5 Essential Pieces of Gear to Get You Comfortably through a Winter Power Outage

One week without power

What preps will you rely on when the power goes out?

Around 3 years ago here in New England we had a pretty serious winter ice storm that knocked my power out for around a week and in many close-by areas they were without power for 2 weeks.

From that experience I realized I was woefully unprepared for winter.

Sure, I had plenty of food and water storage, and I had a wealth of wilderness survival experience to draw on if I needed. I would simply have to make a winter shelter for my wife and 2 year old…yeah right.

My wife packed up the kid and went to her mother’s.

I on the other hand, decided to “man it” at home to ensure that the house was taken care of (drain pipes, clear fallen limbs and debris etc).

At night I would sleep in my sleeping bag and during the day I’d start a fire in my fireplace (which is inadequate for warming up an entire house).

Eventually I had to pack it up and head to my Dad’s where he had the internet so I could get some work done (as well as a warm shower).

Experience breeds wisdom

What did I learn from that? Well, it was time for some new preps.

Sure, if needed we could have survived. I could have blocked off the room where the fireplace is, set up any number of improvised mattress shelters (which are killer indoor shelters btw), and with plenty of food and water and a place to cook and heat it we would have been fine.

But, it’s not just about surviving, but thriving in tough times remember? (see tag-line)

Now fast-forward three years to the present day and we get hit with a good-sized winter storm (we got 15 inches where I live) that knocks out our power again.

Did that past experience breed some present-day wisdom? Absolutely. Here are some new preps that made all the difference (and kept my wife and kids at home with me :) ):

5 essential pieces of gear that got us comfortably through a winter power outage

Generator (Energy)

For energy production I now have a generator.

The one I ended up buying is a Yamaha EF2000is. I actually had it custom built by www.propane-generators.com to allow it to run off of 3 different types of fuels: Propane, Gasoline, and Natural Gas.

This is perfect since I have around five 25lb propane bottles that will get me through at least 1 1/2 weeks of power loss and I plan on purchasing more.

As a side note, propane is a great fuel source since unlike gasoline it won’t go stale, and it can be stored practically forever.

Also during a major power outage, I always see the gas stations teeming with people around the clock filling up their gas cans whereas I hardly see anyone at the propane refilling stations.

In other words, if resupply were down for a short while, gasoline would be the first to go.

The generator will run my fridge, tv, some lights and my pellet stove without issue — all my family needs for a comfortable time through the coldest of nights.

And given that it is an inverter-type generator it will power my computer without harming any sensitive electrical components (it produces a pure sine wave much like the grid’s electricity).

If I needed more power, it also has the ability to be run in parallel with another matching EF2000is for 3600 running watts (4000 max) of power. Plenty enough for most any application.

One of the other things that really attracted me to it, is how quiet it is. With a range of 51 – 60 dB of sound (depending on load) it’s one of the quietest generators on the market (comparible to Honda’s EU2000i) — an ideal feature during a SHTF situation if discreetness were to become a priority.

Oil Lamps (Lighting)

My favorite types of lighting during a power outage are oil lamps. These can be found in most of your big-name hardware stores for under $10.

Not only do they burn paraffin oil (what is typically sold with it) but it will burn any of your cooking oils you may have as well (olive, vegetable, etc). They are bright, effective and the oil will last a long time.

In a pinch, remember that you can easily make your own homemade lamps from everyday objects.

Pellet Stove & Big Buddy Heater (Heating)

For heating, I primarily use my pellet stove. It doesn’t draw much power (starting watts is 400 running is just around 200) so it’s perfect in conjunction with a generator.

At night, when we’re all tucked away upstairs, I use the Big Buddy Heater. This also runs on propane and on medium it kicks out enough heat to warm up my upstairs without an issue.

If long-term heating were required I do have a wood-burning stove given to me by a good friend of mine. However, I don’t have the proper piping at this time to vent it through my chimney – so that is still on the list to get done.

Rocket Stove (Cooking)

For cooking I primarily use my rocket stoves (see the reviews for the Stovetec and EcoZoom here).

Since I have a fireplace, it allows me to easily cook inside. Here’s a pic of me cooking up some breakfast during the power outage (btw cast-iron pans are perfect for rocketstoves):

For fuel, while I do have stored/seasoned wood, there is so much of it on my property in the form of dead trees and branches that it would take a lifetime to deplete it since the rocket stoves are so efficient.

