Episode-940- Steven Harris on Dealing with a Large Scale Blackout – Part 2 — 73 Comments

    • Tom, thanks for the link. More storage time means better use of the original expense of energy, fuel and time that was used to charge the batteries. Also more efficiency is gained by buying more batteries, charging them at one time, and reducing the number of charge cycles.

  1. Enjoyed the show. I know I will check for the Sanyo batteries on my next visit to Costco.
    Any chance of getting Steven to come to Arlington for the Prepper Expo?

  2. He just can’t bring himself to suggest photo voltaic for power for the home.

    What if you have to go somewhere in the car you are using to power your stuff? What if someone steals the car that is running unattended in the driveway?
    Why not just use a generator that is more efficient in making power per gallon of fuel?
    Why not use solar panels to power chargers and inverters?

    • ha ha I was thinking the same thing. I don’t understand why he is so opposed to them, especially as a prep tool (I agree that trying to run a dryer or stove off of solar panels is silly, but there are times when they have their place) Charging AA batteries and phone would be such a case. I can’t believe he didn’t even mention it as an option (maybe he though we sould all already know this)

      In Steve’s defense I would say it’s always a good idea to have multiple backups
      (see my comment below)

      • From what I gather he is opposed to them due to their inefficiency. News flash. Running your car to power things is not very efficient either. Plus you are using a diminishing resource to power things. Gasoline.

        Even if you make your own fuel like he would suggest that is time and labor intensive.

        At least with solar you are not going to run out of sunlight. Nor do you have to stand in line at the gas station to get more.

        Don’t get me wrong. I love my gas powered 7kw generator. But in a long term power outage I am not going to be running my car or a generator to recharge AA batteries. I will use my solar panels and the inverter that goes with them. Plus the panels make no noise.

        • ooook, didn’t mean to cause a ruckus
          If you can afford a solar panel or battery or 2 more power to you, if you can’t or are in a pinch Steve just gave you an alternative. You still need to buy the inverter though, so I say why not a least get a deep cycle battery (about the same cost as a good inverter) and not risk killing your car battery. Plus you can take that battery with you, inside if nessassary. Then if you want you can add a solar panel and charge controler.

        • @notaxes you are not the cause of the ruckus, I didn’t see you claiming that an injustice occurred. Your point is completely valid it just isn’t what this episode was about.

      • Steve doesn’t really hate solar panels he just thinks they don’t make sense as a conventional “alternative energy source”. For independence and for back up power he has no issues with them. His book Sunshine to Dollars even tells you how to get used panels for free.

        • If that is the case then he did an injustice to the interviews by not mentioning them.

          Every time I have heard him speak of PV it has been with disdain. And I have yet to understand how he can say that PV is not worthwhile for an alternative energy source.

          As for the free panels, with as many people as you see scrounging around for them you would be hard pressed to find any. The number of ads I see on Craigslist alone with people looking for broken panels would suggest that the market for the freebie is saturated.

        • @cmxterra sounds like you are making this about something it isn’t. Last I checked about 99% of Americans owned cars, sooooooo.

          Get over it!

        • Nothing to get over. Just pointing out a big freaking hole.

          It is obvious that he is adverse to solar and that is fine. But you of all people, who point out how to be prepared for disasters if they happen or even if they don’t, should not ignore their place in preps.

          Your point about cars and solar would be like saying that since about everyone has cell phones, why bother messing with ham or CB.

          My .02

        • @cmxterra, look you are the assclown that called it a injustice to not mention solar. Didn’t you hear the damn part about taking 6 fing hours of the man’s time to prep for this one show? You know how many of my guests do that, ONE, Steven.

          This show was about how the average joe could use everyday stuff to deal with a black out. I do, have done and will do more shows on solar but nothing is a damn injustice to shit that you didn’t get your pet technology addressed here.

          Steve thinks solar is a waste of money except for living off grid or strictly for emergency redundancy because his view of solar is that it is a net energy loss and a net dollar loss.

          You clearly have a burr in your ass about this, I now do too. I am damn done with it, I suggest you follow suit. LET ME BE BLUNT this show simply wasn’t about solar. It is that simple and I really don’t fing have time for your attitude with the who bullshit about a INJUSTICE. Based on the amount of effort Steve puts into his shows with us and the effort he makes to help with follow up your attitude is the injustice.

        • @ Jack

          Wow. Where to start.
          Although I might not like the one sided conversation he had about not mentioning an easy to acquired tech I never resorted to vulgarity as you have.

          As for the 6 hours he spent prepping for the show, I would believe it with as many times as he dropped his URL for his commercial website. Nothing shocking about spending time when you are trying to sell something.

          Seeing as this was a show about emergency redundancy and that most of the people who listen are not your average sheep, speaking about solar was and is completely relevant. And PSA, it is not my pet tech.

          As for the topic of that show. I know it was not all about solar. But I think, as have others, that to exclude it you diminish what could have been a more complete educational episode.

          I’m sure your derisive comments were done in defense of a contributor to the show and I will just shrug them off as such.

        • @cmxterra, your just being a damn dumbass.

          Do we talk about tomatoes with every garden show?

          Do we discuss MREs in ever food storage show?

          Do we discuss HAM in ever comms show?

          Do we discuss swales in ever permaculture show?

          Where do you start? How about start by not acting as though you are entitled to have what ever you think is necessary in every damn episode. I am really about completely tired of you, I am actually considering redirecting you based on IP somewhere else. Perhaps to NPR?

          Look man you used the damn word INJUSTICE, you have to have your head up your ass past your shoulders to act that damn entitled.

    • Hopefully this has not already been mentioned, as I have not read every response. There are many care alarm products that monitor battery voltage levels and will automatically start the engine when the battery reaches a point at which it needs to be re-charged. These come in handy in cold environments. Just thought I would add. . .

      • @SIC years ago Stossel on 20-20 did a piece on theft deterents. I think I remember “The Club” taking about 20 seconds on average for a car thief to remove.

    • cmxterra, here’s my response to each of your questions.

      >>>What if you have to go somewhere in the car you are using to power your stuff?

      Well then you won’t be there to be using your stuff. Will you? I used to leave everything plugged in all the time. Why should your house and everything in it be glowing and consuming energy when you aren’t there? If you are on the grid and paying an electric bill, that’s money down the drain.

      >>> What if someone steals the car that is running unattended in the driveway?

      What if your aunt… nevermind. You’ve obviously not listened to the show very much. I don’t know about you, but my car has a lock on the door. When I run my car to power my devices or recharge my batteries, I simply lock the doors.

      >>> Why not just use a generator that is more efficient in making power per gallon of fuel?

      Generators are big and loud. I use my car and my inverter to run my WebSALE.TV business all the time. My inverter is small, quiet and portable. Yes, generators are more efficient than a car at burning the gasoline, I think, but until I can afford a generator with decent output and have a place to store it, my inverter is an inexpensive way to turn my car into a generator. Jack and Steven are offering practical advice to get people thinking and acting in ways that will develop into more sustainable and prepared, actions and habits to mitigate the inevitable crash and panic that happens when the centralized power grid goes out and brings the average, modernistic, power-hogging, money-hungry housing structure to a screeching halt.

      >>> Why not use solar panels to power chargers and inverters?

      Clouds, night time hours, battery banks, etc. I agree that solar panels are useful, but I also agree with Harris that they are horrible at converting sunlight to electricity even in direct, all-day sunshine. I’d rather use the sunlight to generate steam to power a generator and get electricity and hot water at the same time. However, for direct sunlight to electricity, nothing beats a shrinkwrapped solar panel on the store shelves.

  3. Steve,
    Do the LED light bulbs interfere with radio transceivers? I noticed that CFL’s interfere with my ham radio transceivers, while normal incandescent light bulbs do not.

