricity prices. Owned by external investors, the battery and its interaction with the grid will be managed by Zen Energy. It will absorb electricity from the grid when cheap and abundant and then be a supply source when scarce. Professor Ross Garnout, Zen Energy chairman, said “The blackouts that we’ve had in the last year would not have happened if this was in place.”
Zen Energy is also looking into larger battery options to provide greater security in energy provision. An additional 100 megawatt battery which would act as a buffer supply interruption as occurred in the recent February heatwave. Whereas, a 150 megawatt battery would stabilise grid power and voltage during sudden outage situations, such as the state-wide blackout in September.
Lyon Solar also have projects up their sleeve
Zen Energy isn’t the only company working on large scale battery storage projects. Lyon Solar is developing the Kingfisher Project – a combined solar and battery storage plant to be located in Roxby Downs. Being connected to the National Electricity Market, the aim is to deliver 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power. Initially plans were for a minimum of 20 megawatt hours of storage. But this has been upped to 100 MWh, providing energy security across the region. It is planned to begin operating commercially before the end of 2017.
Although receiving no funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), Lyon has unveiled a second solar plus storage project. This will be located in Lakeland, Queensland and involve a minimum of 20 MWh battery storage. David Green, Lyon co-founder, commented that they were using battery systems developed by AES, “the world’s most experienced storage providers”. The units are delivered to Australia disassembled, which will mean new jobs, knowledge and expertise will come to the region.
Price competitive with Tesla
It is clear that Australian companies are well on the way to battery storage solutions. Therefore, Chief executive of Australia’s Energy Storage Council, John Grimes seems a bit irked by Musk’s ability to grab the Prime Minister’s attention with one tweet. He told the Guardian, “I’m not saying Tesla should be excluded, but don’t fast-track a discussion with an overseas company when you have the capability right here, right now, in Australia”. Grimes advocates a transparent bid process, allowing Australian companies a fair chance in the “revolution of energy.”
Changing economics have enabled this turn to battery storage. Cheap battery and solar technology coupled with smart energy systems means the price of these projects is now much lower. As Grimes pointed out, “If you thought about doing this even three years ago the price would have been something like four times higher”. The government now needs to ensure market settings are right so these projects are commercially viable without needing government subsidies.
Even though it may have been Musk that caught Turnbull’s attention, it has raised awareness of the solutions available. Australia is now onto something big – and those are big batteries!
Australia’s farm exports have been increasing consistently for the past 6 years and agriculture contributed the most to the country’s economic growth during the last financial quarter. The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) said that a rise in the cash income of South Australia’s farms will be head and shoulders above the 10 year average for the region. But despite this, farmers are being faced with huge electricity bills which are becoming impossible to absorb.
The National Farmer’s Federation are calling for a transformation of the national electricity market. Currently farmers are facing tariff increases of up to 300%! This has been especially sobering for dairy farmers who are predicted to have a fall in cash income. This is due to falling prices for products such as milk.
Fiona Simson, president of the NFF, said, “We need affordable, secure and reliable and low emission electricity.” She spoke of how farmers are turning to off-grid solutions, dusting off diesel generators to avoid a “crippling overnight electricity bill”.
It is not just Australia’s farmers turning to off-grid energy.
US farmers are also beginning to show signs of a solar revolution, to avoid fees for electricity spiking. Even though the start-up costs for solar energy are still more than fossil fuel, with a combination of state incentives, a demand for energy and higher electricity prices in some states, the initial investment starts to pay off.
For the moment solar energy seems to be a supplement for activities such as water pumping and charging electric fences. Farmers in some states have been quicker on the uptake than others. For instance, a five year drought in California has meant farms having to use more electricity to pump ground water. When electricity intensive activities like this take place, it draws a high amount of energy from the local grid all in one go. This leads to a large “spiking” charge for the farmer.
Not only this, but some electricity companies like Pacific Gas and Electric charge more during day time summer hours. This is when there is more demand on the grid. Therefore, turning to solar during this time makes financial sense to avoid higher bills. Using batteries to store excess solar energy to avoid using grid electricity is also a good option for lowering bills. However, the main limitation for many farmers is the cost and storage size of the battery packs they would require. For a lot of farmers with solar power, its use stops when the sun goes down.
In some states like Washington, where electricity prices are low, solar panels are few and far between. However, as electricity prices continue to increase, this easily deploy-able green energy source is likely to become a popular solution.
The post Rising Electricity Prices cause Farmers to go Off-Grid appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.
DIY Emergency Lights From Solar Yard Lights Being able to see when the sun is down and the power is out is usually not a big deal. Emergency lighting in most buildings and the flashlight feature on millions of smart phones around the globe is enough for the general populace. The main problem with that …
While many solar users assume that their system will continue to power lights and electricity in the event of a hurricane, storm or blackout – or in any situation when the main grid is down – the reality is that it depends on the specific type of system owned.
In a recent blog post, Southern Current – one of the top solar installers in South Carolina – said the only way to be completely sure your solar installation will hold up in a blackout, hurricane or storm, is to be 100% off the grid – but due to the expense, this isn’t the most common option for Americans.
According to Southern Current, the most likely result, if and when the grid goes down, is that the solar array shuts down as well. This is due to the National Electric Code (NEC) that stipulates the system must shut down for safety reasons – specifically, to prevent workers from getting electrocuted.
“If the power source – your photovoltaic solar panels – continued to be energized when the sun was shining, it could generate and send solar electricity into the power grid and potentially electrocute persons working to restore power after a blackout,” Southern Current wrote. “So, per the NEC code, the inverter is designed to shut down during a blackout or loss of grid power. Without a functioning inverter, not a single electron will flow in to or out of the house.”
Southern Current estimates this is what happens with about 99% of the systems installed in America, which are grid-tied solar power installations. However, there are a few exceptions – systems that are designed for semi-off-grid and off-grid living.
New storage technologies
The first exception is a system that incorporates backup batteries with AC coupling systems. AC coupling allows the energy generated from solar to be stored in a battery and used independently of the grid. Enphase Energy – a well-known microinverter installation company – has developed an AC energy storage unit that can be retrofitted into existing solar installs.
AC coupling is a relatively new technology, but Southern Current predicts it will become more and more popular in the future as utilities change the way they charge their users for power, like with time of use (TOU) billing tiers being implemented in California and Hawaii. In this scenario, an AC coupled solar power system could be programmed to store solar energy when rates are low, using it to power the home when utility rates are at their highest later in the day (a term referred to as ‘peak shaving’ or ‘rate arbitration’).
The second and least common scenario is using off-grid solar power system. This setup would involve being 100% independent from the local power grid – generating 100% of electricity requirements from the solar system, and storing all of this electricity in a bank of batteries connected to the home’s electrical system. The benefit of being 100% off grid is that there is no need to adhere to NEC codes; as such, the system would not have to shut down during a disaster or blackout because it would never be sent back into the grid. However, this is the most expensive option.
“The bottom line is that a solar power system can be designed to provide you with electricity during a blackout, but it will cost extra, and at this time it’s not too popular,” Southern Current wrote. “Adding batteries to a standard solar installation can cost thousands of extra dollars. Although blackouts are a pain, they don’t happen too often and generally get resolved in under 24 hours.”
That being said, Southern Carolina runs a number of solar rebates and incentives to reduce the costs of installing and running solar systems, and the popularity of solar installation for home or business in the state is rising each year.
Legalization of marijuana in 28 states across the US has caused off-grid pot growers to jump for joy, but ongoing issues with depositing the large amounts of cash generated from the business, (and uncertainty on Trump’s stance) has put a damper on the industry.
Pot growing requires a lot of power and is therefore an expensive off-grid venture – cannabis is something that needs regularity, 12/12 light without interruption and regular temps – it is hard to create a stable indoor environment without large solar panels and batteries to guarantee access to power. While new technologies to assist in the process are being developed by NOW Corporation, these wind turbines, called exoPower, are still in the trial stages.
Although difficult, off-gridders like Hezekiah Allen, who grew up in rural Humboldt County and tended a small medical marijuana farm in Northern California, managed to run a profitable business for years, but was forced to bury his cash in the same way many cannabis corporations did in the past.
“I had three different safes buried on a 200-acre parcel,” Hezekiah said. “Fifteen steps from the oak tree, a lot like a pirate. I had a little map. Pretty inconvenient and not the best cash management system. Bankers on the north coast talk about mildewy money. They can tell it’s been buried.”
Times have changed. Hezekiah left his growing operation to serve full time as an advocate for marijuana farmers, and now works to get their profits out of the ground and into banks as the executive director of the California Growers Association.
“We don’t want to lie anymore, we don’t want to have to hide what we are doing,” Hezekiah said. “We want to be open and transparent about what we are and want to do. [Banking] is an area where there are some really bad behaviors being reinforced.”
Although California voters approved the legalization of recreational pot, these businesses are still faced with one major unresolved issue: banking. As marijuana is still illegal under federal law, it is also illegal for banks to work with any marijuana-related businesses. This is forcing the majority of the state’s legal cannabis community to continue to operate in the shadows, despite the state legalization.
While the Obama administration in 2014 issued stringent guidelines that allow banks to pot-related businesses if they are following state laws, most banks have not been willing to risk the lingering threat of criminal prosecution or spend the resources it takes to comply with the additional rules of business.
Rob Rowe, vice president and associate chief counsel of regulatory compliance for the American Bankers Association, said it all comes down to risk assessment – and with the added uncertainty around Trump’s stance on the matter, it doesn’t seem like the outlook will improve any time in the near future.
“Bankers have said that in the current environment, with the enforcement and examiners looking at everything bankers are doing, they aren’t really predisposed to take on anything risky,” Rob said. “And banking a marijuana business is risky.”
The medical marijuana industry has grappled with this for years in California and elsewhere. Now, entrepreneurs and conglomerates going after a slice of lucrative recreational pot sales will have to confront the banking challenge.
Costs of running business
No banking access means businesses must pay employees, bills and taxes in cash. Clients are unable to pay using credit or debit cards, and there is no way to process business loans or real estate mortgages. The company effectively has no paper trail – no official records to build credit or establish a financial identity. And these businesses – whether they be licensed recreational sellers, medical marijuana farms, or trade associations – are forced to stash a lot of cash, making them a target for violent crime.
Michael Julian, CEO and president of MPS Security, which caters to marijuana-related businesses, said business owners are forced to get creative with finding places to hide their money.
“They have tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars,” Michael said. “And it’s not as secure in a vault in their establishment, in a closet at home, in their mattress, in the trunk of their car, whatever.”
A recent survey by the California Growers association found 75 percent of its members don’t have a bank account, and the ones who do have had three or more accounts closed in the course of doing business. A 2015 survey by Marijuana Business Daily of more than 400 cannabis professionals nationwide also found 70 percent of businesses that deal directly in marijuana operate without traditional banking services. As for firms that support the business but don’t handle the plant, 49 percent don’t have bank accounts.
The long-running conflict between the banks and the industry has been ongoing since 1996, when California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. The conflict ballooned when recreational pot sales started in Colorado and Washington in 2012, but with more and more states entering the recreational market, including California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Maine, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia, the problem will be compounded. Adding in the states that allow medical marijuana brings the total to 28 states, plus D.C., with cannabis laws on the books.
According to experts, the only real solution is for Congress to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I narcotics, putting the drug on par with an FDA-regulated medicine rather than heroin or cocaine. Until that happens, state-legal marijuana-related businesses are treated under the letter of the law the same as cartels trafficking methamphetamine.
Banking on marijuana
In 2013, the Obama administration released a document called the ‘Cole Memo’, which stated it would generally not prosecute marijuana businesses that were following state law and didn’t engage in certain activities, such as selling to children, crossing state lines or funding criminal organizations. In a separate memo, months later, the administration modified the way banks conducted business with state-legal operations, making it easier under new guidelines from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the federal agency that monitors banks for fraudulent activity, such as money laundering. But banks were also reminded that marijuana remains illegal under federal law and is subject to prosecution.
Under the guidelines, banks serving marijuana-related businesses must file suspicious activity reports, or SARs, so the transactions are transparent and can be tracked by the government. Three kinds of reports dictate the level of suspicion against the businesses: ‘Marijuana limited’ SARs indicate the business is following state law and no red flags suggest it is breaking any other laws; ‘marijuana priority’ suggests the business may not be following other laws and may be involved in suspicious activity; and ‘marijuana termination’ alerts to a bank account that has been shut down for suspicious activity.
The SARs must be filed when an account is opened and then quarterly after that, listing every transaction that has been made. Banks are also told to investigate and track marijuana businesses they are serving, making sure they are not violating any guidelines.
