• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

The power goes out. What next?

 
gardener
Posts: 1700
Location: southern Illinois.
372
composting toilet food preservation homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay,


Maybe.  I worked at a place that had a huge backup generator in a fiberglass enclosure. I would guess it measured 12x12x8. By an means, during  one of the maintenance checks, it was missing. The enclosure was there, but nothing was inside it. At a minimum  it took a flatbed truck, crane, and a darned confident electrician. Oh yes, the business was in 24/7 operation and had a security force that patrolled constantly.
 
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John,

Yeah, you are probably right about a general grid failure, computer virus attack that shuts down plants or a chain reaction failure when one power plant shuts down during peak use.  We had one of these events happen several years ago in the Northeast when a power plant went offline  unexpectedly.  That threw a sort of huge circuit breaker.  The remaining electricity on the grid still had to go somewhere but as a large area was offline, other power plants tripped as well.  Ultimately a good portion of the country was without power.

I can only try to imagine what this would be like in a downtown urbanized area where everyone lives in a high rise apartment.  Dense urban and suburban areas would only be slightly better off.  At the very least I could run some solar panels and my generator (try running a generator in a high rise apartment!).

And I guess I should be more concerned about the weather related outages, but at the least those would be more limited in scale and communication would still be possible.  Maybe I am just catastrophyzing.

Eric
 
gardener
Posts: 389
Location: Western Kentucky
151
dog gear foraging trees hunting food preservation cooking fiber arts woodworking wood heat rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:I can only try to imagine what this would be like in a downtown urbanized area where everyone lives in a high rise apartment.  Dense urban and suburban areas would only be slightly better off.  At the very least I could run some solar panels and my generator (try running a generator in a high rise apartment!).



We locally have a couple of government housing projects consisting largely of single mothers on welfare and their deadbeat boyfriends of the week. They were utterly helpless. There was a local retreat/camp or something run by some church that volunteered to allow them to stay there (for free) where there was at least heat and some food. Their response when they got there: "Well, who's going to cook the food [for us]?"

 
Jordan Holland
gardener
Posts: 389
Location: Western Kentucky
151
dog gear foraging trees hunting food preservation cooking fiber arts woodworking wood heat rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:
And I guess I should be more concerned about the weather related outages, but at the least those would be more limited in scale and communication would still be possible.  Maybe I am just catastrophyzing.



The ice storm took down landline phones and all cell phones except Verizon, so unless a large percent of people have cb, shortwave radios, etc. and the means to power them, it is certainly possible for communication to go down. Lack of communication really freaked a lot of people out.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jordan, you are right.  Lack of communication is a serious issue.  If can’t remember a time in 25 years when cell communication was down but that does not mean it can’t happen.  In fact, it is the lack of communication that really concerns me.  Even in real disasters like Hurricane Katrina, communication was present but spotty.  But it was still there.  Without communication, it is pretty hard to get help to an area.  Generally high winds and ice storms are relatively localized phenomena.  The EMP would be wide ranging.  I should probably shut up about the EMP as it is an extremely remote likelihood.  Other disasters are much more likely to happen.

Since the May 8th storm 2009 (Jordan, I see you are in Western Ky, so I honestly don’t remember how that storm affected you), we have not had a power outage, but I suspect one is getting closer.  All the trees that blew down probably cleared the right of way for power lines, but in a decade, many have likely grown back.  I want to be better prepared this time than last time.  I think I am headed in that direction.

Eric
 
Posts: 64
19
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I should probably shut up about the EMP as it is an extremely remote likelihood.



Hi Eric,
The possibility of a large-scale magnetic storm isn't too remote. In 2012, the Earth got lucky and was outside the path of a massive CME. The Space Weather and Geomagnetism communities later determined that, had it hit the Earth, it would likely have been a Carrington-level event. The power industry is increasingly aware of the danger and is steadily supporting development of mitigation strategies and geoelectric "risk maps" similar to risk maps for earthquake damage.

NOAA has an interesting slide show that summarizes the vulnerability of power grids and includes some photos of what storms like the 1989 "superstorm" and the 2003 "Halloween storm" can do to the huge transformers that the grid depends on. The conclusions rather casually mention that the 1989 storm packed about one-tenth of the punch of the Carrington event:

Geomagnetic Storms and the US Power Grid

 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Ok DC, you got my EMP spidy senses going again!

Yes, I am familiar the ‘89 and ‘03 events and those are the small ones compared to a Carrington event.  A true Carrington event could be awfully destructive.  Potentially, anything plugged in could be fried, and I am not certain how a surge protector would work in these circumstances.

The good news as I understand is that even a Carrington event is not a global phenomenon.  If I am mistaken, please let me know.  Again, as I understand, this is why the ‘89 and ‘03 events were localized.  It’s hard to judge just how wide scale the Carrington event was as telegraph cables were the basis for judgment.  I can only guess as to what an identical event would do today what with vastly more long cables.  Also, the long cables like power lines are more susceptible than an individual device (again, as I understand).  By that logic your phone might survive just fine but the network would be down so the phone would be next to useless.

