The Joys of Prepping
Vindication is sweet.
We are in the middle of a snowstorm today, not unusual for Vermont, and not even a particularly bad one, and it’s very pretty outside. I like it. Everything gets quiet, the snow is falling, and things slow down. The snow’s a little wet, and we are getting somewhere around 1 to 1 ½ feet of it (which is really not much), but it sticks to everything and I love how it looks:
Fun fact: see that sheet of ice coming down over our front porch? It’s slooowwly sliding down - keeps melting a bit and then refreezing and it curls under as it goes - until the temps rise enough for it to thunderously slide off. It’s there because I’m too lazy to knock it off myself. Okay to my point:
Today is one of those days when it’s really great to be a prepper, because of course we are having another power outage, and it’s been going on for more than twelve hours so far. We have these quite often, for some reason.
(I suspect our outages are mostly due to the corrupted priorities of a modern society created by The Cult, but hey I guess a little snow in Vermont, something that has happened regularly for centuries, must always be to blame.)
So, given Declass hasn’t happened for free energy yet and our grid infrastructure remains underfunded, here we stand, power-less.
But not us!
Today, I win. Today I get to enjoy the benefits of all my prepper-plotting from the dark days before I knew we had some good guys on our side. (No regrets.) While several towns around me suffer in the cold and the dark, let me tell you what we did and how we planned for these sort of days, and it’s kind of interesting too - I don’t know anyone else who has done it this way.
While lots of people have solar panels, I’ve come to learn that most are not off-grid. That Cult society I was just talking about somehow convinced everyone that it was better to tie their solar panels to the grid instead (“you’ll save money on your electric bill!”) thereby negating the entire purpose of having a separate way to generate electricity in the first place. It’s a lot like putting an electric catalytic converter on your wood stove, another really dumb idea if you want the thing to work during a power outage, which is what wood stoves are good for. I digress.
Nope, what we did was somewhat different, which is why I am telling you about it. To begin with, I never looked at solar as something “green.” I know perfectly well how dirty the tech is, how much bullshit is spewing out of people’s mouths about it, and how so Not Sustainable it is. Green has nothing to do with why I got it - in fact there is no current tech that isn’t dirty.
Instead I see solar as a tool for redundancy. I see it as a strategic decision. And, I didn’t just “get solar.” I thought about the configuration a lot beforehand, I got a few solar panels (only 12, on the roof), I got a single inverter, and I got a single battery. (Wish I could afford an extra battery, but we’re good for now.)
This tiny little system runs just specific parts of our house - the important parts: lights, refrigeration, water pump, and water heating. That’s all it runs, nothing else. I don’t need to vacuum during snowstorms. I don’t need to run the washer or dryer or dishwasher either. I don’t even need to run power tools or coffee makers or garage doors or compressors.
I mean, what makes a power outage painful and unpleasant? No hot water for dishes and showers, that matters. Spoiled food, that matters. No lights, no TV, no computer, that sucks too. Not being able to flush the toilet, that really sucks. These are what I focused on.
And this is the interesting part: our little system has it’s own separate breaker box, which can be connected to the main grid breaker box by the flip of a switch. This is what makes our system different from anyone else’s that I have seen. I had to hire a master electrician to install it, who at first wasn’t sure what I meant and had to research whether it could be done, but of course it could because he did:
The third photo shows that switch between the two breaker boxes.
Whenever we are running the water-lights-refrigeration on solar, the power source for the left hand box comes from the battery. Whenever that battery gets low for any reason, we flip the switch over so the power source for that left hand box can come from the grid, giving the solar panels time to fill the battery again. In summer I never need to pay much attention - the battery gets refilled almost every day anyway. In winter we often get whole weeks of grey weather, so the battery must be paid attention to, and I often flip back and forth. I will even keep everything on grid if I know a storm is coming, just so I will have battery available if the power goes out. Today is a fine example of that.
Fun fact: Originally when we bought this house, unbeknownst to us the breaker box was the ancient 1960’s Pushmatic kind, and the meter coming in from the grid was also done unprofessionally, incorrectly, and unsafely, along with a dangerously configured ground wire. So, shortly before this new installation of ours we were already in dire need of replacing it all. Here’s that old Pushmatic beauty, glad to be rid of it:
Anyway, in order to make this solar-battery system work, we really only need to be mindful of wattage: lightbulbs are warm-white LED, our kitchen fridge is apartment-sized, and the water heater is a newer high-efficiency model. We have four small chest freezers for food storage, which were placed in the always-cold basement so it takes less to maintain them. And, we have designated plugs for grid power, so when I do need to vacuum I am not drawing from the battery. Sweet.
Can’t forget the standard preps. As mentioned we have four small chest freezers to hold meat. My husband hunts deer, we usually purchase a pig from our neighbor, I buy a lot of local farm chicken/beef, sometimes we raise and butcher our own chickens, and I feed our cat a raw meat preparation, so we need the space. Having full freezers gives a peace of mind that’s difficult to describe. (In my lifetime I have experienced extreme poverty, so I know full well what it feels like to not have food - this is probably why I became a prepper.)
I also do a lot of home canning, which saves a ton of money and it’s better food than the grocery store anyway. We have a lot of home-canned bone broth, meats, soups, chili, stew, lard, veggies, etc, but I store some of the commercial food too, as you can see below. This is our cold-storage room in our basement, which works nicely:
And cooking? How pray-tell do I cook all this food during power outages? Ranges and ovens are notoriously high-wattage items - it uses thousands of watts just to heat up a cold casserole, for pete’s sake. (I turned my range off at the breaker, and I use it for exactly one day each year: Thanksgiving, when I need a giant oven.) Which leads me to:
No self-respecting Vermonter would be without a firewood pile. I mean, really. Here, you gotta have heat or you die. It’s really that simple. After some heated (get it?) discussion, husband and I converted our screened-in back porch to hold firewood in winter, and the awesome part is that it’s directly off the living room and only steps away from our gorgeous, lovely wood cookstove.
Weather? Don’t care, firewood is dry. Cold? Don’t care, I’m cozy by the fire. Even if our battery gives out. And for bonus points, I can stove-top cook, bake, and pressure can food on this thing. I do it all winter long, every year. And let me tell you a secret - it’s actually easier to cook on this stove than it is on an electric one:
(I'm guessing the Gas Stove Lunatics definitely won't approve of this.)
So if the power is out as I type this, how am I posting to the Internet? The power lines are down, the land-line phone is down, the cable lines are all down too. This is a pretty wide-spread power outage actually, affecting much of our county.
This is how:
I am in love with my Starlink: I have never had such fast downloads. Not ever. Doesn’t matter if the lines are down, if the regional backbone fiber is down, if the cell towers are down, I still have Internet, cell phone, and streaming. Even the little Starlink dish will heat when it senses snow, to keep it from interfering with the signal. Wow.
So here I am, it’s a very dark, snowy day, and for us it feels just like any other day. I’m still waiting for that home free energy device though. It pisses me off that people have to go through this power-outage insanity at all. It’s coming though, just you wait and see. :)