The American Bankers Association stated on its website that the level of scrutiny was “far beyond” that expected of any normal banking relationship.
“Because of the standards in place, if we do this we have to have someone almost embedded in the customer 24/7, and we’re not 100 percent certain we saw everything we need to see,” Rob said. “We’ve got to have such close tabs and use so much resources to closely monitor everything with these businesses, it’s just not economical.”
However, according to data from FinCEN, some banks have taken on the risk of working with marijuana-related businesses; in the first six months that the new guidelines were in effect, banks across America filed 502 SARs marked as ‘marijuana limited,’ according to Dynamic Securities Analytics statistics. During the same period, FinCEN received 123 ‘marijuana priority’ SARs and 475 ‘marijuana termination’.
Rob said banks generally keep quiet about it due to the perceived consequences of doing business with the volatile industry.
“Bankers will say that we know someone who is (serving a marijuana business), but it is the exception to a general policy, a one-off thing,” Rob said. “I’ve heard from dispensaries that say we don’t want to call attention to it because we had trouble getting an account and don’t want to lose what we’ve got.”
Mike Cindrich, an attorney who represents marijuana-related businesses and is executive director of the local chapter of NORML, a marijuana advocacy group, said there are ways around the banking ban on marijuana-related businesses – but he wouldn’t recommend them. One such way would be to set up limited liability corporations that are management companies providing a list of services, from payroll to accounting to bookkeeping to property management. The money from the marijuana business flows to the company – usually with a nondescript name that doesn’t disclose its ties to marijuana – and is deposited in the company’s bank account. This is technically money laundering, and illegal, but some companies have found success with the tactics. Others have been busted by banks and their accounts closed.
“When you start doing something that looks like money laundering, funneling cash from a non-profit to something that looks like an LLC, now someone is looking at felony charges,” Mike said. While he “sternly advises against it,” Mike said he could see how marijuana operators feel like they are being backed into a corner by the government.
“They’re not leaving the cannabis community with many options here,” he said. “It’s a complete nightmare for these businesses. People who don’t want to be legitimate, it’s very easy for them to not report this cash. If we want legitimacy and for these businesses to come out into the light, then we should allow full banking because it allows this money to be accounted for, taxed, tracked, traced. If this is something the feds really want to keep an eye on they’d change the banking laws altogether and make this happen.”
The cannabis industry has been suspicious of President Trump’s election, waiting to see if the new administration will address the growing legal marijuana market and how it conflicts with banking laws.
Trump voiced support for legalization but brought up some concerns about the drug during his campaign. He did not make it a major issue, and the industry believes Trump will focus on his bigger priorities – terrorism, immigration, the border wall.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the former Republican senator from Alabama who once said “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” is a bigger worry. As head of the U.S. Department of Justice, Jeff has control over how the government enforces federal law and could reverse the Obama administration’s willingness to look the other way as long as dispensaries followed state law.
The Attorney General said he would review the Cole Memo and commit to “enforcing federal law with respect to marijuana, although the exact balance of enforcement priorities is an ever-changing determination based on the circumstances and the resources available at the time.”
The post Off grid pot growers have problems stashing the cash appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.
While the world gives up on Trump and climate change, Australian politicians are dropping the ball on meeting the country’s energy needs.
Australia’s broken budget notwithstanding, the challenge facing the nation is affordability and reliability of its energy supply. Those on the Left disregard expense and reliability to focus on purely environmental concerns, while the Rights sprout facts and figures, thinking they know more about global warming than the CSIRO, and take the current energy crisis as proof that renewable energy isn’t sustainable.
The energy problem is especially urgent in South Australia, where a state-wide energy shortage in late 2016 interrupted supply to more than 60,000 homes on one of the hottest days of the year. To compound the problem, many of the state’s power stations are coming off line in the coming months, and, making matters worse, nearby in Victoria the Hazelwood power station – which supplies up the 25 percent of the state’s power supply and almost 5 percent of Australia’s entire energy supply – will shut down by the end of March 2017.
With so many stakeholders in the debate — state and federal governments, privately-owned power generation companies and infrastructure companies, and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) itself — when things go wrong, key players are able to pick and choose the facts that suit them to argue none of it is their fault.
The latest report released by AEMO regarding South Australia’s energy supply disaster points the finger at more than one guilty party. On the surface level, a software bungle by the state’s privately-owned power distribution firm caused thousands of homes to be kicked off the grid unnecessarily. But AEMO itself underestimated the level of demand on a 40 degree-Celsius day, and by the time it tried to respond, by looking at bringing gas online, it was too late. The wind stopped blowing, meaning the southern state, with the nation’s highest reliance on wind farms, was producing almost zero energy. The issue might be in technology – having batteries big enough to harness the wind on a windy day and store enough of it to keep the state running – or it might lie elsewhere.
AEMO should rethink its contingency plan – have a proper look at the manner in which energy is shuffled around between the states. But the larger issue remains the politicians, and the manner in which the discussion about renewables continues to be carried out in the public domain. There is a long-overdue need for an honest and non-ideological discussion about the capacity of renewables to meet the community’s energy needs. Whether they can in a sunny country like Australia remains under debate, but with the world watching Trump, the Oz establishment doesn’t seem to be listening.
Often times solar power is viewed as a highly desired, yet unaffordable option to the farmer and homesteader. While a full solar system may not be in the budget for everyone, there are still numerous ways that solar can be an asset to your farm, without breaking a budget! Due to the huge interest in […]
The Wavebox Portable Microwave Oven The impact of the microwave oven on human grazing habits has been extreme. It can reheat frozen food or cook raw food in a fraction of the time required of a conventional oven and has brought the convenience of preparing food to new levels. Now a portable microwave oven offers …
Cooking can be challenging in itself. Following recipes, getting the right ingredients and hoping it comes out tasting delicious – unless you’re a top class chef, everyone has had a fair few burnt dinners in their time. When you’re off-grid however it’s not just worrying about what it tastes like, but how to cook the food in the first place!
Harvesting the power of the sun for cooking has been a practice conducted for many years.
Solar cookers have been on the market since the mid-80s and have become a popular option for safe and easy cooking with no fires or fuel involved. There are obvious benefits to solar cooking, after the initial investment it is a free renewable source of energy. Not only this, but it is seen as a healthier way of cooking without smoke from fires etc.
Solar cookers convert the sun’s rays to infra-red radiation producing heat. Therefore, it is not the sun’s heat itself or the ambient air temperature outside the cooker that causes the food to cook.
There are three main types of solar cooker which can vary in their design and build.
The solar box cooker is derived from a box with reflectors that funnel the sun’s rays into the chamber which contains the food to be cooked. These models can reach very high temperatures, on average between 200-350°F, which is ideal for most baking needs. With a good heat retention and little need for supervision it is perfectly safe to leave food for long periods without fear of burning. Being a box shape these cookers are less likely to tip over and when constructed will have high levels of insulation.
The solar panel cooker on the other hand doesn’t reach temperatures quite as high; between 200-250°F. Essentially the design is a pot or pan within a plastic enclosure, with a 3-5 side reflective panel surrounding it to channel the sun’s rays. This type of design is best for slower longer cooking periods, leaving food very succulent. With no adjustments needed to track the sun, little supervision is needed.
Finally, the solar parabolic cooker can maintain the highest temperatures of the three main types and so can be used for grilling or even frying food. It can cook food much quicker, however usually smaller amounts than what can be held in the box or panel solar cookers. Also more attention is needed when cooking using this model, as the angle and direction of the cooker will need to be changed more frequently to track the sun.
There are many plans and designs for you to try if you want to have a go at a DIY solar cooker. Many designs include using materials commonly found around the home or are easily obtainable. For example, cardboard boxes, aluminium foil, black paint, some form of adhesive and even umbrellas!
If you don’t want the hassle of DIY or want a larger cooker with a guarantee, then there are several options on the market.
The All American Sun Oven is a box cooker design which can cook, bake, dehydrate and boil. Reaching temperatures of up to 400°F with even heating across the entire cooking chamber, the Sun Oven can do almost anything except frying. The built in thermometer also allows you to monitor the temperature. Weighing in at 23lbs the Sun Oven folds up like a suitcase, with its reflectors easily collapsing, making it easily portable. An adjustable leg prevents toppling and a levelling tray inside the cooking chamber ensures there’s no spillage when adjusting the Sun Oven.
Manufactured in Illinois, cooking times are similar to a standard electric cooker or oven after preheating. Factors that will affect the cooking time include the quality of sunlight at the time of cooking; the type and amount of food being cooked and how often the oven is refocused or the door opened. A typical rule of thumb stated on the Sun Oven website is to add between 10 to 15 minutes on to the cooking time, every time the oven door is opened. The model has an estimated life span of 15 years and can last a lifetime if cared for and maintained properly. The Sun Oven is available on Amazon at $298.00.
If you want something a little closer to the $200 mark, then the GoSun Sport is worth checking out.
This slightly futuristic looking design features parabolic reflectors and a solar vacuum cooking tube, which absorbs light and acts as an insulator. The tube converts approximately 80% of all the sunlight captured by the reflectors into useable heat for cooking – pretty impressive. With the parabolic shape of the reflectors, the GoSun Sport rarely needs readjusting as it captures light from a variety of angles. Not only this, but this model can cook in the cold and snow due to the high levels of insulation. Although, you will have to add up to 15 minutes onto the cooking time to allow the oven to heat fully.
With the cooking tube shape, food cooks evenly and in as little as 20 minutes, with temperatures of up to 550°F being reached! Despite this, the GoSun Sport is cool to the touch, easy and low maintenance and weighing only 7.5lbs is perfect for an RV or boat.
GoSun Ambassador Patrick Sweeney lives off-grid in his tiny trailer called Patcave. He told GoSun, “I love to cook and I love to be self-reliant. I also can’t afford to eat at restaurants. Living on the road in the Patcave, the GoSun stove allows me to cook great food anywhere the sun shines.”
The GoSun Sport retails at $229.00 on Amazon.
A smaller version of the GoSun Sport, the GoSun Solar Dogger, retails at $59.00 on the GoSun website. It is lightweight at only 2.5lbs and is perfect for hotdogs. Reviews on the Solar Dogger have shown that this model can be used for a wide variety of foods from oatmeal to fish.
Make a Solar Oven Using a Pizza Box You will need: Large cardboard pizza box (most local pizzerias will give you one for free) Ruler Marker Aluminum foil X-ACTO knife or similar cutting tool that can cut through cardboard Electrical tape Black construction paper Non-toxic glue (i.e. Elmer’s Washable School Glue) Thin stick about 10” …
American families have been going off-grid for more than forty years, but for most it’s a gradual process, involving a lot of learning by trial and error. In a recent article published in Reason, J.D Tuccille wrote about how his experience going “semi-off-grid” in 2008 led him to reconsider his attachment to the mains, and begin a journey towards self-reliance that is still ongoing today.
Dipping into off-grid waters
In 2008 a power failure lasted a week at J.D’s former home in remote Arizona. While he had his own well, it was controlled by a pump that required electricity, and the surface of the water was too low to dip some out by hand. Then there was the issue of modern plumbing without electricity, and the requirements of coffee pots to consider. However, outages were common – so J.D had come prepared. He and his wife Wendy Wendy had stored water, cut firewood, and fueled up the camping stove and lanterns. They remained hydrated, warm and fed through that and every other experience with the electric grid’s unreliability.
“All in all, it was a bit Little House on the Prairie for our tastes, though with a better wine selection – but ultimately more of an inconvenience than a disaster,” he wrote. “But tolerance for inconvenience can decline with the years.”
When they moved to a new house in the foothills, Wendy had a strict requirement – a climate-controlled environment in the house at all times. This required some research into the best off-grid power systems to use for the climate, so J.D had to get serious.
“This being Arizona, where everything bakes for much of the year under the fireball in the sky, my first thought was solar,” J.D writes. “But I quickly discovered that all of those panels adorning people’s roofs were nothing more than expensive shingles during a power outage. Most solar installations are designed to feed the grid, not keep you independent of it. I priced adding batteries to the mix to gain some autonomy, but they more than doubled the cost. And batteries couldn’t handle the power demands of an air conditioner anyway. So we settled, if that’s the right word, for a 22 kW standby generator, which can handle the well pump and keep the air conditioning running.”
He said they were “especially pleased” with the decision when the European Union completed a coordinated cyber-attack simulation and found it leading to a “very dark scenario,” including crashed power grids.
J.D also beefed up the water storage capabilities at the house with rain barrels hooked to the gutters, which are conveniently located near the garden where he now grows tomatoes, olive and fig trees.