So yes, DC, a Carrington event is a scary thing and would have far reaching consequences, much, much more so than in the 1850’s.  I can only guess the havoc—primarily from the interrupted communications.

DC, please fact check me here.  If I got something wrong, please let me know.

Eric
 
master steward
Posts: 14223
Location: Pacific Northwest
6446
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:Potentially, anything plugged in could be fried, and I am not certain how a surge protector would work in these circumstances.



I've always wondered about this. Does the EMP kill ALL electronics, or only those who have power running through them (and aren't hiding in a faraday cage)? And, if it kills all the things that are powered, can those things be brought back to life?

Say you have a generator. It doesn't get affected because it's not operating. So, you fire that baby up, but your fridge, freezer, laptop, cellphone, microwave, and computer were all plugged and having power run through them. Are they like permanently dead now? Would any of your lights work--I'd assume the ones that were on are dead--but how about the ones that were off? Would ANY of your house electrical still work? Would you be able to get it to work? If not, then all you have left is your generator and anything that was not plugged in and you can hook directly into your generator?

Would your car still work? Like, I'm assuming it's dead if you were driving it down the road, but what about if it was parked in your driveway? Would all the computers in the cars be fried, and so only (40 year?) old cars still operate?

Electrical stuff is not something I understand well, so I have  lot of questions! Sorry!

 
pollinator
Posts: 2077
Location: 4b
495
dog forest garden trees bee building
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nicole Alderman wrote:

Eric Hanson wrote:Potentially, anything plugged in could be fried, and I am not certain how a surge protector would work in these circumstances.



I've always wondered about this. Does the EMP kill ALL electronics, or only those who have power running through them (and aren't hiding in a faraday cage)? And, if it kills all the things that are powered, can those things be brought back to life?

Say you have a generator. It doesn't get affected because it's not operating. So, you fire that baby up, but your fridge, freezer, laptop, cellphone, microwave, and computer were all plugged and having power run through them. Are they like permanently dead now? Would any of your lights work--I'd assume the ones that were on are dead--but how about the ones that were off? Would ANY of your house electrical still work? Would you be able to get it to work? If not, then all you have left is your generator and anything that was not plugged in and you can hook directly into your generator?

Would your car still work? Like, I'm assuming it's dead if you were driving it down the road, but what about if it was parked in your driveway? Would all the computers in the cars be fried, and so only (40 year?) old cars still operate?

Electrical stuff is not something I understand well, so I have  lot of questions! Sorry!



Nicole, all electronics would be affected, regardless of whether they are running or not, plugged in or not.  The pulse travels along the wires and coils regardless of whether they have power running through them at the time.  
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole, I agree completely with part of what Trace said.  Long running electrical lines operate as a sort of net for the currents induced by a Carrington event.  Unclear to me is say if your cell phone in your pocket gets fried as well.  I just don’t know.  On the one hand, the GIC or Geomagnetic Induced Currents are dominated by Earth’s magnetic field and pulse through everything except possibly something inside a Faraday Cage.  But long runs of wire have an almost concentrating effect.

One issue of concern would be the solenoids in your car starter.  Would they get fried?  If so your car won’t even start.  Another issue is all the electronics in the car.  I am unclear if these would be affected.  They might but I don’t know.  And let’s say your cell phone survives—great!  That is until you try to call as the wired network will likely be down.  That generator probably is OK, but it is an open question as to what you could power after the event is over.  Anything plugged in might be fried even if “protected” by a surge protector.  This is because the currents are induced (passes right through air) rather than conducted.

It is also not clear as to how big a geographical area gets hit.  The Carrington Event wiped out a really long string of telegraph lines, but then they were conducting a current.  We just don’t have a ton of evidence about how geographically big the Carrington event was.  The much smaller events in ‘89 and ‘03 were regional but not continental events.

I see two major concerns.  The first is fire.  The Carrington event set telephone poles on fire.  I can only guess how much damage a similar event might induce as every house is wired to the electrical grid.  Hopefully utility scale circuit breakers would prevent these currents from getting to homes, but who knows.  The same is true for phone, internet and even plumbing.  We can only guess.

The second issue is communication.  Imagine those house fires not being able to call 911.  Or report on damages.  In a couple days, how would food get to larger cities?  How would grocery stores get stocked up?  How would payment be transacted (only a bare fraction of transactions are done with cash.  Electronic payments now dominate).

Nicole, most of these questions I simply don’t have definitive answers for.  Even if just one of the factors came to be true, it could be devastating.  You did ask if a “dead” piece of electrical equipment could be brought back to life.  Unless the device (a TV for instance) had some sort of circuit breaker (unlikely) then the answer is no, it would be dead and gone.  Think of all those pictures you have on your computer.

