The Survival Mom » Solar Energy http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Sun, 05 Jul 2015 07:40:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 How Many Off-Grid Cooking Methods Do You Have? http://thesurvivalmom.com/off-grid-cooking-methods/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/off-grid-cooking-methods/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 15:10:34 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22416 When you buy, or otherwise acquire, preparedness supplies, do you practice with them or are you a prep hoarder? I think I’ve been guilty of both, especially with off-grid cooking methods. Maybe you know what I mean. Preppers are notorious for wanting every new survival gadget that comes out. We’ve got no less than 10 […]

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off grid cooking methods

When you buy, or otherwise acquire, preparedness supplies, do you practice with them or are you a prep hoarder? I think I’ve been guilty of both, especially with off-grid cooking methods.

Maybe you know what I mean. Preppers are notorious for wanting every new survival gadget that comes out. We’ve got no less than 10 ways to cook that aren’t tied to the power grid, yet when another new off-grid cooker comes out, we simply must have it to add to the stash in the storage room.

And there they sit, safe for when we need them, gathering dust and maybe spiders,

Do you ever try them out when they come in the mail or do we add them, still in the package, to the ‘cooking shelf’ in our bug-out trailer?

I can say that I have used each of my off-grid cooking methods several times. Some had a learning curve that I’ve mastered and with others, I’m still climbing that curve. Some are easier to clean and store than others.  Fuels differ, conditions they can be used in differ, set-up,  clean-up and storage instructions are not the same, but we need to learn how they work.

In a major crisis, when emotions are high and everything and everyone is confused is not the time to try and figure out how to put that HERC stove together!

My family’s off-grid cooking methods

For my family, my list of methods looks like this:

First of all, how many different cooking methods do you have for when the power goes out? You really do need at least 2 of them, making sure those 2 do not rely on the same type of fuel. Are you familiar with how to use all of the different methods you have? Are your children? What if you, THE MASTER OF ALL THINGS PREP in your home are not around or are injured or ill? Who is going to do the cooking then?

Spring and Summer are a GREAT time to get out the different tools/toys you have for cooking meals off-grid and practice, practice, practice.

Pick one night per week and make it an adventure. Have a cook-out in the back yard.  Learn all about that method and gather some recipes to try it out.

I know of a woman who wanted to learn how to use her Dutch oven, so she committed to cooking something in it every day for a YEAR.  She blogged about the experience and shared what she learned online.  I dare say that she is now a Dutch oven expert.  I think she’s also super tired of using her Dutch oven because she hasn’t updated her blog in a while, but her adventure is documented for the world to learn from.  You can read about it and get some great new dutch oven recipe ideas for yourself, be warned though, you might not surface for days.  Toni’s Dutch Oven adventure. 

Do you have any/all of the methods I listed? I’d love to hear about your favorite off-grid cooking methods.

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Getting Started With Cooking Off the Grid — Solar Ovens http://thesurvivalmom.com/getting-started-with-cooking-off-the-grid-solar-ovens/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/getting-started-with-cooking-off-the-grid-solar-ovens/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 07:20:33 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22110 How long can you go without craving a hot, homemade meal, eating only cold rations and snacks?  If you’ve ever been without power for more than just a couple of days, eating cold ravioli or tuna out of the can gets really old, really fast. Most survival minded people realize, better than most, that it […]

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Cooking off the grid with solar oven.How long can you go without craving a hot, homemade meal, eating only cold rations and snacks?  If you’ve ever been without power for more than just a couple of days, eating cold ravioli or tuna out of the can gets really old, really fast. Most survival minded people realize, better than most, that it doesn’t take much to disrupt the flow of electricity we depend upon for cooking. A natural disaster or freak weather event can turn the most modern home into a survivalist camp within a few hours. Electricity can also be interrupted by man-made crises, such as civil unrest, terrorism, or an EMP, making that hot meal a rare treat.

A popular slogan among survivalists and preppers is, “Always have a back-up to your back-up.”  When it comes to cooking, what is your back-up to your back-up? Do you have more than one way of cooking a hot meal when the power is down?

One simple addition to your emergency preparedness is a solar oven. It’s a great way to get started cooking off the grid.