  4. Been a long time listener here and have heard a lot of shows that were helpful. However this show has been the most immediately helpful show that I have listened to. Thanks Jack and an even bigger thanks to Steven on this one! Great job guys!

  5. I would pay very close attention to not drain your car battery when running power devices from your car when it is not running. You really should have a way to monitor your battery when doing this. Do not let the battery drop much below 12.5 volts (12.65-12.7 is a fully charged battery). Discharging a battery below 80% full will cause premature battery failure.
    It would be a good idea to get a deep cycle battery and charge it with a set of jumper cables (everyone should have a set anyway) and run your inverter off this. Or you can use a solar panel then you can save the valuable gas for the high amp loads of if there’s no sun.
    Also inverters will still drain your battery even if you are not using any AC power so be sure to disconect it when it is not being used.

    • notaxes,
      (great name btw-agreed)

      …and agreed on the deep cycle set-up. I’m full time RV’n.

      I was wondering about that same thing about Solar, and I’m no expert, but I think panels would have a hard time keeping up with the drain, unless you have a lot of them.-? not sure.

      • Drain for how much and for how long. That is the question.

        I have 4 panels on my M109 that can keep a fridge going for over a week running it non-stop day and night. If I were to actually monitor it and keep it off at night it would run the fridge till the cows came home.

        Those four panels also power a 24in LED tv, radio and lights.
        I have 4 deep cycle batteries in the system running at 24v. The inverter I use is a 2400w full sine wave inverter (not a modified) so it does not cause the compressor motor to run hotter.

        So like everything electric, you need to determine what you load will be so you know how much power generation you will need.

      • cmxterra,
        I’ve been considering getting an M109A4 “communications” truck, but I’m havin a hard time convincing the wife.

  6. .

    A sincere thanks you Jack and Steven for all your time and effort!
    Very well done!
    I’ll have to re-play this one to be sure, but I don’t remember hearing about larger batteries, -especially “D”- mainly for the Big “Mag Light”‘s.

    Hands down, one of my top 10 favorite eps!
    (Let’s see now, …that makes about 84 in my top 10 favorites)

  7. Far and away the best of Steven’s interviews. While all of them have been good, this is such practical information that we can all go out and do TODAY, which makes it the best to date. Nice show(s) gentlemen.

    • I’ve now listened to both of these episodes twice. Just absolutely freaking amazing information! Steve you have an open invitation for a top notch dinner at my place anytime you find yourself in Central Indiana. I’ll provide the meat and fixings, you bring the still….er uh…..I mean legal booze!

  8. Does someone need a car or just a fully charged 12v car battery?

    Because I have a spare small honda motor from an experiment (gas powered bike) and could easily attach a car alternator and keep a battery charged. I could then attach an inverted to that.

    Like this.

    Would that work? I’m pretty sure it would, but would like a second opinion due to my lack of electrical engineering training.

    • That would work great. I have all the parts to do such project. As with most things, TIME is the issue.

  9. Great show. Learned a lot of new information on how to make the best of no electrical situation.

    I am getting one of those ice makers. Thanks Steven and Jack

  10. I just wanted to add 2 apps that would be great for any disaster.

    SAS survival guide – has information for surviving a lot of different situations and is a copy of the guide used by the SAS.

    First aid by American Red Cross – Emergency updates and first aid information for almost any situation.

    Thanks Jack!

  11. I would like to get Steve’s opinion of the C and D cell adapters that eneloop has available. I know that as they are based on using the AA size battery, they won’t last as long as a traditional C or D cell. With that in mind, I think it would be good to have some on hand to provide more options in the devices you choose to power.

    On a second note, what does Steve think of running straight 12v LED lighting in your home for emergency use? Using traditional style LED replacement bulbs in your 110v fixtures incurs the energy conversion losses at the inverter and then again at the bulb where it steps down to the LEDs working voltage.

    As mentioned before, something like a cheap Harbor Freight solar panel set could keep some car batteries charged up for use as power for your lights at night. Or, use the salvage panels as Steve talked about in his book.

