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Alternative Energy Sources to Consider When SHTF

Zoey Sky
November 28th, 2018
Natural News
Comments (54)

This article was originally published by Zoey Sky at Natural News

Have you ever considered using an alternate power source for your homestead? If you’re already using solar panels to power your home, what about a backup source that can keep your loved ones warm during winter?

There are various types of energy sources that you can use when SHTF, but not all of them will suit a prepper, especially if you prefer to be your own engineer, mechanic, and maintenance man to maintain your independence in the event of societal collapse.

Below are five alternative energy sources that are sustainable and worth considering when you’re preparing for a life post-SHTF. (h/t to BioPrepper.com)

Bicycle generator

As the name suggests, a bicycle generator is an energy source that will run on old-fashioned “pedal power.” Like a stationary exercise bicycle that remains anchored, the front wheel is the only moving part on a bicycle generator. The front wheel provides the power that will turn a generator flywheel.

flywheel refers to a heavy wheel attached to a rotating shaft. The flywheel in a bicycle generator ensures that power is smoothly delivered from the motor to a machine.

You can personalize this energy source by referencing the many plans available online so you can set up a kit that suits your needs.

First, you will need to gather the following tools and parts for a bicycle generator:

  • A battery
  • A belt – This will be rigged to the front wheel of the bicycle.
  • A generator
  • A voltage regulator – This will prevent the overloading of the battery.


Solar energy is one of the most straightforward power sources. If you install solar panels on your roof, you have access to a power source for most of your appliances. Solar energy is perfectly suited to the spring, summer, and fall months.

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However, you need to make the necessary preparations so you can keep things at home up and running when winter comes. Aside from the snow, there are gray days during winter where you won’t get that much sunlight.

Other alternatives include solar generators. This option is a complete kit that just needs to be plugged in. If you need an energy source for your bug-out bag (BOB), use portable solar panels that you can roll up and store in your gear. (Related: Tips to prepare for a nationwide power grid failure.)


If you decide on a wind energy source, do your research on kits that you can use to set up a windmill on your property. Windmills will complement solar panels, especially on days when light is scarce but there’s just enough wind for your windmills.

Do take note that unlike other alternative energy sources, windmills will need more maintenance since the moving parts can get damaged.


Wood fuel is a staple for most preppers, especially after SHTF. You can use a wood-burning stove for heating and cooking, and it can also be used to boil water for drinking, washing, and for doing the laundry.

If you don’t own a stove, a fireplace is a good alternative. With a Dutch oven (cast-iron cookware) and a kettle, you can heat water and cook in your fireplace. Get some racks for hanging laundry, then utilize the heat from a wood-burning stove or a fireplace to dry your clothes indoors.

Some problems that you might encounter if you use a wood-burning stove are fuel and security. If you’re going to use a stove, you must first prepare a lot of wood fuel so you can stay warm and cook for as long as you need to. Another concern is the security of your home. A wood-burning stove will produce smoke, something that will alert strangers to your location. This could be a liability in a post-SHTF world.

Wood gasifier/wood gas generator

A wood gasifier or a wood gas generator includes a container for a heat source (e.g., fire) that heats another container filled with wood pieces. This produces wood gas that will power the carburetor of an engine.

A wood gasifier doesn’t require a fuel tank since the wood itself will produce gas. The engine will turn a flywheel that you can connect to an alternator to produce power. The power can be used to charge a battery array. You can check plans online if you want to set up your own wood gasifier.

Things to consider before setting up an alternative energy source

Don’t wait until it’s too late to set up an alternative power source. As a prepper, you need to start planning these projects now so they’re ready by the time you need them.

Acquire the necessary building permits, especially if you’re planning on building a windmill. While you’re planning, double-check if your project is going to be up to code and consult the following:

  • Community and residential codes
  • Inspectors
  • Local building codes

Use this information to plan for the inevitable and decide which alternative energy source can meet your needs when SHTF.

You can read more articles about these sustainable energy sources at GreenLivingNews.com.

Sources include:



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Author: Zoey Sky
Date: November 28th, 2018
Website: https://www.naturalnews.com/index.html

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  1. Genius says:

    “Acquire the necessary building permits, especially if you’re planning on building a windmill. While you’re planning, double-check if your project is going to be up to code and consult the following:

    Community and residential codes
    Local building codes”

    Ha ha ha, thats funny. Make sure you statists have “permission” and pay your dues! Maybe if you have a large array and live in town. I had a wind gen years ago and it was a worthless POS! The only backup I have or need is a propane gen. It will power the house AND charge my batteries at the same time. If you got the cash and knowledge maybe consider a steam gen. Hydro power is an option also.