As another redundancy, I also have a propane camp stove, however I like to save the propane for heat and energy production since there is so much wood for cooking.

Conclusion

So if you’re not yet prepared for a power outage, where do you start?

Since most grid-down situations are usually resolved in under 2 weeks, I would first start by getting yourself prepared for at least a 2-week power outage. You’ll want to cover each of the four areas that our grid provides: energy, heating, lighting, and cooking (if cooling is a major worry instead of cold winters, just replace heating for cooling).

Once your 2-weeks are secure, start considering what you’d do in longer-term power outages. As you do so, keep in mind what would be most beneficial for your location/environment and living area.

Also consider what natural resources you may have available since these will be what will carry you through long-term emergencies.

For example, you may be in an area that gets a lot of sun or perhaps wind. If that’s the case solar or wind power might be an option for you.

Or if you, like me, have lots of wood or bio-waste then gassification is a definite consideration. Or any combination of those may be good for you.

So what type of setups do you guys have? Any particular preparations you have that get you through power outages? I’d love to hear from your experiences so we can all benefit, so please comment.

Copyright © 2014 Tactical Intelligence. All Rights Reserved

RSS feed| Trackback URI

30 Comments»

Comment by Jamie
2011-11-07 12:49:23

Electric: I have a 5k and a 3.5 k generators, I got a couple of small space heaters since I won’t be able to run my electric furnace off the generator.
Heating: I got a Mr. buddy heater after you recommended it and I have tested on overnight in winter. Works great, my home is very well insulated so a little heat goes a long ways.
Cooking: I have a propane stove-oven combo, so I can do normal baking and cooking. 200 pounds of lump charcoal for the BBQ is my back up/summer cooking arraingement.
Lighting:I have several kerosene lamps and I’m adding in solar power LEDs that will give off enough light to keep from stumbling around the house in the dark

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-11-08 03:47:36

Thanks for sharing your setup Jamie. The solar powered LEDs are a great idea, I’ll need to look into that.

 
 
Comment by sbrogdon
2011-11-08 12:21:37

Got a Buddy Heater a couple of years ago, works great in a tent, hopefully I won’t find out how it works in my house. I installed a high efficiency wood stove in my living room when I got my house several years ago, it can heat most of my small. well insulated house.
My wife and I have decorated with oil lamps since we were married, with fluorescent and LED lanterns lighting is done.
I can cook on my wood stove, propane camp stove, propane camp stove/oven combo, rocket stove, dutch ovens, BBQ etc.
I got a generator just last spring. I plan to get a solar charging system for my camp trailer which has a thermostat controlled furnace, lights and even a propane water heater so I can live in it for a long time.
It’s nice when your hobbies, (camping, hunting, fishing,gardening), cross over into your E-Prep efforts, you find you already have a lot of what you need and are familiar with how to use it.

2011-11-09 07:39:24

sbrogdon,

Thanks for sharing! I agree that it’s so much better if you can mix your outdoor hobbies with your prepping needs you’ll be so much better prepared since you have experience with the gear/skills your having fun with.

 
 
Comment by desertrat
2011-11-08 17:07:55

A few thoughts here, re generators and/or heating with propane. Watch where you store/connect/use your tanks in Winter as it doesn’t take much effort to kill your back if you slip, also tanks & exposed to the elemets outside can go South rapidly when you allow snow & ice to cover them.
Re LED lights as a back up, Hit the various flea markets, etc for outdoor lights that are solar powered as this is the time of year folks get rid of theirs. Post Christmas season, get LED tree lights when they are heavily discounted to make room for Summer items. Rigging battery/solar power is a straight forward process, and they don’ cause fires if knocked over. There are quite a few sites like Instructables, Makeonline etc for simple how to do it instructions. Standard Financial Interest Statement here.

My $0.02 worth.

2011-11-09 07:41:53

desertrat,

Thanks for your great tips and advice.

