Are Electric Vehicles and Solar Power Right for Preppers?

As the price of solar power drops and more preppers buy solar power generators and a few panels, should you consider an electric vehicle?

The idea of an electric vehicle (EV) sounds like it would be great for preppers; no depending on pipelines and trucks to bring oil to your local gas station. Just use your solar panels to charge it up.

Except it’s not that easy. It takes up to 100 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity to charge a Tesla Model S. To put this in perspective, we use about 25 kWh of electricity in our house every day. Recharging the car would take about as much power as we use in four days, and that’s on top of our normal consumption. Nobody’s solar power system is sized to produce that much extra power. The idea of regularly charging your EV with your solar system is a pipe dream unless you invest $100,000 or more in your system.

(This explains why states like California are asking EV owners to recharge in the middle of the night. The high draw of the chargers threatens the stability of the grid when electrical use is near capacity.)

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Survival Diary June 28: Propane Possibilities

Our all-electric house may be getting its first propane-powered appliance. That could be the foot in the door.

As I have mentioned before, our house is all electric, with no propane or natural gas. Apparently, the former owner, who built the house, did not “believe” in propane and didn’t want it in his house. This makes powering the house by solar power difficult, or at least prohibitively expensive, because running the stove and oven require so much electrical power.

Finding ourselves in need of a new cooktop, we are considering propane. Not because we want to make the house easier to power via sola—that’s an added bonus—but because we both like cooking on gas. We would place a tank outside the house and plumb a gas line into the garage and run it up through the floor of the kitchen under the stove.

The immediate benefit is that we could then cook on the stovetop if there was no electricity. Yes, I know gas appliances today require electricity, but that is easy to provide via battery power, solar power, or a so-called “solar generator.” While we can cook on the wood stove, the Coleman stove, our outdoor grill, or an actual open fire, the ability to cook on a traditional stove top during an extensive power outage would be awesome.

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Using the Ryobi Inverter for Stop-Gap Emergency Power

It’s small. It’s not very powerful, but the price was right. This mini-inverter adds another layer in our preps.

I just took advantage of “Ryobi Days Deal” offer at Home Depot and bought two of their 18-volt rechargeable batteries for $99. As my free “tool” that came with the promotion, I ordered the Ryobi inverter, Like the entire line of their battery powered tools, is powered by a Ryobi One+ battery.

After this purchase arrives, I will have six of their batteries, four of which will be 4-amp hour batteries, and two smaller batteries that do not last as long.

The Inverter

The Ryobi inverter is a small thing with two USB ports and a single 120-volt AC outlet that can provide a maximum of 150 watts. In the inverter world, this is tiny. Don’t expect it to power your refrigerator, or even your toaster oven, but it can power a light, a radio, and charge anything with a USB charger. One of the 4-amp hour batteries will charge your average cell phone six times and run a floor lamp with an LED lightbulb for hours. It will also charge up the 18650 batteries in our rechargeable flashlights, lanterns, headlamps and weapon lights.

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Extreme Drought Hits Western U.S., Plus New Solar Ideas

Much of the Western U.S. is in a severe to exceptional drought and unless some serious snow falls in their mountains, we could see an impact on the food supply

Food Storage is one of the pillars of prepping. It’s a foundational, meaning something you should have before you stockpile things like extra tools, items for barter, or gold or silver. A supply of potable water for drinking, rehydrating food, and hygiene is even more critical as you will die of thirst far before you starve to death. This is why preppers group them together as food, water, and shelter.

As we head into 2021, an extreme drought in much of the Southwest is raising concerns about water shortages. (See the main image, above, which is part of a larger, more complete report available at Because water is required to grow vegetables, fruits and nuts in California and other states, a drought may negatively impact the food supply this coming year. Add to this the possibility that fingers of drought will continue to reach into the Midwest and plains states, and you can see how the grain might also be hurt.

