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My Own Little SHTF Drill This Morning

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by RVTECH, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    At 8:30 this morning the power went out and it would have been easy to run to town to get breakfast and overlook it but I though I would think long term and see what I could do. I cooked a nice breakfast on the woodstove and yesterdays pot of coffee heated up nicely on it. I was actually hoping the power would not be restored for a few hours to take advantage of it as a learning experience and I really oriented my thinking toward long - term. A couple things I realized or learned:

    A secondary heat source such AS a wood stove will nearly be a necessity. Not only did I cook on it but because I did not 'stoke' it last night I woke up to a cool house and without power I was unable to run the furnace. It was 59 in the house when I got up and it was a matter of minutes to get a fire going and have the house warming up. Having to concern oneself about staying warm will nearly negate all other survival aspects.

    A secondary cooking system is a necessity. A LP BBQ with a side range top will take care of a lot of cooking issues and I was going to use mine but did everything on the woodstove for the experience. A Coleman stove will nearly replace a range top also.

    I was able to get a quick shower on the latent pressure in my tank but after that little pressure remained. Throughout the morning not having convenient water was an issue and I began to think about the possibility of a switching system to 'shunt' my water pump to a secondary 110 vac wiring system to temporarily run the pump off a generator to pressure the system up. Those without a well will face the problem of a lack of access. Water will be a priority in SHTF not just for drinking but for almost every aspect of our lives..

    I found while I was doing other things I never really gave power a thought - other than the water issue. I don't think full time power will be a real need in a SHTF scenario but a generator for short term, specific uses (battery charging, cell phone charging etc.) would be handy - but solar could be used for some things but a small generator would have a multitude of uses.

    Night time will complicate things only because of the lack of light. I am giving a lot of thought to secondary lighting because it WILL be a necessity - as much as a secondary heating will be.

    If you have a lot of food in the freezer a couple days without power will require a lot of cooking to at least preserve it for a few more days so it does not go to waste. An advantage for US in the PNW is cold winters and that would be an advantage for food storage. If the nights are freezing we have a 'natural' refrigerator/freezer. Packaged food left out at night to freeze then in an ice chest during the day. Nearly as convenient as a refer/freezer.

    I realize none of this is new information but I was able to use it for my own experience and really give it some thought. My conclusion is water and heat will will be paramount needs. With these two in place one can effectively carry out other survival tasks. Without them you will use up your remaining physical energy and available time trying to find them.
     
    JackThompson, Sun195, Nwcid and 17 others like this.
  2. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner You'll Never Know Well-Known Member

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    Went through a drill of my own last year when a wind and rain storm took out power for several hours. ran my pellet stove off of two deep cycle RV batteries and a 2KW Inverter. Oil lamps for light, and butane single burner cooktops for heating canned food. I had brewed a few days before and had 10 gallons of filtered water in 5 gallon polycarbonate water bottles. My Aero-Press made a great cup of coffee, but discovered I didn't have the power to run my coffee grinder. Been on the look out for a manual grinder ever since!! :D
     
  3. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    Well wood is my heat here so is not an issue here. Water, it sucks not to have it easy but I always have a few gallons stored.

    If it is out for more then 30 min or so I get the generator out so I can get internet and TV back.

    We are doing a big remodel this spring. I plan on wiring in a transfer switch so I can quit running extension cords.
     
    Caveman Jim and (deleted member) like this.
  4. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I have a genset and a switch and hookup. I need to test it, but I am going to have an electrician come look at it first.

    The chest freezer is in the unheated shop and it takes very little power. I think I need to get a external thermometer that would show the temp inside freezer, but the thermometer inside shows it as hovering around zero degrees. I think with outside temps between freezing and 50 during the day in the winter, I would be okay for a while - I would just leave the food inside it and not open it unless I needed it.

    The shop is on a different circuit from the house, so I am thinking I will get a small Honda 2KW inverter genset. I could use that for the freezer, lights and other stuff in the shop, and for when I go camping. Also I could loan it to my neighbors and kids.

    I have a well, so it requires 240VAC. My next place I am going to setup a water column or elevated water tank so that I have backup water for a little while. If the well is not deep, then I would have a backup solar powered well pump to fill the water tank.

    I have a wood stove as backup too, but it is not convenient to cook on. My next place (when I retire) I am thinking of getting a soapstone Vermont stove that is better for cooking.

    Insulation is primary for keeping a house warm or cool. Less need for heating input then and it holds the heat too. Also, I tend to get by with lower temps in the house - I rarely have the heat stt for more than 65, and often have it down to nearer 60. If I was without power I could easily be ok at less than 60 but probably would not have to as the wood stove keeps the house warmer than that.
     
  5. mrblond

    mrblond Salem OR Well-Known Member

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    Rifle butt works well as a grinder I have found.
     
  6. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    My pump is an above ground style and can be wired either 110 or 220 which is why I thought of the secondary wiring to 110 so I could switch it over for short term use with a generator. I am however giving thought to the idea of the transfer switch and getting a larger generator so I could run almost everything - but I don't know if having the ability to run everything would really be necessary. Convenient yes but necessary? Regardless though heat and water were the first two things I thought about this morning. Without heat it would only have gotten colder in the house and while not bad today if it were a -25 morning (like it was one day in December) it could have been a major issue - and being cold (particularly indoors) is going to inhibit one's ability to do much of anything.
     
  7. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    RV you do need a larger one, but not large enough to run EVERYTHING all at once. You have to make some priorities. You only need one large enough to run your biggest draw, probably your well. So you shut off/unhook things like your fridge, freezer, ect then you run the well and when you are stocked up on water you go back to running other things that you need. Most houses can pretty easily be run this way on a 5kw unit.
     
    Caveman Jim and (deleted member) like this.
  8. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I have a 5KW (6.5KW temp for starting things) Honda genset.

    It isn't enough to run everything - especially the furnace which is electric.

    But it is enough to run the well pump, lights, fridge and I hope the hot water heater (I haven't tried this yet) and maybe the washer but probably not the dryer at the same time.

    Water and lights come first, fridge and then water heater would be next as I would need to take a shower daily to go to work, and to wash dishes.

    My genset is what I would need to keep my life normal for a temporary power outage of a few weeks.

    If TEOTWAWKI happened, then I would not be relying on a genset after initially making adjustments to my lifestyle - fuel not being something that I would have an infinite supply of.

    When I retire I will move farther away from the city (I am 30 miles out now) and I plan to have a southern exposure with a good layout for solar, with a battery bank as a backup so I would not need to run a genset very often if at all. Heat and cooling will be "geothermal" and I hope to have the house built with earth bermed walls for at least some of it, with super-insulation.
     
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  9. rocky3

    rocky3 oregon coast Active Member

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    Hi RV, have you made plans for how much wood you would need for all of winter and spring? Are you near a creek or river? Freddy sells plastic car-boys and filtered water. You should figure on 3 gallons per person per day. Creek water for the toilet. Save dish water for same. Being at the coast I know what living without electricity is. Keep looking for Kerosene on sale and buy at least 10 gallons for lamps.
    Going to bed early and arising early gives a whole new meaning to living without electricity. A Freezer in good repair will keep food good for 3-4 days and than use your generator to recharge the freezer. 24 hours for the refrigerator.
    Someone mentions a Vermont Soapstone heater, I prefer the Sheepherder wood stove, more surface to cook on and a hell of a heat source.
     
  10. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Hi rocky and thanks for the reply. I guess I don't really understand your question, unless I inferred I am new to the use of wood for heat, which I am not. I know exactly how much I need for winter through spring. Also yes I am minutes from the Deschutes river but I want to be able to use my own water system in a power out scenario but could get river water if I really had to.
     
  11. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    There are more than a few things you can do to make everything "work out" in a power-out scenario.

    As you pointed out, water is a big deal when you're on an electric water pump, it's quite difficult to get big motors to run off 12V sources, the currents and losses just become too high. In this case, you're pretty much stuck with a generator. Having an accumulator tank (whether this is up on a hill, or in a tower on top of the house/garage) of about 300 gallons or so up there can make life a lot easier, lets say you have a 300gal tank, and you refill it when it gets down to 100 gal (it takes a long time for 100gal of water to freeze, so maintaining a certain level will preserve your pipes and tank and prevent them from splitting). If your well pump is pushing 2-5gal/min this means you will need to run your genset for between 40 and 100 minutes off the generator every time you need water. In a SHTF scenario, 5-10 gal of water per person per day is pretty comfortable living, this is enough for drinking, cooking and a brief shower plus washing clothes and dishes. Naturally, you're going to need some kind of cut-over plumbing to get the water into your house.

    Also, if you're heating with wood, you can take a coil of copper tube and wrap it around your flue pipe that hooks up to your storage tank, and then using a little 12V solar fountain pump, it will slowly cycle water and keep the water in the tank from freezing, and possibly may keep it quite warm (warm enough to comfortably bathe with).

    As far as cooking goes, except for the situations where you need to do some baking, cooking on a woodstove is just fine, that's kinda SOP while I'm out at the cabin, I usually leave a teapot on the stove boiling water all day, and whenever I need a hot drink there it is. For cases where I need to bake I use a dutch oven, they take a bit of practice, but they work well once you get used to them (the trick is to put most of the coals on top, and just a few underneath). The only reason I could see to use a gas range or a BBQ is when it's hot outside and you don't want the heat of a cooking fire ruining your day.

    When it comes to lighting, the LED christmas lights, unfortunately these are usually wired up so they take 110V but usually only consume a few watts, I actually use them for mood lighting at home and in my shop. I saw harbor freight is selling an "solar LED wire rope" which is just a plastic tube full of LED's, no idea how well it works, but if it takes 12V in, it might be worth thinking out.
     
  12. slingshot1943

    slingshot1943 salem or Well-Known Member

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    The coleman for cook top use is good but be sure not to use it on top of the electric cook top unless you make sure the switches are in the off position. I saw a house that burned down when power came back on and heated up the burners under the coleman stove.
     
  13. erudne

    erudne The Pie Matrix PPL Say Sleeping W/Your Rifle Is A bad Thing? Bronze Supporter

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    I lived for a month w/no elec., in mid winter, w/no wood heat, no water at -24. I got a genny to run my microwave and had a 2 burner propane stove, used a space heater for heat. Dug a hole in the yard for a toilet (at -24 degrees!) hauled in water in buckets from 2 miles away, had no normal bedroom so slept on mattress on a cold floor. Flashlights are not enough, head lamps are your friend but a PITA when wearing 12 hours a day, battery lanterns are the safest, most convenient, open flames a big no-no, especially with kids and cats around :nono:
    That level of cold is exhausting to exist in, even sleeping becomes a challenge. I had 3 horses to care for and they required up to 20 gallons of water each, per day. At the same time I had a 16 foot hole in the wall to close-up; hard times
     
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  14. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Vancouver Well-Known Member

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    I lived an entire winter in a rural eastern Washington home back in the early 90's. We had a Wood stove, we had running water and vehicles and chainsaws, so it wasn't a total austere existence, electricity was on and off. We couldnt afford to fuel the oil furnace or the electricity most of the time.

    We had a rotation between 3 guys in our 20's, cutting splitting and piling wood, shoveling snow, hunting and cooking and that sort of thing. We ate up some of the most gamey venison I have ever smelled or tasted in my life, anything we used to cover the taste was not enough, it was the most horrid part of the whole experience. We traded split and delivered wood for food and cash. We used the layaway plan at the local thrift store in the Spokane valley for items that we spotted that we couldn't afford, a crate of Louis l'amour books being among them.