This is a scary topic and this is the reason I take this seriously.  Hopefully it never happens, but imagine if it did.

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole,

This article HERE:

https://science.howstuffworks.com/solar-flare-electronics.htm

does a decent job of describing how things might break.  The short version is that extremely large scale power outages are very likely.  The same goes for telephone land lines and internet.

Electronics plugged in stand a good chance of being fried.  Those on a surge protector might survive.  As long as it’s not plugged in, your cell phone should be ok.

But the cell has no network because the grids have fried.  Satellites have either failed outright or gone into safe mode so for the meantime, no satellite usage.  This means no GPS, no debit or credit card transactions.  Power substations probably have serious damage that takes weeks to months to repair (and you cannot just call up your crew because communications don’t work).  Lightbulbs probably work as does the fridge as most electrical motors are ok.  Your generator works till it runs out of gas.

So according to this article, not every piece of electrical technology dies, but large scale systems take a heavy beating.  I would love to be proven wrong.

Eric
 
Jordan Holland
gardener
Posts: 389
Location: Western Kentucky
151
dog gear foraging trees hunting food preservation cooking fiber arts woodworking wood heat rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, there really is no hard answer on exactly what will get fried. A good rule of thumb is if it contains microchips or other semiconductors, I would count it as a loss. The US military knows due to extensive testing, as well as others I'm sure, but they don't want the exact information out there in case of a nuclear attack (so they can have the advantage). And it's not an all or nothing thing; the intensity can vary. A coronal mass ejection is an actual piece of the sun getting blasted outwards, so the size can vary, or it can be a direct or glancing blow. A nuclear blast above the atmosphere is so powerful it tears electrons from the atmosphere's atoms and sends a wave down to the ground, so the strength depends on the yield and altitude and your location with respect to the detonation. Delicate electronics would be the most likely things to go, and as the power level goes up, stronger and more basic wires and coils and capacitors will blow. It might not be a bad idea to try to rig the storage area for important things to shield them from such things.
 
Jordan Holland
gardener
Posts: 389
Location: Western Kentucky
151
dog gear foraging trees hunting food preservation cooking fiber arts woodworking wood heat rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:
Since the May 8th storm 2009 (Jordan, I see you are in Western Ky, so I honestly don’t remember how that storm affected you), we have not had a power outage, but I suspect one is getting closer.  All the trees that blew down probably cleared the right of way for power lines, but in a decade, many have likely grown back.  I want to be better prepared this time than last time.  I think I am headed in that direction.

Eric



I don't recall a storm then; the Ohio River is typically the boundry between snow and rain for us. Luckily, since the system was mostly destroyed, when they rebuilt it they did it much better. The telecom wires were run underground. They have been keeping right of ways clear better. But with all the limb damage, I'm afraid many trees are going to be hollow as time goes on. They will eventually get weaker and another storm may bring some down, but I doubt as many as before. For a while.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jordan,

I am not far from you (Southern Illinois), but you must not have had the storm that day.  It was by far and away the most powerful storm I have ever been in.  We had sustained 100 mph winds.  Not gusts, but sustained winds.  At the local airport the anemometer broke at 104 mph.  So I don’t know the exact wind speeds, but I do know of that particular reading which was no doubt exceeded.  Locally the name simply got known as the May 8th Storm.  Type in May 8th Storm (2009) and there is a nice little Wikipedia article.  Apparently the storm peaked in intensity right near me.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_2009_Southern_Midwest_derecho

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jordan,

The military actually has electronics that are “hardened” to resist EMP.  This was started in the early 50’s so as to have electronics that would survive nearby nuclear explosions.  

But as you point out, it’s really hard to get exact figures describing vulnerability of everyday electronics.

Back when I was in college, I had come home for summer break and I linked up my VCR to my parents VCR to copy movies.  My parents VCR was connected to the TV which was in turn connected to a multi component stereo (receiver, CD player, tape deck).

All of my parents stuff was connected to power strips with surge protection.  My VCR was plugged into the wall.  The house got hit by lightning.  The failure of devices traced a path.  My VCR was fried outright as it had no protection.  My parents VCR was also fried.  The TV actually had an internal surge protector and was eventually safe.  My parents receiver was fried but the CD and tape deck were fine.  Basically the surge dissipated as it moved through the line.  Nothing that was plugged into a power strip was damaged.  We even had a radio plugged in with no protection but the long power cord was bundled up (it got HOT but the radio was ok).

In an EMP event, long lines like power lines are going to induce huge currents and certainly cause disastrous failures.  I suspect plenty of fires.  But a cell phone is a real mystery to me.  Yes, it has delicate circuitry, but no length to induce massive currents.  So I just don’t know.  I would imagine a computer would be more vulnerable but how much I just don’t know.  Cars are even more mysterious.  But anything connected to the power grid (phones count too) without any surge protection is in for a bad day.

Overall it is not a pretty picture.  

