The need to be self sufficient and not rely on others. How to take your home off-grid

My wife and I have been looking at houses recently, and our desire to be off-grid and self reliant is a major factor we are considering. We declined a house that was pretty nice because it wasn’t able to be made off-grid and we would always have to be reliant on someone else and their prices and supply. Got me thinking about this topic and I wanted to brain storm some ideas.

There may come a time when gas (propane, natural gas), electricity, gasoline/diesel, and even water are in short supply. As we have seen in the news over the past year prices and supply is very fragile and can’t always be relied on to be available and at a low cost. Take Texas just this year where electricity was unavailable for many during the middle of winter, and if it was the prices were jacked up 10,000% leaving people with a $9,000 electricity bill for the month. That is just wrong…

We need to look at our lives especially when we see it happening to others on the news, and know that it can and probably will happen to us. Call your power company and ask what your rates are. Are they locked in? Or will you have a couple thousand dollar electricity bill with no warning if there is a shortage?

What happens if there is a gasoline shortage and you have to still keep up your 45 minute commute everyday or risk losing your job and then your home?

How will you cook if the natural gas is out because someone crashed into a pipeline and you can no longer use your stove or oven?

Or even worse, what if an EMP or other SHTF disaster happens and water, gas, and electricity are all knocked out at once for everyone? Are you just going to freeze, not be able to eat, or live in darkness?

Lets do something about it and not be a victim! Please contribute your thoughts on each section and lets come up with some real solutions for people. Share what your utility setup is like and how you would like to make it more self reliant, others can then give feedback and help you out.

Gas (propane, natural gas)

  • The house we were looking at this week had the furnace and oven/stove ran on natural gas that had to be pumped in from the city on demand. The question we had is, is there a way to convert a house to run on propane? We would like to get one of those 1000 gallon propane tanks that we fill up once a year. That way we wouldn’t be as reliant on the grid and could possibly have a couple months worth of fuel for cooking and heating, hopefully enough time for things to settle down and supply to get back to where it was. Does anyone know if you can convert a natural gas home to propane? What does that process look like? All new piping and appliances? Or can you just buy an adapter and screw your pipe lines into a propane tank?
  • A propane grill, propane space heater and a month’s worth of propane can help you to keep cooking and stay warm
  • Look into alternatives for cooking, heating, and light with kerosene.
  • Solar oven for cooking


  • Getting a generator to keep your fridge and lights on.
  • Having solar panels, portable solar chargers, battery banks, etc…
  • Have heat and cooking sources that don’t rely on electricity
  • Lanterns, flashlights, and headlamps
  • Maybe something like a large portable battery like the Jackery? Has anyone tried something like this?

Gasoline and Diesel

  • Learning how to hypermile. A way to get 100mpg out of a car that usually only gets 30. If fuel is scarce or overly expensive, learning how to get the most mpg (or kpg for you UK folks).
  • Storing gas.
  • Alternative transportation methods like public transportation, biking, or a motorcycle


  • Rain catchment
  • Storing water
  • Using baby wipes instead of showering


I’m not prepared for any lack of supply of my utilities, but want to do something about it

Who is off-grid? What did you do to get there?

Who wants to be off-grid? What is something you can do to be a bit more self reliant?


  • Comments (45)

    • 5

      Good morning Robert,

      It’s a permanent process not to reply on others.Without even getting into levels like EMP/SHTF, if a major disruption in this area, roads are not drivable, 

      Two arenas for self-sufficiency not mentioned but primary matters for my area”self-sufficiency” in re health/medical care and physical security. Home invasions won’t be realistically occuring but forest fires will be.

      In reply to specific topics;

      A.  Gas (propane, natural gas); I’ve got about 6 methods for cooking, heating, water access. One of these “methods” is using the large, fill it up once a year, LPG tank as mentioned above.  My main power until self-reliance kicks in, is Dominion Energy’s juice (getting expensive now). When going off-grid in my house in a forest, is using my self built outdoor fireplace/grill. Over the years had built up a supply of dry hardwood for fuel. Would start a fire and keep it going. A major requirement here is coffee and some boiled water. The fire can safely be kept going – IF –  watched and monitored. Philosophy is to treat this off-grid event like a permanent camping trip.

      B.  Electricity; An external generator in this area – rural acreage – requires a diligent security program. These generators are frequently stolen. My well house has an inverter and hand-pump. Idea is for transition from on-grid to off-grid. My real lifesaver is getting a portable windmill generator for boat. It also accepts sun rays.

      C.  Gasoline and Diesel; Here, if the public has no vehicle fuel, roads are closed due to collusions, abandoned vehicles, etc.  Hurricane season starts in ~ 4 weeks. 

