Want to learn the different ways to generate electricity at home in case SHTF and you can no longer rely on the power grid? If so, then you’re one of the smart ones! But how do we generate electricity? Read on to learn 8 ways to generate electricity at home from energy expert Robert Brenner.
Great Ways to Generate Electricity When SHTF
Based on the book: Power Out! How to Prepare for and Survive a Grid Collapse)
Native American Indians believe that the earth is alive and pulsing with energy. Scientists found that the earth does indeed resonate (at a frequency of 7.8 Hz). Our brain resonates at the same frequency, and when people become “tuned” with nature, many become healthier and actually heal from ailments. This suggests that “earthing”—connecting your body to the ground may have merit. Are people healthier when their bare feet touch solid ground or fingers touch plants and trees growing in the soil? Perhaps life is related to the energy that flows in the earth and in our bodies. It is such a marvelous symbiotic relationship.
Nikola Tesla also believed that the earth has energy. His work in 1909 showed that the earth resonated with energy. However, it wasn’t until 1952 that a German physicist, W. O. Schumann actually measured its 7.8 Hz base frequency. Tesla wanted to produce free electricity using the invisible energy in electromagnetic fields. He joined others seeking ways to produce electricity from the energy that is all around us.
Today we recognize eight technologies that can be used to produce electricity—chemical, solar, fuel-driven generators, steam turbines, hydroelectric, wind, thermal, and EMF. This article will introduce you to each.
1. Chemical Sources of Electricity
Storage batteries are popular for producing electricity. They have been around for years generating electricity, and the technology is consistently improving. The chemical interaction between battery cells and electrolyte produces a voltage that can drive current through a connected device. Battery power can energize lighting, drive small motors, pump water, and even provide electricity to an entire home. This one good source of electric power for off-grid living.
Batteries are sold in multiple capacities—2V, 6V, 8V, 12V, 24V, 36V, 48V, 72V—and are constructed in various shapes using materials such as manganese-dioxide-zinc-nickel, carbon-zinc, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal-hydride, and lithium. Batteries can be made of dry cells, wet cells or gelatin oozing sludge and be single-use or rechargeable depending on the application. Homeowners typically use dry cells for flashlights and small electrical devices, and wet cells for driving inverters to produce AC power. A special battery is the fuel cell. It converts chemical energy from the oxidation of a fuel into electric DC energy.
You can even build small voltage, low current batteries to light LEDs or operate MP3 players, and they are fun to make. Check out the lemon battery, potato battery, bleach battery, earth battery and crystal diode. These typically generate 0.6 to 1.9 volts and 0.58mA to 0.95 mA. The earth battery can produce 12-14 volts and 200mA of current. You are never without a way to generate battery power.
2. Solar Power
By placing a panel or module covered with solar cells in direct sunlight, photon energy can be converted into DC voltages between 1V and 46V with current from 20mA up to 9 amps depending on the module. An array of solar modules can be applied to a high voltage inverter to produce AC that can be tied to the local electrical grid. A smaller solar panel can charge a landscape light or drive a DC motor or lamp.
Solar panels can charge a whole bank of batteries. Then at night, the batteries can provide power to the home. Some solar homeowners have added a transfer switch and battery bank so they don’t have to be without electrical power when the solar panels are not active.
Several new inverter products can convert solar energy into electrical grid AC with a grid power-out feature. It allows the homeowner to draw solar DC through a transfer switch in the inverter and provide up to 1500 watts of AC. This lets the homeowner continue to use solar power as long as the sun is shining while the grid is down. Solar power is one of the greatest sources of renewable energy.
3. Wind Power
Moving wind can cause a propeller to rotate and turn a generator shaft producing electrical energy. Harnessing the energy in the wind is like harnessing the photons in a solar array to produce electricity. Like solar, wind energy is available and one of the best renewable sources. You can install home wind generators that typically create 400-800 watts for charging 12V batteries.