Ironically, last year it rained so hard many farmers were not able to get corn in the ground in a timely manner. This just reinforces the point that our feed supply remains weather dependent.

Speaking of weather, let’s hope the West gets some heavy snow before winter is over; they need it to refill the snowpack and their reservoirs. And let’s not forget that drought conditions also can lead to an increased risk of wildfires.

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The Best Way Preppers Should Spend their Stimulus Check

As Congress creeps closer to yet another stimulus bill, Preppers may be in for a windfall. Here are our suggestions on how to spend it.

Yesterday, I suggested you use the coming (temporary) period of exuberance and excitement after the COVID-19 nightmare draws to a close to prep. Below are some suggestions in greater detail, but because we’ve talked about food and water before, we’re going to start with the bigger preps and work backwards:

Get Out of the Cities

I think the biggest priority for any serious prepper should be to move out of an urban or suburban location and to a rural one. I’m not talking “vacation country” where people go to spend two weeks a year, but hardcore country where just about everyone owns a chainsaw, a rifle and pickup truck.

Your stimulus check won’t buy your new property, but it can cover the travel and other expenses related to a property search.

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Picking the Best Solar Power Inverter

The inverter is both the heart and the brains of your solar power system, so you need to carefully consider what type you need, how much power it can handle, and what your budget can afford

Our Solar Power Journey, Part 3

In this section of our solar power coverage, which is part three in the series, we address the inverter.  For information on panels and batteries, see part two, or start at the beginning with part one.

We tend to think of the solar panels when we think of solar power, but the inverter is really the heart and the brain of any solar system. The inverter does the hard work, including:

  • Uses the DC current from the solar panels to charge your batteries, converting the voltage as necessary, thereby storing the solar power for future use.
  • Turns the DC current from the panels into AC current used by your home’s electrical system.
  • Sends excess AC power out to the grid, if you are in a grid-attached system.
  • Converts DC power stored in the batteries to AC and distributes it throughout your home.  For off grid systems, this happens whenever you flip a switch.
  • Accepts power from your generator and uses it to charge your batteries.
  • Monitors the health of your batteries and optimizes their charge.
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More Solar Power Considerations for Preppers

Selecting a solar power installation is not a simple choice. You need to consider the type of system, the best battery to use, and the size and type of solar panel

Our Solar Power Journey – Part 2

In Part One, we looked at our electrical demand and made some tough decisions about what we would power and what would probably not be powered using our future solar system.  We quickly realized that we will NOT be powering the entire house due to the high electrical draw of our electric stove top, oven, heat pump dryer, and hot water heater.

In this continuation, we are going to look at the different types of solar systems and battery types available and do some more planning for an eventual installation.  For those of you following along, at the end of this article, you should have a greater understanding of the available solar options and be in a position to make some decisions.

Let me make it very clear that I am a layman.  I am not an electrician, an engineer, or a solar power expert.  So do your own research, consult experts as necessary, and make your own decisions based on your individual situation.

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How to Decide if You Should Invest in Solar Power

Every prepper should consider solar power at some point in the prepper journey. We assess where we stand and start making some decisions.

Our Solar Power Journey – Part 1

I am seriously considering whether we can or should add solar power to Pete’s Prepper Property.  This is a question that I recommend all serious prepper consider at some point on their prepping journey because electric power is one of the things that helps keep our modern society going.  Without it, most people would be quickly be shivering in the dark, hungry, and unable to communicate over long distances. 

Electricity is the foundation of our way of life.  It pumps water and keeps our food cold.  It lights the way and cooks our food.  In the city, it keeps sewage system from backing up and ensures natural gas is flowing.  It powers the computers and associated systems that tell us how much money we have, let us buy things, and pump gas into our cars.

To increase our chances of survival after long term after a TEOTWAWKI-event, the answer is clearly yes, we need solar power.  I have a few small panels, each just strong enough to charge a USB device, but what about a much larger system?  Something where the output is measured in thousands of watts and the batteries can store enough to last for three days without sunlight?

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