      D.  Water; Plenty. Plus new portable RO seawater distillery bought for inflatable (along with the mast-mounted windmill). Both appear somewhat expensive but I bought through our co-op and, overall, a good buy when using realistic financial principles to determine value.

      I personally believe “off grid” works best when not in urban areas. My off-grid capability arranged by living in a forest with a few nearby neighbors who are participants in co-op and neighboorhood watch program. We constantly train and share skills, experiences, refinements.

      My self-reliance now primarily governed by health care preparations.

      • 3

        A+ response bob! Thanks for your input it really has helped me out.

        Can I ask some followup questions?

        How have you built up a supply of dry hardwood for fuel over the years? I’m cheap and was planning on scouring Craigslist for free scrap wood during the summer and then having enough wood for the winter.

        How will you protect your generator from getting stolen? 

        Do you run your generator regularly to keep it working well?

        Are you ready for hurricane season? What does prepping for that look like each year?

        That’s cool you have a RO seawater distillery! 

      • 5

        Good afternoon Robert,

        Appreciate compliment.  In reply to specifics;

        MY shack is in a forest on my land. When, for example, lightning hits the top of a tree and top falls to ground, it is “harvested”. Will cut it up and store this firewood on top of 2 horizontal-positioned steel fence posts kept off the ground by being on top of some building blocks. Have a couple of these “woodpiles” here.  Resupply of wood is somewhat vast.

        The generator is not used unless a few of us are present 24/7. It’s for a boat mast but works when attached to a pole. It cannot be readily seen. It is easy enough (famous words !) to remove and bring inside.

        Someone in group checks the generator.

        Ready for hurricane season ? No, of course not. I’m ready as to what I can do but not ready in case of medical emergenies, less first aid level stuff. Already developed a room for medical care but what is needed is insufficient. Basic dental care: yes but not serious trauma for rest of bod.

        An annual check-up of land immediately prior to and during hurricane season is a routine here. The house is checked much more often than the land. Tools are ready to keep road available for a planned or unplanned evacuation …. if this is feasible. A BIG tree cannot be removed without CAT tractor type of machinery. 

        Summary; Ready at individual level for hurricanes less medical emergencies. The aging process interfers with all this.  The novelists were so correct !

      • 4

        Hopefully the first aid course that The Prepared is coming out with will be able to ease some of your first aid concerns. They say a big chunk of it is self first aid, as in you are in your bunker and get injured and there is no one around so you have to fix yourself up. I’m looking forward to it, because I’m sure working on yourself brings a whole nother angle and difficulty.

      • 4

        Good afternoon Robert,

        My problem is RX pharma. 

    • 3


      I can offer the following right now:

      I use natural gas to heat my home, cook and run the dryer. It is the least expensive option where I live which is a cold climate. Electric baseboard is the most expensive here. There has only been one incident that I can recall of a problem with a natural gas line in my province, while I do remember many electric power outages.

      Recently, there have been attempts to slag the natural gas as not environmentally sound, however, I find it interesting that the industry who is doing it makes more money off the electricity they sell. I happened to research solar panels yesterday while convalescing.

      I was planning to put some solar panels in my back yard (ground mount) and on the garage roof when it is built. I don’t like the ROI. The cost of solar panels and install is high for what the return of electricity is. 

      There is also a concern about the practices of some companies who offered free solar panels IF the person signs a contract and pays them to have the solar power. Look up the reviews on Vivent. People are trying to get out of those very expensive monthly bills. So beware of gimics like this. These contracts are sometimes run through third parties and can be sold to other companies.

      Be very careful to avoid these shady deals. We had them come through town here trying to sell natural gas. I told the salesman that our hydro doesn’t charge a mark up on the natural gas pumped into my home and to leave.

      The other thing I discovered about solar is that the panels have a life span. Right now the first generation panels (about 25 years old) are reaching their end of life. The problem is that the panels are creating toxic waste and going to landfill because they can’t recycle them. That doesn’t work for me, so I will not go solar panels for all of the above reasons.

      I plan to put a wood/pellet burner in my garage and to plumb in a natural gas generator for the house. An outside boiler would be nice also.

      • 4

        Glad you said something about the solar panel shenanigans! I probably would have been suckered into their sales pitch trying to find some way to pay for panels. They are very expensive, but luckily the cost is quickly lowering each year.


        (not sure how accurate this chart is, but solar has plummeted over the years.)

        Batteries are a high cost in solar setups. Hopefully battery technology will continue to improve and get cheaper.

        Is the wood burner in your garage going to be used to heat the garage? Will you be feeding it 24/7 during the winter to keep your garage above freezing? What is your source of wood/pellets?