    Thanks to Jack and Steve for the great shows!

    • I haven’t listened yet, but Conrad, I bought some square 12V led’s and they come with an A/C adapter, I chucked the adapter and found a 12v jack to directly plug them in. I live in Canada, but was in Boston, and Lowes sold them. They are about 4″x4″ and have 9 LED’s. They are not the cheap 5mm but nor are they the Cree. They look more diode’ish.

    • Those Eneloop adapters are good -as expected- but there are D-size adapters around that accept 2xAA batteries (cheap with parasitic resistance but good for low drain devices).
      There is also a new 3xAA adapter but I cannot presently find the link to it.
      And of course there are the custom-made adapters (like 3x4AA for 4D maglites) that people at make…

  12. This two part series was my favorite! I knew about most of this stuff but I found his personal recommendations to be the best part! Ya know I added everything up on the list that he recommended (just one of each) and it came to about $550! That would just buy you a generator and you would still need a lot of the things listed on top of that! I also have the Mini led Maglite and I love it. Mine goes high, low, flashes, flashes SOS and does the candle thing. I got it for $25ish from COSTCO with a 3D led big Maglite belt holster for the little one and batteries for both!

    Keep on rockin with your kick ass show Jack!

  13. Great show, or should I say shows. I use my 27in Imac as my televison by using a computer TV tuner made by Elgato. You can also use it with a laptop and a pair of rabbit ears. Great for when the power goes out and no small TV needed.
    Also, I have the Sanyo Eneloop batteries in everthing, they’re awesome.

  14. I had a couple questions for Steve…. Which I actually had before the comments section blew up lol.

    1. Have you ever used the Goal Zero Guide 10 plus with the solar panels for backpacking to recharge eneloops.

    2. Have you ever tried charging them with the BioLite stove, and what do you think about the BioLite in general.

    • Excellent question. I have one of those Goal Zeros too. I recharge my Kindle with it.

  15. Awesome show with Steve again. Steve gives a lot of knowledge away and if you appreciate that, then follow his links to Amazon and he might make $.10 off of your purchase for referring you. There are thousands of people who make money doing the same thing, heck look at any successful blog. He comes off scripted sometimes because he is trying to be thorough in a set amount of time. And we should all not forget that Steve is a businessman who seems to enjoy helping everyday people. He’s truly lucky to have a business doing something he is good at and loves. Batteries are a hole in my preps and I’ve yet to do the research. This particular show has saved me and thousands of other folks some serious time. If this had been his first episode one might want to do a few searches and quickly verify his information, but after how much he has done for TSP I trust him and have no reservations to purchasing those items he recommended.

    As for leaving solar out, BFD. This episode was the equivalent of a 50 page chapter in a 800 page book. He mentioned a few times too…if you’re worried about the first time listener not realizing that solar might be an option (arguably an expensive and inefficient one but possibly worthwhile nonetheless) they might have an epiphany as they type solar1234 into their browser. 🙂

    For the listener who has never even thought about generating and storing their own power, the steps in this show are exactly what they should do get the most power for their dollar in the fastest amount of time. Even if they have lots of money for solar, they should still do the batteries and inverters first. Those things are easily portable. Most solar charged battery systems for homes are not.

    I’m not sure how much all the items he recommended cost, but lets say $300 IF you buy a bunch of batteries. That gets your family through a week long blackout with food/refrigeration and information. Two very important items. He could have spent another hour talking about why this information was what he gave first and didn’t start off with telling you to find a listeroid or buy a $3500 yanmar 5kw 1800rpm diesel genset for your refridgerator.

  16. Love, love, love Steve Harris! Thanks Jack for having him on and thanks Steve for all the information and effort you give to us. Looking forward to the next one.

  17. I just got my biolite camp stove and used it for the first time this 2 nights ago and charged up all our cell phones. I would be curious what other uses people are finding for Biolites and what Steven Harris thinks about the. Is this a new technology?

