Layers…Part #7 – Power

emergency Preparedness Layers - powerIn the previous articles in this series I introduced the concept of “layers” in relation to emergency preparedness. I explained how you can address risks/threats associated with emergencies, disasters, and grid-down by layering your preps to mitigate each specific threat/risk. If you didn’t read the earlier articles I would suggest that you do. It will make this post much easier to fully understand.


I am not talking “power” as it relates to physical prowess or how the government and her bureaucrats try to control your life. I am talking power in terms of electricity.

What are we trying to accomplish when we talk about power in relation to being prepared for emergencies, disasters, and grid-down? Simple, we want to be as least dependent on power as possible, especially external power. We also want to be independent of conventional power sources (i.e. utility companies) as well. That being said, let’s apply the “layers” theory to this area of prepping.emergency Preparedness Layers - power

Remember, you and your family are in the center of concentric circles representing layers of power. Let’s start from the inside circle and work outwards.

When it comes to the most personal aspect of power/energy needs, I say, “reduce power and energy requirement as much as humanly possible during emergencies, disaster, and especially grid-down.” And once that is accomplished, become as independent of conventional power sources as humanly possible.

Why? Dependency on energy and power from conventional sources during emergencies, disaster, and especially grid-down events makes you extremely vulnerable. And vulnerabilities increase the risks associated with the threats of those events.

Example #1: You have most of your food storage in the freezer. Should it thaw when the power goes out, you lose freezer running off a honda generatoryour food storage. To defend against losing that “freezer power” you have a back-up generator. But to keep that generator running you need fuel. To maintain a supply of fuel you put a 50-gal drum of gasoline in the shed. Now you feel safe and secure with your food storage frozen and ready for your family to eat.

Ahhhhhhh, one minor problem…how long does your generator run on 50-gallons of gasoline? I have a Honda EU2000i and it is extremely fuel-efficient. If everything went well, that little puppy ran about 8 hours max on a single gallon of fuel. So, 50gals x 8hpg = 400 hours of run time. That’s just about 16.5 days, barely more than two weeks. Now what happens when the fuel runs out? Go get some more, right?

So you are into the incident 2.5 weeks, how readily available do you think gasoline will be? How much per gallon will that gas cost you? Will there be any gas available at any price? What are you will to pay, or trade, for your fuel? And what will you do in another 2 weeks when you go looking for more gas to run your generator?

So my point is, do not be dependent on conventional energy/power. Or as least dependent as possible.

But I mentioned I had a generator, am I being a hypocrite? Great question, put it on hold for a few minutes. I will get back to it.

Remember, you are at the center of the concentric circles that represent the layers of this aspect of prepping. So what is the most personal need for energy/power?

I have to go back once again to the threats that pose the most risk, in priority order:types of disasters, emergies, emergency grid-down

  1. Violence
  2. Injury/Sickness
  3. Communications, lack of, or poor
  4. Organization, lack of, or poor
  5. Dehydration
  6. Exposure
  7. Starvation

That being the case, I put a tactical light at the top of the list to use while defending my family against the threat of violence.

Next would probably be a headlamp to use while providing first aid or moving around at night. Then I would want power for my emergency radio. Then batteries for my handheld radio(s). Then battery power for my mobile radios.

What I am not worried about is supplying power to my freezer or refrigerator. I am not worried about providing lights to my house. And that about covers it…I look at necessities, the rest of it doesn’t matter.

Now, if my wife needed dialysis, I had to keep insulin cold, or some other similar medical need, that would be different. Those “needs” comes under priority #2 – Injury/Sickness.

But, back to the concentric circles…

First – Battery Duracel AAA batteriesRegular alkaline batteries for tactical light and head lamp. I have standardized on LED Lenser for my tactical lights and Petzl Tactika for our headlamps. Both take AAA batteries to make it easier when it comes to buying and storing batteries. And, there is only one alkaline battery that I recommend…Duracell. Period. End-of-story. That’s it.

I have a lot of experience with AA & AAA alkaline batteries…Duracell is by far the best battery out there. The others don’t even come close.

And honestly, the only other two sizes of batteries I use in electronics are AA batteries for my GPS units and emergency radio; and 2032 batteries for my Aimpoint Micro T-1 red dot. But once again, I only use Duracell alkaline batteries for either of those applications as well. As you can tell, I strive to keep my battery needs to a bare minimum. There is far more to go wrong when you are dependent on batteries.

Second – Rechargeable batteries for all of the following:

  • Tactical light
  • Headlamp
  • GPS units
  • Handheld radios

And here is a valuable lesson…there are only two brands of rechargeable batteries that I will even consider using; Tenergy rechargeable batteries1) Tenergy, and 2)Duracell. Just make sure you get the highest “mAh” rating of battery you can find and afford. mAh stands for milliampere hour. That is the depth of charge that the battery can hold. And that means the higher the number, the longer the battery can last between charges.

Third – Personal solar charging system.

To keep those rechargeable batteries charged up I use a small portable solar panel and charger such as the Solaid GoalZero Nomad7 portable solar charging for batteriesSolpad7 or the GoalZero Nomad7 unit. Both units are very light, very portable, can be carried by a single person without a problem, and proven to me to be reliable. They SolPad7 Solaraid AA & AAA battery charger.charge AAA and AA batteries pretty quickly, unit size considered. Nice little unit. But they do need sunny days to work.