      • 2


        I hope the prices do come down as it is still a very viable energy source. It is my hope that the next generation of solar panels can be recycled or we will be creating another problem for the environment. As for the energy shenanigans, there are always a few bad apples who try to take advantage of people. Fortunately, we can alert a wider audience more rapidly now and prevent more victims of this underhanded practice.

        We are working in stages and with the current property while looking for a larger property. My improvements are very carefully selected to increase the market value of my home while quietly covering prepper bases.

        When the garage/workshop is installed, it will be plumbed for natural gas as is the house. The gas ceiling furnace will only be used when the garage/workshop is in use. This is for resale value and normal use. 

        I want to install a wood stove as back up heat in the garage/workshop. (It is also for the aesthetic as both of us love wood stoves). The garage will also act as an emergency shelter if we have a power outage during extreme cold and need to shelter elsewhere. The wood stove will only need to be tended when we are in the garage/workshop.

        My husband wants to install an outdoor wood boiler to heat everything. It is very efficient and from what I remember him telling me, it is only loaded once per day (he’s outside working, but I will check with him later and ensure that is correct info).

        This is a very low cost way to heat. We have an abundance of wood and the wood pellets are sourced in big bags. One of the things we are looking for is a property with a wood lot that can be sustainably managed.

        Here’s some info on wood boilers:




      • 3

        Didn’t know that wood boilers were a thing. Seem pretty interesting and a good possible prep if you live in an area with lots of wood.

      • 3


        Husband came in between posts. According to him, you can burn anything in this type of boiler. Literally. I don’t know. I wished he typed better to he could explain (yes I am admitting I need some “mansplaining” – but only this one time 🙂

      • 3

        Well that would be nice if you could burn almost anything in there. Dried branches, weeds, inedible parts left over from gardening, junk mail, cardboard boxes from packages.

        That’s a brilliant idea to have a boiler that can burn almost anything, what happens if SHTF and trash companies cease to run? People could bring their trash to your house for burning and help cut down on disease that would happen from trash everywhere. And yes, it would get everywhere because animals would loot through the bags and spread it. 

        I would look into all exactly that could be burned in there. Is there any plastics that could be burned without gumming things up or creating bad fumes? I’d look into that because most packaging today is plastic

      • 4

        He did say garbage could be burned and other fuel types. He’s still outside working, but when he is in for the night, I will get him to give me more details on the boiler.

        It sounds really good to me for the same reason. Waste management was a issue I brought up in a couple of threads. It can pile up quickly.

        Also, the wood you burn in a boiler is a fraction of what you would burn in a different stove/fireplace. So there is good fue conservation also.

        Before I bought this house, we came so close to getting a house with a wood boiler system and acreage. If we were just a bit faster. 

      • 3

        That’s the thing right!? Always someone a bit quicker and with more money…

    • 3

      When we built or house, I had it designed for a natural gas whole house generator.  Seemed like a good idea but it really wasn’t.  The dang thing was not reliable.  It had an auto run system where it would start up once a week.  A couple of times a year it would fail to start & would require service.  Then the switch box, that allowed the unit to auto start during an outage, failed and of course had to be replaced.  They ain’t cheap.  I finally gave up on the thing.  About all it is good for now is as a boat anchor.

      So my prepper strategy is to first use a resource I have plenty of… wood.  Both our fireplaces in the house are wood burners.  I have numerous rocket stoves, a solar oven & the plans & resources to make a earth oven.  I have quite a few full size solar panels & 2 solar generators.  I also have a flex well pump that can operate directly from solar panels.  I also keep DC hot water tank elements which likewise can operate directly from a solar panel.

      Very little can go wrong with the solar setup, as opposed to fuel based generators.  Solar is also much more stealthy, which is a very high priority for me.  Nothing screams louder that you have resources than the roar of a generator.  So I have prepped to use as little electric as possible.  Sure it would be nice to have a 100% solar home & run the AC in the hot summer, but that just wasn’t possible for me.

      • 4

        I really appreciate the info on natural gas generators. None of the people we know have had problems with them, which is why I am lookng at it as a back up source of heat/power along with a direct vent gas fireplace for the house. Unfortunately, wood isn’t an option in the house for us (without a major reno).

        We plan to conceal the generator and insulate for sound.

         I still have hope for solar, but the ROI is going to have to change for us to install it here. I also have solar oven and want to get a parabolic oven as well.

        Solar is indeed stealthy, but burning wood can be smelled for miles. Luckily for us there are enough wood fireplaces and stoves in town that someone would be hard pressed to drill down on who is burning wood.

        The main thing is that we are all trying to do what works for us and cover as many bases as possible. It is a challenge.

      • 6


        Kinda late to the discussion but here is a thread on off grid electric that I threw my 2 cents in on . Might be of interest here.

