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Surviving a Power Grid Collapse Part 2
If you did not catch Part 1 you can catch up here
Solar panels are costly on the front end and once installed they cannot be easily removed and transported if evacuation is necessary. However, solar panels are ideal as a supplemental energy source and they can be relied upon when your community’s power grid goes down as long as you have a stand-alone system that is not connected to the grid. You will need battery storage along with gas or diesel powered generators to make sure you have an uninterrupted supply of electricity. Solar panels can be damaged, by a natural disaster or by vandals so it is important that they not be your sole source of electricity.
Wind and water can be used to generate electricity by powering an electrical generator, which would generate Direct Current and would work similar to a stand-alone solar system. One problem is of course that excess electricity must be bled off into batteries capable of handling the load. Direct Current is flow directly from the source to the load, such as refrigerators, air conditioning units and so forth. Households usually use AC so the DC must be converted for most appliances. The current does not stop flowing when the turbine is operational so it is important you have the system properly configured to handle any excess electricity.
Certain natural and man made disasters can have an effect on solar panels. Volcanic eruptions can spew ash into the air essentially blocking sunlight and depending on the magnitude of the eruption; the sun can be blocked for weeks or months. Additionally, blockage of the sun may also cause a climate change bringing snow and ice to areas that would otherwise not expect this type of weather.
An atmospheric nuclear detonation can cause an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), which can affect all electrical/electronic components of your solar panels. It would be impractical to try to shield your panels from an EMP. Therefore, it is important you have backup systems in place such as fuel-powered generators. Fuels include diesel, gasoline and bottled propane. Natural gas generators are available but it is likely your source for the natural gas would be interrupted during a disaster. Solar flares can also affect your solar panels similar to how an EMP would.
Once Disaster Strikes
Keep in mind once disaster strikes you would have to prioritize your energy use. If you have solar panels, you could simply use them to heat your hot water or possibly run a refrigerator or heater. Once heated the hot water tank would hold the water temperature for several hours, and the same would apply to a refrigerator once chilled the food can last up to six hours. Your daily wattage would not be as high during a disaster because you would probably not be using computers or televisions and certain other appliances. If you have a dug or drilled well and have an electrical pump, you would need to ensure you could pump water.
Therefore, if considering solar panels to be used only during a disaster where the power grid is destroyed keep in mind you may not need as many panels because of reduced usage. Determine what appliances you would consider essential during a crisis and determine the wattage needed daily to operate those appliances. Use the figures to determine what size generators you may need as well. By using numerous sources, you can conserve what fossil fuels you do have. Bottled propane can be stored indefinitely. You can begin acquiring bottles of propane (100-pound cylinders) or have a large capacity tank installed on your property.
Fossil-fueled generators of course need a fuel supply and an extended crisis means you would deplete your fuels without a means of resupplying. Nature’s natural energy sources, such as sun, wind and water would have to be incorporated almost on a daily basis to ensure an adequate energy supply.
Coal and wood are alternative energy sources that can be used during a crisis. Wood is considered a renewable and sustainable energy source because of the fact that trees can replenish themselves. However, once a stand of trees is clear-cut for energy use it can be a generation or longer before the source is renewed. Coal is not renewable because supposedly, there is a finite amount and it will eventually be depleted, but during a national or worldwide disaster, coal usage would drop dramatically. Thus, the source would last longer. There is no reason to suspect the world will run out of coal anytime soon and if you have the means to store coal, it is recommended as an alternative energy source.
Come back next week as we conclude this three part piece on surviving a power grid collapse. For more information on alternative energy visit our sponsor at www.earth4energy.com
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