New bladeless wind turbines operate without large rotating propellers endangering passing birds. The wind can be put to good use to generate electrical power.
4. Water Power
Moving water has performed useful work for thousands of years. It can move great objects, turn wheels that process grain, pump water uphill, and rotate turbines to generate electricity.
You can create your own electrical power using flowing water that turns a turbine or propeller shaft with a generator attached. It converts water action to electricity. If you have moving water on your property consider a simple hydroelectric generator. They produce about 100W of power 24/7 and can charge a bank of batteries for your home.
Small voltage hydroelectric power also includes a submersible propeller generator that you can place in fast water environments and a submersible sailing boat turbine generator which produces DC.
A related technology is the Tesla turbine. It uses closely-spaced disks that rotate when fluid or gas enters and exits. Holes in the disks cause a connected shaft to rotate providing kinetic energy to a generator or alternator creating DC or AC electricity. The shaft must rotate at 16,800 rpm to produce 12V DC, so it can be noisy.
5. Fuel-Based Generators
Fuel-based generators produce AC, although many units have a DC output available for charging batteries. You can use them as independent standby power sources during emergency conditions.
Standalone gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas, or propane (LP gas) generators convert burning fuel into AC electrical power. A stationary generator can produce up to 200 kW of AC. For example, I have a 15kW stationary generator that runs on propane and backs up the utility grid power to my home. This generator provides power to my whole house should the local grid fail. Portable generators can produce 140W up to 30,000 watts of power. I also have a portable 2,000-watt gas-driven generator that provides up to 13.7 amps of 120V AC. The gas tank is good for 5 to 9 hours of operation before refill. It’s been a reliable power source for camping and even for energizing field lights during school activities.
6. Steam Power
A steam power generation system uses fuel such as wood, coal, gas, wood gasification or nuclear energy to heat a liquid in a boiler producing high-pressure steam. This steam passes through a turbine rotating an attached generator that produces electricity. Many power plants today that uses geothermal energy function on this principle. Steam power is an excellent source of renewable energy.
While steam engines were common in the 1800s, only small demonstration steam power generators are currently available for the home user. They can produce 10V to 15V of DC power for charging a 12V battery.
7. Thermoelectric Power
A thermocouple or thermoelectric module can convert heat to DC voltage which you can use to charge a battery or bank of batteries. The Stirling engine also runs on heat. It produces DC power based on heat applied to a cylinder containing a movable piston. And Nitinol wire can become a heat engine that uses the temperature difference between the same wire immersed in two tanks of water to turn a generator and create electricity. These all produce low voltage and current, but enough energy to charge a wet-cell battery.
8. Invisible EMF Power
This is an up-and-coming technology although the concept has been around since Nikola Tesla conducted his first experiments to transmit electricity without wires.Tesla’s experiments included energizing light bulbs spaced out from a power source without connecting wires. After Tesla died, no serious research and experiments followed until recently. Now Tesla coils can cause wireless light bulbs to glow in your hand and high voltage electrical sparks to fill the room.
We are just beginning to exploit this technology. Products are now available that use invisible EMF energy to charge mobile phones. Perhaps soon we’ll be able to harness WiFi energy to create electricity that can drive appliances and even vehicles.
In the event of an SHTF, we need to find other sources of electrical energy to increase our chances of survival. Watch this video from Alltime10s and find out the new yet somewhat weird ways to harness energy!
The earth is a giant source of energy, both renewable and non-renewable,—ready at our disposal. Thanks to the work of Weber, Faraday, Maxwell, Hertz, Edison, and Tesla, we have electrical power to make our lives easier and more comfortable. As technology developed, some of the innovations from those days were neglected. Today those technologies are being revisited, refined, and reintroduced, giving us multiple ways to generate electricity at home.
Know other ways to generate electricity at home? Tell us about it in the comment section below!
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Editor’s Note – This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.