    • 6

      As long as I can push a button and the TV comes on, I am a happy girl. But in the event that becomes a problem, I am firmly in the ” one is none” camp. I have 2 large underground propane tanks that power the 2 downstairs furnaces, the upstairs is a heat pump. No nat’l gas out here so not an option. Yes, the furnaces/appliances ” could be” adapted from nat’l gas to propane. If elec is down, most of the fireplaces here have propane logs. If that fails, 2 are still wood burning. I also have kerosene heater and a propane portable heater. Gas grill is for emergency cooking with back up small tanks. After that, I have utensils and practice in open fire cooking. Solar oven is also a back up for back ups<smile>. Good thing/bad thing is this house is 100+ years old. So the bad thing is it has “quirks” like not caring for LED light bulbs, shortage of elec outlets, that type thing. Good thing is when it was built, modern things were not required so having to punt in an emergency, we are good. And out in the country, we have practice drills of no elec…no water…..on a regular basis<smile>. We had no elec for 4 days for no good reason….it came back on long enough for the water heater to make hot water so I could shower…..then the water went out for 3 days. I do disasters much better with a shower. And coffee. I keep a 1# propane canister and camp burner at the ready to make coffee. County water but….outside water for animals etc is a well. Then I have the other well that in a worst case situation, you can toss a bucket down. 

      My basis for prepping is to spend a day/week/month THINKING of what I use per day. And write it down. This starts with water, coffee, coffee filter, water to brush teeth, toothpaste, etc. ALL day. EVERYTHING. Then I worked backwards to solve the ” what ifs”. If water does not come out of the faucet, what solves that. If lights do not come on, what is the solution. With little kids, the power out at night caused ” upset” ( and screams). Solution….hang LED flashlights from the ceiling fan strings and explain Mom will push the button for you in a minute. No reason to panic. They are older now but seem comforted know that they KNOW what to do in situations. Tornado warning….when one is near enough to be a concern….we all make our way to the d/s powder room. Kid #3 actually is the one that has decided to be ” in charge” of NWS warnings announcer<smile>. Severe Tstorms…….Mom…not in our area. Flash floods…..MOM….our area. 

      Hope you can find solutions that work for you. I know how blessed we are to be situated the way we are even if we are not ready for ALL situations.

      • 1

        I love your setup there! Thanks for taking the time to tell me about it. 
        Did you have to pay for the two underground propane tanks or were they there before you got there? How much is something like that?

        That’s very interesting that your house isn’t a fan of LED lightbulbs. Never would have thought that was a thing, but it makes sense with an older house and being wired differently. 

        I also like how organized you are and how you keep track of what you use in your daily routine. My wife and I did that for a while but should get back into it again. 

        Thanks for being a good example to me!

      • 4


        The smaller, 500 gal, tank was here. I had the 1000 put in. Most propane cos will install and lease you the tanks. Local propane co was sold to Nasty Evil National co so I just recently bought both the tanks so I can use whatever supplier I want. The 1000 gal tanks run about $3000 and the 500 gal runs about $2000. The oil tank was here also and……..the space for coal was too<smile>. 

        LED bulbs in my BR chandelier makes like a strobe light. NOT COOL. 

        Good example? Single mom with 3 homeschooled kids and critters….this is just so I don’t lose my mind. No chance in <—-> I am putting critters in, rounding up the boys and driving 20 miles to WM……parking..keeping kids in a bunch, etc etc etc because I ran out of bread at 6:30 PM. Not happening! I prep cuz I am LAZY<smile>.


      • 1

        Those tanks are more expensive than I thought. I would also buy out my tank if it got sold to a big corporation, thanks for the heads up on that.

      • 3

        I’m finally getting around to reading this thread. here’s some general thoughts…

        My dining room light (old farm house) wouldn’t work with led bulbs, but it was because the dimmer switch for it wasn’t compatable with Led bulbs. if you have a dimmer switch, replacing it might solve that issue. I apologize if you or someone else already mentioned it.

        Lots of great comments from folks on this thread. Our house has only been partially updated electrically. the high load equipment has modern wiring, but lights in spare rooms -closets. are not. never had issues with with led bulbs at our home.  

        I’ve had solar and battery back up for about a decade. I discussed it in the link I posted above. I’m grid tied solar and able to microgrid with batteries. Soon to probably be mostly off grid, because of the way Iowa utilities treat self generators…. sigh.  One thing I didn’t mention was that the entire acreage   had old small wires connecting the buildings. I committed to a major upgrade to install modern heavy gauge buried wire  (ice storm can take down overhead wires, ask me how I know)  connecting the buildings, and new breaker boxes, along with 6 foot long grounding rods at the entrance to each building. we used to have voltage issues…. no longer. I have propane heat , soon to be electric – propane combo with a heat pump addition.  