These great little units can be attached to the outside of your pack while hiking. They can just as easily be hooked to your vehicle while driving, or laid out in the sun when you are camping or taking a break. They handle the weather well and really get the job done in my opinion.

Now I have to throw in there another requirement that starts in this ring and ends up in the next couple of rings. But, since it originates here, I will get the discussion going here. I am a huge fan of the Baofeng Ham handheld radio as Baofeng UV-5RAyou well know. But those little babies take battery power to work. I have tried various options for batteries but have found the original 1800mAh and the 3800mAh Baofeng batteries to be the best power source by far.

Yes, you can use AA & AAA battery trays for them, but my testing and experience shows the batteries won’t stay operational on either AA or AAA rechargeable batteries for very long. So my solution is to have two 1800mAh and one 3800mAh batteries for each Baofeng radio. Fully charged, that gives each radio about a week’s worth of run-time. But, you still need the ability to recharge those batteries. My solution is the Solpad7 or Nomad7 with their cigarette adapter hooked up. Into that cigarette adapter I connect the 12vDC vehicle charger and then hook up the Baofeng charging tray. It will take quite a awhile to charge up even the 1800mAh battery but that is OK, that’s why you have three batteries to work with. But I will also show you other charging options in a minute; for now, this is the personal option.

Fourth – Portable solar system.

I had to come up with a somewhat generic name for this “ring” and its application. I was torn. I could have said larger batteries, etc., but that really didn’t seem appropriate. Because this really entails a “system” of various pieces of equipment vs. any single one piece of equipment. And, it also includes the power source (i.e. batteries) for mobile radios.

Ham-52Let’s move to the mobile radios for a minute, they require a larger power source than the equipment mentioned so far, 12vDC to be exact. To meet that power source need, there is a built in rechargeable battery in the portable Ham radio box. To really be able to recharge that battery you need a stand-alone solar panel such as the GoalZero Boulder30 system, at a minimum. But, the internal 14Ah rechargeable Duracell battery can keep that radio operational for a long time by itself.

Also, in the last section I talked about the rechargeable batteries for the Baofeng handheld radios. I gave you information on the “personal option” to recharge those batteries. But it is hardly an efficient or timely way to accomplish that. Part of this category of “power” is a portable power box. That little power house has a 35Ah Duracell rechargeable battery. I use the power box to:portable power box charging 2 baofeng radios


But then what do I use to charge the portable power box or the Ham radio box? And that is GoalZero Boulder 30where “portable” comes into the mix…the Goalzero Boulder30 system. I have two complete Boulder30 systems, panels and charge controllers. I can daisy chain them together if I need the 60w capacity.


I also have a Glowtech60 portable solar system as well. This great stand-alone unit has GlowTech - Glow Tech 60w dual solar panel system 30w solar panelsdouble 30w panels and a built-in PWM charge controller. This provides double the charging capacity of the Boulder30 system.


Now, it is time to talk about larger power needs, even the ability to produce 120vAC. Here it starts getting a little more sophisticated, but don’t be deterred. There are retail units available, they are called solar generators. Goalzero is a good source for them. But, these pre-made solar generator options can be very expensive. I have built my own. Boiling it all down to something that easy to understand it this…you have one or more deep-cycle batteries hooked into a solar panel with a charge controller.

Power BoxA solar generator can be used for regular duty such as charging a quantity of Baofeng radios, portable radios, or many more applications. Anything that requires 12vDC including the HiTech battery charger.Alzo Digital : HiTech 12 bay Battery Charger AA, AAA & 9volt

The deep-cycle batteries store enough power to electrical devices a long time. And that would also include an “inverter.” The job of the inverter is to turn 12vDC power into 120vAC power. With that 120vDC power you can run normal household items that require electricity.  My power box does just that…and then some.



Fifth – Generator (multi-fuel)Honda generator with propane fuel

And should all of that fail I have my Honda EU2000i generator. I can recharge any of my 12vDC power packs with Power-002the 12vDC generator outlet. I can also plug in my Schumacher SC-10030A battery charger to quickly recharge any discharged battery. And then there is the option of hooking up a series of generator powered 120vAC battery charges to recharge all of my small rechargeable batteries.

Note: My Honda generator is not for powering any household device. Its sole purpose is to keep my rechargeable batteries going should my solar generator fail or a bunch of cloudy days hits the area. Being dependent on any “fueled” generator is not a good idea for emergencies, disasters, or especially grid-down.

Sixth – Installed solar system.

I am referring to a full-blown solar system that is capable of powering a whole house. I have no experience with these and I don’t feel qualified to discuss such a system in detail. But, this is a very valid option for emergencies and disasters. Let’s face it, being able to keep your entire house up and running on electricity would be a nice thing to have.

However, for grid-down and from a security perspective, this could be a potential safety issue for your family. If you are the only one that has power and people know it, it makes your house a target. If you are going with this installed solar system option, make sure you have a solid security protocol to deal with any potential security threats. Example: Covered windows so no one can see that you have lights.

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2 thoughts on “Layers…Part #7 – Power

  1. Pingback: Layers…Part #8 – Closing Thoughts… | A.H. Trimble - Emergency preparedness information for disasters and grid-down

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