  18. Steve and Jack
    Great information I belive you are of the few that realy understand the problem. Knowlege is power and the more option you have the more likely you are to be functional during a stressfull time. I appreciate that you explane a system for power in an easy to understand manner.
    Its nice I know that if the wind takes my solor panels and drops a tree on my generator but my car is ok I can use it as a sorce of power.
    Thanks again

    • I agree with @Raymond, great show(s)!
      So many of these tips come in handy for those us us who are unfortunate enough to live where we can not have a generator or store gas (for example if we live in an apartment bldg or condo) or if we can not install or afford a solar rig.

      I’ll be putting these episodes on a cd and handing them out in my 82 year old Mother in Law’s “active retirement” community, where there is no safe place for fuel storage to run a generator but people could use an inverter to make ice & keep their medicines cold. Just thinking about how helpful one of those small ice makers & an inverter could be to keeping someones grandma alive makes me want to shake Steven Harris’ hand & give him a big hug.

  19. Hi, Jack And Steven

    I have a 2005 F-350 with dual alternators and batteries. The truck has a fully self contained camper on it. I also have a 2000 watt inverter generator that with run the AC unit at full idle. In my glove box is a 800 watt inverter. The Camper has a propane fridge and stove. I can run the truck to charge the camper batteries or connect a battery charger to the generator to charge the batteries up at a faster rate. If the power goes out for a long time it would be wise to put my family in the camper and let the kids watch tv and stay cool in the summer. The camper can store 40 gallons of water.
    The reason I have an RV.
    #1 Camping with the family
    #2 A back up shelter
    #3 A place to live in that the kids are comfortable. If times get tough.

    Just remember its an option if you or a friend have an rv and the power goes out. Also the generator I have cost 400 dollars and will use 1 gallon of gas in 8 hours at half load. alot more efficient than running the truck at idle. Thanks for another great show.

  20. Great episodes… ready do like the content in the Jack and Steve interviews.

    But this really hurts my goal of transcribing all of the “Jack and Steve interviews”…. 🙂 keep doing what you are doing, and I’ll try to keep up.

  21. Great show. I would consider the whole car-inverter-load process as the 1st step to a broader approach to energy usage. The next step would add extra deep cycle batteries then PV charging, and then a generator. As someone who lives off-grid , I can’t emphasize enough the value of learning use/efficiency over generation.

  22. Just into the first 20 minutes. I have AccuEvolution 10,000 mah D’s and I am happy with them. As well the RayOVac 4.0 Low self discharge are nice as well. I have the Imedion that I use with my Maha C808m and they hold charge nice and long, (6+ months). I think the Sanyo is a good product but a tad overpriced.

    • Yup, looks like the same model I have. Or similiar. Lovely unit. It ‘ticks’ as it charges. I have some Supreme 9000 mah that charge in 2 hours with all eight in

    • I see Steve’s price for the Eneloops are much better in the U.S than in Canada. I stand corrected, as my initial thoughts were it was much more expensive than that. Great show guys. As I mentioned above, I have the Blue RayoVac 4.0. My buddy owns a battery store and I got a good price for a four pack, 5 bucks I think about a two years ago. Apparently the branding, or label 4.0 was an issue or something. If you want a pic of it Steve I can send one.

  23. Steven, I’ve had problems with Lights of America LED bulbs, they burn out quick. I speak of the 5mm LED’s in a cluster, say about 30. I find they dont last. Unless they have switched over to the Cree bulb. I am in Canada, so I dont know if the new bulbs have made it up here yet.

  24. The problem with relying on the police scanner app on your smart phone, is that it relies on the nice guy local to you being able to stream his scanner to the internet. If your power is out, most likely his is too. Streaming his scanner to the internet (if it is available) is not going to be a priority.

  25. I definitely agree about the low self-discharge (aka hybrid) batteries. I found that out for myself after trying the older-style NiMH ones. I’d be surprised if the average user got even 100 charges out of the non-hybrid ones before they needed reconditioning or were completely done. They are not very successful in low-drain devices (like radios or seldom-used flashlights) and if charged and set on a shelf will probably be dead when needed. The hybrids like the Eneloops work very well, can be stored for months without too much power loss, and seem to retain their ability to be recharged after many cycles.