    • durangokidd says:

      The latest energy innovation I have seen (on you tube) is a product that captures the methane from your compost pile. Just a few hundred bucks.

      Looks like a bargain every prepper / homesteader should have. 🙂

    • Anon says:

      Genius; Every time I have looked into propane generators they were very expensive to operate. Have you found something that is cost effective? We have gone with slow turning diesels but I am always willing to learn.

      • Genius says:

        I have a generac gen. it is kinda big 5500 watts and ya it uses some fuel but I don’t ever need to run it very long (2 times in 11 years) They make smaller ones that are more efficient. If you are going to use a gen full time go with gas and have a propane kit for backup. Deisel is good but not convertible to propane and they hate real cold weather.

        • Genius says:

          If you use energy saving ideas (like the one below) a 1000 watt solar array will power most anything you NEED in an average off grid home. But we get a good amount of sun and have a pole mount turning rack. People around me that have BIG refrigerators and other high use things have avg. 1500 watt arrays.

          • Genius says:

            Ha I have to tell you this. Some idiots down the road from me (my near town home) put in a pretty good size solar array on their roof. Right behind a bunch of GIGANTIC elm trees! Everytime I dive by the panels are getting almost NO sun! By shading even 4% or so of a panel it can cut the output by 90% depending on the panel. What a bunch of IDIOTS! I can imagine in summer with leaves it will have about 90% shade lol. Don’t be THAT GUY!

        • watching and waiting says:

          Have exact setup.

          Our Generac runs entire house and I mean the entire house. And two times since 2015, when installed, cuts right in.

          Worth while investment.

    • Red Leader says:

      We live off the grid on solar full time. There is no grid within 7 miles. In off grid living with solar, it is all about the winter. The shortest day of the year is December 22nd. You lose 45 degrees of sunlight in the winter. (22 1/2 degrees lost east and lost 22 1/2 degrees west.

      With the days so short it is important to have some panels facing south east and south west in additional to your south facing panels. That way in the winter, where ever the sun is at in the sky, you are making power and charging your batteries. The minute the sun comes up in the south east, your batteries start charging.

      I have had some good luck getting solar panels from Santansolar dot com. You have to check weekly for new deals. They don’t last long.

      • Panther 🐆 says:

        Alternative energy = bottled farts. When the shtf, I don’t think people will be to concerned with solar panels and wind mills

        • Red Leader says:

          When it hits the fan and the grid goes down, the people living off grid with solar will be the only ones with electric power that does not depend on the grid. Generators need fuel and it will soon run out. Solar and Wind with a big battery bank is the way to go. You won’t know when the grid goes down.

          Turn the power off in your home for a week and see how you like living without electricity.

          • Panther says:

            I’ve lived for weeks on end without electricity, how bout you? What’re you gonna do when those batteries don’t work anymore? Living without electricity isn’t impossible, humans have gone longer without it than with it. The collapse is gonna be severe and all that preppers claim to know and have don’t mean anything if they ain’t gonna be able to keep it. That’s my point, you don’t know if you’ll be able to keep it, and even if you do, at some point it will become defective. I don’t ever talk about what I got or what I can do but I love listening to a lot of you bragging bout your knowledge and skills.

      • Genius says:

        Red, you can eliminate that by using a pole mount. I have one that I adapted to make it turn. That way you get 100% power all the time from sunup to sundown. Craigslist is the best I have ever found by far for solar panel deals. You may have to travel to a bigger town to get them but it’s worth it.

        • Genius says:

          Another trick is use an electric refrigerator (I have 2 at my off grid place). Get a bunch of those blue ice packs and freeze them during the day, then at night put most of them on the top shelf of the fridge and a few scattered below. Turn off your fridge at night and the packs will keep everything cold for a long time. In winter just put your food etc. in coolers outside, no need for a fridge. Get all led lights. Use woodstove for cooking in winter. I don’t know what your setup is like but thats a good start.

        • Red Leader says:

          The problem with solar trackers is they break. I had one for my solar water pumping system and when it stopped working the second time, I put in a fixed panel array with panels facing east, south and west. Panels are so cheap now, pole mounted solar trackers are obsolete. With the fixed array, the sun tracks the panels rather that the panels tracking the sun.

          No moving parts to break. Simple.

          Pole mounted solar trackers were well worth it when solar was $5.00 a watt. Now with panels under .40 cents a watt, it is much cheaper to simply put panels facing east, south and west.

          As one solar installer told me, you should only get a solar tracker if you want a new hobby, because you will be fixing it.