As long as the sun is shining and the sky is relatively clear, a solar oven can serve up a delicious pot of rice and beans and brownies for dessert without requiring any fuel. In fact, its dependence on the sun as its only source of fuel, is the reason every home should have a solar cooker. Solar cooking is an unbeatable back-up for making sure there’s a hot meal on the table three times a day.

There is something new under the sun

Solar cooking and using the sun to preserve food has been around for hundreds of years, but only in modern times has the use of solar cookers become widespread both in the survival community and among communities around the world with unreliable electrical power. Its advantages are obvious.

  • There is no need to store additional fuel.
  • Sunshine is free, unlike propane, butane, gas, and other fuels.
  • It’s possible to store several months’ worth of food, but storing all the fuel you might need isn’t as easy.
  • Once paid for, there are no other expenses involved and maintenance is simple.
  • There are no dangerous fumes or safety issues to worry about.
  • A solar cooker can be used for every type of cooking, except frying.
  • Food never burns in a solar cooker.
  • During hot, summer months, the use of a solar cooker helps keep the kitchen, and the cook!, cool.
  • Over time and with frequent use, the use of a solar oven will save money on the electric bill.

A solar cooker for every home

A solar cooker is a must-have as a back-up method for cooking food. It is the single most self-reliant way to cook food and heat water, and has the additional advantage of being a DIY project if there’s a handyman (or woman) in the family.

Commercially produced solar cookers, such as the All-American Sun Oven, are perfect for the prepper who is too busy for even one more DIY project. Depending on the brand you choose, these stoves have consistent quality construction, are designed to reach temperatures for the quickest possible cooking results, and have features for enhanced usability, such as interior thermometers, large reflecting panels, and a weather resistant design.

However, some of these ovens carry a price tag of $300 or more and can be large and bulky. In a Get-Out-Of-Dodge scenario, there might not be room for my Sun Oven in the back of our Tahoe, and if I ever had to cook for more than my family of four, it might be too small. That’s one of the limitations of a store-bought solar cooker. You’re stuck with a standard size that may be too small, and your budget may not allow for a second cooker.

On the other hand, a DIY solar cooker can be customized to your specific needs. One friend used a large ice chest on wheels for her solar oven. She could wheel it to any location in the backyard and she chose a size that could accommodate as many as four baking dishes. Another ingenious DIY plan that can be found on the internet uses a 5 gallon bucket and a reflective sunshade. Total cost?  Not much more than five bucks, if that. The advantage of many DIY solar cookers is that they can be dismantled for convenient transport, and all of them require materials that are already in most garages. Plans for homemade solar cookers can be found on dozens of websites and demonstration videos abound on YouTube.

The DIY solar cooker comes with a few disadvantages. If the design doesn’t maximize the amount of sunlight available, you may end up with nothing more than a hot silver box sitting out in your yard. I recommend testing and tweaking any DIY design until it consistently reaches 350 degrees or more. Reliable temperatures will help you plan mealtimes and insure that foods reach temperatures that will deter any bacterial growth. Another issue with the DIY cooker is its durability. If a slight breeze knocks over your cooker and pot of beans, you’ll know you need to fine-tune the design for added stability.

Getting started with solar cooking

Regardless of which solar cooker you settle on, some foods are easiest for getting started.  Be sure to keep a log of foods you cook, time of day you begin cooking, and the length of cooking time required. This log will be a huge help to you as you branch out and begin cooking a wider variety of foods.

  • Hard boiled eggs. Place eggs on a dark colored towel or inside a dark pot inside your cooker.  After 20 minutes, check one egg for doneness. Solar cooked hard boiled eggs will be softer than those cooked in a pot of boiling water.
  • Rice is either cooked or it’s not. It’s probably the easiest food to experiment with when you’re new to solar cooking. Combine rice and water in a covered pot. Check for doneness after 25 minutes. A package of Rice-a-Roni works just as well for your experimentation.
  • Yes, brownies! Mix up a batch of your favorite store-bought or homemade recipe, pour it into a dark, greased pan and place it in your solar cooker. Use the baking times recommended by your recipe, test for doneness, and leave in for additional minutes if required. I’ve found that solar-baked brownies are usually finished in the same amount of time as oven-baked.
  • I’m almost embarrassed to suggest heating water in your solar cooker, but having a way to pasteurize water could be very important. Check the temperature of water after 30 minutes.  At 149 degrees Fahrenheit (65 degrees Celsius) all germs, viruses, and parasites are killed. This information, along with your solar cooker, could be one more way to insure safe drinking water in an emergency and provide sterilized water for medical and first aid purposes.