        An engineer friend built a new house and heats it with a large outside wood boiler that stores heat in a several thousand gallon water tank in his basement. It has an electric backup if he is way from home for a few days.  

        I’ve owned both my propane tanks for years. I paid about $1000 for each. Not surprised that they are much higher these days. I’m wondering if propane tanks are among the items that are hard to source these days. 

        I also was glad to see bob mention he networked with neighbors. People can plan for short to moderate term emergencies, but if long term problems arise, sooner or later you will need friends and allies. I’d recommend this link , from a former vet-medical- law enforcement background for more on how to build relationships. Some of my family is current or former law enforcement, and their experience has been a great resource for me.  

        amusing foot note. My computer mouse ceased working today. Lucky I had a spare in the closet :).

      • 5

        Thanks for the idea. BR has a dimmer but some other fixtures do also. Worth a shot to replace this and worst case, I am out a few $$ and a few minutes. Old houses and their quirks..shaking head.


      • 4

        Good morning Iowa Guy,

        Appreciated reading my name being mentioned.  Thank you.

        Here in the coastal, mid-Atlantic, propane tanks are available. Just have $$$ and factor into prepper plans properly avoiding any additional county taxes.

      • 3

        Your’e in hurricane country right bob? Do you see propane prices rise this time of year? Do you track prices and fill up when it’s at it’s lowest?

      • 3

        Good morning Carter,

        Yes, I’m in hurricane country – within the “hurricane alley” corridor.

        It’s difficult to determine propane price rises.  This is because of taxes and other aspects determining price besides the actual propane cost.

        No, my financial management of shack doesn’t involve purchasing at lowest cost.  I fill up as a matter of routine and rely on something akin to “dollar cost averaging”.  My actual value placed on the fuel is based on comparison to rationing it with my overall focus on health matters. I could go outside to make a pot of espresso or coffee but this has risks at night. The propane stove is overall a safer method.  Of course I’ve got additional “emergency” layers of cooking and heating using camping stove (and Mr Heater brand space heaters) cartridges and large portable gas container(s) in barn – but this is for HADES and evacuation if required to vacate premises.

        My primary concern is the consequences of not having enough fuel. My concern is due to the aging factor involving the typical aging ailments.

      • 2

        Hey Mr. Iowa, have you had to replace the batteries of your solar setup since getting them? How costly is that?

      • 7

        Not yet, they were rated for about 5000 charge cycles . They’ve been used much less than that since I am grid tied. The batteries have been mainly used during grid outages. My solar inverters keep track the battery voltage and periodically perform a leveling -boost charge. Zero issues. Price has likely dropped since I purchased a decade ago. At the time they were about half the cost of lithium,but still a luxury purchase compared to grid priced electricity. I have my 90 yr old parents living here also, so  back up power brings peace of mind. 

        I paid about $4000 for the batteries, and have about 30 KWHs of battery time. Night time use is about 5 KWHs (furnace, electric water heater, well, tv, refridgerator,freezer….they are efficient models) ) in cold weather for me, until the sun comes up. I’m planning an upgrade to be able to use AC at night in the summer, though not sure exactly what the final upgrade will be yet.          

    • 5

      good day every one from sunny Australia

      my wife and I live on 5 acres 30mins from a city in Queensland  and our journey to be more self reliant has happened over many years and I would not change it for any other life style . We have 10,000 gal water tanks which collect rainwater from our house and workshop roofs and we have never run out of water and we have a lake about the size 5 Olympic  swimming pools [and we are not connected to town water] we grow a lot of own vegetables and can grow all year round we also  have planted 38 fruit trees . the growing of any thing takes time and lessons learnt so if you are thinking of one day growing your own start now where ever you are has books will only take you so far.We also raise our own beef and pork which like anything you produce  taste so much better and cheaper than any store. At the moment we have a Jersey cow who has a young cow and bull enjoying her milk the cow we will sell on and the bull will go in the freezer , we keep Bees and the honey is really good but has I said before all this at least for us had to be learnt. we are not connected to the grid so we 100% solar with electricity and hot water which was cheaper than the connection fee to the grid and our solar has been really good we cook with propane and I always make sure a minimum  of 6 months supply, we have a full pantry of dry goods etc ,also we have a really good work shop where we keep our 2 freezers our home brewed beer spare gasoline and much more, how we got to where we are took a lot of hard work and try and error in our younger years has we are both retired and now enjoying taking things a lot easier , we are careful with money and most of what we buy is what we need not want, I built our own home which saved a lot of money and we   don,t have any debt which is really important we rarely eat out has we eat really well at home and again is much cheaper, gun laws are tight in Australia but you can have shotguns and rifles though it takes months to get through the license   laws etc I have a shotgun and will soon get a rifle , all in all I would say if you are willing to put in the effort and is something you enjoy doing go for it why you can when the lock down happened here it was not really a problem for us no panic buying just kept on doing what we where already doing

      All the best


      • 2

        Hi John,

        Awesome set up and operation and thank you for sharing about it. Love the Jersey cow feature – I grew up with them on a dairy farm. They are wonderful animals.