    The thing that jolted memories awake for me, was you mentioning waking up in a house that was cold. It happened to us now and then, sometimes a good nights sleep is more important than getting up and stoking the fire. It was hard then, I would do it again now, but only if we had to, I remember being exhausted after long days of cutting 8' logs and bringing them back to our house and cutting and splitting them. We dreamed of luxuries like log splitters, snow plows, generators and stove oil.
     
  15. Wenis

    Wenis Tri-Cities, WA Member

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    My wife and I bought our first house not even a year ago, and while there were compromises to live near town and stay in budget, I had non-negotiables coming from an area that lost power frequently:

    Wood burning fireplace
    Gutters for rain-catchment system
    Tile/wood floors on main level (ever seen how dirty carpet gets without a vacuum cleaner)
    Lots of windows in the main living areas for light during the day
    Large flat yard for garden/orchard/livestock
    South-facing for solar panels
    Good neighborhood (low crime) off the beaten path (cul-de-sac)
    Neighbors with a similar mindset (our neighbors have goats, chickens, gardens and fruit trees)
    Room for storage
    The downside is water. We're dependent on irrigation and communal well.
     
  16. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Uh, I guess I should have been more specific in saying I did NOT mean it should be PLACED on top of the electric cook top but meant it CAN be an alternative to the electric cook top but needs to be used in a safe location, such as outside. I am hoping anyone considering the use of camping/outdoor cooking appliances realizes they are INTENDED for outdoor use and NOT inside.
     
    Sgt Nambu and (deleted member) like this.
  17. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Sounds like one of them thar hippy communes! Bet you were looking good on the upper body strength! In my hippy/back to the land times I bucked potato sacks (100#). Ditto on the big guns! LOL!!!
     
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  18. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie Vancouver Well-Known Member

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    We were in great shape then, before then, I was a Wyoming farm boy, bucking bales, punching cows, digging ditches and hustling irrigation pipe were part of my youth. We used to have bonfires in the yard and watch constellations and meteor showers beyond the light pollution of the city.

    Bucking Potato 100# sacks is pretty thankless work. I remember getting on with a landscaping company in town when I was young, I loaded up wheelbarrows to the angle of repose full of 1" river rock and delivered it to houses all over a new development. They waited 3 days to tell me that no one had ever loaded the wheelbarrow even up to the rim let alone with rocks spilling off of it. They were all pretty amazed that I had kept at it, they were making bets as to when I was going to quit.
     
  19. JackD

    JackD Elmira, OR Active Member

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    I'm not a prepper. at least by the standards of most on this forum, but I do believe in bring prepared for at least 30-60 days of isolation. This, I believe, should take care of most of the "likely" scenarios.

    Recently, I purchased an old Onan RV genset (6.5KW), converted it to propane, wired it with 120/240V outlets, put it on wheels and basically made a self contained portable out of it. Then I decided to wire the house for a generator inlet using a panel interlock. I no sooner got the wiring job finished when the storm hit us. 12" of snow, freezing rain and falling trees and branches. We lost power, as did many in the PNW.

    I plugged in the genset, fired it up and while it was warming up, I went to the panel, turned off the main and all 240V breakers. I left the 120V on because I knew it (the generator) could easily handle those circuits. I moved the interlock to the generator position and turned on the generator breaker. Instant lights. Ammeters were showing 3-4 amps. Then turned on the well pump (1.5 HP deep well) and we instantly had water. About 18 amps showing now. Generator running easily. Life was normal. In the evening, wife wanted hot water for a bath. I turned off the well pump and turned on the HWT. 20 amps showing now. Still running easily. After water was heated, I turned off the HWT and turned the well back on.

    We were without the grid for 45 hours and the generator did it's job. It's large enough to handle any circuit, just not all at one time. Propane is easily handled and stored and lasts for years in the tank. The panel interlock gives me the entire panel to work with......I just have to play musical breakers. Two digital ammeters at the panel help to balance the load and to keep from overloading the generator.