Like any new skill, the only way to learn how to cook with a solar oven is to just do it. For most dishes, allow at least an extra 30 minutes to your cooking time.

Ten Top Tips for Solar Cooking

  1. Solar cooking isn’t an exact science. It requires a bit of trial and at least a few errors to determine the correct cooking time for any food.
  2. Always use dark pots and pans with any solar cooker. If you must use a light colored or shiny baking dish, cover it with a dark colored hand towel.
  3. Thin metal baking dishes work best in a solar cooker. They will heat up more quickly and lessen the amount of cooking time needed.
  4. A thermometer is a must-have for a solar cooker.
  5. Allow your solar cooker to pre-heat for 15-20 minutes. Pre-heating will shorten the cooking time a bit.  Just be aware that the interior of your cooker will be hot, so be sure to use pot-holders.
  6. Always use a baking dish with a lid for all your solar cooking. The lid retains important heat and moisture. There’s no need for a lid if you’re baking. Pies, brownies, cookies, cakes, and bread won’t require a lid.
  7. If you’re cooking meat, make sure the interior of the oven reaches at least 180 degrees. Again, a thermometer is a must to insure food safety and predictable cooking times.
  8. Use the ‘slow-cooker’ method when you’ll be gone all day. Place the solar oven so that it faces directly south. Pop in your baking dish, close the lid, and by dinner time, you’ll have a hot, delicious meal waiting for you.
  9. Moisture will likely collect inside the cooker during the cooking process. Wipe the inside dry before storing it.
  10. Turn your solar cooker into a food dehydrator by propping open the oven door by a half inch or so. This allows moisture to escape while the interior of the cooker retains heat.

If you’re new to solar cooking, prepare to be amazed.  There’s nothing quite like placing a baking dish in a box out in the sun and coming back later to a fully cooked and delicious meal.  A prolonged power outage doesn’t mean the end to hot, nutritious meals when you have a solar cooker as a back-up.

Coming next: Getting Started With Cooking Off the Grid — Multi-fuel stoves

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The new Global Sun Oven review http://thesurvivalmom.com/the-new-global-sun-oven-review-and-giveaway/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/the-new-global-sun-oven-review-and-giveaway/#comments Sun, 23 Jun 2013 23:48:21 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=12009 When asked which solar cooker oven I recommend, I always mention the Global Sun Oven. It was the very first solar oven I owned and it shows plenty of wear and tear. It’s more expensive than other versions, but its designers came up with creative solutions to common issues that made solar cooking more challenging […]

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new sun oven

When asked which solar cooker oven I recommend, I always mention the Global Sun Oven. It was the very first solar oven I owned and it shows plenty of wear and tear. It’s more expensive than other versions, but its designers came up with creative solutions to common issues that made solar cooking more challenging than it needed to be.

I talk about the benefits of solar cooking and the importance of having a back-up method for cooking and heating water in this episode of The Survival Mom Radio Show.

Now, this oven has been re-designed with a few more bells and whistles and the interior can now easily handle a 9×13 pan, which is the most popular size baking dish, at least in my house! The All-American Sun Oven is available only in the U.S., and it makes cooking by the power of the sun easier than ever.

First, the oven is 20% bigger. It can accommodate that rectangular baker you love and bake 2 loaves of bread, side by side. This improvement is a very welcome one.

The oven’s glass door is thicker and has a better sealing gasket. Together, these improvements will provide hotter cooking temperatures and, more importantly, shorter cooking times. The All-American Sun Oven’s page says that this new version of their oven will cook a 2 1/2 pound roast in 1 hour, 20 minutes and a chocolate cake in 35 minutes. (Be sure you pre-heat the oven by setting it out in the sun at least 15-20 minutes before you place your baking dish inside.)

Once I learned how to align the Sun Oven with the sun in order to maximize the cooking power of the sun, it was easy, but the All-American makes it even easier with an E-Z Sun Tracker. With a glance you can determine if your oven is situated properly. This will help your food cook more quickly.