  26. I’m set to buy the 800 watt inverter Steven suggested, but I’ve got three questions…
    1) How has the Harbor Freight and Tool – CHICAGO Brand stood up to Steven’s tests? Is it crap?
    2) There are larger watt products out there ( 1500 Continuous – 3000 Peak) but is that going beyond the capabilities of my car battery? How big can I go? How could I investigate it for my 2011 Jetta TDI?
    3) Could I run TWO of the 800 watt inverters on the same idling car battery?
    Steven thank you for all your episodes. Jack thank you for keeping your show so diverse.

  27. What an absolutely amazing show! What a gift! I’m going to listen to this show slowly, buy all of the recommended supplies and then type and laminate Steves instructions for my friends so that they can store the instructions in their vehicles.

  28. Jack, been listening to you for about a year. Fantastic show, but these two Steve Harris episodes may be my favorite. So much practical information in a short amount of time. Thanks! PS – Look forward to hearing you in Arlington.

  29. Thanks for the show Jack. One thing I would like to mention about food and bacteria is what I hear from my Sister the health inspector all the time. By the way, it is a pain having a health inspector as a Sister always. She takes defrosting food out of my sink and puts it back in the fridge. It is not that bacteria in the food that makes you sick because they are cooked out. It is their toxic waste byproduct that makes you sick. The longer the bacteria are alive and generate more waste the more sick you can get. The bacteria waste is not cooked out.

  30. Everyone needs to remember that most PV systems are grid connected so if the grid goes under so does the PV system. This prevents backfeeding and makes it possible for repairman to fix the problem. However, with an off grid or “Critical loads” system you can still power the critical loads when the grid goes under. This type of system is called a grid interactive with battery backup. Be sure to size a battery bank based on the loads then double it dawning more than 50% will kill your system early.

  31. Great pair of shows — I’ve listened to them twice. I immediately put most of Steve’s recommended gear into my shopping cart at Amazon. However, my usual practice of waiting a day or two before moving to checkout may have done me in here. Several of the items (e.g., battery charger, 800W inverter) have already changed (more than once) to third party sellers and are thus not available for free shipping.

    I’ve also had a long-time thought of setting up a 1 or 2 12V AGM battery bank that could be transferred between house and bug out van. I could then use either my generator or vehicle engine to recharge them. The AGMs are expensive but have long life, are leak proof, and don’t require venting. Would appreciate comments on this.

  32. FYI, I was at Costco yesterday and the Sanyo eneloop batteries were $19.99 for (10) AA or (12) AAA. As of right now, the AA are on Amazon at $19.70 for (8) and the AAA are $17.39 for (8), so Costco has the better deal.

  33. Target has the Energizer AA Lithium x8 (and x9) on sale for $15.3 for AA8 as of 7/28/12. Same price as Steven lists on Solar1234, but in a store near you.

  34. Hi, i look the video on his page on how to make ethanol fuel, would not use a lot of electricity and be more cheap to buy just gasoline?

  35. I love rechargeable batteries! I’m still using old set of Rayovac NiMH (that’s nickel-metal-hydride not national-institute-of-mental-health for all us paranoids out here 🙂 from when NiMH was still a new marketing term. I’ve been needing more batteries and found my original stock to be inadequate to cover all the devices that I’ve been accumulating and testing since I started my WebSALE.TV business. I’m glad that Jack had Steven Harris back on the show to talk about rechargeable technology. I just visited the TSP link to and bought some of the eneloop AA batteries. Be sure to get the 8-pack because the price per battery is currently $2.43 if you have amazon prime. The higher quantity packs of batteries (16 and 20) start raising the price to $2.63 and 2.72 per battery respectively. So just buy two 8-packs and save some expenses. Check out my website for more ideas on reducing expenses and saving money.