Eric  
 
Dc Stewart
Posts: 64
19
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I understand is that even a Carrington event is not a global phenomenon



Hi Eric,

Technically, a magnetic storm is a worldwide event inasmuch as the entire magnetosphere is involved. However, you're correct that the effects of the storm can be very localized.

In general, the storm does damage by inducing sheets of current in the earth's crust. A regional effect is that the current density tends to increase at higher latitudes due to the higher magnetic activity in the auroral zones. Unfortunately, much of the industrialized world reaches into the high latitudes.

The induced currents are able to enter the power grid at the points where the grid is connected to the earth. In regions where the crust has low resistivity, the currents *may* stay put within the crust and not enter the grid. However, in regions of high crust resistivity, the grid offers an easier path to the currents thanks to the grounding points. So, another regional effect is introduced: a portion of the grid sitting above conductive bedrock may see a negligible amount of invading current while a neighboring portion sitting above resistive bedrock sees a huge amount. The picture below, from a USGS publication, illustrates the process.

This is where the power industry's interest in "risk maps" comes in. Over the past decade or two, the Space Weather and Geomag communities began combining data on regional crustal resistivity with historical and simulated data of magnetic storms to produce national maps showing how much induced current might be expected at different points of the grid for a given level of storm. The power industry then uses the maps to assess the vulnerability levels within the grid and come up with mitigation plans.

If a major collapse of the grid occurred, a limiting factor of the recovery would be simple human short-sightedness. Around 2005 I was told by an industry rep that full recovery might take decades because 1) the existing stock of replacement transformers is a tiny fraction of the many thousands that would be lost to meltdown and 2) worldwide there are only a handful of manufacturers of said transformers. I hope that The Powers That Be have addressed this issue since then.


powerlines.jpg
[Thumbnail for powerlines.jpg]
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
DC,

Excellent analysis.  Actually, just now reading over the Carrington event it turns out that European telegraphs had the same issues as American ones.  I knew that CME events sometimes affect one region more than another as is illuminated by the ‘89 and ‘03 events.  But it never made sense that a burst of plasma ejected from the sun could remain so tightly focused as to only hit one part of the Earth.  It is a 93 million mile journey from Sun to Earth and Earth is a mere 8000 miles across.  That’s an awfully small target over a huge distance to only partially hit.  The cloud of plasma surely is much larger than Earth.  Makes so much more sense that the underlying crust plays an important role.

I also agree wholeheartedly about the time needed for grid repair.  It becomes a chicken and egg problem—we need a grid to communicate, transport and especially manufacture the replacement parts you speak of.  And it takes those same replacement parts to make a grid.

A few years ago there was a minor terrorist attack in the US that never got much attention.  A couple of would-be radicals shot up a transformer station outside of San Diego.  The attack killed no one so it got no attention, but the attack did put that substation out of business for about a month.  It would have put a good deal of San Diego into a month long blackout were it not possible for the power company to switch around the damaged subsystem.  That’s a month under ideal circumstances and only one substation with damage.  Now magnify that by a hundred and the task becomes impossible for the near future but even that is a drop in the bucket compared to what a Carrington Event would do.

I really don’t like to catastrophise, but this is one issue that does concern me.

Eric
 
Jordan Holland
gardener
Posts: 389
Location: Western Kentucky
151
dog gear foraging trees hunting food preservation cooking fiber arts woodworking wood heat rocket stoves
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:Jordan,

I am not far from you (Southern Illinois), but you must not have had the storm that day.  It was by far and away the most powerful storm I have ever been in.  We had sustained 100 mph winds.  Not gusts, but sustained winds.  At the local airport the anemometer broke at 104 mph.  So I don’t know the exact wind speeds, but I do know of that particular reading which was no doubt exceeded.  Locally the name simply got known as the May 8th Storm.  Type in May 8th Storm (2009) and there is a nice little Wikipedia article.  Apparently the storm peaked in intensity right near me.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_2009_Southern_Midwest_derecho

Eric



https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_2009_North_American_ice_storm
looks like we have one too! I do recall in the ice storm, all you north of the Ohio just got snow, and Tennessee just got rain. I'm pretty sure we didn't get anything too serious during the may storm, or else we would definitely remember the double whammy.
 