If you’ve been looking at solar ovens and wondering which to buy, the All-American Sun Oven is a winner.

I’m excited that for a limited time, you can buy the All-American and save up to $70 on a package that includes:

  • One  All American SUN OVEN®
  • New SUN OVEN® eCookbook & Emergency Preparedness CD featuring 600 recipes, hundreds of pictures, video clips and much more which has been developed by Cook’n, the award winning and #1 best-selling recipe organizer.
  • Multi-Level Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set (set of 3 racks w/1 roll parchment paper)
  • Two Easy Stack Pots w/interchangeable enamel and a glass lids
  • Multi-Fuel Water Pasteurizing Indicator (WAPI)
  • Two Loaf Pans
  • Free shipping within Contiguous U.S.

Check out the new All-American Sun Oven!

 

 

 

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DIY Solar Cookers http://thesurvivalmom.com/a-b/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/a-b/#comments Sat, 22 Jun 2013 10:54:28 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=11950 Guest post by Rambo Moe This is a guide to different kinds of solar cookers. I’ve worked with these fun little devices myself, on models used by NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) to help feed the poor in Africa. Solar cookers are cheap to make and need only sunlight to cook food or purify water. With all […]

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Guest post by Rambo Moe

This is a guide to different kinds of solar cookers. I’ve worked with these fun little devices myself, on models used by NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) to help feed the poor in Africa.

Solar cookers are cheap to make and need only sunlight to cook food or purify water. With all the direct sunlight Africa receives, this is a good fit. They also reduce deforestation, and the hazards that come from having wood stoves in densely populated areas.

But solar cookers aren’t just for the poor. They are a fun DIY project that can increase your energy independence, giving you another option for cooking food if you ever lose power. They’re helpful if you spend a lot of time in the wilderness as well.
Let’s take a look at how they work, and the different kinds of solar cookers you can make.

The 4 Principles Solar Cookers Use to Cook Food

There are 4 principles incorporated by solar cookers to reach temperatures high enough to cook food. They are:

  1. The Greenhouse Effect: Like a greenhouse, a solar cooker lets thermal energy (sunlight) into the device, and does a good job at keeping it there.
  2. Concentration of Sunlight: Like a magnifying glass, solar cookers collect sunlight and direct it onto a small cooking area.
  3. Heat absorption: The cooking area is often made a dark color, so once the sunlight is directed there it absorbs it and heats up.
  4. Insulation: With all that heat focused onto the cooking spot, it is important to keep it there and not have it escape the device.

Using these 4 principals, solar cookers can reach temperatures that sometimes match regular ovens.
Now let’s look at some of the different designs we can make.

3 Kinds of Solar Cookers

Parabola Cookers

umbrella cookerThe most effective models, these use the parabola shape to direct different streams of sunlight and focus them onto a single cooking spot. They can very often reach temperatures similar to that of regular ovens.

They are often used for large scale cooking, and pop up all of over the place in China.

Because of the shape of parabola cookers, they are difficult to produce, and as such are the most expensive. They also require some skill to use.

A cool, cheaper alternative is to turn an old umbrella, with its parabola shape into a cooker. For a step-by-step guide to making one, go here.

Box Cookers

A second option is a box cooker. Insulated boxes with dark interiors and transparent tops, these devices incorporate all four principals to cook their food. They can often reach up to 150 degrees, not quite oven temperature territory but good enough to purify water and cook most food slowly. To learn how to make one of these, go here.

Panel Cookers

The cheapest models (you can often buy one for under $5), they use reflective panels to direct sunlight onto a single cooking point. Food is often cooked in a black pot, inside or a sealed plastic bag, to maximize temperatures.

These are the least effective cookers, but can still purify water, pasteurize milk and cook grains like rice. To learn how to make one of these, go here.

How to Cook With a Solar Cooker

Solar cookers take longer to cook than regular ovens. How long they take depends on many factors, such as:

• The quality of the model
• The type of food you are cooking
• How much direct sunlight you receive
• The time of year
• Your latitude

Set your solar cooker up by 10 am to directly face the equator (south in the Northern Hemisphere, north in the Southern Hemisphere). This will maximize the amount of direct sunlight your cooker receives. Leave it alone to work its magic, checking back every hour to see the progress.

I hope you have fun with these solar cooker designs. I know I did!

Good luck and stay prepared!

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10 Great Collapse-Day Recipes for the Solar Cooker: http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-great-collapse-day-recipes-for-the-solar-cooker/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-great-collapse-day-recipes-for-the-solar-cooker/#comments Sun, 09 Jun 2013 10:00:43 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=11870 Guest post by Heidi, who had way too much fun coming up with these recipe titles! You’ll appreciate these someday when the grid is down and zombies are walking up your front sidewalk! 1.  I Don’t Want to Bean Hungry Bean Bake 2.  Lentil Me See If We Have Something To Eat Casserole 3.  Quick!  […]

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Guest post by Heidi, who had way too much fun coming up with these recipe titles! You’ll appreciate these someday when the grid is down and zombies are walking up your front sidewalk!

image by RJL20

image by RJL20

1.  I Don’t Want to Bean Hungry Bean Bake

2.  Lentil Me See If We Have Something To Eat Casserole

3.  Quick!  Cook All the Freezer Meat Stew!

4.  The Police Have “Desserted” Us, Peach Cobbler

5.  Crab All the Food At the Grocery Store
**Skip the frying pan and put some oil in your dish and lay the Crab cakes in it.
Then put in Solar Cooker until hot and heated or spread in a dish and use as a dip.

6.  Did Grandma REALLY Eat Chicken Foot Soup?
**Recipe is in second paragraph

7.  Dark Disaster Dream Bars
**Cook in Solar Cooker until it looks done, moist but not too jiggly

8.  A Loaded .22 Baked Potato

9.  Squirrely Friends Should Stay At Someone Else’s House

10. TVP (The Vegetarian Penne)
**Substite the beef with TVP if desired.

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Caution! You have entered a No Judging Zone! http://thesurvivalmom.com/caution-you-have-entered-a-no-judging-zone/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/caution-you-have-entered-a-no-judging-zone/#comments Sun, 14 Apr 2013 17:52:46 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=11579 Some of the very first foods I bought for my food storage pantry weren’t exactly health foods. I loaded up my shelves with cans of ravioli, Vienna sausages, and boxes of Cheerios, from GMO crops, I’m sure. My kids tastes have changed since then and we are eating fewer foods with gluten, more raw milk, […]

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thSome of the very first foods I bought for my food storage pantry weren’t exactly health foods. I loaded up my shelves with cans of ravioli, Vienna sausages, and boxes of Cheerios, from GMO crops, I’m sure.

My kids tastes have changed since then and we are eating fewer foods with gluten, more raw milk, and lots more produce, but when I first started with food storage, I bought what I could with a limited budget.

There’s a lot of judgmental people out there nowadays who loudly criticize moms like me who buy foods they deem to be “unclean”, for whatever reason. Maybe the foods contain GMO ingredients, maybe the honey isn’t local, maybe the meal contains high fructose corn syrup — it doesn’t matter to these militant moms. They’ll let you know, loud and clear, that you are a sub-standard mom and your children are in danger because you feed them fast food meals every now and then.

“What??,” they screech. “You aren’t growing your own organic foods and raising free-range chickens and then canning every last little tomato and carrot in purified water?”

“You fed that to your family for dinner last night? Ewwww! Do you know what that kind of food can do to a kid? No wonder your kids have _____”

Fill in the blank with anything from ADD to warts to allergies. Whatever the malady, you are to blame, in their eyes.

Well, I want you to know, just as loudly and just as clearly, that here on my blog and elsewhere, I have no intention of judging what you buy for your food storage or what you serve your family.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Plato

Yes, there are foods that are more wholesome and, yes, we should probably all be eating and storing them, and yes, every kid who wants a pony should have one!

Being a mom is a non-stop journey of learning new things, applying the good, ignoring the bad, and praying that, somehow, our kids turn out okay in the end.

But we all do the best we can, where we are, with what we have. One thing I’ve learned in just our first week of trying to eat as gluten-free as possible is that it can be pretty darn expensive! Right now, I can afford an occasional meal of $4.99/lb. GF pasta, but 4 years ago, I sure couldn’t have

Am I a better mom now that I’m trying to serve a lot more produce and “clean” foods than I was 4 years ago when my kids were chowing down on Vienna sausages? Do I love my kids more now than I did then?