 
 
Comment by Charles
2011-11-09 18:05:53

Based on a similiar event, and ice storm we adapted with what we had. We hook up the wood stove on a backporch. Didn’t have a lot of wood but found enough to get it heating. used some innovative temporary blocking with 2×4 studs and 6 mil plastice to effectivley cut our house in half.
The stove was in a ie. suken service porch area and began a thermo siphon loop. We brought our favorite Aladdin lamp and fired it up for extreme lighting. Also put a 6mil plastic curtain up on the front porch. It keeps off rain but isn’t enclosed. I moved the propane grill there just outside the front door. I was using clear plastic so natural light came through.
Interesting enough our hot water heater is on natural gas and never stopped working. So we had lots of hot water!
We found a couple of Arizona 1 gallon plastic jugs filled them with hot water and placed at our feet when we went to bed. It actually was too hot and toward morning we set them out. Something about the strange plastic in those containers seemed to hold the heat a long time.
I can’t say we were thriving but we were doing fine. Had batteries in the crankup weather radio and at times went out and fired up the truck to sit in a nice warm spot and fire up the Computer while plugged into the cigarette lighter. Like yourself we have made some adjustments since then. We have the solar path lights out front and intend to use them for general lighting. The LEDs sound like a good deal as well.
I also agree. While it was a fight to find a gas station open with power, there seemed no pressure at all on the propane bottle folks.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-11-14 03:37:11

Charles,

Some good information here. I especially like the hot water jugs as a bed warmer, I’ll have to try that!

 
 
Comment by Charles
2011-12-08 11:58:00

I have always marvelled at how indigenious peoples have coped with various types of environments, Especially the extreme climates such as the Arctic or Desert.
Ran across this and thought I’d share it.
This link goes to a National Geographic site talking about a crew who spent a year with a Nomadic Russian Reindeer herder group. Just flipping through the pictures on CNN was an eye opener about some of what you have to have to Survive and Thrive in cold weather. Hope its helpful to you and others.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/photography/europe/russia/gordon-wiltsie.html

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-12-09 12:28:55

Great link Charles. Thanks!

 
 
Comment by GrannyB
2011-12-29 00:14:41

Taking a hint from another prepping site, I invested in some hot/cold water bottles from the local pharmacies. They are wonderful! In winter (camping) we heat a teapot of water and fill the water bottles to tuck into our beds. I made some flannel covers for each water bottle so they are comfortable to curl up to. In the summer, when sleeping is difficult due to heat, we fill them with cool water and they provide just enough cool to allow us to fall asleep. The water can be used over & over for quite a while (don’t think I’ve gone over 4 uses, but had no problems with smell or whatever when we emptied out the water after the 4th time). Just be sure to store with the lid off so there is no issue with mold or mildew. They are sturdy, big enough to work well, but small enough to transport easily.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-01-06 18:00:33

Great tip. Thanks GrannyB!

 
 
Comment by Lee
2011-12-29 09:25:50

I also like to point out there are free energy generators (or overunity generators) that inventors have created in the past. I’m a big advocate of free energy and currently building my own free energy generator. Basically, these generators draw energy from nature (ether energy) and its infinite because its all around. You can find some videos on Youtube. Search Rodin Coil, Bedini Motor, or Overunity Generator. You can live off-grid and not worry about power companies forever if you have one of these.

If you’re interested in the science behind how these motors work, you want to look into Vortex Math and Russellian Science (Vortex Math especially).

Also, I want to point out a very good documentary that mentions about free energy. Just Youtube “Thrive 2011 documentary”.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-01-06 18:02:23

Hey Lee,

Thanks for the link. I’m still not sold on this yet but am always open…

 
 
Comment by ray
2012-08-07 22:45:05

2 weeks ha. Try 3 months . About 3 years ago I was getting prepared to build my house on 13 acres of vacant land that I owned. I was staying in a 56 foot trailer off grid for four years until the county got after me to remove it. They did not like the fact that I was not paying taxes. So I said screw them, I burned down my trailer, sent my wife and kids to my parents 150 miles away and set up camp on my own property. On my days off I would drive down and spend time with the family. People found out at work and bet me That I cold not last the winter in the tent. I took the bet and the journey began. I stayed in the tent from August until the first big snow fall collapsed the tent. I came home from work and cold not find the tent from all the snow that dump on my property. After finally finding and digging for 20 minutes I said screrw it jumped in my sleeping bag and went to sleep. woke up in a sitting posistion because my ass had melted more snow then the rest of my body. I moved into an old van on my property by pulling out the back seat. I wanted to see if I could do it with no heat source so I did not use any heater. I used two sleeping bags inside each other and I was toasty as a bug. The only problem was for last part of jan and most of feb the temps drop to -20 c on a regular basis. I found that my face would start to get frost bite. I resolved this by pulling my bag up over my head and when the air got stale I pump my arms like a billow and get fresh air. I survived the winter no problem but getting dress was flipping freezing cold. You try to put on frozen hard pants after being nice and warm all night. Ray

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-08-07 23:32:45

Great story Ray! I love it

 
 
Comment by jjj
2012-10-07 13:09:14

Thanks for this! As a kid I never realized winter power outages were an inconvenience, since we always had food and water, and the huge stove in the living room was more than enough to keep the house toasty all day and night and cook all our meals. When I moved out, I was surprised to find it took more than a flashlight and a good book to get through a storm. And I know when I buy a permanent house, it’s GOING to have a big stove. (Or a good place to have one installed, at least.)

