Electrical Power Off the Grid

Nolan is an aviation electrician by trade and a friend of Survival Tactics NOW! who lives in a fortified compound near the Canadian border.

Generating Electrical Power for Survival

Electrical power is often overlooked as a survival resource. But don’t just swipe your credit card for that 6.5-HP, 212-cc, 4000 Peak-Watt generator, on sale at the local big box retailer. These generators are only designed for occasional use. They are usually too heavy/noisy/gas-hungry to depend on when the SHTF. If this bothers you (and it should); do like me. Go as silent as possible…and ultra-portable.

Learn Electrical Power BasicsElectrical Power

Arm yourself with basic DC and AC systems knowledge. There are numerous resources available online and at your local hardware store. A decent primer can be found via www.sunelco.com (it costs about $5 for a catalog, and includes an overview of how to build and maintain renewable energy systems). YouTube also has countless DIY videos of electrical power projects. The good thing is that most can be completed at home. Be forewarned, some of these videos also include cats.

Caution: Always observe electrical safety protocol. Obtain proper training and use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before working on electrical power systems. When in doubt, consult with the experts (even low voltage electricity can be very unforgiving)!

A Couple of My Favorites

The BioLite CampStove ($130) burns leaves, twigs and other stuff to convert heat into 5-V electricity. Use it to charge your phone or other small electronics. It’s a lot less noticeable than other electrical power generators. It’s also small enough to carry in a backpack. So, while the zombies are feasting on your face, with your Honda generator belching its last hydrocarbon breaths, I will be charging my iPhone and cooking soup, and (ironically) watching “The Walking Dead” in near-total silence.

For the ultimate in silent operations, go with a solar generator like Goal Zero’s 150-watt Yeti ($200). It weighs 12 pounds with dimensions of 8 x 7 x 6 inches. Combined the Yeti with two 21 x 18 x 1 inch solar panels. This lets it gather enough electrical power from the sun to run a laptop computer or several smartphones. Users can also connect bigger panels up to a specific rating. Each 20-watt panel costs about $200. In addition to being portable, most panels will charge USB devices directly. The head unit contains a 12v battery/inverter to power bigger stuff. In general, solar equipment is still expensive. However, you can find good deals by purchasing components individually through discount retailers.

Know How to Adapt and Overcome

I have a vision of superhighways choked with a sea of abandoned cars. Cars have all kinds of electric goodies that can be cannibalized to build electrical power systems. You can create a wind-powered generator with solar backup using an alternator, solenoid, a 12-volt battery, six-gage cable and random bits of wiring harnesses, and a propeller fashioned from a few beer cans. Add a photovoltaic sensor and a micro-motor from a child’s radio-controlled race car. Now you’ve got a system that automatically rotates solar panels for optimal sunlight exposure.

These are things I think about when I’m home alone, and the power goes out.

When the electrical power grid goes down, most people will panic. You’re with Survival Tactics NOW! So, don’t panic! Just keep taking steps toward self-reliance.

Contact Survival Tactics NOW! for a free initial consult here.


  1. Nolan says:


    I’m glad you brought this up. Bicycle-driven power generation systems are relatively straightforward, cheap and easy to build. Their utility was displayed a couple of years ago during the “Occupy” protests on Wall Street, when participants fashioned a bicycle-driven generator attached to a battery bank/regulator circuit. It was used as a community USB charging station for tablets and phones.

    The basic plans have you riding your bike with the rear wheel on a dynamo, with a lot of mechanical energy wasted through friction, and a moderate amount of electrical energy wasted through the rectified circuitry. Some designs add a flywheel to smooth electrical output, making it easier to store volts without pedaling like a madman. You can google the details.

    For the most ridiculously efficient use of a bicycle, one dude has built a series of mechanically driven attachments that connect to a bike: grinders, sewing machines, anything that can be powered by a rotary motion. Google “bicycle factory.”

    Bottom line: If your goal is staying holed up for a while in a community setting, you will get the best electro-mechanical bang for your buck if you start with a stationary bike and do some modding. Add a large capacitor bank (and/or batteries) and a regulator, and you’ve got something people will pay to use. On the other hand, a dynamo setup is portable, but takes more energy (in terms of calories) to use.. Stock up on energy bars.

  2. Aaron B says:

    Another issue that will occur when the liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons run out is lack of transportation. Bicycles will make a viable alternative for shorter trips and is a part of my survival plan for some scenarios. Granted it wouldn’t work for a bug out scenario, it could be useful for some situations.

    Given the long and seemingly off topic intro, it seems like it would be fairly straight forward to use a generator with a bicycle to generate some electricity. This could be useful for a shelter in place type scenario with the grid down. When done indoors, there would be no noise nor any exterior indication of activity.

    Have you considered this approach and if so what is the most efficient strategy?