DIY Projects: Types of Alternative Energy for Preparedness or Off Grid Living

Alternative Energy. Alternative to what?

For this post the context will be alternatives for getting things done that ordinarily rely upon the power grid.

I want to brainstorm large and small systems for alternative energy ‘tips and tricks’ to power or replace some of our modern day reliance’s. Or to specifically perform a task to replace a conventional means of a modern day system which we may rely upon.

Solar power. First that comes to mind is solar power.

Solar to electricity. Harnessing the sun’s energy with Solar Photo voltaic (PV) panels. I have been doing this for years. Love it!

Solar to heating water. Then there’s harnessing the sun’s radiant energy for heating water. There are a variety of ways to run water through pipes exposed to the heat of the sun to keep a water tank warmed up.

Solar to southern exposure heat. A supplement (alternative?) to heating one’s home is a southern exposure design with lots of windows. Our great room has an East, South, and West exposure with a fair amount of windows. The south side really warms up nicely when the sun is shining. It makes a big difference during the winter (if the sun’s out).

Other alternative energy tips & tricks from the sun?

Wind power. Depending on where you live geographically, wind could be harnessed with a wind turbine generator. I will definitely be exploring this as a supplement to my solar power in the future.

Water power. If you’re lucky enough to have a source of running water along a long enough vertical drop, you could build yourself a Ram pump to potentially move water up a hill to your dwelling cistern or to a garden.

An ordinary generator. I know it’s not alternative to petroleum fuel, but it is a temporary alternative to the power grid. Many of us already have one. It’s a good thing to have on hand.

Battery storage. The right batteries (and number thereof) combined with the right components (inverter, charger) will provide a source of alternative energy. The batteries will need to be recharged.

Thermal mass. If you put a bunch of rocks near or in a fire, they will heat up and hold heat for quite some time afterward. Maybe making for a warmer night out in the bush. Beware of exploding rocks however.

Found this regarding the potential rock problem:

There’s two main things that generally cause this with regards to proximity with a fire. The first being the moisture content in the rock and the second being the type of rock.

If the rock is wet and it heats rapidly in a fire, any water will turn to steam and put pressure on the rock, forcing shards of it to break off rapidly.

Secondly the type of rock matters. Layered rocks such as sandstone are much more likely to split and perhaps explode because of the weaker bonds between their layers. Watch out for very smooth rocks – a sign that they may have been on a river bed at some point in their lives and therefore have water trapped deep in them.

Geothermal energy. Some home heating systems take advantage of geothermal energy below the ground. Always warmer during the winter than the air temp above. Pipes running down deep to capture that heat.

Outhouse. You might say “That’s not alternative energy!”, but it is an alternative to a system that does generally require energy (water pressure to fill tank to flush). If your land use permits you to do this without getting in trouble, you might build one just for grins. Then if you actually ever need it, you’ve got it!

Other substitutes from your ongoing comments:

A Spring House. A classic way to get good water for the homestead AND a nice Refrigerator-Cold Storage effect. It will be high humidity storage (root cellar rules apply).

Composting Toilet. There are a number of them out there for purchase in the retail market.

Solar Oven. I have one of these, and it has been a great attribute to overall preparedness. Really enjoy cooking with it when the sun shines.

Wood Stove. A great source of alternative energy heat. Also useful for cooking.

Root cellar. A root cellar can keep the food inside COOL, lengthening the shelf life of your garden bounty!

Wood Gasification. A process of converting the burning energy of wood to fuel a combustion engine.

Okay your turn to continue this conversation: