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In the last Alternative Energy article, we discussed Direct Current (DC) power distribution using DC to DC converters and home-made distribution boxes. But, what if you wanted to use multiple distribution boxes, maybe in different rooms of your home? How would you get your supply power from point A to B, or A to C, or B to D, and so on? What type of main power supply system have you sketched out, and is it affordable? Join us as we discuss an inexpensive power distribution concept.
Watch the Video: Extension Cords and Pigtails
We often receive questions concerning power distribution for our Solar Ammo Can Project, specifically “what will the ammo can power” or “how would you go about charging a cell phone”. Realistically, the Solar Ammo Can Project was designed as an introduction to Solar Power; by understanding how the components work together it can be scaled for smaller or larger solar power applications. So remove the ammo can from the project, replace with larger batteries, higher wattage solar panels, a beefier charge controller, mount everything on your garage wall, and now you have a larger, more capable, solar power solution.
Download our Direct Current Power Distribution Guide
Video: Direct Current Distribution
A friend asked me to design a solar power system that could be used to power a side by side refrigerator/freezer and a separate free-standing freezer, both for two hours each day. The initial system needed to be less than $500, and needed to be scalable; meaning additional components could be added over time. My friend had his eye on the Harbor Freight 45 watt kit, just like many preppers, however the Harbor Freight kit will not produce enough power to support his needs. So before we get into the system components, let’s first look at the requirements.
After the success of our $150 Small Solar Power Solution, we wanted to take it to the next level. The small solar power solution was intended for emergencies; running small LED lights, power small 12 volt appliances, and for charging batteries and devices. Our main goals were to educate our users by identifying the required solar components, and demonstrate how assemble a budget, yet practical, solar power system. Going into the first project we understood the small solar power system’s limitations, and also understood our user base would like to see a larger system. Our next project, The Large Mobile Solar Power System, will demonstrate how to build a more capable system, which can meet moderate daily power requirements during extended power outages. While, our example system is not capable of running every power-hungry device in your home, it is great for running the “necessary” equipment during a grid down situation. Please download our handout: LMSPS (05-003-13)
Most of us understand the importance of alternative energy, and how it relates to preparedness. Even with this understanding, there are three reasons why alternative energy systems get pushed to the back burner; they are expensive, they are confusing, and people do not know how big of a system they need. Before you take a leap into purchasing an alternative energy system, take a breath, and first analyze your power requirements. I separate alternative energy systems into three different categories: small portable, large mobile, and residential. Each category comes with its own pros and cons, and should be matched with your survival plan and budget. Additionally, the things you would like to power, your devices and appliances, should be scaled to match your alternative energy system. Please join us as we cover our concepts of alternative energy systems, their realistic capabilities, and a few power consumption rates.
Our next project will focus on making power efficient LED lights, and we will do this on a budget of $15 per light. Our LED lights can be powered by a small 12 volt battery or incorporated into your large alternative energy battery bank. By following our guide, you can make 12 volt LED puck lights, pendants, or modify an existing lamp base for around $3 - $8, or you can build a complete light for $15.
Download the handout: LED Lighting Project
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of storm preparedness and safety, which further translates to survival. Let’s look at a realistic scenario. A thunderstorm has crippled your neighborhood’s power supply. Your multi-level home is dark, and you are sure a branch has crashed through your main-level windows. You need to walk downstairs and figure out how to stop the rainwater from ruining your expensive furniture. You remember that your two flashlights are in the drawer next to your refrigerator, and your oil lamps are proudly displayed on your fireplace mantel. Now you have to walk down the stairs without any light.