Posts: 18
Location: Seattle Area
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I came over from the survival podcast a few years ago. I mostly lurk but this subject is sort of my turf.
I don't bother trying to prepare for huge earth shaking catastrophic dangers such as an EMP. No one can really prepare for something that devastating. I think it's a better idea to measure your preparedness by time. How long can I last if various parts of our infrastructure fail us? You see, most disasters are personal in nature. They tend to effect you and leave your neighbors untouched. Things like a job loss, a huge unexpected bill, a divorce, gaining the ire of government and having a 40 thousand dollar a day fine applied against your finances. Not many people could survive more than a few days of that before they're wiped out. This makes the conventional financial system too dangerous to invest everything into. When I learned about how vulnerable to financial confiscation we are, I stopped saving money there, increased my mortgage paydowns and started putting my surplus monthly income into bitcoin and silver. If you have bitcoin you can bury it so deep there's no way for some bored cop or customs worker to seize it. They can seize your precious metals (and they will find them) and everything in all your accounts but with bitcoin, they simply can't. And man does that make them mad! They want to be able to print our money into worthless confetti, have it easily seized and even cut businesses they don't like off from the financial system. They've attacked a lot of gun shops that way. It was mostly an obama era thing, called operation chokepoint, but it's coming back. I can't talk about that though. Too political.
We can lose access to important infrastructure even when our neighbors are unaffected. A financial disaster could cause that but a localized power outage could as well. A good prepper lives a frugal life, saves money and socks away the surplus to buy his way out of emergencies or into an early retirement. Having that savings changes your entire attitude since you're not facing instant bankruptcy if you lose your job. That makes you more relaxed and harder to shake emotionally and that makes you less likely to lose your job in the first place. It's typically people who lose their temper who quit their jobs on short notice. Same goes with food, tools, water, and other preps. If you have the means to meet your needs outside of the economic system, then however long you can live is how prepped you are.
I have quite a stack of preps I'm not really a long term Prepper. If a major disaster lasts more than a few months I'm probably a goner anyway (due to getting my cancer treatments cut off). My cancer blood test trippled during this lockdown. If that happens again I'm probably history.
But back to my main point. I'm prepped enough to last a period of time I'm comfortable with. These preps would most likely come in handy no matter what kind of disaster we have, whether it's an EMP or some less catastrophic event.

 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 3041
Location: Southern Illinois
553
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Vention,

You are not wrong.  There is just no way to dodge a CME, and perhaps time and effort is better spent elsewhere.

But preparing for shorter interval blackouts is certainly a worthwhile goal.  And I have to admit, the physics of a CME just fascinate me, but being prepared for a medium term blackout is a worthy exercise.  

At present I have two backups for power—my generator and my 12 volt battery box for charging small electronics.  I hope to add a much larger battery box in the future.  An important component of either of these is having an appropriate sized solar panel for off-grid charging.  I currently have one for my small battery box.

But the CME both fascinates and scares me.  Another way our grid could come down would be by coordinated attacks on perhaps 10 substations around the country.  It’s just shocking how vulnerable the grid really is.  While I am planning for its absence, I hope for its improvement.

Eric
 
Vention Bartell
Posts: 18
Location: Seattle Area
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:Vention,

You are not wrong.  There is just no way to dodge a CME, and perhaps time and effort is better spent elsewhere.

Eric



Well, at least CME events tend to be pretty slow. It takes a while for that material to travel from the sun to the earth and a direct hit is unlikely in the extreme. But if one happened to fire off at us, we should have a day or two to throw our electronics in an ammo box and bury them. I'd have time to pull the ECU's off my vehicles as well, and put them a few feet in the ground. That should be enough to protect them. For the house I'd just pull all the breakers and unplug everything I could find. After the event your old cell phones might have a sudden increase in value. Even without the cellular network or Internet, phones are still useful. I keep a ton of info in there such as repair manuals for everything I work on, As well as my personal info that I can use to access my savings and bank accounts. If I lost my wallet I could probably get by with the phone since I keep high res copies of all those documents, highly encrypted, on that phone. I've taken time to collect PDF files of a bunch of different survival re-localization related subjects but most of my books are service or parts manuals. Oh, and I have every one of Paul's podcasts on the memory stick. I consider that important prepper related into.  
I have a sacrificial am/fm radio that I'll use to stay informed up till the storm hits. One of the many overlooked items in a bugout bag is a small AM/FM radio, and keep the batteries fresh.  
After the storm is when your preps come in. I've got 14 FRS/GMRS radios that can be used for the neighborhood watch. I know where to block the road, where to place the OP and the snipers. Let's hope nothing like that is necessary.
LOL, if I had a few days warning I'd pack my tools and my preps and go weather the storm on the lab. I can't think of a better place to weather some kind of serious problem. Couldn't ask for better neighbors either. It's beautiful out there too (even the boneyard). I just spent two weeks up there, playing with their dump truck. Good times. I hope cancer lets me return. I'd love to spend a few months there.
 
Posts: 48
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I created a topic that sorta compliments this one, let me know what you think.
The Belt Ranking System of Energy Independence
 
Posts: 32
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kinda shocked to read some of these posts. I would have guessed most on this site could easily last months if the grid went down. I could go a year easy if I were able to hunt some fresh meat occasionally. You all should get prepared. It's not IF but when the grid goes down.
 
pollinator
Posts: 753
Location: North Carolina zone 7
143
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I feel fairly secure in food and heat but not water. I have several rain catchments for garden irrigation but none that’s potable. I’ve wondered if there were any power sources that I could dedicate to running my well.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 14223
Location: Pacific Northwest
6446
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rick Kruszewski wrote:Kinda shocked to read some of these posts. I would have guessed most on this site could easily last months if the grid went down. I could go a year easy if I were able to hunt some fresh meat occasionally. You all should get prepared. It's not IF but when the grid goes down.