        We have the same situation with gun laws in Canada and it is getting tighter. 

        Having preps on hand made a huge difference when the shortages and lock downs happened. We just carried on as well. We are in a town but hope to get acreage. In the meantime, we are maximizing what we can do in our present situation.

        All the best to you as well,


      • 5


        Good morning( here it is morning). 

        One VERY good point you made was this lifestyle takes time! Here, I can see “this project was done that year”……”this project was done 2 years later”. Slowly for me as it was done debt free. Save the $$ THEN get the barn built. Yes, in some cases NOW would have been more fun<smile> but no debt/no interest was less stressful! And the same as you, we rarely eat out as home is much cheaper and honestly, I am a decent cook<smile>. The lockdown thing only impacted us as to refilling things. But I did that last summer when things loosened and winter we just coasted. Same with this year. But living this way does take thought and planning. If somebody is used to ordering dinner delivered 5 days a week….gardens do not pop up in a week<smile> just in time for dinner! I would love to go solar but for now, not happening. Nice to meet you.


    • 4

      Found a video on offgrid living with mostly electric appliances, vehicle charging, gardening , water pumping, etc.  It’s a fancy setup , in the west coast climate, but the video does supply quite a bit of information about the system.  There are more videos , but haven’t checked them out. He likes to review cars as well….

      The Truth About EVs And Solar

      • 3

        I never knew how energy hungry electric vehicles are, but it makes sense, thank you for the link to the video. I liked seeing his setup as well.

        I can see within the next 20 years or so that EV’s will become the majority of vehicles on the road. Houses and infrastructure will need to adapt to keep up with the demand. Planning now and buying extra panels to accommodate an EV in your setup might be smart.

      • 4

        you’re welcome. Yes, He gave out a lot of good info. I think he had a hiccup with calculations once which he referenced in the comments, but otherwise good.

        Watch the regulatory process. For instance, Iowa utilities are trying to attach fees to businesses and residences who charge vehicles with their own solar panels. Utilities want those $$$ for themselves. 

        I liked how he pointed out that acid batteries were lower cost than lithium and were easier to recycle.

        In an ideal situation an electric vehicle would plug and play into your home microgrid and exist alongside your existing home batteries to extend- increase your back up power supply. I’ve been looking for this type of equipment for a while…and haven’t found any yet.

        I’ve seen articles about electric cars able to power houses for a day or 2 in Japan.  Ford’s new electric truck will be able to do this as well, and they offer a couple gas powered pickups that have an on board generator and a 240 volt out put.

         If the car wall charger would be able to charge and feed back power at 48 volts DC, my solar inverter should just see this as a 3rd string  of batteries. 

        I’m not aware of electric car chargers able to charge at DC and also AC current yet (and also able to flow bi directional )   . Maybe someone is ahead of me on this…maybe I’m over thinking it and there is a simple way to address this. 

        The grid is simply not ready for all the electric demand coming with vehicles and electric appliances. The Texas grid issues a few months ago reached all the way up into western Iowa, and we were part of the rolling black outs . I was nice and warm with back up electricity, but my utility came within minutes of having their grid crash, and having to black start it. A process that they said would take days. Translation- they couldn’t handle the current “record demand” imposed on the grid that week.

        I love the idea that I could make my own “fuel” at home charging my car off solar panels, but haven’t taken the electric car plunge …yet.

        Finally, like the video producer mentioned, I’d observe that while it’s pretty simple to replace electricity generated by the utility with your own home generated power, it takes much more of a solar set up when you start fuel switching things – electric car, propane furnace, etc. 

      • 3

        Having the ability to fuel your own car through your panels sure is appealing. If there was another gas shortage (like there was this month) then you can continue on and not be affected. 

        I am going to be a late adopter to the EV market. Let them work out the kinks. 

        One concern I have with EV’s is the ability to repair them on your own. If you are following the news you might have seen the Right to Repair laws that people are trying to pass. Tesla, Apple, and other tech companies don’t want us repairing our own gear that we rightfully own so they can milk even more money out of us if we go to them for repairs. It’s sad, but it is becoming hard to fix our own stuff. Tesla can possibly block future software updates to your vehicle if they sense that it was modified and changed against their design. 