          • Genius says:

            I don’t have nor recommend a “tracking” rack for the reasons you stated. I’m talking about a basic pole mount. You turn it by hand. Very east to do and nothing to wear out. Locks in position with a bolt inserted into holes you drill in the pipe.

          • Panther says:

            This is exactly what I mean Red, you’re a dumbass. Go fill a bucket, boil and filter it. Water pumping systems, solar panel array, pole mounted solar trackers. Damn boy, you’ll be dead before you get a sip of clean water. You are a stupid fuckin rock that has a pile of shit in your brain cavity. Ain’t no wonder your wife is fuckin the bartender

  2. Bill McGill says:

    What to do about emr/emf its killing my radio room
    Im wishing now all coductors were in emt and i had installed filters on leds

    • Genius says:

      I disconnect the antennas on my radio gear when not in use. Unless the emp is fairly close I think I will be ok. If not, I have backups in a faraday can. They say it affects anything with pretty long wires. I also have backup charge controllers and inverter and solar panel diodes in my can.

      • Genius says:

        These dual band radios are 20 watt uhf and 25 watt vhf and cheap. I have bought 4 of them (one went bad) and they work good. Direct programmable for easy use. I have talked to my friend from the cabin (with a 5 element yagi) 25 miles away and over a mountain on uhf. Makes a good base unit or mobile. Compatible with my baofeng handhelds.

        ht tps://www.ebay.com/itm/KT-8900-TwoWay-Radios-Dual-Band-Mobile-Transceiver-VHF-UHF-136-174-400-480MHz/143001476087?epid=19009471272&hash=item214b8d5bf7:g:7eUAAOSwDbFb31Fe

        take out the space in the t’s . Ebay also has a ton of other newer units for less but I have no experience with them. They aren’t an Icom or kenwood but hey….

  3. Bill McGill says:

    Excuse the hell outta me but is this not the same Hawaiian yupsters that were telling us we had to install compact flourescents (cfl) to save the planet… now doing an about face and warning about emr? Lol
    ht tps://youtu.be/1UJ64gfCKQI

  4. Heartless says:

    rear wheel. Not front.

  5. Bill McGill says:

    Hillbilly perimiter alarm system
    1 -12 volt motion sensor
    1- 12 volt strobe
    1 – car horn and relay from junk yard
    1 – lawnmower baterry
    1- 15 watt solar panel
    Uze your imagination..lol

    • Genius says:

      Ha ya, I have a ton of 12v stuff. I use 12v car alarms, 8ah sealed 12v batteries, a variety of small panels. Also 12v cameras and dvr and game cams. 12v driveway alert and 12v radio reciever. 12v outlets, 12 volt lights, 12 volt phone amp, 12v cooling system for my conex, Soon to have 12v natural AC for the cabin. I love 12v lol. 😛

  6. Setting up power backup for any more than a temporary outage is futile. You will never generate enough power for long term usage. Too many cloudy days and too much power use for anything other than a couple lights. Your batteries will never stay up with it. You will always fall back to your fuelled generator to fill in the gaps.

    Trouble is, when things collapse, there will be no fuel. The pumps will be off with no power either. OK, maybe they will have power until the tanks empty, but there will be no new deliveries.

    Best to set up for a powerless future other than a few LEDs. To bed at dusk and up with the chickens. Research low tech solutions instead of trying to keep industrial civilization going. It won’t work. The 1800s is where you will be as far as tech.

    The wood alternatives above are probably the best tech to use. Even then, if you are going to run IC engines with wood gas, you will be spending ALL your time cutting wood for gas and heating by hand. Or are you going to gasify a chainsaw {snort}?

    You will need a few live slaves to keep up with all the work if you wish to live like a modern man. Right now we have oily slaves to power our industrial world. After collapse oily slaves will disappear.

    I built thermal solar panels that circulate hot water by convection or also with a 12 volt, 25 watt, computer circulating pump. I tied in a copper hot water coil to my wood and coal furnace, and plumbed both systems into the hot water heater tank. Valves isolate the two systems…one for summer, one for winter. Snap switches control the temperature that the pump kicks on and off to circulate the water. It works, but is still too high tech for SHTF. Simpler to just heat water on the cookstove.

    These are just my conclusions from experimenting while the lights are still on. YMMV.

    • Save your firewood for your woodstove.

      I gather dead branches, chop with hatchet, and run my http://www.tacticalwoodgas.com gasifier from that. Use it to charge a battery bank, and get power from an inverter.

      About 3 hours of my work per day gives me 24 hours of power.

    • Genius says:

      I agree JRS, but in 11 years I have only had to run the gen 2 times (about an hour or so) thats why I have a propane gen. I have plenty of propane storage (a 100lb. tank lasts me 2 years). I also have a couple of solar water heating panels (that heat my hillbilly hot tub) and a backup copper coil mounted inside an old woodstove (for using hillbilly hot tub in cloudy weather). You can make a solar water heater easy and cheap out of an electric water heater. Just replace the bottom element with one that is made (in kit form) just for dc with an exterior thermostat that wires directly to 24v solar panels. The upper element can run on reg ac as backup but the lower element is the main heat. You could in a pinch just wire solar panels to the stock element but watch out it doesnt get too hot. I love doing off grid stuff! You would like my place!

    • Bill McGill says:

      True just ask all the peeps in mexico beach about generators with nothing to fuel them

      But if your going to use a generator short term propane is best has best shelf life and conversion kits available on the big E

      • Bill McGill says:

        I forgot to say becase 15% ethanol is going to be big time laquer problem

        • Genius says:

          At the rate I use propane (like you say it is indef shelf life) I will be dead before I run out. My solar system powers all my tools etc. and I use a few tricks to save power also. Even if my batteries wore out I can still use them as a buffer and just use power during daylight. I have had and had to live in offgrid places for 22 years. You develop a hang for it after a while.

  7. Agree with Woodgas. Works when there is no wind/sun/fuel.

    Created http://www.tacticalwoodgas.com and now sell the systems.

  8. Asshat says:

    Those cheap solar patio walkway lights that you stick into the ground work good. Nobody mentions these I don’t know why.

  9. Bilge Pump McCoy says:

    I will be living large at the nice warm FEMA camp while the rest of you self sufficient types are busting your butts to stay warm and feed yourselves. The nice FEMA man even told me I would probably have my own butler and room service. I’m checking in at the first opportunity. Who’s with me?

  10. southside says:

    I’m lookinf at getting a propane refrigerator.

    • Genius says:

      A lot of people have them BUT long term you will spend as much on propane as you would solar. And you have to be sure to clean the burn draft pipe or else. Unless you have it vented outside it will emit carbon monoxide in your house. If you run out of propane yer screwed. Besides being expensive as hell. Spend that money on a solar system and use an electric fridge (make sure it’s an efficient one).

  11. Anonymous says:

    Bicycle generator:

    Someone who has never used on would be surprised how very difficult it is to run even a hundred watt light bulb for any period of time using one.

    And a hundred watts is not going to charge a battery of any size very quickly.

    FWIW. that solar house in the picture looks like it would be an absolute fire trap in dry weather or drought conditions.

  12. Bonefortoona says:

    A small Solar Panel system (6-100 watt panels and 700Ahr battery bank) delivers an incredible amount of electricity on 5 hours a day of sunlight. Even on cloudy days, my battery bank is topped off by noon. Of course this is Colorado where AC is unneeded. Runs Fridge, lights, tools, water pump for water delivery from storage tank. A 2000 watt wind charger from Missouri General rounds everything out for nighttime charging. My batteries never fall below 75%. For washing, and when needing to refill the storage tank with the well pump, I use a Honda 2000i for brief periods, mostly because its convenient. Heating is wood stove and propane furnace.

    Easy to do, and it really is not that expensive. The above cost less than $5000 total. But I did all the work myself.

  13. 21Bravo says:

    I wish the writer of this article had a list of Folding Solar Panels for the B-O-B. I have been looking for those for a while.

  14. Beaumont says:

    Grease powered forges and kilns were fascinatingly dangerous. Billows or an air supply could be used to heat firebricks to glowing. The fuel is produced by a screw press.

    Parabolic mirrors can be made of shiny junk.

    I put salvaged bake sheets, in the bottom of a ‘shadowbox’, to dry a thick watermelon on a hot day. Syrupy juices became dark and bitter, like burnt sugar.

    I have not successfully reproduced any of the alt experiments on youtube, but am open to testing simple contraptions, made of spare parts. A bit of a science hobybist.

  15. Maranatha says:

    If the SHTF and regular gasoline was unavailable at the fillig stations, one could acquire some fuel additives from the auto parts store and run a vehicle on that. These lack the volatiles so they are not standard fuel but will work. In fact, some are marketed this way as “emergency fuel”. So while everyone else is stuck, if you knew this, you and your family could bolt early in the morning and maybe get away. Rinse repeat.

  16. Have any of you ever run a screw press to expel diesel oil from plant diesel sources like Peanuts & Sunflowers ?

    I’m not sure how that can ever be useful, but then I was raised on fuels with EROEI’s of 50+.

    The efficiency of the expeller is about 1 gallon consumed extracting 3 gallons of diesel fuel.