I think getting prepared is a continuum. It's kind of like the Wheaton Eco Scale. We're all on at a different spot on the Preparedness Scale. Some might just be getting a few extra cans of food each week and planting some food outside in pots in their apartments. At least they know they need to prepare.

Note: Here's some important points about how these scales work, taken from Paul's Wheaton Eco Scale (https://permies.com/t/scale)

paul wheaton wrote: Observation 1:  most people find folks one or two levels up took pretty cool.  People three levels up look a bit nutty.  People four of five levels up look downright crazy.  People six levels up should probably be institutionalized.   I find the latter reactions to be inappropriate.

Observations 2:  most people find folks one level back are ignorant.  Two levels back are assholes.  Any further back and they should be shot on sight for the betterment of society as a whole.  I find that all of these reactions are innapropriate.



Here's my quick Nicole's Preparedness Scale:

Level 0--Thinks preparing is a thing only foolish, fearful people do. They only have a few days worth of food at a time. They don't even like having to install a fire detector and don't have a fire extinguisher.

Level 1--Has started buying a few things extra at the store, maybe has big bags of flour and rice. Might have some strawberries growing in a pot outside. Has a fire extinguisher and wrote up a "escape plan" because their kid's homework required them to.

Level 2--Has two weeks of food stashed away. It might be MREs or bags of staples, or maybe just more of the same food they they normally eat. Has a small garden beds or multiple pots of food. Has camping supplies in their house somewhere, and a first aid kit in their car.

Level 3--Has a month worth of food, most of which is stuff they normally eat and know how to use. Has a food dehydrator and made jam a few times. Has camping supplies, first aid kit, and some staples in a specific location for ease of grabbing.  Has met and befriended a few of their neighbors.

Level 4 -- Has a larger garden and chickens for eggs. Knows they can eat dandelions and ate them and some other wild edibles. Keeps an emergency bag with them (eg, it's their purse if they're a woman, or baby bag if a parent). Has two months worth of food. Has marked out/knows various ways to get home or to other safe places if there was a massive disaster that destroyed the roads (tornado, earthquake, flood). Actually knows their neighbors and helps them out.

Level 5--Grows all their fruit and veggies and eggs while in season. Didn't run out of TP during the toilet paper apocalypse and actually had a plan for what to do if they ran out. Has actually slaughtered a small animal for food (fish, chicken, rabbit). Knows multiple ways to preserve food and has done them each multiple times. Can cook on a fire and/or wood stove and/or solar cooker. Has a preparedness notebook (https://www.nwedible.com/preparedness-101-family-binder-information-preparedness/) with contact information and other important information. Has multiples of water purifiers, firemaking supplies, and other emergency supplies.

Level 6--Has a half a year of food in storage at all time. Adds to the pantry with food from their garden. Grows enough fruit and veggies to not have to buy them 3/4 of the year. Knows how to milk a goat or keep bees. Wouldn't even notice if there was a power outage for a month because they already live off-grid.

Level 7--Grows all their food for the year. Has multiple plans for emergencies. Has great relationships with their neighborhood to barter and trade and help each other out.

Level 8 --Grows enough food for other families. Has useful skills like welding/sewing/carpentry/medical at professional levels. Is active in their community in bringing everyone together and helping others be more resiliant.

Level 9---? Eco community?


-----------------------------------------

I think it's super important to support those "lower" than us on the levels to help bring them up, and to learn from those above us. We all are stronger and safer the more skilled and prepared those around us are!

I know I missed a bunch from my scale, like water storage, etc. But, you get the general picture
 
Posts: 4
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Interesting posts so far.  Most are assuming people will stay in their cities and "hope" the power will return.  Some think that phones and other conveniences will still be available - not so.  Off grid means there is no grid to rely upon.

Look for alternatives to heat and cooling a shelter.  For energy needs, there is solar, but only reliable when the sun shines and with backup batteries.  There is hydro-power - if one is near a flowing water source - year round.  There is wind power - only available when the wind blows and if you have batteries to back you up.

I know of several creative ways to create energy, everyone should have multiple alternatives.  How long will your back up generator last without gasoline or propane? Do you know how to create wood-gas or alcohol fuel?  Methane fuel?

Consider this: do you have food for several years or a way to acquire edibles?  Do you have enough water stored or is it readily available?  Do you have a way to grow some food stuffs?  Do you have seeds or starts?  How much do you need to feed your family?  Have you already begun planting your food crops, or will you wait until you get to your bug out off grid location? (A small area inside a home or apartment can feed several people in an area not much larger than an China cabinet.)