        Where as if I buy a gas 2015 Ford F150 I can do whatever I want with that and it is already in a form factor that I’m aware of on how to repair.

      • 2

        The tesla right to repair issue also applies to their powerwall batteries if memory serves, with web portals that can remove you from the grid during periods of peak electric demand, marketed as a benefit to utilities. I’m not sure if they can be configured to work well for the homeowner. 

        There are some youtube videos out there on this, I’ve never worked with a tesla powerwall system yet. 

        Right to repair is a big issue in agriculture as well. Companies don’t seem to want us becoming more independent 🙂

        Having the ability to use the vehicles battery as additional home battery storage  makes me much more interested in an ev. Having to install more panels and batteries in order to charge another battery (car) seems to defeat that purpose. 

      • 4

        iowa guy,

        Right to repair in agriculture is also tied into failure times for components.

        Some parts are designed to fail in three years. This is from a person I knew well who worked in an ag machinery assembly plant. He also happened to farm. Farmers have a tough enough time as it is without the additional gouging. Most farmers here are leasing their equipment now.

        No one owns anything and no one can control what they own. Right to repair can help avert that future.

      • 3

        How disappointing about the planned equipment failures. I’ve seen failure issues with our farm equipment that I thought shouldn’t have happened…thinking  the engineering people maybe sent it to the field to see if it would hold up. Wouldn’t discount your story with my experience. New equipment is so expensive that much is leased here also, along with purchase agreements that are traded annually. after a few years and trades, that equipment eventually ends up owned by someone who finishes using that equipment for its usable life. My newest equipment is about a decade old. repairs are also expensive, and we are now starting to see supply line shortages show up in my area on ag related items. Nothing severe yet. 

        My solar array has been a much different experience, performing well. Hope it continues to do that. I drive an older hybrid car that is paid for, along with my farm truck . the hybrid gets about 10,000 miles logged each year. It gets 45 Plus miles per gallon, so trading for a new electric vehicle looks like a poor investment on a cost per mile calculation. Also a factor, the nearest charging stations are 40 miles from me… round trips are often more than 200 miles for me (range anxiety) , so I don’t want to give the impression that I’m about to buy one. I’m watching the tech though.  

        Also ,my solar equipment purchased a decade ago was mostly made in the states . Now a new study is out showing solar, wind and battery manufacturing is heavily dependent on forced labor.    

        I’ve got more than 20 years in renewable experience (I probably have a tell all book in me) , including legislative, tax, some commercial project development, representing landowners approached by commercial renewable developers … etc. My opinion on renewable tech is that it really has the potential to empower people and democratize energy production (it’s not doing that yet) . How sad that a lot of green advocates are willing to overlook the fact that labor forces may not be sharing in that freedom either. It’s not my intent to head into politics here, but it might provide some insight to my repeated stated preference for locally and U.S. made products on this board.        

      • 3

        iowa guy,

        The farm equipment seems like it is going the way of the automotive industry with people not actually owning their equipment. The risk is owing more and more money each time the equipment is traded.

        I saw examples of this on a consumer tv show. I believe the term they used was to be “upside down” when re-financing automobiles.

        Equipment failure seems to be happening on so many levels now, although I can’t prove it.

        A washing machine breaks just after the one year warranty expires. The repair is more than the machine cost. I replaced it with a difference washer.

        A part on my van failed just after the two year warranty. I argued that point and got a discount on the repair. It was the principle. Two years for me is not high mileage driving compared to some people who commute for work.

        Clothing, furniture, footwear, automobile parts, appliances, etc are not built to last. As long as people keep buying these items and accepting the status quo nothing will change.

        For much of my reno work on my home, I buy commercial grade where possible. It seems to help a bit.

        I am also watching how things evolve with the EV. My concern is the kind of failure that can occur and our inability to repair it. If this industry evolves honorably and in the best interest of good business practice (they are in business to make a profit), the environment and the consumer, then positive change can happen.

        Thank you for mentioning and linking the article on forced labor.

        The Uyghur situation is horrific. I read in BBC news about the atrocities being committed upon the Uyghur people, particularly the women. Nothing is worth having that is built on the suffering of other people. I would rather do without the item.

        I vote for you to write the book. Your experience means something and happened to you for a reason. The knowledge you carry could help other people.

        If we think of the green movement as a diamond in the rough, there are inclusions in it that need to be considered. I am hoping it is “cut” and “polished” to make it a better diamond.

        I am also a proponent of local/regional/national/nearest neighbor USA made products.

        The advantages of this preference is a stronger economy, less exploitation of other people, better for the environment, healthier food (instead of picked for transport and strains that can handle long shipping) and retaining skills that we will need if a major and prolonged disaster were to occur.

        I am also careful now to watch for companies where the entire product is made in Canada or the USA.

