Power Generation & Supply
It’s only been since the first quarter of the 1900’s that a utility grid was utilized by mass population. Pre 1960’s, if you had a house hold air conditioner it was more than likely a window unit. Our refrigerator/freezers have added a level of food preservation and quality never before seen in the history of man. If these modern luxuries, that many people consider a necessity for daily operations, were temporarily unavailable, how long could you maintain a moderate quality of life you are accustomed to? This year’s weather alone has left hundreds of thousands of Americans without power for an extended period of time. True those were mostly storms along the east coast from Main to Georgia and a long way from Arizona. But around 2007 over 400,000 Mesa residences waited without power for over a week. The replacement transformer crossed the desert from California on a semi-truck moving less than 10 miles an hour. Mesans will assure you long term outages happen in Arizona as well. So, what do you do when the power goes out? Comedian Joe Rogan likes to “sit there and…..wait!” For those more proactive nature, read on. Solar Panels
– With the advancements in solar panels and Arizona’s abundant sunshine, solar panels are the obvious place to start looking if you are interested in alternate energy sources. However, just because you have solar panels doesn’t mean you will have power during utility outages. Many panels are installed with the only function of creating energy “credits” that offset the cost of your utility bill. They are not designed, wired or capable of operating electric use appliances in your home. If you are considering solar panels for more reasons than offsetting your electric bill, make sure you understand how your panels work and that they are installed to supply power during outages. For major appliances like air conditioning compressors, batteries will need to be installed to start these large appliances and the solar panels would then re-charge the batteries.
- Home/Stationary Panels – Not all solar companies are created equal. For Arizona homeowners, make sure you are using a Rosie Certified Contactor. Rosie Certified Solar Contractors.
- Camping/Portable Panels – Great for outdoor recreational use, and just as handy at home during an outage. These are also great if you need to evacuate. If all the hotels are full at your relocation point, at least you will be able to charge batteries and operate small appliances while working out arrangements for lodging/shelter.
– Like many solar application, wind generators generally just restore battery life. They are also high maintenance and conspicuous. However, for rural Arizona in the high country plains, these are a very viable option.
– There are many benefits to being in a dual energy home. Not relying on one form of power for all your utility consumption puts you well ahead of the majority. Propane isn’t just for heaters and outdoor grills anymore. There are a number of refrigerators, freezers and generators being made that operate on propane. If your gas is piped in or you are in an all-electric house, consider having a propone storage tank installed somewhere on the property. Be sure you have proper tools and adaptors to connect and operate your propane appliances. Portable tanks are also great to have on hand. Five gallon tanks are the most popular, but they are available in multiple sizes. Obviously the larger the tank, the harder they are to move/pack for evacuation.
– They come in all shapes & sizes for every use and budget out there. Most uses for a home generator during power outages will be in short sprints to re-charge the freezer, operate appliances for cooking, boiling water and operating tools if necessary. If you live in an area with unprepared neighbors, we would urge you to consider a “quiet” generator to avoid a lot of attention. For the ideal, long term set up, we also suggest a propane operated generator. They are naturally quieter than gas. Propane is not only safer for storage, but will last years in a tank as opposed to only months with gasoline or diesel.
Gasoline & Diesel Fuel
– Gasoline and diesel have a very short shelf life. Most experts will tell you no more than six months without additives. Even then, additives will only extend the life another six months. None the less, gasoline storage is great quality of life investment for emergency situations and has numerous applications. We recommend refilling your storage at least once per year by using your storage and refilling your container(s). In Arizona, the early fall after Labor Day, is a great time to re-fresh your storage as prices start to drop after the summers traditional higher gas prices.
- What’s in your vehicle(s) – Most vehicle gas tanks range from 16 to 25 gallons. Make sure you know the exact amount per vehicle in the house hold, which will be listed in the owner’s manual. It’s also a good habit to fill up at ½ a tank instead of waiting until it’s at or below ¼ tank. The last place you want to be in an emergency situation is in a gas line. Not only will you waste precious time, you will also pay a very premium price and in some cases it may be cash only during a crisis. NOTE: Don’t forget about gas that may be in ATV’s, boats, lawn mowers, etc. just so long as it is not mixed with 2-stoke oil, as 2-stoke oil can damage a regular gas engine.
- Having a syphon pump to extract the gasoline for use in a generator, barter with neighbors or to top off your evacuation vehicle, will save you from having to suck the gas through a garden hose. It is also a much faster and safer option. Pumps can be found for less than $20 at any auto parts store. NOTE: If you have an extra piece of hose and a rag, you can syphon gas by blowing air into the tank instead of the traditional sucking. Watch how on youtube.
- Jerry Cans – Very common and popular style of fuel storage for home and travel. You have probably seen 100’s of these strapped to off road jeeps and hummers. Each holds five gallons and store nicely side by side in the garage. www.jerrycan.com
- Travel Stand/Rack – When full, they are very top heavy and the narrow frame can cause them to easily tip over on even the most basic bend or turn in the road. Having a rack for your vehicle to hold it safely without spilling is advised.
- 55 Gallon Barrel – For bulk and barter 55 gallon barrels or drums certified for gasoline storage are a great, affordable option. www.sunwestcontainer.com
- Preservative additives – as mentioned above, gasoline is only good for a few months. Additives to extend the life are very affordable. www.priproducts.com
– Forget the tv remote controls. Make sure you have spare sets of batteries for flashlights, handheld AM/FM radio, GPS units, CB radios adaptors, etc. Having rechargeable batteries with a solar adaptor is ideal. Wood
– There is a lot to be said for the comfort of a wood burning fire. Not to mention food preparation and space heating.
Candles & Lanterns
– See details in our Backup and Emergency Lighting
page. Natural Desert Cooling
– Keeping cool in the desert heat without air conditioning is quite difficult, but man has weathered the desert heat for centuries.
- Avoid direct sun when it’s over 100 degrees.
- Try to restrict movement and activity to dawn and dusk hours.
- Settlers to the area hung damp sheets in open windows, doors and breeze ways to create a cooling effect as air passed through the sheets.
- Indian tribes built thick walls out of mud, primarily for the insulation against the heat. The more or thicker layers of protection the sun you can find away from the sun the better. Just keep in mind, many animals & insects will be doing the same thing; enter caves, dugouts and this shaded areas with caution.
– Local and online retailers for the items listed on this page.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit our Home Preparedness Resource Guide