Do you have a location to go to when and if disaster strikes?  How will you get to this location if there is no fuel available?  And, how far away is your "bug-out" location?

Do you have security measure in place, because when a drastic power loss or other disaster happens people will want what you have and will stop at nothing to get it.

Power is one of the least issues we will have to deal with when the time comes.

Frank F
 
Posts: 19
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

James Landreth wrote:I think the biggest thing that people don't think about is water. Many people don't think about the fact that their water source is dependent on electricity. I see a lot of really wonderful farms that are sustainable in many ways but don't have a secure water source. Water isn't just about hydration and hygiene. Growing food requires it in many, many circumstances. I don't know of anyone whose diet is significantly made up of food that wasn't irrigated. Many people are trialing growing orchards from seed with no water, which is cool, but no one currently eats a big proportion if their diet from it, that I know of.

Even irrigating from a pond requires electricity. And if the grid is down, it's likely that maintaining or buying new solar panels will not be feasible





For those with a well, you might consider a Brumby pump that works on Venturi principle to move water, and is driven by an air compressor, which could be hooked to a solar panel.  They use these in third world countries, and
have also been used in remote areas to water livestock.  There's no moving parts, nothing to wear out, and it is easy to install.
https://www.brumbypumps.com/products
 
Posts: 116
13
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have evrything to last a few weeks, without power, but need a propane generator & a solar stove.
 
Posts: 86
Location: Near Libby, MT
26
dog
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Right. Water. This is my biggest concern. My 354 foot deep well fills a 1800 gallon cistern, electrically. I will ask for the above mentioned hand pump for Christmas ($490). But at some point I will be out of water. Because my roof is dirt I don't have gutters to catch water for a rain barrel. Who has had experience with a good old fashioned windmill, like they use on the prairie to bring water up to a stock tank? My septic tank had a lift pump so not sure how to facilitate getting sewerage up to the drain field. Will that hand pump work for that? Or will I eventually need an out house?

Because I live in an earth sheltered home summer cooling is not a problem. Outside it was 103 today, upper nineties this week and next. Inside the temperature is 70, 60 in the garage. It may hit 72 in the house if August stays this hot. I heat with wood, use 2 to 3 cords per winter and I have ten accessible forested acres and am adjacent to Forest Service land that is heavily forested. My son, who wants Mom to stay warm, was a sawyer who fought forest fires. Unless I outlive him I'm good.

With regard to food, I garden and can. I have a small freezer for important things like ice cream but I rarely eat red meat so a power outage wouldn't do a lot of damage. (Point of view I suppose.) I do can chicken and stockpile canned tuna when it goes on sale. My fruit and walnut trees need a couple more years before they are big enough to produce significantly. I have grapes and raspberries but not enough. I really need to stockpile coffee. Without coffee I can get really mean. A couple of chickens for eggs would be good. I have lots of pasta and rice, canned beans, yeast, and Bisquick. I cook with propane. My middle sized tank requires a half refill once a year. When two years are up I will probably have to learn to cook on the wood stove.

I really don't mind staying home most of the time. This Covid-19 thing is probably not as inconvenient for me as it is for many. I am retired but if the banks close my Social Security is likely toast. I keep some coinage and some loose stones of questionable value. They are pretty and someone might trade me a chicken for a few. I can still do Zumba outside although I might have to sing. I should probably get in a supply of good historical novels, maybe a bodice ripper or two.

On the want list, in addition to the hand pump, is of course a solar array. I have large south facing windows and get some passive solar, again not enough but I'm never going to freeze. And I want a green house. I may have to grow my own coffee at some point. And an infinite supply of my anti-hypertensives, in case I actually do run out of coffee.

But back to water. I have found a company in Texas that sells windmills, efficient new versions of the prairie style one. Again, has anyone erected one, used one?
 
Posts: 37
Location: Manotick (Ottawa), Ontario
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Timothy Markus wrote:
I've got a 1500W 12V inverter that I can power from my car, though I've never had to use it.  I bought it on sale for half off and it's really the cheapest way I know of to be able to run a fridge, freezer, or furnace fan (one at a time).  


I'd recommend testing your setup with each of those powered devices, because 1500W isn't very much. The furnace fan is probably no problem, but there may be a higher starting draw for the cooling devices. My 6500W generator can't handle more than one fridge and a large chest freezer at the same time as the water pump.
 