        I am seeding today again finally, so back to work.

      • 4

        Well said. We got into the present situation over the last few decades. It won’t be turned around overnight.  It’s really hard to source many of the items you mention in the U.S. or Canada. From a prepping stand point, cheap disposable products really don’t seem compatable with the goal of being more prepared to me.  

        A search today turned up this U.S. solar company. A quick scan didn’t tell me where the panels are made, though it looks like they are paying attention to their global supply chain. Not an endorsement. I’ve focused a lot in my time on improving policy for renewable projects connected to the grid. I’m not interested in industrial scale owned by monopoly energy interests. The off grid folks really are bypassing the utility issues and empowering themselves.

        Kind words suggesting I do write a book. I agree that I’ve been given the knowledge for a reason. My writing skills are dismal though. I have been uploading some things to a blog that I can link to if anyone is interested. It’s kinda wonky, and heavily focused on Iowa renewable energy stuff, so If that’s your thing…. 🙂 . There’s little prepping info on it though. I hadn’t written about my solar array at all there yet, though there is a small amount of energy efficiency items. I’ve gotten really good prepping info on this site, so I decided to share some of my residential solar experience here in return. 

        You probably have some stories to tell as well with your time in finance. I’ll bet a lot of people visiting here have stories to tell. 

        I’ll remove this if not OK for posting on this board, Sometimes when you “tell all” or help people, it makes some folks very angry, resulting in some of my mail rerouted through an Iowa utility. Yep, it happened. and I have the letter to prove it. I edited my address off of the picture below. I’m probably not hard to find though. 

        Back on topic… I’ve really appreciated the the things I’ve learned here and hope to continue the experience. I’m probably in trouble if it comes down to eating insects for protein though 🙂 . 

        MidAmerican opened letter


      • 3

        Hi iowa guy,

        I don’t know if you have the same issue, but in Canada we have this labelling system:


        I also found this blog which lists products no longer made in the USA and has other info, including the companies who do choose to manufacture their products in the USA.


        I checked out the First Solar info. Their panels are made locally and abroad.

        Here’s the info:




        I agree that the monopoly energy interests aren’t the answer. The grassroots movement to reduce dependency on an ageing grid system will most likely be the best solution for a healthier environment and economic balance. Monopolies are the snakes that eat their own tail.

        In southern Manitoba we have wind farms, but Manitoba hydro still has a strong grip on utilities here.

        I would be interested in reading your blog. This is related to the self-sufficiency of prepping. As for the writing, you are clear and articulate. The best way to reach people is through simple, plain langage.

        You have a passion for the subject and that will carry you far in writing about it. I think you would do well at it.

        I workshopped with other writers in the past to help hone my writing skills. I also have a friend who proof reads my work to catch what grammar check misses and for clarity.

        Wow! They re-routed your mail? That’s the power of big business and deep pockets.

        Glad you found the forum. You have much to share and teach also.

        As long as I can fish, I plan to avoid insects. The Perch here does get wormy so a person could combine the two 🙂

      • 3

        The states are are behind in country of origin  labeling (cool). I think we have no requirement. The companies that are claiming made in the USA might still source materials elsewhere. When there is no mention of where the product is made, it’s a good bet it’s made in another country. Maybe someone here is more up to speed  on Cool.

        Thanks for finding the First Solar information.  Here is my blog link. Haven’t had time to write much lately . I”ll see if I can pick out a post or two that’s relevant to this forum. I’ve been on a long expose on wind energy property tax irregularities.    

      • 3

        Good morning Iowa Guy,

        Not familiar with state labeling of country of origin but do know about Federal level.  Before retirement had worked the world trade issues focused to petroleum.

        2 examples:

        The US has a trade treaty with Singapore. The treaty incorporates 2 Indonesian islands loaded with Singaporian factories. This is not necessarily representing a bad matter. Just reporting what is going on.

        The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands … US territory … is loaded with US manufactured material.

        I’m not writing clearly so as to avoid matters of politics.

      • 2

        Many thanks! Glad to see someone had some expertise on this .

      • 2


        I am with you on the EV market and “kinks” that need to be worked out.

        Too many companies are gouging with repairs and updates. 

        We have been losing the ability to repair our own items for a long time. This is fostering a very unhealthy dependency and a stratification for who can actually afford to own certain items. A person may be able to buy something but can they afford the enforced upkeep?

        When we buy something, it should belong to us fully and not have a portion of the item still under the control of the manufacturer.

        I get updates on my pc that I don’t want and have to routinely peel some of them off afterwards. If it isn’t security related, they can keep their updates. Updates have become another way to push their “apps.” I bought my computer. It is mine. I want it clean and professional and don’t need the app marketing via yet another update.