Of course not!

I don’t want any mom, or dad, to feel like they can’t prepare their families for an  uncertain future just because they can’t afford more expensive organic, non-GMO, high-fructose-corn-syrup-free, gluten-free foods (is your head spinning yet?) or because they haven’t turned their backyard into an organic garden.

It’s downright depressing to try and measure up to someone else’s measuring stick when they aren’t walking in your shoes and dealing with your set of circumstances.

Always focus on doing what you can do, and let the militant mommies out there find someone else to pick on.

That’s all I have to say.

 

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10 Day Collapse-Day Recipes for the Solar Cooker http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-day-collapse-day-recipes-for-the-solar-cooker/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/10-day-collapse-day-recipes-for-the-solar-cooker/#comments Thu, 08 Nov 2012 10:00:45 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=10580 Guest post by Heidi. This list was a finalist in our list contest. The judges loved her creative recipe titles! One of your back-up cooking methods should be a solar cooker. You can make your own (plenty of directions online) or take a look at the sturdy, but more expensive, Sun Oven. 1.  I Don’t […]

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Guest post by Heidi. This list was a finalist in our list contest. The judges loved her creative recipe titles!

One of your back-up cooking methods should be a solar cooker. You can make your own (plenty of directions online) or take a look at the sturdy, but more expensive, Sun Oven.

1.  I Don’t Want to Bean Hungry Bean Bake

EBKauai

2.  Lentil Me See If We Have Something To Eat Casserole

3.  Quick!  Cook All the Freezer Meat Stew!

4.  The Police Have “Desserted” Us, Peach Cobbler

5.  Crab All the Food At the Grocery Store
**Skip the frying pan and put some oil in your dish and lay the Crab cakes in it. Then put in Solar Cooker until hot and heated or spread in a dish and use as a dip.

6.  Did Grandma REALLY Eat Chicken Foot Soup?
**Recipe is in second paragraph

7.  Dark Disaster Dream Bars
**Cook in Solar Cooker until it looks done, moist but not too jiggly.

8.  A Loaded 22 Baked Potato

9.  Squirrely Friends Should Stay At Someone Else’s House

10. TVP (The Vegetarian Penne)
**Substite the beef with TVP if desired.

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INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: Light up the whole outdoors http://thesurvivalmom.com/instant-survival-tip-light-up-the-whole-outdoors/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/instant-survival-tip-light-up-the-whole-outdoors/#comments Mon, 08 Oct 2012 10:00:57 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=10367 Tonight we celebrated my sister’s birthday on a patio decorated with strings of lights. I commented to my husband, “I want strings of outdoor lights powered by solar.” So, I tracked down string lights that are solar powered. They’ll provide outdoor lighting over a large area, such as a patio or a portion of a […]

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image by Matthew Juzenas

Tonight we celebrated my sister’s birthday on a patio decorated with strings of lights. I commented to my husband, “I want strings of outdoor lights powered by solar.”

So, I tracked down string lights that are solar powered. They’ll provide outdoor lighting over a large area, such as a patio or a portion of a backyard. Sometimes you need larger spotlights or floodlights, but to illuminate a large area, these string lights will do the trick.

I’ve also seen string lights brought indoors and placed in large jars to serve as lanterns.

More and more, I’ve been adding to my stash of solar powered gadgets as well as small solar panels. In case of power outages, they’ll come in handy, and if we ever experience an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) or CME (coronal mass ejection), at least we’ll be able to have a few electronics, lights, and communication devices.

Always start with the simple, and for me, buying a couple of strands of solar string lights to be prepared for power outages is a great first step.

 

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INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP: In the Market for a Solar System? Buyer Beware! http://thesurvivalmom.com/instant-survival-tip-in-the-market-for-a-solar-system-buyer-beware/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/instant-survival-tip-in-the-market-for-a-solar-system-buyer-beware/#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2010 04:32:52 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=5329 Many individuals and families are choosing to install a home solar system.  Some choose this as a way to ‘go green’, others want to have the option of grid-free power.  It’s tempting to jump on this bandwagon because what could be cleaner or cheaper than energy from the sun? All those rebates and other alluring […]

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Many individuals and families are choosing to install a home solar system.  Some choose this as a way to ‘go green’, others want to have the option of grid-free power.  It’s tempting to jump on this bandwagon because what could be cleaner or cheaper than energy from the sun? All those rebates and other alluring offers from power companies and the government make it tempting to jump into solar head-first.