“Wendy and I have stumbled down our path incrementally over the years out of a combination of necessity and curiosity,” he writes. “We also keep tweaking our set-up. In addition to the generator, I’m putting together a smaller-scale solar power system. That fireball in the sky isn’t going anywhere, and I want to get some use from the thing. I’m picking up a few panels, a few batteries. I doubt I’ll manage to put together a system that can handle the well pump, let alone the air conditioner, but maybe we’ll be able to power a refrigerator. We can always stick our heads in there to cool off in a pinch.”
In a similar long-term learning curve, Eartheasy founder and blogger Greg Seaman has been documenting his many “hits and misses” with off-grid issues such as lighting, electricity and solar panels since 2000. A seasoned off-gridder – he first moved to a rural island in the Pacific Northwest when he was 30 – he has spent more than 30 years learning the art of living off the grid, and writes that it’s a constantly changing and upgrading process. With the added necessity of internet connectivity to maintain his Eartheasy website, and provide access for his family as they grew, he had to develop alternative ways of powering his home.
“Bringing some of the benefits of electrical power to our off-grid home has been a hit-or-miss affair,” he wrote in 2012. “Over the years, we’ve tried some very simple approaches to lighting and small battery recharging for our flashlights, such as hauling a 12 volt car battery to a small rural school about a half mile away every time it needed to be topped up. This was time consuming and inefficient. But we didn’t want to lose the feel of our simple home by bringing in a large generator and the jugs of gas needed to run it, and the prospect of setting up a wind turbine or solar array seemed expensive and a technological eyesore in a natural setting.”
Greg said that for many years the family got along without electricity, but when wireless broadband was introduced into the area, the family decided to build its own “reliable, affordable and do-it-yourself alternative energy system.”
“Today, with the help of a local expert on off-grid home solar power and alternative energy systems, we have the best of both worlds,” he wrote.
Greg, who today runs a successful family business devoted to creating sustainable products for low-impact living, acknowledges that off-grid living isn’t for everyone – the reality of living through the winter, the isolation, physical work, school or community character doesn’t always fit for some people – but if you’re willing to keep learning and trying things yourself, independent homesteading can be a dream come true.
One of the big topics that has been consistent in preparedness over the years that I have run Prepper Website, is food. People know how important it is to eat! A few days of going hungry and you start to really lose energy and even the ability to focus and think straight. Couple that with stress and expended energy to deal with your situation, eating isn’t a want, it is a need!
When it comes to preparedness cooking, you need options! There might be times when you don’t have time to build and maintain a fire. There might be time when you need to conserve your fuel. There might be time when an open flame gives away your activities and your position.
One option for preppers is a solar oven. Until recently, I had only read about them and seen videos. However, I now have some experience using the Solavore Sport Solar Oven.
The Solavore Sport Oven was shipped neatly packaged with clear instructions for setup. Make sure you do read the instructions carefully and just don’t go to town removing the film on the lid that kind of looks like an anti-scratch plastic for shipping! It’s there for a reason. I almost made the mistake of ripping it off! The solar oven comes with the solar box, clear lid, reflectors, two black pots, a temperature gauge and a WAPI.
My main concern and real trial was if the solar oven would cook the “usual” stockpile of food that preppers would store. For me, that would include rice and beans.
My first attempt failed! I waited for a sunny day, according to weather.com. I started early in the morning and set everything up. However, I lost the sun halfway through the day. So, this is something that needs to be kept in mind if you’re cooking during an emergency situation. You will need a backup plan to possibly finish cooking your food if you lose the sun behind clouds.
My second attempt worked! Again, I waited for a sunny day. I set the Solavore Sport out before I left for work. The cool thing is that I didn’t get back home till after 7 p.m. The sun was already setting and the box was cool (January in Houston, TX). The temperature gauge didn’t even register! I thought I had another fail on my hands. When I lifted the lid, I could smell the rice and beans. I brought the pots inside and took a bite! Everything was done to my satisfaction. I made a bowl of rice and beans, added a little Tony’s to it and popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds to warm it up.
Solar ovens don’t burn food. So, you can leave your food in your solar oven all day and not worry about it burning. There are so many things that you can cook with a solar oven. Solavore has recipes you can try – savory and sweet.
My advice is that you experiment and try cooking with your solar oven when you don’t need it, so you will know how it works when you do need it! The beauty of the Solavore is that it is so lightweight and sturdy. You can use this all year long, just as long as you have sun. And, you don’t have to wait for an emergency!
You can purchase the Solavore Sports Solar Oven on the Solavore site.
Check out my pics below as well as videos that I have linked to by my blogging friend, Anegela @ Food Storage and Survival. Especially pay attention to her video on the WAPI. I think this is a BIG selling point for solar ovens.
Do you have any experience with a solar oven? What is it? Would you consider purchasing one for your preps?
DIY Bottom Heat for Seed Starting Retail bottom heat is expensive – I saw one “kit” at a local garden center that was big enough for 2 flats and was $79 – wow! You can buy a lot of tomato plants for eighty bucks! A low cost alternative had to be possible for a dedicated …
Living off-grid but want to keep dumbing down?
Cello Electronics have introduced what they claim is the first LED solar powered TV. With a screen size of 22 inches, the TV is still reasonably compact and so would fit well in an RV, hut or tiny home.
A built-in rechargeable battery and patented “Smart Energy Management System” ensures up to 10 hours of running time from a single charge! A smart antenna receives signals through a DVBT2 tuner giving the viewer HD quality. But if you’re located somewhere really remote where there is little or no TV signal, the built-in satellite tuner can still pick up satellite channels. This allows for TV entertainment, wherever you may be.
This unit can also play a more central role in powering an off-grid home. A 2.0 USB port can not only charge phones, but can also act as a connection or power source for other compatible devices. Not only this by connecting a flash disk to act as storage, the personal video recorder feature can be used. That’s right; this set offers the ability to record a show or series to watch when it’s more convenient for you.
A complete out-of-the-box solution:
The Solar TV package costs $300 and includes the TV, solar panel and antenna. All that needs to be done is to set up the TV with the solar panel (in a suitable location of course) and you’re good to go. A review of an “out of the box” opening can be found here.
UK based Cello Electronics launched the Solar TV at the third Solar Africa Expo in Kenya, last year. A large proportion of the African population do not have access to reliable electricity from the grid. Therefore, a TV that works completely off-grid offers a solution. Knowing that the $300 price tag could be a big barrier for poorer regions in Africa, the company set up a pay-as-you-go scheme. PAYGOTV allows the consumer to pay only for the TV they are watching by purchasing a code entered via the remote control. This also opens up a new market for customers that don’t have their own TV but have access to one in the local community.
Brian Palmer, CEO of Cello, recalled how it all started, saying in a press release, “Could we make a TV that was capable of working off-grid?” Seems the answer is, yes they could!
Adventures in Off-Grid Living: What I’ve Learned Since Going Solar A lot of us talk about going solar nowadays. Whatever the motive, either eco-consciousness or to be more self-sufficient for a SHTF situation, going with renewable energy is a great idea. As with most big changes, there’s a lot that goes into the transition from …
The post Adventures in Off-Grid Living: What I’ve Learned Since Going Solar appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.
There are pieces of emergency gear that preppers and survivalists simply have to have. A multi-functional, multi-powered weather radio is one of them. One of these radios should be extremely high on your “to buy” list if you do not have one now. It needs to be kept easy to access and ready to go out the door, too. Undoubtedly there are numerous such weather radios on the market and I have had two or three over the years that all eventually died. I have an old model sold by L.L.Bean that still works but the station dial is so crude it is difficult to zero in on a station with clear reception. It also eats batteries like popcorn. Enter an intuitive, energy efficient rebuttal to older inefficient radios: the LaCrosse Model 810.
This LaCrosse model has it all. In fact its features are darn near too many to mention, but here is a rundown on the essentials. First of all, the radio is small and compact. Out of the package it appears to be well made in a black matte finish in ABS plastic. The grill or speaker front is silver matte chromed. Had it been bright chrome, it could have been used as a signal function. The ‘control’ panel is centered on the front with simple, intuitive buttons to manage all the radio’s functions.
The LaCrosse Model 810
To begin activation of the LaCrosse 810, pull the battery seal out of the back to activate the LIR123A recharge battery to initially power up the unit. Backup power sources also include a built-in solar panel on top that can recharge the radio in 10-12 hours of sunlight. Also available is a hand crank on the back to recharge the unit. About one minute of cranking gives 30 minutes of radio juice to hear anything that is being broadcasted.
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A red charging crank rate light will shine as you crank. It will turn green when fully charged. As you crank, you can get into a sort of rhythm, but one minute of cranking seems an eternity. It occurred to me during the process what a great job for the kids to do.
The radio itself can be set to AM-FM for standard stations for music, news, and local weather. One more button push switches the radio to the NOAA weather bands for fully detailed weather reports from an official government weather source. The LaCrosse 810 picks up seven weather band frequencies, so something should be available and live no matter where you are.
Besides the more or less regular features of a weather radio, the 810 unit also has a built-in LED flashlight with focused fresnal lens, a blue back light flashes red during weather alerts around the digital read out panel, a digital station tuner, volume buttons, and a digital clock reading AM-PM time readouts. There are two stainless steel bars on the ends of the front panel which go through the case to reinforce the internal framework of the radio to make it more durable. On the side is a telescoping antenna that can be pulled out and rotated to isolate the best radio reception. There is also a 3.5 mm earphone jack if you want to listen via headphones.
Read Also: Survival Radio: What Will Work
Also built into this unit is a mini-USB port that can be used to charge the radio via a computer or any other USB power source. Users can also utilize the hand crank feature to charge a phone or other external mobile device. The LaCrosse NOAA Weather Radio is very simple to self-use, but directions are printed on the bottom of the radio in case the paper instructions become lost. The included directions come printed in three languages, English, Spanish, and French. I guess the Russians will have to hack in.
As a final footnote, I plan to find some kind of soft-sided slip case or bag to store the LaCrosse radio to offer extra shock protection and safety from any outside elements. For now the radio sits on my work desk ready for the next weather event or to listen to talk radio or music. The LaCrosse 810 retails for just under $50 and is well worth the investment.
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The moment you go off-grid, you rely entirely on a system that generates electrical energy and utilizes the same to support all your electrical appliances, either at home or on a business premise. For your system to be exclusively off-grid, it must have absolutely no link to the utility grid.
Going off-grid is possible, practical and beneficial to you in many ways. You will not have to pay utility bills and in the long run, you will save money! Other motivations include: environmental concerns and endeavoring to only use renewable energy; energy independence, you won’t have to rely on the blackout-prone utility; social values, which mean taking responsibility for your energy consumption effects; costs, when the distance to the grid is too big, your decision to go off grid becomes a lot cheaper.
So, if you either live far from the grid or in places with no electric connection, you have no choice except to go off-grid. Ultimately, you must find out the cost of making the connection as well as what the cost will cover, before making an informed decision whether to go off-grid or not.
Considerations Before Going Off-Grid
1. What’s the cost?
Price plays a crucial role in your decision to go off-grid. Could you afford the cost of installing an off-grid system? If you’re planning to live in the location long enough, going off-grid is reasonable because you will adequately recover the costs you incur setting up your power system.
2. How much electric energy can you obtain from the available surface?
Do you intend to go off-grid and still maintain your current energy consumption rate? If your answer is yes, you’ll have to purchase sufficient energy harnessing and storage capacity. For homes occupying a quarter acre plot, the rooftop does not offer enough space to install sufficient PV panels. If you don’t have enough roof space either; buy high-efficiency PV panels, or you can reduce your power consumption, so that the power you can obtain from your roof space is adequate.
3. Will you have an increase in electric power needs in the future?
In any household; power consumption varies from time to time. Every time you add high-energy consuming appliances, the power consumption spikes. Put such factors into consideration while planning to go off-grid.
4. Battery security requirements.
Install, operate and maintain your batteries using expertly recommended procedures to eliminate risks. So, find out your battery safety requirements from the manufacturers. Also, avoid shortcuts while installing and maintaining your storage system, for your safety.
5. Care and maintenance
Consider the cost of maintaining your off-grid system. Solar panels can come with a 25-year maintenance warranty. You will need to replace batteries and inverters somewhere between five and ten years.
1. PV Panels
The larger the size of the PV panel you are using, the higher the amount of electricity it generates. Weather conditions of your locality also play a role. So, you need to factor in Photovoltaic Generation Factor (PGF), which considers both the panel size and prevailing climatic conditions (refer to the attached map for PGF of your particular state). Use your area’s PGF to size your PV panels as follows:
Calculate daily wattage-Hour (WH) needed from PV panels by multiplying the sum of daily devices (WH) by 1.3 to obtain the total WH you require daily. 1.3 takes care of the energy you will lose while converting energy from one form to another as well as any copper losses.
Divide the result by PGF to get WH ratings of the solar panels required to support all your devices.
Divide the result by rated Watt-Peak output your PV panels can generate. Raise any decimal number to the next higher full number (for instance 4.23 to 5). The figure you obtain gives the number of panels you should use.
For example, The sum of daily devices WH is 2000kWh, the PGF of your state is 4, the total WH you require daily will be 2000*1,3/4 = 650 Watt-Peak. If your PV watt-peak is 200, then you will need: 650/200 = 3.25 or 4 PV Panels.
Since power factor is practically less than 1 (varies from 0.85 to 0.99), take 1.18 VA to be equal to 1 W. If your total Watt-Hours is, for example, 1000, multiply the figure 1000 by 1.18 to obtain 1180 VA (or 1.18 kVA) as your inverter size. Make a habit of adding some extra to be on the safe side. As a result, acquire an inverter whose rating is slightly higher than the figure you obtained.
Size Your Battery As Follows
- Divide your Watt-Hour by 0.85 to take care of battery losses
- Divide the answer by 0.6 for the depth of charge
- Divide your answer by minimum battery voltage
- Multiply your answer by days of autonomy (the days you will use your system, yet PV panels aren’t generating energy) to obtain the AH (Ampere-Hour) of your deep-cycle battery.
Multiply the PV panels you require by WH (Watts-Hour) to get the total power your system will generate. Divide what you get by your battery bank’s voltage to get the current flow at any given time. Raise this current value by 25 percent to account for low temperatures before rounding it up to the next whole number. What you end up with is the controller size suitable for your system.
If you are planning to use an off-grid system, note that it’ll solely rely on the energy it generates. However, the fact that the sun rays vary from time to time, present you with a significant challenge. To design such a system in such a way that it overcomes the variations, you must spend a lot of money because you will have to use high electricity generating capacity coupled with a massive storage capacity. Your resulting system will, however, be efficient and more environmentally friendly.
To maintain your batteries, add water whenever the level of the electrolyte decreases below the electrodes, clean the terminals (using distilled water) and check connections as often as possible. Also, set up a proper charging routine for your batteries to last longer. Never leave your batteries in the uncharged state for an extended period.
If you live in an area that experiences unbalanced resources, you will require a fuel-powered quiet generator for home backup purposes. Nonetheless, you still need to invest in a modest home backup unit; to support crucial appliances during periods of emergencies.
Which is the best option: hiring a professional to design your off-grid system or installing it yourself? The former requires first establishing if the professional you are considering has ever installed an off-grid system. The latter requires attending classes so as to acquire the necessary skills and purchasing components from a reliable vendor (preferably local). Provided you are sure an off-grid system is best for you, do not take chances. Make sure your system is installed correctly and enjoy the independence of using renewable energy.
About the author: Victor Hill, an expert in generators who writes for and owns Trustworthy Power. He has a degree in Mechatronics, reviews the various types of generators, provides users with guidelines on how to choose, care for and use generators. He is a Quality Assurance Engineer at DENSO but spends his free time researching about generators and coming up with helpful information for users.
The sun is a huge energy source that can be taken advantage of using solar panels. But how to store the excess energy that solar panels capture has been a little tricky…until now. Tesla has come up with the solution – the Powerwall 2.
This wall or floor mounted battery pack stores excess energy captured by solar panels to be used anytime. This gives the consumer a reliable, available power source 24/7. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, cited climate change and the need to move to a sustainable energy source at the product launch, claiming the Powerwall 2 could power all the sockets, lights and fridge of a four bedroom house indefinitely with solar power. The 14kWh battery would also provide a back-up energy source if there were a power outage, allowing peace of mind.
Each pack has up to a 7kWh power output, with an average 5kWh continuous power output. A liquid thermal control (coolant) system helps to regulate the internal temperature of the battery, maximising its performance. Whilst the water resistant, dust proof casing allows for outdoor or indoor installation.
For those who do not have solar panels, the Powerwall 2 can be charged at night (when energy is in less demand and less expensive). Then it can be used as a power source during the day time. Tesla is also in the process of bringing out their range of solar tiles. These come in four styles, from Tuscan to slate glass. They are opaque from the street but transparent from above, allowing the suns rays to penetrate the tile and the solar panels within to capture energy.
The use of a Powerwall 2 pack with solar panels enables homes to become self-sufficient in providing their own energy. Musk has a clear vision of an affordable, integrated power generation and storage system which can be rolled out across whole neighbourhoods, allowing whole streets and communities to be off-grid.
One 755mm x 1150 mm x 115 mm 14kWh Powerwall 2 battery costs $5,500 (£5,400) with installation costs starting at $1,500 (£950). The first installations are due to begin in early 2017. Prices of the new Tesla solar tile range are yet to be released.
How To Build a Solar Heated Large Scale Dehydrator If you’re living off the grid or homesteading, you probably already know how challenging it can be to come up with food stores. Preserving food is always an option, but can be time consuming and labor intensive, especially if you’re off the grid. Luckily, Instructables has …
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The Welsh Government is embracing low-impact housing with the unveiling of its first village within a village – the Pentre Solar “eco hamlet” within the traditional, stone-walled village of Glanrhyd in Pembrokeshire. The six timber homes have solar panels capable of producing 6000 kilowatt hour per year, low energy use and a A++ energy rating.
Following the successful construction of a prototype house built by start-up Western Solar in 2013, the Welsh Government gave the company £141,000 to help create its nearby production base for the homes, which will house tenants from Pembrokeshire council’s social housing waiting list. With low energy use and access to a shared electric car, Western Solar said residents could avoid up to £2,000 a year on energy costs and consumption.
The eco hamlet was built with insulation material made from recycled paper and local Douglas and Fir wood sourced from the Gwaun Valley. Local people were hired and trained to build the homes, which cost about £100,000 each to build – comparable to a conventional build, according to Western Solar.
About 40% of the fabric of the houses is made in the factory, significantly reducing the build time; it takes only a week to make each house, and less than that to erect it. The company plans to build 1,000 homes over the next 10 years, with the help of partnerships including housing providers and investors.
Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said she was “delighted” to officially open the innovative housing development.
“[It is] not only providing much-needed housing for local people, it is also addressing many other issues such as energy efficiency, fuel poverty, skills development and the use of Welsh timber,” Lesley said.
Low-impact development is recognised by the Welsh Planning system as playing a key role in the transition towards a low-carbon society. Since the ‘One Development Policy’ legislation was introduced in Wales in 2010, it has been possible to build new homes in the open countryside as long as there is a clear commitment for to sustainable living, natural building techniques, and land-based livelihood.
A small community in South Yorkshire, UK has been targeted for a trial involving solar power and smart batteries. Forty homes in near Barnsley are having smart batteries installed at the end of January. Moixa, Northern Powergrid and Energise Barnsley are all collaborating on the £250 million ($308 million) project.
Moixa Batteries USB port
The Moixa batteries are smaller than a boiler (50cm x 30cm x 20cm), wall mounted with a 20 year lifespan. They even have a USB port so phones and other devices can be charged direct from the battery. Normally costing above £2,500 ($3,000), the residents received their batteries free of charge, with distributor Northern Electric footing the bill. 30 of the homes had solar panels, allowing them to be further independent of the grid. The batteries have good saving potential, giving the residents another reason to be positive about the trial.
The batteries allow residents to use the excess energy their solar panels generate during the day, at night time. They store the energy produced instead of transmitting it to the grid. This will relieve pressure put on the electricity network during times of high output but low demand. It is this reason that prevented the energy company Energise Barnsley placing more homes with solar onto the trial. Without expensive upgrades it is infrastructure which is limiting the number of homes that can have solar power. A project in Carmarthenshire, Wales, faced a similar problem, with only 37% of homes being able to connect with solar energy.
As outlined in Moixa’s press release, CEO Simon Daniel stated, “Batteries will allow the electricity system to support much higher levels of low carbon renewable power and increase UK energy independence.”
Linking the batteries in a virtual power plant system allows Moixa to make the wider grid more efficient, causing less need for back up from non-renewable sources. If rolled out across the country, millions could be saved by reducing the peak solar output onto the electricity network.
If the trial is successful, batteries could hold the key to UK energy independence.
DIY Large Mobile Solar Power System I have covered a simple portable solar generator many times over the years.. They work great but what if you needed a bigger solar generator and still wanted it mobile enough to take it with you where ever you go, either camping or bugging out? I found a great …
When the Grid Goes Down, You Better Be Ready! We all rely so much on the grid, from things as simple as charging our cell phones, to running our water heaters and cooking our food! Let’s think for a second, what have you got in place right this minute if the power went out you …
President Elect Trump is quoted in saying “I know a lot about solar, I love solar…”, it gives me hope that Trump will work with the powers that be to encourage more alternative energy resources. The next part of Trump’s statement was about solar being so expensive, that might give pause to the solar power companies, but I hear that a bit differently, I don’t hear Trump trying to stop alternative energy, I believe he is interested in bringing the costs down even further than they have come down in the last 5-10 years. I interpret his statements as wanting to do something about the costs, making it more affordable as opposed to shutting it down. As a business man, he would be interested in getting goods and services at the best possible price, being our president, I can see him doing that for the whole of the country.
I listened to a quick podcast on NPR on this subject
The original story can be found here
What do you think?
DIY Solar Heated Garden Bed I never knew that gardening could get so technical … I read today that it is possible to grow your food with the aid of wine bottles. You may be thinking, “huh” but once you read the science behind this it will blow you away, also its a great way …
DIY Portable Solar Power Unit For Camping Or Emergencies Having electricity is a huge convenience, even if you’re camping. Not only can it charge electronics you can use for critical equipment, it can make things more comfortable. Having a small power unit can help you run an emergency radio, run the lights around your camp, …
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Solar Powered Bike That Could Get You Out Of Dodge This solar powered bike could get your ass out of dodge and without the sound of a gas engine. This quiet beast could be your saving grace. I have been toying with the idea of a second vehicle for my prepping for years. I just …
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Jan. 5, 2017
January offers us a time for reflection and prediction. For centuries, people looked to the stars for signs of what is to come, and winter offers many opportunities for stargazing.
As we begin a new year, perhaps it is wise to consider not only the beauty of the sky but also the destructive power it holds.
Astronomers pay particularly close attention to solar flares, which are sudden, intense and rapid variations in the sun’s brightness. These fairly common occurrences happen when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere suddenly releases.
A solar flare contains high-energy photons and particles that are equivalent to millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding at once. While regular solar flares are not a danger to Earth, extreme events, or solar storms, could be catastrophic to our way of life.
In fact, according to a study published in the journal Space Weather in 2012, there is a 12 percent chance (or, one in eight chance) that Earth will experience a catastrophic solar event within the next decade. This “megaflare” could disrupt or destroy modern technology, causing trillions of dollars’ worth of damage from which it could take many years to recover.
Space physicist Pete Riley made the prediction in the study by examining historical data and then making comparisons between the sizes and occurrences of solar flares.
Scientists have discovered that the sun goes through 11-year cycles of activity. During the solar maximum phase, the sun is covered with sunspots, and huge magnetic whirlwinds frequently erupt from its surface. Although it is rare, sometimes these flares burst away from the sun, sending massive amounts of charged particles into space.
The last recorded megaflare occurred in September 1859. Known as the Carrington Event, this enormous solar flare is named for astronomer Richard Carrington, who recorded his observations of the huge solar storm.
Carrington observed an enormous flare erupt from the sun’s surface that sent a particle stream toward Earth at a rate that exceeded 4 million miles per hour. These highly charged particles created breathtaking lights, or auroras, that were visible as far south as the Caribbean.
The New York Times in 1859 reported that New Yorkers gathered to watch “the heavens … arrayed in a drapery more gorgeous than they have been for years.”
Although the lights were indeed beautiful, the Carrington Event caused all kinds of disruption to 19th century communication systems. Telegraph stations caught on fire, and communication outages occurred on a scale never seen before.
In 1989, a geomagnetic storm – not as powerful as the Carrington Event — caused Canada’s Hydro-Quebec power grid to fail, leaving millions of people without power for up to nine hours. A similar storm today would have much more technology to disrupt, and the results would be catastrophic.
A megastorm on the scale of the Carrington Event could damage or destroy electrical power grids, disrupt GPS satellites and put a stop to Internet and radio communication.
According to a 2008 report from the National Research Council (NRC), a Carrington-like event could cost up to $2 trillion of damage within a year, and full recovery could take up to a decade.
The NRC report stated that, in addition to communication disruption, the event would adversely affect all aspects of modern life, including transportation, financial systems, government services. In turn, the distribution of water, food and medications would be halted.
In the conclusion of his 2012 report, Riley maintained that it is his hope that his prediction would be useful in building an “infrastructure that can withstand such an event.”
“Since the event occurred only 150 years ago, it is a constant reminder that a similar event could reoccur any day,” Riley wrote.
As we begin a New Year, it would be well if we took his advice.
Do you believe America is prepared for a Carrington-type event? Share your thoughts in the section below:
LuminAID Solar Inflatable Light, Semi-Transparent I have to say this piece of kit is awesome! It requires no batteries and can light up an area better than a flashlight! I know you can make a similar one of these yourself with a headlamp and a milk jug full of water but if you were bugging …
The Perigee Power 401 Renewable Portable Solar Power Generator The 401 “Carry-On” is a portable power system that produces household electricity for products rated at 600 watts or less. A clean and quiet alternative to a generator, the 401 “Carry-On” integrates a 42Ah battery (additional battery supported via interconnect) with a 600-watt pure sine wave …
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12 Survival Hacks Using Just Leaves When in a survival situation pretty much anything and everything can be upcycled into something that can aide you in surviving. Over at willowhavenoutdoor.com Creek shows us 12 survival hacks that we can use just by using leaves. Obviously in winter this will be a little harder to achieve but …
GRID DOWN Part 2 Solar Power Bobby Akart “Prepping For Tomorrow” Audio in player below! What do you know about living with Solar Power? On this episode of Prepping For Tomorrow we have a technical expert on solar energy joining American Preppers Radio aka “Prepper Broadcasting”. If you have ever thought about solar power or even if … Continue reading GRID DOWN Part 2 Solar Power!
I was listening to The Survivalist Podcast a couple weeks ago while driving to work, and the featured guest was a well-spoken survivalist gentleman by the name of Tim Ralston (inventor of the “Timahawk” survival tool), and he was discussing bug-out gear. When the conversation turned to flashlights and illumination, Mr. Ralston verbally swooned over a flashlight product by a company called HybridLight. The product he’d mentioned was the Journey 250, and the description and testimonial was compelling enough for me to track down the company and see what they were all about. So I looked ‘em up and shot ‘em an email.
While performing the initial research on the Journey 250, I quickly found my way to HybridLight’s website and started scanning. The “About” link filled me in on the basics: HybridLight offers solar-powered illumination (yes, you read that right) products across a variety of platforms. That’s the basis of the product design – but there’s more to it than just a flashlight with a solar panel. HybridLight goes one step further: the majority of their products boast standard USB ports to act as charging stations for your cellphone, tablet, MP3 player, GPS, you name it. If your electronic gadget utilizes a USB cable to charge, chances are a HybridLight will play nice with it. The company found its roots in 2006 when Terry Peterson started toying with solar-powered technology. Solar panels were becoming smaller, more dependable, and able to be used in a multitude of applications. Terry has since developed hybrid solar power into an immensely useful tool – not just to capture and store solar energy, but tailor it to be used to charge cellphones or tablets. All this works – extremely well.
The HybridLight Journey 160 Rundown
After some jovial communications with the incredibly nice HybridLight team, they sent me a Journey 160 model flashlight to use, abuse, and evaluate. The Journey 160 flashlight is a tidy little number, 6 inches in length. 1.75” wide across the lens bezel, and 4.5 ounces. The handle profile features a solar panel, about 1” wide by 4” long, inset into the polymer casing. The only control on the Journey 160 is a single rubber push-button mounted just ahead of the solar panel. This button tells the enclosed 2,400 mAh lithium-ion to send power to the LED bulb in low or high intensities, and features a strobe function if held for a moment. The bezel and lens are fixed; no Maglite-type focusing beam here. Nice and simple; simple things don’t break as easily. The Journey 160 blasts out 160 lumens of useful light at its highest setting.
Read Also: Streamlight Stylus Pro Pen Flashlight Review
Under the waterproof O-ring sealed tail cap at the rear of the Journey 160, you’ll find two ports: one is a “power-in” Micro-USB port; the other is “power-out”, a standard USB dock. You can use a standard micro-USB cable to charge via a standard outlet-mounted wall charger (such as the one that comes with your smartphone – not included with the Journey 160.); all you need to do is plug the Journey 160 in just as if you were charging your phone – just plug the Micro USB end of the cord right into the port on the flashlight. A red LED, mounted just forward of the power switch, will illuminate to show that you are charging the sealed battery. Once the battery is full, the LED turns green.
To charge the Journey 160 via the integral solar panel, all you need to do is put the flashlight in direct sunlight with the panel towards the sun. Foolproof. The Journey will still charge if there is cloud cover, albeit at a much slower rate. Charging via USB from your home outlet is substantially faster than the solar method.
To use the HybridLight Journey 160 as a device charger, all you need to do is insert your standard USB cable into the larger port, and the other end to your device that needs a charge. The Journey 160 works with micro-USB, Older Apple cords as well as Apple Lightning chargers, mini-USB…you name it. It will charge Android as well as Apple devices with equal aplomb; but the included USB cable will not work on Apple products, so you’ll have to supply your own.
As reported by HybridLight, the Journey 160 is waterproof to 1 meter and floats, and can withstand drops from one meter. One full charge will supply 25 hours of continuous light at the low brightness setting, and 8 hours at the brightest 160 lumen setting. The battery will, according to the manufacturer, hold a charge for years if not used.
How The Journey 160 Holds Up Under Daily (Ab)use
Website-issued specifications are all well and good, but how does an item such as this flashlight – a life-saving tool for sure – stand up when used and abused on a semi-daily basis? Well, I’ve been beating my specific Journey up for a couple months now, in all sorts of weather and varying conditions, and I’m happy to report my findings.
My three-year-old son LOVES flashlights, so the very first thing I did after taking the Journey 160 out of the packaging was to turn it on and hand it over to him for his version of QC inspection. Over the course of the next twenty minutes, he subjected it to far more abuse than I usually punish my gear with over the course of a year. The flashlight got thrown across the room, ricocheted off a pellet stove, rolled over floors, bounced off end tables, dropped about a hundred times, rolled around on hardwood floors, crashed into by Hot Wheels cars, and, of course, found its way into the toilet after lil’ dude overheard me telling my wife the flashlight floats (it does). I took back ownership after the initial abuse testing, and there was nary a scratch or dent in the casing of the Journey 160, and the bezel lens was pristine. As a matter of fact, all photos shown in this review are of the flashlight AFTER it’s been used for quite some time, toddler torture included.
I also did some testing of my own. I performed some waist-high drops onto our kitchen tile floor, including one gentle toss of about eight feet. The HybridLight bounced a couple times, and that was about it. Pretty anticlimactic; the Journey 160 earns high marks for ruggedness in my book. Honestly; most light sources ride in glove compartments, kitchen drawers, pockets, or packs until they are needed, so they can lead a pretty pampered life under normal use. Provided the Journey 160 doesn’t take a tumble off a cliff or get run over by a tracked vehicle, I’m confident it can withstand all ordinary, and some extraordinary abuse most users will subject it to. It can’t be used as a hammer or anything like that, but it’s quite sturdy for a moulded plastic casing that weighs 4.5 ounces.
Oh yeah, the Journey 160 is a portable charging station as well as a splendid torch. The onboard 2,400mAh battery can be used to charge portable devices. If one leaves the flashlight plugged into a device via USB cable and leaves the light in the direct sun, the solar panel will continuously charge the flashlight’s battery, which will then charge the device’s battery.
However, solar power is not needed to charge devices – assuming a fully-charged battery, 80% of the 2,400 mAH battery is on tap to charge devices; the remaining 20% is always saved on reserve to allow the Journey 160 to soldier on for a time in its primary illuminating mission. Most modern large-screen smartphones have batteries in the 2,500-3,000 mAH range; an iPhone 6S has a 2,750 mAH battery, and an LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S7 both boast 3,000 mAH batteries, so the Journey 160 won’t provide a complete battery charge in one sitting for most cellphones – but it’ll get you about halfway there. My personal LG G4 smartphone went from 12% to 64% before the Journey cut the power, with a charging time of probably 20 minutes – faster than expected.
Charging via a wall-mounted charger takes an hour or so from a depleted battery to full. Charging the Journey to full charge via solar power alone takes a while – like 18-20 hours in direct sunlight. So, unless you’re in Alaska in July, you’re not going to get enough direct sunlight during the course of one day for a full battery charge. And if you’re counting on fully charging a smartphone and the flashlight in that period of time, you’ll probably be pretty disappointed. However, I was able to charge both of my Motorola MJ270R walkie-talkies in one day of bright sunshine – so results will vary based on equipment you use and ambient daylight levels.
Wrapping It Up
In the usefulness department, the Journey 160 is aces. Not too big and not too small, the flashlight fits in a hand beautifully, with the kinda-rubbery feeling polymer being contoured to provide adequate grip without being obtrusive (think an old 4 “D”-cell Maglight) I’ve been keeping the flashlight by my bedside for night duty, in my jacket pocket when I go outside or to work, and have just made a point to make sure that it is readily available for when I require illumination. While it’s a bit big for an EDC (every day carry) pocket flashlight, the Journey 160 is a wonderful size for general-purpose flashlight use, and it has supplanted my old similarly-sized rechargeable Streamlight Scion as my favorite go-to flashlight. The HybridLight Journey 160 is just a killer flashlight that throws a useful amount of illumination- and that’s even before you consider that you can charge devices from it.
Related: Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom
The price on one of these bad boys is lower than expected – just $34.95 via their website. And when I tell you you should run right out and get one, you should. Get two. Or Three. This is the best general-purpose flashlight I have in my house: it keeps a full charge, I never have to worry about the kids stealing the batteries to put in the TV remote control, and it can bounce around in the “miscellaneous stuff” drawer along with paperweights and your spare hammer and it’ll be ready when you need it. Same goes for the Journey 160 being a stellar Bug-Out-Bag light – it weighs almost nothing, is sturdy, and charges itself – emergency perfection. Really, the only improvement I could envision to this flashlight
More Journey 160s – one for my truck box and one for my tacklebox – are on my Christmas list; I’m hoping Santa is nice to me this year. But seriously: go get a Journey 160. Right now. I am without doubt that you’ll positively love it. Questions? Got something that does the same thing but better? Sound off in the comments below!
GRID DOWN! A history + preparedness solutions by Sol-Ark (Two Part Analysis) Bobby Akart “Prepping For Tomorrow” Audio in player below! On the next two week’s episodes of the Prepping for Tomorrow program, Author Bobby Akart discusses the number one concern of most preppers—a collapse of the power grid. Do you think this is only … Continue reading GRID DOWN!
20 Quick and Cheap Ways to Prep for an EMP If you haven’t experienced the effects of an EMP, it’s hard to believe that it could be a real threat to our way of life. Our planet has made extremely rapid progress in technology and thus, we have generations of people who have become truly … Continue reading 20 Quick and Cheap Ways to Prep for an EMP
How To Build a Solar-Powered Water Heater That Works All Year Round If the power goes out there is very little chance that you can produce enough hot water to fill your needs through wood fire alone. There are many methods of warming water with no power. The easiest and most simple is to just …
Easy DIY Solar Charger and PSU Now this is a little more advanced than taking an old garden solar light and quickly turning it into a phone charger. This is the king of solar garden hacks! Solar power is not as expensive as you may think. Small scale anyway. With other solar projects I have …
Solar Cooking in Winter So, you want to see if you can cook in a solar oven in the dead of winter, huh? Same here, so that’s why I went hunting for an in depth article on this subject. The Winter shouldn’t stop us from achieving our self-sufficient lifestyle dream. I purchased a solar …
The Three Ring Circus… Election! Bob Hawkins “The APN Report” Listen in player below! So the three ring Circus we call the Election has wound up & the fat lady has sung. Happy Now? Did the world end for you? Has a new day dawned? Or have we all just awoke, thinking Wow! What a Nightmare? All … Continue reading The Three Ring Circus… Election!
Before moving off-grid, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what “off-grid living” meant. Say goodbye to grandma’s antique 1000-watt waffle iron, put away the power tools and don’t even think about a dishwasher … right? Well, not really.
While “off-grid” can mean living without electricity and hauling water and all of your meals on a wood stove, it doesn’t necessarily have to.
To my surprise, with a small rooftop array on an off-grid cabin in rural Vermont, we’re able to enjoy more luxuries than the average suburban home has available. Even in a cold northern climate, there’s more than enough free solar energy at least 8 to 9 months of the year to power things you might not consider owning with the expense of grid-purchased electricity. Add in a wind turbine to collect energy from winter storms, and you may be set up for quite the life of luxury.
1. Whirlpool bath tub
For off-grid homes, a whirlpool bathtub can be a great way to relax after a long day working in the woods. While it may not be an option most of the winter except on the sunniest days, March through October is whirlpool bath season. Imagine relaxing comfortably, submerged up to your neck with jets flowing all around you after an eight-hour session hauling logs and splitting wood. Some of that wood, once dried, went into your wood-fired boiler to heat the water for your tub, and the surplus electricity generated throughout the day while you were outdoors is powering your evening tub.
Believe it or not, a dishwasher can be a great way to utilize solar electricity during peak hours. Unless you happen to live where a gravity well is an option, a water pump uses a significant amount of electricity.
If doing dishes by hand, the best time to run water is mid-day when production is at its peak. The question is: Do you want to spend the most beautiful part of the day trapped indoors with your hands in a sink, or do you want to be outside enjoying the fruits of your off-grid life? By wiping off your dishes and loading the dishwasher in the evening, all it takes is a second to turn on the dishwasher mid-day when you come in for a lunch-time break.
While a complete off-grid lifestyle is practical for a tradesman, what about those of us who were raised in a city and still need to make a living through a more “on-grid” line of work? While wired broadband is becoming more available in rural areas, the more remote areas still do not have those options. If you happen to be in an area covered by cell service, there are options for cellular-powered wireless adapters for computer use. In a slightly more remote area, there may be radio Internet options that still allow high-speed connection by routing the signal through a series or mountaintop towers, as is commonly available in rural parts of the northeast. For those in true wilderness, satellite Internet is remarkably dependable in all but the stormiest of weather.
4. Radiant floor heat
While an indoor wood stove is an exceptionally practical and dependable way to heat a home without electricity, it requires quality hardwood to burn to avoid chimney fires from softwood creosote buildup. For those living in conifer or hemlock forests, an outdoor boiler might be a better way to use your available resources. Fortunately, with the super-efficient models on the market today, they only require minor retrofits to run directly off battery power. A small inverter placed within your boiler shed to power the boiler fan, and the use of DC electric (directly battery powered) pumps to circulate your water or antifreeze, and you have a low-energy solution and warm radiant floors to boot. Still, make sure you have an electricity-free form of heat to get you through the worst storms, but most days your boiler will keep you toasty on just a small amount of softwood.
5. Dehumidifier or air conditioner
Really? A compressor on solar power? Yes! Peak summer heat and humidity often coincide with peak solar output. Around the summer solstice, our battery bank will be full by mid-day, meaning that a whole afternoon’s production will be wasted without an outlet.
Once you’ve done all your electricity-using chores, go ahead and switch on the dehumidifier or air conditioner with your free electricity. Obviously you need to monitor closely to make sure it doesn’t stay on past peak solar output, but that’s a small consideration for a free burst of comfort during the heat of the day.
6. Electric cooking appliances
While many homesteaders are building summer kitchens to keep the heat out of the house during hot months, solar-powered homesteaders have the option of setting up an electric-powered kitchen either indoors or outdoors for the summer months. Single burner induction ranges can bring a large canning pot to a boil in no time, and will barely dent our mid-day production at high summer. A small countertop electric oven, like an oversized toaster oven, is great for baking summer pies or a quick meal using free electricity. Just as wood stove cooking accomplishes two tasks, heat and food, a separate set of solar-powered summer appliances means lower bills and quick meals.
What luxuries would you add to our list? Share your off-grid advice in the section below:
Mention the words “Quebec Blackout” to an electrical engineer or a solar scientist, and you are likely to be in for a lively conversation. That is because the 1989 event, which lit up the sky across much of North America, was caused by a massive solar storm.
Although solar storms with that kind of power are rare, it as an example of the havoc our volatile sun can wreak on our grid-dependent world.
Let’s look at what we know about the unusual 1989 event. Different sources report different dates on when scientists first observed the mammoth sunspot and resulting enormous solar flare that started the event, but sometime during the first week of March that year, astronomers saw a powerful explosion on the sun.
The severe explosion triggered a cloud of gas that had the energy of thousands of nuclear bombs exploding at the same time, according to a NASA report. As a result of these explosions, an intense geomagnetic storm reached Earth a few days later.
The resulting magnetic disturbance caused short-wave radio interruptions, including interference in radio transmission from Radio Free Europe to Russia. Some listeners thought the Cold War was heating up.
Subatomic particles from the blast also created vibrant auroras, causing beautiful Northern Light displays that continued for nearly two days. Witnesses in Texas and Florida and as far south as Cuba experienced the incredible light shows – a rarity for southern skies.
TV and radio stations in New Orleans interrupted their broadcasts to tell their audiences about the brilliant colors over the city. In Amarillo, Texas, the fire department went to investigate a possible wildfire after residents reported a large red glowing area north of the city near a river.
The charged particles did more than cause light displays, however. They also induced electrical currents that travelled through the ground throughout much of North America. During the night of March 13, these currents surged into Quebec’s power grid, causing the entire region to lose power for up to 12 hours.
Six million people faced dark, cold homes and workplaces. Officials closed schools and businesses, including the Montreal Metro and Dorval Airport.
Although Quebec faced the brunt of the problems, the U.S. was not untouched by the event. The New York power grid lost 150 megawatts, New England lost 1,410 megawatts, and the service to 96 electrical utilities in New England was interrupted around the same time Quebec’s power grid failed.
In all, more than 200 power grid problems occurred across the U.S. within minutes of the same surge that hit Quebec. None of the U.S. issues caused a blackout, however.
At the same time, satellites tumbled out of control in space for a few hours, and sensors on the Space Shuttle Discovery also went haywire. The problems corrected themselves after the space storm passed.
Could this type of event happen again? Scientists say yes. Both the 1989 Quebec blackout and the Carrington Event of 1859 – which was stronger and took out telegraph machines — show us the need to develop strategies for coping with a massive solar storm.
Since 1995, scientists have monitored geomagnetic storms and solar flares by means of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite, a project jointly run by NASA and the European Space Agency.
Even with our modern observations methods, however, we still might only get a 12-hour preparedness window for a massive solar storm, according to the 2015 report, “Space Weather Preparedness Strategy,” prepared by the United Kingdom Cabinet Office.
The report said: “Solar activity can produce x-rays, high-energy particles and coronal mass ejections of plasma. Where such activity is directed towards Earth there is the potential to cause wide-ranging impacts. These include power loss, aviation disruption, communication loss, and disturbance to (or loss of) satellite systems.”
A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences stated that a widespread power outage from space weather is also possible, and that our current dependence on electrical power to run everything from our financial systems to our water supplies could indeed spark a dire emergency that would cost trillions of dollars and require years of recovery.
In July 2012, an 1859-type solar storm known as a coronal mass ejection nearly hit Earth.
“Analysts believe that a direct hit by an extreme CME such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket,” a NASA news report read. “Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.”
Additionally, “the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.”
Said Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado, “In my view the July 2012 storm was in all respects at least as strong as the 1859 Carrington event. The only difference is, it missed.”
Do you believe the U.S. is prepared for a widespread blackout from a major solar storm? Share your thoughts in the section below:
The solar roof tile seems set to transform technological necessity into desirable object. Elon Musk’s launch event last week was a revolutionary moment because it integrated urban house design with solar technology.
Bring it on, if you can, Mr Musk- but at the right price.
Consumer Reports says Elon Musk needs to price his tiles at no more than $73,500 for the average pitched roof. It calculated how much Tesla’s new solar tiles would have to cost to be competitive with a traditional roof.
Tesla (TSLA, US) has not yet provided specifics about how much the tiles will cost. Chief Executive Elon Musk has said the “beautiful” solar tiles would beat rivals in price, efficiency, and looks.
Instead of solar panels perched on roofs, that are visible from the outside and not exactly an architectural enhancement, homeowners would get a seamless product made with sleek glass that covers a house and powers it too. And the produce will be available in four styles.
Consumer Reports estimated that to cover the roughly 3,000 square feet of roof needed for the average U.S. home size, homeowners would have to shed $16,000 for clay tile, $20,000 for an asphalt roof, and $45,000 for a slate roof.
The magazine calculated $60,000 in added value from 30 years free of electric bills ($2,000 a year is a typical electric bill in states where solar is big, like California, Texas, and North Carolina) and did other calculations to arrive at $73,500 as the price point a Tesla textured or smooth glass solar roof could be considered cost-competitive with a $20,000 asphalt roof.
That competitive price point is lower for Tesla’s Tuscan-style solar tile and higher for its slate-looking solar tile.
Tesla shares were slightly higher Thursday, but are down 21% in the year so far, while the S&P (SPX, US) as gained 2.4%.
This, from news site TechCrunch: & It’s easy to dismiss the aesthetic import of how Tesla’s tiles look, but it’s actually important, and a real consideration for homeowners. The appearance of the tiles, which come in four distinct flavours, is going to be a core consideration for prospective buyers.& More about those & distinct flavours& there is Textured Glass, a metallic looking flat tile; Slate Glass, which is very hard to distinguish from traditional slate; Tuscan Glass, the old, curved Italian-style tile; and Smooth Glass.
In short, you will become a consumer living inside Musk’s vision of the future: an ecosystem that is modern, cool and green. And expensive.
10 Solar Heating Projects For Heating Your Home And Water Over Winter Being able to produce your own FREE heat in the winter can literally save you hundreds of dollars a month. If you are looking to be more self reliant then these 10 awesome projects are definitely for you. How many people can say …
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Introducing The Multi-Purpose, All-Terrain Electric Locomotive Finally an electric All-Terrain power horse to help you out all year long. No matter what the weather gives you, this could be one great investment for daily use or emergency’s and SHTF. The fantastic like a mix between a snowmobile, a dog sled and a miniature World War …
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The Multi-Purpose, All-Terrain Electric Locomotive Finally an electric All-Terrain power horse to help you out all year long. No matter what the weather gives you, this could be one great investment for daily use or emergency’s and SHTF. The fantastic like a mix between a snowmobile, a dog sled and a miniature World War I …
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6 Gadgets to Generate Electricity As we grow more and more reliant on our electronics for information and communication, electricity is necessary for emergencies. Electricity generating gadgets come in many forms and the way they generate electricity varies between them. Having multiple options to generate electricity and charge your electronics can help keep you prepared. Having …
How Solar Panels Can Be a Boon in an Emergency Situation
In an emergency situation such as a power outage, natural disaster or man-made disaster, being able to generate your own electricity can help to keep you and your family safe. One of the most cost-effective and easy to use ways to generate electricity is with solar power. Solar panels can be installed onto your rooftop, requiring as little as 12 square yards of roof surface.
Operating Heating and Cooling Systems
A wintertime blizzard, ice storm or nor’easter could result in widespread wintertime power outages. Having solar panels on your home could supply enough electricity to keep your heating system on. This would allow you to stay in your home and off the unsafe roads. A summertime severe weather event such as a derecho could also cause widespread power outages. Your solar panels could deliver enough power to keep your air conditioning working.
Maintaining Essential Appliances
If you have a medical condition such as sleep apnea or COPD that requires the use of breathing machines or other appliances, having a steady supply of electricity is crucial to your health. With solar panels in place, you would have enough energy to power these life-saving systems. The solar panels can also power a refrigerator to keep baby formula safe and can even run your hot water or oven for cooking.
Do-It-Yourself Solar Kits
Do-it-yourself solar panel kits allow you to save money on the cost of installing a solar system. A typical 4kW system can cost a homeowner about $18,000 in 2016, explains the Energy Informative. About 15 percent of that cost is the installation fees. By installing your own solar panel kit, you could save about $2,500. This level of savings shortens the payoff period of your solar system.
Solar panels can also help to keep your home safe in an emergency situation. The panels can be linked to an inverter that stores the energy you do not use. Some professionals, like Jeff Long, know that the stored energy can be used to power your home’s security system even if the electrical grid is down. You can also use the power to charge your cellphone in order to call for help or make contact with family. Solar panels are an environmentally friendly way to generate your own electricity. The systems pay off in 18 to 22 years, but their lifespan is about 25 years. By installing a solar panel system on your home, you can be safe in any type of an emergency situation.
Written by Rachelle Wilber
A new off-grid system is capable of generating 75 kilowatts and storing 250 kilowatts hours of energy. Now that’s impressive!
Last week, ATCO announced their groundbreaking solar project in Western Canada. The Grande Prairie POD Transmission at the Saddle Hills Telecommunications Site is needed to meet increased power demand in the area.
“Through this project, we have gained valuable insight into the application of off-grid solar solutions, directly transferable and scalable for our customers in other sectors,” said Paul Goguen, Senior Vice President & General Manager, ATCO Electric Transmission Division.
“This is just one example of how ATCO is finding opportunities to economically reduce our carbon footprint while exploring innovative clean energy solutions for our customers.”
This is great news, but why didn’t it happen any sooner if ATCO is seriously trying to cut down on their carbon footprint?
Propane thermal electric generators previously powered the site where the system is being built. As the generators neared the end of their life cycles and the need for power at the location grew, ATCO had a vision for a cleaner and less expensive way to keep the site up and running – solar energy.capstone project,
They didn’t make the transition alone though, to make sure that the switch was technically viable and cost-effective, they joined forces with the Alternative Energy Capstone Project and outlined the technical challenges of building and maintaining solar panels in a remote location (e.g. cooler climate, fewer hours of daylight etc.)
The project is one of many that ATCO is undertaking; a full list can be viewed here. The timeline for the scheme so far is as follows:
- November 2015: Notification to landholders, agencies, and other interested parties
- April 2016: Submit facilities application to the AUC
- July 2017: If AUC approves the facilities application – construction begins
WASHINGTON — President Obama signed an executive order related to space weather Thursday, and in the process acknowledged that solar storms could take out the power grid, water supplies and other critical infrastructure – not only in the United States but throughout the world.
“Extreme space weather events — those that could significantly degrade critical infrastructure — could disable large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation,” the order states. “Space weather has the potential to simultaneously affect and disrupt health and safety across entire continents.”
The executive order, titled “Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events,” laid out a plan to prepare the country for a major solar storm. Four years ago, Earth was nearly hit by a storm that could have taken out the power grid, NASA scientists have said. In 1859, a solar storm slammed into Earth and rendered telegraph machines – the most advanced technology of the day – unusable. Northern lights were seen in the Caribbean. It was dubbed the Carrington Event.
“Successfully preparing for space weather events is an all-of-nation endeavor that requires partnerships across governments, emergency managers, academia, the media, the insurance industry, non-profits, and the private sector,” the executive order read.
The order puts the authority of the president and the White House behind the 2015 National Space Weather Action Plan. It also directs the executive branch to come up with a national strategy for dealing with an electromagnetic storm that disrupts or disables the electrical grid.
Still, the plan has its critics. Peter Pry, who served on the Congressional EMP Commission and the EMP Task Force, was asked by Off The Grid News Thursday for his comments about the plan. He pointed OTGN to a column he and CIA director R. James Woolsey co-wrote last year criticizing the National Space Weather Action Plan.
“It is a plan to develop a plan to protect the nation from space weather. The ‘action’ in the ‘Action Plan’ is to do numerous studies before taking any real action that would protect the national power grid,” they wrote in December 2015. “Federal scientific and research bureaucracies, such as NASA and NOAA, make their living by doing studies.”
The power grid, they asserted, needs to be protected – something the plan does not do.
Among other things, Thursday’s executive order by Obama:
- Orders all federal agencies to implement the recommendations in the National Space Weather Action Plan.
- Directs federal agencies to work with state, local, tribal and foreign governments, private business and other entities to develop a coordinated response to space weather.
- Orders the National Science and Technology Council to establish a Space Weather Operations, Research and Mitigation Subcommittee to coordinate and oversee research into the phenomenon.
- Orders the Department of Defense to monitor space weather and consider it a threat to future military operations.
- Orders the Interior Department to step up research into space weather and technology designed to counter its threat.
- Orders the Commerce Department to issue regular space weather forecasts and warnings of events.
- Orders the Commerce Department to make real time data about space weather available to everybody.
- Orders the Energy Department to come up with plans to protect the electrical grid from space weather and restore it if disrupted by electromagnetic storms.
- Orders the Department of Homeland Security to issue regular alerts and warnings about space weather.
- Orders the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate responses to space weather and recovery from it.
- Orders NASA to create a national research program designed to improve space weather forecasting by studying the sun and the Solar System.
- Orders NASA to conduct space weather research missions.
- Orders NASA to develop better technology for space weather research.
“It is the policy of the United States to prepare for space weather events to minimize the extent of economic loss and human hardship,” the order said.
Whether the executive order actually does anything to protect the power grid remains to be seen.
What is your reaction? Share it in the section below:
How to Build a Decent Solar Power Station There are a lot of these types of solar projects out there on the internet. This DIY solar project is slightly different though, this is actually a decent one .. It’s all boxed in and no nasty cheap looking wires hanging out from every nook and cranny. …
100+ Free Solar Water Heating Projects and Plans Solar water heating systems are easy to build as a DIY project. They also have offer a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home. These solar water heating designs are fairly simple and low cost, and will save you money (a LOT in some cases). …
Meet Scott Hunt, also known as Engineer775 on his Youtube channel where he gives expert reviews for National Geographic’s reality TV show, Doomsday Preppers.
His religious stance has made him plan accordingly to doomsday, plans which include his and his families 55-acre farm near Pickens being totally sustainable if, oh let’s say out our nation’s electrical grid, shut down its water supply or render its computers useless.
But don’t think of him as gloomy, the creative genius is actually very energetic and he has made a “booming business” out of helping others get prepared for whatever may come.
On the farm, they grow their own food, generate their own electricity, maintain their own water supply and powers their machinery with fuel made from their own wood.
It has elevation change, which can be used to provide a gravity-powered water system. He pumps water from a well low in his topography to a high point on his property and sends it flowing downhill from there to his house with the twist of a faucet.
The tract has ample trees, which he looks on as “solar batteries.” He uses them to fire a 500,000 BTU boiler that provides hot water to his house, and a wood stove for heat and cooking, and for gasification, using a process developed by the Germans during World War II.
With the success of their own off-grid living arrangements, Scott is a consultant and installer of solar-powered water systems and other devices for others who like the idea of being unplugged.
“I feel like that’s what my calling is right now – to help many people as possible,” said Hunt, a former pastor, former Michelin engineer, and upstate New York native.
Tinkering is in Hunt’s genes. He comes from a family of tradesmen. His father was an auto body man. His grandfather was a carpenter and operated a lumber yard. He also went to university to study engineering which is where he found God.
“Some people just want to go off the grid. Some people want something sustainable. Some people are into preparedness big time,” he said. “I just provide solutions that make sense.”
His homestead was ideally suited to become his laboratory for developing self-sufficiency solutions.
If you’re interested in learning some of his tricks, most of his business comes from the Internet. He has a store on his website, www.practicalpreppers.com, from which he sells and drop ships items such as solar water pumps, and his book, “The Practical Preppers Complete Guide to Disaster Preparedness.”
14 Ingenious Simple DIY Solar Power Projects Solar power is getting big these days. Its also pretty expensive but if you follow these 14 simple DIY projects you could be off the grid quicker than you can say electricity. Spend a little on materials (no where near as much as the solar companies charge) and …
DIY Solar USB Charger – Upcycle An Old Altoids Tin DIY solar USB charger projects are just plain easy and awesome. Save money and make your own today! Well I have seen it all now. This is such a cool idea. Upcycle an Altoids tin or any other tin like item into a solar powered …
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DIY Solar Thermal Water Heater: Free Hot Water For Life This project is super simple and uses readily available materials, its the kind of things that could easily be scaled up to meet lots of hot water needs. If the power goes out this could produce hot water for showers and even heat a small room. This …
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Usually, Gov. Brown spends weekends at a rustic cabin west of Williams and resides the rest of the time in the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento, which is an energy sufficient property. He has described his cabin outside Williams in 2014 as “pretty primitive,” with no water or toilet. He said at the time that the first lady “would like more amenities.” Hence the fancy soaking tub and wood fireplace in the new home.
Aged 78, Brown is the state’s oldest and longest-serving chief executive and was first elected to a statewide office in 1970 and is set to govern until 2019. He is also a pro-environment fiscal conservative and is a longtime champion for environmental causes, so it’s surprising he’s realised that going off-grid is the way forward!
According to plans for the house, “landscaping shall be designed and installed so as to not use potable water.”
The fourth-term Democrat and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, sold their previous home in Oakland Hills this year, after giving up their Sacramento loft and moving into the renovated Governor’s Mansion. Brown will term out of office in 2019.
Hoover said he will start working on the solar panelled palace as soon as he gets a permit. “(Brown) wants it done now,” Hoover said. “They’re very anxious to move up here.”
We’re excited for you to move off-grid too, Jerry!
We always knew dirty panels don’t work as well as clean ones – now we can put a number on it.
Newly published research by Engineering researchers from Kathmandu found that a dusty panel gathers 29.8% less energy if they are not cleaned for 5 months in dry weather – we are surprised it is not more.
The findings in Elsevier-published Solar Power magazine studied “soiling and its effect on performance of solar modules in regions with a high deposition of dust and low frequency and less intensity of rain.” But some areas with abundant rainfall may also suffer from high dust deposits in the dry season. Kathmandu, with its peculiar environment conditions, suffers high air pollution and minimum rainfall during the dry winter. The study measured the effect of dust on PV modules taking into account meteorological variables for Kathmandu .
During the study period of 5 months, the efficiency of a dusty solar module left to untouched decreased by 29.76% compared to a similar module which was cleaned on daily basis.
Dust deposit density on the uncleaned PV module accounted to 9.6711 g/m2 over the study period. The research also showed that dust accumulation is concentrated on the lower half of the PV modules with a consequent risk of hot spots which could eventually lead to permanent module damage.
The research was carried out by Basant Raj Paudyaland Shree Raj Shakya of the Institute of Engineering at Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu
Now that my garden is finishing up for the year, I’m busy cooking wonderful fall recipes using my home grown squash. For something a little different, I decided to try spaghetti squash in my Solavore Sport Oven. This month during National Preparedness Month, Solavore is offering a discount of $40 when the Solavore Oven and reflectors are purchased together. To get this discount, be sure to use coupon code preparedmom! (More details at this bottom of this recipe review.)
I preheated the Solavore for a half hour while I was preparing the spaghetti squash. During just a half hour or so, the oven had already heated to 270 degrees on a day that was mostly sunny and a bit breezy.
Inside myhouse, I sliced my spaghetti squash in half and removed the seeds. (I save all the seeds for the chickens). I rubbed the squash with extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkled some oregano, garlic salt, onion powder, and my own homegrown, dried basil. I sprinkled both halves with a little salt and pepper and then put the in a baking dish, covered with 2 round black lids.
I had some errands to run and came home 3 hours later. The squash was cooked all the way through and the smell was intoxicating! I drained the extra juice that pooled in the middle of the squash halves. Then I filled the cavities with a store bought marinara sauce, topped each half with 4 ounces of grated mozerella cheese, and popped them back into the Solavore. An hour later the sauce was hot, the cheeese was melted, and it was ready to eat. The cheese melted so nicely, that it looks like it came out of a conventional oven. A nice feature of the Solavore is that food is always kept moist. Nothing gets dried out. This was a mouth-watering meal.
Baking acorn squash in the Solavore
My next garden harvest dish was acorn squash. I also had a new variety of acorn squash from my garden called “Heart of Gold“. I wanted to compare the two varieties, so I cooked both in the Solavore.
I split both the squashes, and removed the seeds. Then I rubbed butter inside and on the exposed areas of the flesh. I put about 1/3 cup of brown sugar in each half, and topped with a tablespoon of butter. I put the squash havles in the Solavore, and let them cook for a few hours.
I was concerned when the sky clouded up and the day became mostly cloudy, and I wondered if the squash would cook through completely. I figured that I would just let it cook all day and hope for the best. In the meantime, I picked 90 pounds of grapes at my Mom’s for winemaking.
Well, my squash did cook completely through, but in all my preparations, I forgot that squash makes a lot of water. They were overflowing with butter and brown sugar everywhere. I should have let them cook first, drain the excess juice, and then add the brown sugar and butter toward the end of the baking time. In spite of this, it was very good, and I shared it with my Mom and sister.
The acorn squash had a little more intense flavor, while the Heart of Gold was creamier and milder. I think next time I may add some raisins to the middle for a little more flavor. I was also glad these squash have great health benefits. They offer plenty of fiber, the soluble type, which is good for regulating blood sugar and cholesterol. There’s folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and Beta Carotene, too! I always say “Food is Medicine”.
Cornish game hens
My last dish was going to be wild game, but right now I’d be limited to squirrels, and I’m out of 410 shot. So, I improvised and decided to make Cornish game hens with wild long grain rice. I decided to pretend it was grouse or quail!
I basted the birds with melted butter, then added onion and garlic powder, and topped with paprika. I popped the hens and some rice into my baking dishes, the ones that came with my Solavore, then into the Solavore, put the whole thing in my car, and drove to our town’s annual Labor Day parade. I set up the Solavore next to my lawn chair along the parade route. I had quite a few people ask me what is that thing??
I did take time to explain, and people genuinely seemed interested. After 2 hours, the rice was done, but the Cornish hens were not. By this time, it was time to head home, so I packed it up and set up the Solavore on my deck. Then, the day became cloudy and was only partly sunny from that point on. So, once more, I just let it cook, nice and slow. The Solavore still managed to maintain a temperature of 230 degrees, which is hot enough to get the job done.
Later that afternoon, everything was done and I could smell baked chicken wafting from the unit. All the juices from the hens made a delicious gravy. The best part was that since it was 87 degrees out, I didn’t have to heat up my kitchen to have a great meal!
So, once again, I’m impressed with the Solavore Sport Oven, and how easy it is to take anywhere. I had no problem loading or unloading the unit from my Jeep. It’s never hot to the touch on the outside, so you won’t ever burn yourself. I think this unit would be invaluable if our power grid went down due our aging infrastructure, terrorism, or an EMP attack. This is one of the best proactive ways of helping your family should disaster strike.
More about the Solavore discount
- Two 10-inch pots that fit side by side in the oven. This allows you to cook 2 different dishes at the same time.
- A thermometer to track the temperature of the oven.
- A Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI). This ingenious tool lets you know when water has reached the temperature of pasteurization, making it safe to drink.
Be sure to use preparedmom to get this discount when you place your order here. This discount runs through the end of the month.
Now for the giveaway!
This giveaway begins on September 9, and ends at midnight on September 15. The winner will be selected at random and notified via email by September 24. The winner must respond to this email within 72 hours or the prize may be forfeited and a new winner selected. Good luck!
How To Make A Solar ICE Maker In the unlikely event of a power outage wouldn’t it be great to relax and stay cool, knowing you have other options? I found a great website that shows us a simple solar-powered ice maker setup that will let you keep food and drinks chilled with ice, even …
Let’s Cook with the Sun! Highlander “Survival and Tech Preps” This show I will be discussing solar ovens and the uses. How can you build one yourself? And a few pre-made ones you can buy. What are the advantages and drawbacks to such a device? The need for food is unquestionable. When we do not have … Continue reading Let’s Cook with the Sun!
Alternative Energy Battery Type 101 If you need the power you rely on to survive to always be there when you need it, it is critically important to have good energy storage capacity. This is especially true when you are off grid. Solar, wind and hydropower are all great alternative sources of energy, however …
In the past 10 years, many companies have tried to develop a new way of powering our lives. Most of them have placed their bets on solar energy. Sun provides so much energy in one minute that it can power the entire Earth for one year. Learning to harness that energy would bring so many changes, starting with the cost of electricity bills. But are solar generators the future, and can they replace fuel generators? Which one is better and provides more energy? Let us break it down and judge them based on their performances.
The concept of free energy is pretty simple. Sun is there for a reason, and we might as well utilize some of its energy. There are plenty of reasons one should install solar panels: they will generate so much energy in the upcoming years that you will never have to pay for electricity again. Yes, they can be a bit expensive to start with, but the prices of solar panels are dropping every year and very soon they will be available even for the “common people”.
Solar generators rock!
These little wonders are very simple to use. Just place them somewhere safe, and let their photo-voltaic (PV) panels do all the work. The PV panels will transform the sunlight into electricity and send it to be stored inside the batteries to be used later. Once the batteries are full, the inverter will take direct electricity (DC) and convert it into alternative electricity (AC). If you are up camping in the wild, you can use these and get all the electricity needed for powering your favorite gadgets, charging your phone and even some more complicated devices. On top of all that, they are Eco-friendly and will not release any chemicals or gases. Your home value will skyrocket and if you ever decide to sell it, buyers will offer more only for the solar panels and generators.
Their performance compared to fuel generators
Yes, fuel generators are known to produce electricity a bit faster, but they require much more to start with. They require fuel to power the generators without which they are useless. In case you go out of fuel, you will also be left without electricity. Another downside of fuel generators is that they create a lot of pollution by releasing chemicals in the air. They are portable just like solar generators, but their function depends on having enough fuel to power them.
Preppers choose solar power
Since the technology is developing so fast, preppers can now safely rely solely on solar power. Designs such as goal zero yeti 400 generators have proven to be more than enough to power an entire house in case something “unexpected” happens. There is a chance that one day, something bad may happen to the world. It could be a nuclear strike, a zombie apocalypse or a virus outbreak. If that occurs, electricity will be almost unaffordable and the only remaining source of energy will be the Sun. So we might as well prepare?
Time to go solar
If you haven’t done it by now, do it as fast as you can. It will most likely be the most reliable source of energy in the near future and it will save you a lot of money if you invest now. With solar panels and grids set, you can become completely energy independent. Yes, there will be days when the clouds will cover the sky and you will collect less energy, but the Sun as we know it won’t leave us any time soon.
Verdict: fuel generators are old fashioned. Yes, they also collect and produce energy but free will always be better than the one you have to pay for.
How To Make A Solar Water Distiller Learn how to make a solar water distiller and have clean drinking water in an emergency situation. Imagine you have a flood and your water treatment facility closes. Your stores will quickly run out of water or charge you extreme amounts of money. You will need an alternative …
Every year about this time, a group of us get togeather for a solar cook-off. We all bring our solar ovens to someplace like a local park, along with any other means of alternate cooking we feel like. Most of the day is then spent cooking and experimenting with various ideas. At the end of the day we have a big meal and get to evaluate how each oven performed.
Some of the inexpensive homemade solar ovens work quite well, especially the large parabolic one. You can use it like a range top and even fry on it. Here’s a sampling of some of the very creative ways you can use the sun to cook food.
The all American Sun Oven is quite popular and there are always several of them present. In the picture above you can see one cooking a roast.
The above refector solar oven is used all the time and the friend that owns it cooks most of his meals on it.
The blackened jar in the truck windshield with the reflector behind it works well.
Solar and alternate cooking is fun and it made for a very enjoyable day with friends.
But by the end of the day we always have learned something new. This type of cooking has a learning curve, practice now before you need to. You could also pick up a copy of Cooking With Sunshine as a complete guide.
The Solar Cookers International Network is a treasure trove of just about everything you need to know about using the sun to cook food.
Here are a few links to DIY solar ovens/cookers. If you try one of these, let me know how it worked out for you.
How to Make a Solar-Powered Battery Charger A recent group of storms blew through my area and left us, along with millions of other people and many of the businesses in my town, without power for several days. I was incredibly grateful for a handcrank/solar-powered radio that I’ve had for years. It keep me abreast of …
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22 Awesome Ways To Reuse An Altoids Tin There is also the satisfaction that comes from reusing an ordinary object for something else entirely. Grandpa’s old motto of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” still resonates. Great for a bug out bag and shtf situation. I made a small …
In our household, we have a Sun Oven and a Solavore, SilverFire and StoveTec rocket stoves, and a dual-fuel Coleman stove, which uses both unleaded gasoline and Coleman fuel. I have the supplies for putting together an improvised cement block rocket stove, and a backyard full of trees, pinecones, and leaves. We purposely chose a gas stove for our home in order to have the ability to cook in a power outage.
In the emergency cooking department, we have numerous bases covered. Looking at these different types of stoves, it’s not enough to just have alternative cooking methods. You also need to make sure each one uses different types of fuels.
When we lived in the desert, sunshine was not an issue and we could use a solar cooker pretty much every day. In the forest, it’s a different story. We still haven’t found the ideal location for solar cooking, and I may have to chop off extra limbs on numerous trees to allow enough sunlight into our backyard.
However, with this limitation, I’m not too worried. Those same trees are providing massive amounts of fuel for our rocket stoves, a campfire, or a fire pit. In my part of Texas, it would be a very long time before I had to worry about running out of this particular fuel type, and yet, it could happen. In a very long term power outage, the problem would be ending up with a lot of unseasoned, green wood.
In that case, I have propane tanks and stored gasoline. In a pinch, I could use the propane with a gas-powered grill and the gasoline with the Coleman stove. Of course, there are safety issues with gasoline storage as detailed here.
Here’s the bottom line — your multiple cooking methods must have multiple fuel sources, so if you run out of one, you’ll have others to rely on.
A solar oven is highly recommended, since the only fuel you need is the sun. In some parts of the country, you may only have a few days a month for solar, but on those days, use it! You’ll be able to preserve the other fuels you have for days when solar cooking isn’t an option.
One thought I had when we lived in the desert and didn’t even have a fireplace, was to buy a half cord of wood or so, just to have it as a fuel. In most desert communities, it’s rare to find a large expanse of trees suitable for firewood. Our backyard had exactly 5 trees, and although they were all nearly full-grown, we would have had to wait several months for the wood to become seasoned before we could use it. In a power grid loss, I wouldn’t be the only desert rat out there trying to scavenge firewood.
Multiple cooking methods + multiple fuel sources, and you’re golden, and if the fuel is either renewable (biomass) or solar, that’s the best combination.
The post The Importance of Multiple Fuels in Your SHTF Cooking Plans appeared first on Preparedness Advice.
Best Batteries for Emergency Preparedness Batteries are a big part of our lives. If SHTF batteries will be OK for a while but once they started to run out these little power houses of energy could be the down fall. Batteries are actually confusing little things, so many different sizes and types. I found …
How to get 2000 Degrees Solar Power – Great For When SHTF This can purify water, instantly start a fire, melt metal, cook food and even melt concrete…..This can melt a padlock if you needed to get in somewhere too … just saying. This is made from a simple lens called a Fresnel lens… These are commonly found in …
The post How to get 2000 Degrees Solar Power – Great For When SHTF appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.
Simple DIY Home Solar Power System If you are thinking about making the leap to solar, this is the time to do it. Financial incentives from the government will make the transition much easier and the cost of solar panels keeps coming down every day. Bottom line: solar is becoming more and more cost effective. …
This is a review prepared by one of my sons on the Solarvore Sport Solar Oven. This will be the last post that I put up for a few days , but you will hear from me in the future.
When my life depends on something it had better work, and had better work for a long time. So when I look for survival gear I look for quality, durability and effectiveness. Unfortunately most items sold as survival tools are built very cheaply and lack any quality or durability and are not something I would trust in a survival situation. With this in mind, the Solarvore Sport Solar Oven needs some improvement.
The Solavore body is made mostly of black plastic with an aluminum liner. It is very simple and appears relatively durable. The lid is a clear plastic with a thin plastic film taped to a cavity in the lid to create an air pocket for insulation. The film had a yellow piece of paper taped to it directing the user to not remove the film. It appears the film could be easily damaged or removed. In addition, the directions warn about over-heating the lid as it may warp or become clouded.
The Solavore came with 2 black metal pans that are functional and durable in appearance as well as an oven thermometer. It also came with an optional aluminum Reflector that can be used in less than ideal light in order to reach cooking temperatures. The reflectors appear to be much higher quality than the lid. Another nice item it came with is a WAPI to help pasteurize water for safe drinking. This is a small wax filled tube. The wax melts when the water has reached a temperature that renders it safe to drink. The WAPI is reusable. The Solavore included a small direction manual with excellent guidelines for its use as well as cooking tips.
I used the Solavore on a hot afternoon, about a 90° day. After 15 minutes in the sun the Solavore was 160°. After 40 minutes it was 190° and after 70 minutes it was 210° and held there. It cooked my meal very well. As I am a fan of low and slow cooking I was very pleased with the Solavore’s ability to hold low cooking temps for as long as light is available. I did not need to use the optional reflectors to do this. I would expect they would be of significant use during cooler months or when cloud cover is present. I am not going to discuss cooking times because that will be dependent on the food you are cooking as with any oven.
After the cook I noticed the thin plastic film taped to the lid had warped slightly as a reaction to the heat. I do not know how well the Solavore will cook if that film is removed. I am also concerned about the clear plastic lid and its potential for warping or clouding up. I doubt it would cook as well after clouding or warping due to heat.
In conclusion, the Solarvore Sport Solar Oven does an excellent job cooking and I believe has great potential to be an excellent survival tool. The body seems to be good quality and appears durable. The aluminum reflectors are a plus. They seem to be good quality and could potentially have several other uses. I would love to see Solavore make the lid out of more durable materials that will not warp or cloud. The thin taped on film needs to be rethought completely. Overall it is a nice product that could be excellent with some improvements to the lid.
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