We had a chance to test our preps and learned some lessons

Discussion in 'Survival & Sustenance Living Forum' started by CA357, Dec 24, 2012.

  1. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    Our power went out Thursday about 6PM. That took out the power and water. :eek:

    We moved in here the day before Thanksgiving. Because of all the delays in closing and having to stay in a motel for two months, instead of having some surplus cash, we were in the hole.

    The house had a wood stove, but it was non EPA compliant, so it had to be removed before we moved in. The plan was/is to buy a new one about mid January when we can budget for it. So, when the power went out, we lost our electric heat.

    When the power went out, we also lost our well pump. We have spring fed water to a holding tank. However a pump moves the water from the tank to the house.

    I went to town and bought a "Big Buddy" propane heater and a bunch of small propane tanks. We've gone through about twenty of them at $3.00 to $4.50 apiece. We turn it off when we go to bed.

    I had a bunch of them and kerosene stored as well, but the movers wouldn't transport them, so they're at my buddy's house in Sacramento in his garage. He was going to come up a week or two after we moved in, but the two month delay screwed that up. So instead of at least having fuel on hand I had to buy it. With the storm we had, it was scarce and took two trips to town to overpay for the stuff.

    BTW, the heater is completely inadequate for heating a large room and must be considered a space heater for a small space.

    Thankfully I had my propane Coleman stove, so at least we could heat water. Of course, we had to buy water as well. :rolleyes:

    I have two 55gal. water barrels and they're buried in the shop with a bunch of other stuff. So tomorrow I'll get them out and fill them for standby. I also had cases and cases of bottled water at the old place but was advised by the mover that it wasn't cost effective to pay to move them, so I gave it all away and hadn't replaced it yet .

    I'm not sure, but I think the pump is frozen since the light we kept on in the pump house has been off for over three days. I just don't feel like doing that in the dark and snow right now. I'll check it out in the morning and then fire up the propane heater to thaw things out.

    On a positive note, I had hot coffee whenever I wanted it and we were able to heat and cook meals.

    This has been very hard on Amanda. She's not used to roughing it in many ways. She's asleep right now under a pile of blankets and a down comforter.

    I just heard an explosion and I think a transformer blew. So the power may go out again.

    I need to get the wood stove in and set up and although I don't want the expense, it looks like I'll be shopping for a deal on a generator. I'll also be looking for an alternative to back up the well pump.

    We have a pretty large creek right outside the door and I want to see about building a water wheel to generate electricity. If I can do that, it would eliminate the need for a generator.

    I'm going to close this just in case the power goes again. I'll add more as I think of it, but that's pretty much it in a nutshell.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  2. winds-of-change

    winds-of-change The Balota's Staff Member

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    Wow, that's a lot going on. Wouldn't a generator also run the pump that brings the water into the house? At least you are discovering what you need to have on hand in case shtf.
     

  3. therewolf

    therewolf New Member

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    NEVER trust survival gear you haven't tested.

    Guess I'm preaching to the choir, on this one...
     
  4. fmj

    fmj Active Member

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    Yeah, i KNOW about htose buddy heaters...they FAIL! We had an ice storm here a few years back over x-mas...it was touch and go trying to keep enough heat in the house to keep the pipes from freezing.

    Bought a ventless 30k btu propane heater after that...keep 3 20lb propane cylinders on hand.
     
  5. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

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    I like the idea of generating electricity from the paddle wheel. That does not have to be only for SHTF.
    One thing that you may look into is candles. 1 candle can make the inside of a auto survivable.
    Generator is a must in areas that lose power. Consider having another breaker box just for generator. Then when on generator power, you can run the required electrical items in your house. An electrician can assist (but it is not cheap). I have a 5000W that uses 5 gallons of gas every 8.5 hours. A generator does not have to run all the time, only to keep food cool, run water pump, and make coffee.

    A grill setup with extra burner to the side. We've made pizzas on the grill. Remove all cardboard and plastic and put directly on the grill for about 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees F. You can boil water for coffee, too.

    Extra pvc, connectors, cleaner and glue should be kept on hand. Should a pipe freeze and break, you can do a quick repair.
     
  6. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Yep. Been there several times- winter ice storms, summer hurricanes/ thunderstorms. Our record "off the grid" so far is 5 days winter/ 8 days summer.

    Re: generating power from the stream- I have a smidge of engineering expertise in that area- not a lot. Power available depends on the head (distance water can fall) and flow (how MUCH water?) The traditional large overshot millwheel only generates about 10 hp (742 watts per horsepower) and has to be geared WAAY up to spin an alternator.

    Having SOME power available is very good (pump is case in point) for other things- like heat- look at what alternatives you can find. Ventless propane units are fairly cheap.
     
  7. Vincine

    Vincine New Member

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    You didn't say what kind of heating system you have. Some people up here put anti-freeze in their hot water system.
     
  8. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    The heat is provided by what I assume are coils in the ceiling. Apparently it was considered a pretty good way to go in the early seventies when this place was built. It's obviously not very efficient and creates hot spots. However, it does keep the place warm without any drafts or the use of a fan.

    I'm going out to the pump house shortly to use the propane heater to warm the pump works. Hopefully that will do the job.

    Discomfort aside, we got a crash course on this place and that will pay off in the long run.
     
  9. orangello

    orangello New Member

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    You are past due to catch a break CA357!

    I still don't understand the "noncompliant" wood stove thing; sounds like more government BS to me.

    I'm wondering if you could rig up a stationary bike to a hand pump for emergency water the next time this happens. Failing that, what about a power inverter to run the pump off your car or a spare deep-cycle battery?

    I like the hydropower idea, as much for inspiring others as for actual power generation.

    On the generator, my parents have a neighbor with a whole-house generator that runs off the natural gas line. That would be awesome, if you could swing it.
     
  10. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    There's no natural gas out this way as far as I know, just electric and propane tanks.

    The stove was "non compliant/uncertified", meaning the EPA was not happy with it and when a house sells up here, the stove must be destroyed and proof of the destruction supplied. The work around used to be to remove the stove from the house, set it in the garage or whatever and then reinstall it after the sale closed. The EPA bastards killed that by requiring the stoves destruction and proof of same.

    The creek is quite powerful although there's not much of a drop in height. It's fairly gradual and runs into the Rogue River. However, there are a number of bottlenecks where the current is almost torrential. There's one particular spot very close to the house that I think could work.
    Come Summer, I figure I can do some work on the area to increase the flow even more. The only small setups I've seen so far use an automotive generator to charge 12V batteries. I guess that could work in a pinch, but I'd like something more. Maybe like the Hoover Dam. ;)

    Anyway, I have a bit of time to research it and to hopefully come up with a practical plan.
     
  11. Mosin

    Mosin Well-Known Member

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    Lol! Same experience up here in Maine! I'm at a camp now and power went out. Wood stove is great for heat and cooking, but the water pump is frozen, so I'm out hacking through the ice on the lake to get flushing water. A pot of water on the stove serves for hand washing water. No shower for 4 days thus far.
     
  12. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    I know the feeling Mosin. My wife is still sleeping, so I washed a ton of dirty dishes and cleaned up the kitchen. I've been putting lanterns away and generally picking up the house. I'm about to take a shower, I'm getting somewhat ripe. :eek:

    My buddy in Sacramento is coming up after the new year and he's going to bring my propane and stuff. He just happens to know another former Marine who's a retired engineer and the guy has a generator shop. So my buddy's going to pick his brains about a water wheel for me.
     
  13. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

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  14. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the tip and the link Dan. Spreading out the batteries is something I wouldn't have thought of.

    My electrical knowledge is pretty much zero. What can you run with 45 watts?
     
  15. la71105

    la71105 New Member

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    You can get a generator to run most of the house for around $800. I had one 7500 and 1250 peak at Home Depot for $700. My suggestion get an LP tank and order the generator dual fuel. May cost a little more but well worth it, lived in the country for awhile, had the generator that ran everything in the house except the heat pump, converted it to LP with a 250 gallon tank and an insert converting the fire place to a wood burning stove with blower, my house was all electric including the well pump and had no problems
     
  16. danf_fl

    danf_fl Retired Supporter

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    A 25w light bulb in the pump house.
     
  17. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    WOW!!! That much huh? :p

    It's pretty obvious to me that I have a bunch of homework to do.
     
  18. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    For a little power the water wheel will turn an alternator out of a car. You will have to work out the pulley ratios on site. Use it to charge 2 6v golf cart batteries in series and get a power inverter for 120v. Remember you draw 10 X the amps on 12V over 120V. Wire from the batteries to the inverter have to be sized correctly for the load. It will be enough to give you some light and maybe run the fridge. You will have to figure out what you want to run for the inverter size. You might want a small portable pump for water. That is what I use to fill the RV when I have to fetch water. I use the RV as a life boat in an emergency.
    When I lived in WA, I had a free standing wood stove for heat. Used it a few times to cook when the power went out. We were on a well so I kept water bottles filled. Walmart has some 7 gallon blue jugs that are reasonable. I keep them in the trailer.
    Don; PM me your new phone number.
     
  19. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    The Harbor Freight 45 watt unit will actually give you about 30 watts stored power. Say you have 8 hrs sunlight- you have 240 watts to use for one hr. or ABOUT 400 for 30 minutes.

    You can run LED or compact flourescents on low wattage. Anything with a heating element eats power like mad. Motors are in the middle of power demand.

    Going "off the grid", fist thing is to figure out what REALLY needs electricity, and what CAN be run by another source. Really hard to find a coal fired computer, or a propane TV. But I can cook on a propane or white gas camping stove just fine. We have oil lamps- but also have a Coleman table lamp (twin mantle, white gas, about 200 watts of white light)

    coleman lamp.jpg

    I do have a small scale solar electrical system- and a 2500 watt inverter. Can keep the deep freezer going, but to run a deep well pump, fridge, lights, etc etc, going to have to fire up generator.

    Old book, good start, but you will want more reading beyond this- Mother Earth News Handbook of Homemade Power. $3.97 on Amazon. $2.00 on Alibris.com
     
  20. Mongo

    Mongo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I use one of those propane heaters in my garage. There is a hose available (got mine at walmart) that will hook a 5 gal or larger propane tank to your heater. It cuts the cost way down. In Oregon, Walmart will accept any old 5 gal propane tank for return/exchange and give you the new tank for the cost of the propane refill.
    As far as the non compliant wood stove, you could hook it back up now that you are in the house but if a fire starts, your insurance company is not liable. When I lived in my cabin near Fiddletown, I ran a non compliant wood stove for 2 winters. Unless someone was home,we always put the stove out when leaving. I brought it into compliance to get the final approved.