What to do when the grid goes down

We have all had the experience when we are in the middle of something important and the power goes out. Most of the time, we take for granted that we have continual access to electricity. Power failures can be caused by:

  • Grid overload

  • Natural disasters

  • Cyber-attacks

  • EMP (electromagnetic pulses)

  • Solar flares

  • Nuclear strikes or bombings

  • Accidents

Electricity consumption in the United States is almost 17% of the world’s energy and accounts for 15% of world GDP. Steam turbines generate the majority of the world’s electricity and accounted for 48% of U.S. electricity in 2019.


When the power goes out, you are inconvenienced and often left in the dark. It is in your best interest to have a backup plan when the grid goes down. Fortunately, there are several different ways to generate electricity on your own.


What are forms of alternative energy?

Solar power - harnessing the power of the sun

Wind turbines - capturing the power of wind

Hydroelectricity - using the natural flow of water

Geothermal - extracting heat from the earth

Hand cranking - utilizing manpower

Bike Generator - human power


When you think about producing your own electricity while off the grid, take into consideration the following:

  • Affordability - Is it cost effective

  • Doable - Do you have the required items?

  • Available - Do you have enough wind, water, or manpower?

Many remote locations do not have a lot of options when the grid goes down. Many locations within each country can be costly to tie to the grid. Some people just like the idea of being self-reliant. Yet others find a sense of satisfaction getting energy from the sun, wind, and water. You have better control of your power when you generate your own electricity when there is a power outage.


What is the best off-grid power source?


This is a debatable topic, but solar power is the one that usually comes to mind.


Since it is not feasible to include electronic devices in a survival kit, options for self-contained off-grid power sources make sense. Two of these include hand-cranked chargers and solar chargers. The winner usually goes to the crank chargers. But are they better than solar? A hand-crank charger has advantages over solar chargers, but then solar chargers have a few advantages. The most apparent advantage of a hand-cranked charger is that it does not depend upon clear access to the sun for it to work.


The truth is that both solar and hand-cranked chargers are viable and potentially deserve a place in your survival gear.


Hand-cranked chargers:

  • Require only elbow grease

  • Take minimal time to work

  • Not fast, but efficient

  • Not dependent on the weather, location, or time of day.

  • Some can store power internally in the form of a battery bank.

The biggest drawback to hand-cranked chargers is that they require you or someone else to be continually invested in operating them. That means you cannot be doing something else at the same time. If you aren’t cranking, you run out of juice! You can move about while cranking, but anything that requires more attention is most likely out of the question


Also, how much time can you spare to turn the crank to fill up your batteries? Is that the best use of your time, or can you spend your time on something more substantial? Hand crank chargers are an excellent choice for the time and manpower required to operate them.


Solar chargers:

  • Can continually work if it is positioned correctly.

  • More portable and less expensive the more you use them.

  • You can make use of the largest source of light, namely the sun.

  • You must find an open sky

  • Requires you to unpack and unfold.

  • Activate and aim the panels directly at the sun.

  • It automatically harvests the sun’s radiation and converts it into electricity.

  • Battery packs can hold the charge ready to use later.

Obviously, on a good day, a solar charger allows you to do other things while it is making use of God’s given source of energy. That gives you a better chance of surviving.


The most significant disadvantage of solar chargers is that they are virtually useless if there is no sun. Suppose you have to be underground, hidden, or unable to get them in the correct position to soak in the rays. It also must be repositioned as the sun moves from east to west.


Both solar and hand-cranked chargers have advantages and disadvantages. The ideal situation would be to have both in your arsenal of survival gadgets. You must consider your purpose for needing a charger and invest in one or the other or both.


Bicycle Generators

Of course, you cannot fit a bicycle generator into your emergency kit. Still, if you have to lock down in your home, a bicycle generator is another excellent way to produce power manually. If there is no wind or sun to charge the off-the-grid batteries, a bicycle generator is an excellent tool. It can generate between 50 and 100 watts of usable energy.


You can make your bicycle generator using a few easily accessible parts. It does not put out very much energy but can power various electronic appliances, such as laptops, food processors, and batteries. A bicycle generator requires the following things:

  • Bicycle frame

  • Bicycle stand (to keep it off the ground)

  • 24V DC scooter motor

  • DC-DC Battery chargerMotor

  • Battery charger

  • Car battery, or something similar

  • DC-AC Inverter

  • Electrical components such as wires

  • Alternator

  • A multimeter might be useful

Making your own bicycle generator is a pretty easy DIY project, plus the great thing about a bicycle generator is that you can work on your physical fitness while producing electricity.


You can hook up a car alternator to the bicycle (preferably an exercise bicycle) to generate electricity. Ideally, one crank of the peddles turns the alternator 40 times or a 40:1 ratio. You don’t have to work very hard to get up to the speed up to 2100 rpm. Several videos on YouTube show you how to put your bicycle generator together.



Purchase a Generator

A generator is a device that converts mechanical energy into electrical power. You can utilize diesel, gasoline, or propane generators. They each have their pros and cons. Propane generators are usually quieter but can be pretty expensive to run. Diesel generators usually last longer. They are designed to be stationary, so they are less mobile than gas generators. They can also be costly to run. Gas generators are the least expensive way to go, costing a few hundred dollars.

Many people live off the grid and use a few different sources to generate their electricity. It is wise to have a backup plan for those on the grid. There is no guarantee that you will have a direct source of electricity all of the time. Make preparations now to produce your own power when the grid fails.


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