There’s a very good reason, however, to approach a solar system with caution.  What most consumers don’t realize is that most solar systems are tied to the electrical grid. When the grid goes down, your solar power disappears.  Typically, when a solar system is installed, one of the last steps is to connect the solar panels to the building’s electrical panel. Yes, you will get “free” solar power on days when there’s enough sun to generate that power, and when there’s not, electricity will flow into your home from the power company, but either way, your solar panels are hooked up to the same power grid as your electrical system.

Is there an option?  Yes.  Michael Cox of Survival Solar Systems says, “It’s possible to have a solar system wired separately from the grid through an inverter/battery bank, if you will.  They do not need to be tied to the grid to function.  The panels may be wired in separately from the grid power through an inverter or charge controller, storing the electricity in a battery bank and thus be autonomous.  It’s also possible to have a stand-alone system to certain outlets only through an inverter, then the power can go off at will, and you will still retain your solar electricity.”

He goes on to say, “Some set-ups even have two sets of electrical outlets next to each other, one side for grid power and the other side for solar.  In either case, no matter what the grid does will not affect you.”

So why don’t more people go for an off-the-grid system?  All those enticing incentives that make solar more affordable apply only to the grid-tied systems!  Solar energy can be a thing of beauty.  Just be sure to thoroughly research any system you’re considering if being off the grid is important to you.

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High-tech vs. Low-tech, it’s all good! http://thesurvivalmom.com/high-tech-vs-low-tech-its-all-good/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/high-tech-vs-low-tech-its-all-good/#comments Tue, 13 Jul 2010 19:10:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=4544 In this world of modern day prepping, high-tech survival tools and gadgets are everywhere.  For example, the SteriPEN.  If you haven’t added one of these to your bug-out bag or camping gear, you really should check it out.  With the press of a button and a swirl of an ultraviolet-lit wand, you have water safe […]

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In this world of modern day prepping, high-tech survival tools and gadgets are everywhere.  For example, the SteriPEN.  If you haven’t added one of these to your bug-out bag or camping gear, you really should check it out.  With the press of a button and a swirl of an ultraviolet-lit wand, you have water safe enough to drink!

image by Danny et Maryse

When you don’t want to carry around bleach for fear of leaks and don’t have time to boil water, the SteriPEN is worth the money.

Now, high-tech is great for some gadgets, but the Sun Oven is so low-tech, ya gotta love that, too.  Last week we traveled to Park City and beyond.  The Sun Oven was in the back of the Tahoe, and by the time we got home, it had been knocked around more than a few times.  All that abuse took its toll because yesterday I discovered that the glass door was slightly off center and unable to close completely.

Of course I panicked, but I shouldn’t have.  The Sun Oven’s very simple, very low-tech design allows the company to offer this warranty on their product:  fifteen years, based on daily use in third world countries.  I don’t think my little Sun Oven knows the first thing about abuse!  So, with a few quick twists of a screwdriver, that glass door was realigned, and my oven was as good as new.  Gotta love low-tech!

image by RJL20

So, which is better?  High-tech or low-tech?  I think they both have their place in survival and preparedness.  A tool like the SteriPEN simply makes the task of water purification easier than ever.  It would be a mistake to not have at least a couple of back-ups, but nevertheless, being able to purify water in thirty seconds is hard to beat.  A solar-battery charger would help insure its usefulness over the long haul.  If you’re more the mountain man type, don’t sneer too much at high-tech survival tools!  There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of a really cool gadget that makes life easier.

Survival tools that are low-tech are usually more simple to maintain, use and repair, and are often less expensive.  I strongly recommend that every household have at least one way to cook food and heat water other than their kitchen stove.  The Sun Oven is useful for that purpose while having the advantages of solid construction and being easy to use.  When you’re thinking about survival, low-tech is the best choice as a back-up to your back-ups.

If survival and preparedness are your goals, high-tech and low-tech are all good.


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