Long term goals: I don’t write about petrol- fueled generators much as I don’t see them as a long term solution to self-reliance. Those generators can work as a short term solution for perhaps a week or two. That will buy you some time and there is nothing wrong with that unless you think there will always be fuel available to buy when you run out. I know standing in line with a bunch of cranky and perhaps desperate people for gas is not something I want to add to my life to-do list.
I’m not saying those generators are bad or evil. They are a normal backup for most folks that go solar. I myself have 2 gas generators on hand and while I don’t use them much they are a bit of a security blanket to know I could use them if I needed too. But those generators are not a part of my new energy plan! Based on where I live in Idaho my new energy plan will focus on wood for heat and cooking and Solar energy for most electrical items.
Wood and solar energy are much easier to come by in SW Idaho than any other fuel, based on logistics. I think wood will be the easiest fuel to replace/restock compared to something like propane or gas. Solar energy has a big start up cost and batteries will need to be replaced but I hope to get by long enough for the system to reset and start up again in five to ten years and hopefully I’ll survive that long. The immediate benefit is that I can control my energy use and not have the PTBs decide they don’t like me and shut off my power.
To install my wood stove I’m looking at a cost of about $1200.00. I will have professional install it to make sure it is safe and up to code. My first purchase will be the wood because in a long term disaster wood becomes instantly valuable and the longer wood dries usually the cleaner it burns. I will be getting mill ends to start and then add apple and cherry wood trimmings from the local orchards for hardwood. That should give me some flexibility in the type fires I can make between a fast hot fire or a slower burning fire. I will be getting all the stove pipe and wall protectors next for safe installation and the the wood stove unless I find a great buy this summer. I have a propane oven and heater as a backup for when I don’t want a wood smoke smell coming from my house though wood heat is used a lot here in Idaho.
My solar powered generator will cost about $1000.00 when it is complete but I can buy each item as I can afford it. I have all the parts for a small 60 watt system that is a start on a little bit of electrical power. One thing nice about the AGM batteries is they tend to have very high amp hours compared to other 12 volt batteries. The AGM I got is rated for 55 amp hours and has none of the out gassing that lead acid batteries have, so I can run the generator in the house safely. By building a solar generator I will have the flexibility of using it with my RV or with the house. I will use a small hand cart to move the generator around because those batteries are heavy. My plan is to start with a small 1 battery system on the cart powered by the 60 watts worth of solar panels and a 1100 watt inverter then I will build a second with 2 batteries, a 100 watt panel and a 2000 watt inverter. That should give me some flexibility as well as some redundancy in case something breaks.
I know the up front costs of getting the wood stove and solar power can be a little intimidating especially if you are on a limited income like me. But what I like about this plan is you can by a little at a time and pay cash and by starting with the wood you have a valuable trade item immediately even if you have a disaster or the SHTF before you finish getting the stove. It’s the same for the small solar generator each of those items are valuable even if you just use the solar panel and inverter with your car battery or on a RV out camping or tailgating. As for the wood stove the heat from it just feels warmer to me compared to electric heat. It’s probably because I love the sight and smell of a burning fire and goes back to the days when fire meant life and kept the “wolves” at bay.