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2012-10-08 22:39:47

You’re welcome :)

 
 
Comment by kelley
2012-10-12 18:34:06

never heard of Arizona water jugs and google doesn’t tell me anything either

whats up with that? lol

 
Comment by carol
2012-10-15 10:12:13

Arizona iced tea sold at Krogers is in a hard plastic container.

 
Comment by rondell
2013-02-20 13:59:28

i have a 9000 k gen also a few kerosene laturns, also have propane heaters to help keep warm.i’m going to make my own rockit stove soon too as i’m just getting started in this prepping stuff. any idea’s about getting started would be helpfull

 
Comment by Phil
2013-02-23 07:28:29

I once went on an educational course about seventy miles from home during a January.The car was overheating to the point of seizing so I found a farmers field on top of a hill and camped there for a fortnight. Most of my food was taken care of by heating it at the education centre but after1700 til 0900 I was on my own. To keep warm at night ( I was sleeping in a Vauxhall Viva Estate) I filled 3 large plastic lemonade bottles with hot water from the canteen and wrapped them in my sleeping bag. I was as warm as toast all night and washed with the same water and boiled it up on my primus for a cup of tea -it didn’t take long. The local Police stopped by after seeing me camped there and checked on me to see if I had croaked in the cold, they were suprised to find me drinking tea and watching tv on a 4″ portable radio/tv

 
Comment by JoeyBloggs
2013-07-19 06:36:41

We’ve had our propane tank outside in the snow and ice for years, with no cover and it hasn’t really affected it much at all. The main negative effect was on the rubber hose connecting the tank to the house, which began to deteriorate due to sun exposure. You could place it in the shade to be safe and have a replacement hose or two in storage. UV radiation can make rubber and plastic crumble after long exposure.

Check out my website btw.

http://propanegenerators247.com

 
Comment by Jobs Gov Canada
2013-09-03 06:28:06

Hold a practice interview. Compile a list of common interview questions and enlist the
help of a trusted friend or family member. Make sure they switch
up which questions they ask and the order. With their help, you
be confident that you will be prepared for anything the interviewer throws your way.

 
Comment by Kenn Hinick
2013-12-09 20:55:36

I recently built a motorcycle garage/man cave with survival in mind. When finished the garage will have solar energy, natural gas, electricity, and propane. I am installing a battery bank with inverters as well as a generator. It was built with a loft that will provide a sleeping area, so it will be large enough to be comfortable in an emergency, yet it is small enough and well built to provide for needs for an extended period if required. If needed I pull all my solar walkway lights and patio lights and use them indoors at night and put them out in the morning. I can also put the exhaust hoses on the bike to vent them to the outside and fire it up in minutes and for little fuel the engine will take the chill off the garage….

 
Comment by Lisa Beard
2014-04-05 14:23:23

We had a couple of deaths in our city when people used propane and other sources of heat indoors when the power was out. Carbon Monoxide poisoning. the area needs to be ventilated, and a carbon monoxide detector with batteries would be helpful.

 
Comment by Sharon
2014-04-13 11:39:03

You have mentioned equipment, but have bypassed an important item. Blankets. The plush blankets, which come in all different sizes, trap body warmth very effectively. I keep my thermostat quite low in the winter time to save on utility expenses. I use the smaller plush blankets around my shoulders like a shawl, and when I am sitting, toss another over my knees and feet. They keep me very warm even in almost frigid rooms. They are not expensive, you can buy and store the number needed for your family, along with extras. They don’t spoil, or lose their effectiveness, and they don’t require fuel of any kind!!! One can even store them in vacuum storage bags to reduce the space they take up when not in use.

 
Name (required)
E-mail (required - never shown publicly)
URI
Your Comment (smaller size | larger size)
You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

Trackback responses to this post