pollinator
Posts: 360
Location: Poland, zone 6, CfB
102
forest garden fish trees books writing homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a set of 3 x 200W flexible solar panels, 1500W inverter and 2 x 120Ah batteries plus a small 20 Ah battery. It easily goes into a small car and I can have my own power anywhere I go. All my tools are either hand tools or electric. I can cahrge electric tools anywhere where sun shines, and during the night from the big batteries. Small battery serves mostly to power movable water pump that allows me to pump water anywhere. This set is plenty to provide light, charge laptop and other electronics, keep the fridge running. For cooking, I have two solar ovens, outdoor stove and wood stove inside. A big Kuznietsov mass heater keeps the house warm. Rainwater tanks hold 7 cubic meters of water and they have a solar pump as well. The only thing at the moment I'm unable to use in case of power outage is my well pump as it needs 3kW and 380V. This is not a big deal since I have many sources of water. Power outages here are not very frequent but happen every few months and average time until it is fixed is 9 hours (the longest so far was 2 days). Honestly, it doesn't make a big trouble.
20190614001.jpg
A part of my mobile "power plant"
A part of my mobile "power plant"
czer7.jpg
Emergency rainwater supply
Emergency rainwater supply
20190324007.jpg
Small solar oven
Small solar oven
f1.jpg
Staying warm with Kuznietsov mass heater
Staying warm with Kuznietsov mass heater
 
pollinator
Posts: 589
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
140
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Eric Hanson wrote:I guess I am being a little paranoid about it, but now I make backups to my backup power source.


That's not paranoia. That's resilience.
 
David Wieland
Posts: 37
Location: Manotick (Ottawa), Ontario
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

roberta mccanse wrote:Or will I eventually need an out house?


Well, the rest of that rich description was chuckle-worthy. ☺ As for backup toilet facilities, two that my wife and I used during our early country living were a trench latrine under a simple poly tent and a (smaller than a port-a-potty) outhouse that used a small plastic garbage can (with a lid) instead of a dug pit. There's no need to dig a big hole for temporary use.
 
Nicole Alderman
master steward
Posts: 14223
Location: Pacific Northwest
6446
hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

David Wieland wrote:

roberta mccanse wrote:Or will I eventually need an out house?


Well, the rest of that rich description was chuckle-worthy. ☺ As for backup toilet facilities, two that my wife and I used during our early country living were a trench latrine under a simple poly tent and a (smaller than a port-a-potty) outhouse that used a small plastic garbage can (with a lid) instead of a dug pit. There's no need to dig a big hole for temporary use.



Since I have kids, my plan is to use bucket toilets (and my little daughters' potty) for my family to poop in in the house, and then carry the poop out to a latrine out in the woods, away from my gardens, and bury it shallowly so the soil microorganisms can take care of it. That should last us long enough to work on a longer-term outhouse.

One of the nice things about a Family Reference Binder is that you can put in print information on stuff like how to dig a latrine, or make an outhouse, or make soap from ash, can food, etc. You might not need it, but you have it there as a easy-to-find reference.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
pollinator
Posts: 589
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
140
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

roberta mccanse wrote:Or will I eventually need an out house?


Ah, now we have drilled down to essentials. I have been taking notes (practical and olfactory, parked over pits nasty and not, for a great long time) and formulating plans for the Ultimate Taj Mahal of outhouses.

Covid adds some urgency, since I could host urbanites (fire + guitar + distancing) if only they had a comfortable outdoor facility for urgent business.

Elevator pitch: Obviously, people hate outhouses. So do I. But there's no need to park your nose inside the chimney of a disgusing anaerobic poo pit. That's dumb-ass engineering. I have a better idea.

This requires a new thread. But surely there must already be a PEP Badge Bit Thingy for this?
 
Posts: 13
Location: Washington, zone 8B, gravelly sandy loam, PH 4.8, 40 in/yr, warm dry summer - wet cool winter
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have power outages about once a month, mostly caused by trees falling on power lines, usually for less than a day but occasionally longer.  We got by for the first year without a generator.  We have a well and the 86 gallon captive air tank was originally set to vary from zero to 28 gallons of water in it and so did not provide a reasonable short term water supply.  I reduced the captive air pressure when empty from 40 psi to 30 psi.  That makes the pump cycle a little more often but makes sure there is at least 20 gallons still in the tank at the low pressure end.  

The septic system has both a fluid pump and an air pump.  The pump tank has about five days extra emergency capacity at typical usage but one time the circuit breaker popped and we didn't notice for a while.  The tanks flooded without backing up into the house and continued to drain to the leach field and so I guess we could get by for as long as we have water.  

It seems that the modern GFI/AFI circuit breakers occasionally trip on the power outages for no apparent reason.  Whole house surge protectors don't seem to prevent that.  I now have several UPSes and I've also learned to check all the circuits every power blink and make sure the light on the front of the freezers is on every night when I go to bed.  

So far our natural gas line has never lost pressure.  

We did get a generator.  It doesn't prevent the first 15 second power drop, doesn't power all the circuits like the air conditioning, dryer ...  and is only supposed to be run 200 hours between scheduled maintenance and so isn't an extended off grid solution.  

One frustrating issue is the that cable TV and internet goes down whenever the power goes out.  In fact the cable company's DVR refuses to run if there is no cable connection and so we can't even watch anything we have previously recorded.  At least the cell phones usually keep working.  
 
Hang a left on main. Then read this tiny ad:
Rocket Mass Heater Manual - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/8/rmhman
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic