Alternative Energy Sources For The Homestead Part Three – Water Power

M.D. Creekmore

I've been interested in self-reliance topics for over 25 years. I’m the author of four books that you can find here. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about prepping, homesteading, and self-reliance topics through first-hand experience and now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

18 Responses

  1. This post has to get at least one comment… so here it is… this is a comment.

    • This post has to get at least one comment… so here it is… this is a comment.

      And now there are two, LOL
      I’ll no doubt be posting additional as soon as I get this read and digested.

      • The Ohio Prepper,

        The posts that folks say that they want end up getting the least comments and the ones on guns and bug out bags get the most!

        Now there are three…

        • Moe says:

          Some of us take a bit longer to get to the posts. Of the three alternative energy posts, the wind would make the most sense for my location. However all three need some type of storage capacity for the energy–unless you are in the Tennessee Valley.

          I think a long term scenario could be very difficult even with rechargeable batteries.

          • Moe,

            I think a long term scenario could be very difficult even with rechargeable batteries.

            That would depend on assessing your wants vs. your needs and your specific situation and location.
            Prior to the whole house generator (November 2016) we would occasionally have power outages; but, we kept a significant amount of potable water for drinking and always had at least 4-6 5-gallon buckets full of water with loos fitting lids. Since we have a septic system, each bucket would provide about three flushes and at that point you limit your flushing to the basic rule: “If it’s brown flush it down; but, if it’s yellow, let it mellow”
            Keeping quite a few AA, AAA, and 18650 batteries on constant charge and rotating them on a regular basis meant we always had lighting and radios and placing most electronics like satellite receivers, TVs, and some radio equipment plugged in to computer UPS units, meant that we could ride out the glitches and sometimes even indulge the radio or TV to find out what’s going on.
            We still have an Airline (by Montgomery Ward) 6 transistor AM radio that runs on 5 D cell batteries, is used several hours per day, and only requires new batteries about every 2 years.
            Having multiple ways to heat using propane without electricity, including terra cotta pots to place on the gas burners, a good supply of seasoned firewood, both white gas and butane camp stoves, and Coleman & Aladdin lamps with extra fuel for both along with spare mantles can help with both heat and lighting.
            And then of course the dozens of candles picked up on the cheap after holidays as well as several hundred pounds of paraffin from which we could make our own candles.
            Add to that the camping gear that we no longer use much for camping and you have a lot of little things that add up to make a comfortable if a bit Spartan lifestyle in a pinch.
            Not that anyone should toss out their big plans; but, lots of baby steps can fill the gap and fit within the budgets for most people leaving you with a not all that uncomfortable lifestyle in an event that stops modern living.
            And I forgot to mention that while we have internet and cell phones, we still have a landline and that the Telco infrastructure will still give you a dial tone long after the power is out and the cell phones stop working.
            You can build with a large poured concrete wall or stack a brick at a time as you can afford them, and the later was our choice.

        • M.D.,

          The posts that folks say that they want end up getting the least comments and the ones on guns and bug out bags get the most!

          Candidly, I think that’s probably because everyone thinks they are firearms experts or at least, like the bug out bags need to validate what they spent their time and money on.
          Articles like this one also take a little more time to digest and I learned a long time ago that sometimes you need to digest things for a while to even know enough to make a comment or ask a reasonable question. In short, you need to know what you don’t know first.
          BTW, are you still looking for articles? I have the one on propane nearly wrapped up; but, have been waiting to see where things ended up with the old and new sites.

  2. mom of three says:

    For many people, none of these three will work, well maybe Solar.

    • mom of three,

      If not solar, wind or water generated power then what do you suggest?

      • mom of three & MD,

        If not solar, wind or water generated power then what do you suggest?

        In my case we keep a multiyear supply of propane on hand; but, in a real long term SHTF event, that would eventually run out. Water other than catchment off the roofs of buildings requires a flowing source like my stream; but, that is not an option for everyone.
        The only other renewable / sustainable way I can think of for the homestead, would be a wood fired steam boiler running a steam engine and a generator. If you are lucky enough to be in the right spot as are some in Southern Ohio, coal or natural gas wells on the property could be used; but, these all take skill and possibly a boiler operator’s license, plus a lot of maintenance. After all, wood and coal fired steam was a major source of power to build this entire country, well into the 1870’s.
        I still think small scale wind and solar together could provide most people with at least a little power to run lighting and charge batteries using wood for heating and cooking. This would still be superior to the open campfires, fire places and hand dipped tallow candles our pioneer forefathers used to cross, populate, and develop this country.

    • mom of three,

      For many people, none of these three will work, well maybe Solar.

      Small scale solar, even just a few things like the Kaito Voyager radio that can charge its own battery in the sun can give you communications.
      I purchased the Hiluckey 10,000 mAh Solar Power Bank Portable External Battery Pack that Jesse reviewed here a while back, and it can keep some things charged by simply setting it in the sun.
      I also have several of the Harbor Freight 36 or 60 LED solar security lights. Two are mounted on the house to provide motion sensing lighting during the day; but, one stays in the house with the LED panel turned off and the solar panel in a window. In a pinch at night, you simply turn on the LED panel and you can fill a rather large room with light.
      Whole house alternative power with any off grid source can be complex and expensive; but, if you have an alternative way to heat and cook, small scale solar can easily provide lighting and some communications that can make off grid or grid down life more comfortable

  3. Thor1 says:

    When it comes down to it, any power you have will be a plus and may extend your chances of survival.

    When I retire I am looking at buying a jeep and a cabin in the middle of nowhere by a lake or large steam.

    Couple more years, I will sell my house for more than I paid for it and………. Be off grid.

    • Thor1,

      When it comes down to it, any power you have will be a plus and may extend your chances of survival.

      To be honest, I like the convenience of having someone else provide my power. All I have to do is pay a monthly bill; but, with our power cooperative, we usually have at least two months where the capital credit pays for one month in full and the following month in part. It comes down to convenience that allows me time to do other things like gardening; since I don’t have to spend a lot of time maintaining a power system. The main thing is to remember that many of these modern technologies are just conveniences and you should always have backups and not count on these conveniences as necessities.
      Many of the local Amish have cell phones to aid in their businesses. They will often use chainsaws to cut firewood; but, every one of them still has axes, mauls, and wedges and knows how to use them.
      I personally like modern conveniences’; but, realize the complex network of equipment and people needed to make that light come on when I flip a switch, so while it’s nice to have the option, having one or more alternates is important.
      I think one of the problems with modern society is that too many people take too many things for granted, and are not gob smacked when they flip the switch and the light comes on, and are only perplexed when it doesn’t.
      In short, most people are appliance operators and have no idea how things really work under the hood.

      • Moe says:

        TOP:

        I think one of the problems with modern society is that too many people take too many things for granted, and are not gob smacked when they flip the switch and the light comes on, and are only perplexed when it doesn’t.
        In short, most people are appliance operators and have no idea how things really work under the hood.

        I could not agree more and I am partially guilty. For example, I can use a microwave but I cannot explain how it works or how to fix it. Solar and wind power are easier to understand. But lacking an engineering background I would be hard pressed to fix a system. However, I can cook with solar heat.

        The biggest problem with a return to subsistence living is the overwhelming need to know everything about everything. Our forefathers are to be appreciated.

        • Moe ,

          I could not agree more and I am partially guilty. For example, I can use a microwave but I cannot explain how it works or how to fix it.

          I suspect you could with a little research and study. What I did in school prior to college and even in college took a bit more work, since we had to use libraries with real books and take notes on paper; but, we still accomplished an education.
          Today with all of the resources on the web I suspect you can find basic or detailed instruction on nearly any topic. Sites like Wikipedia and YouTube alone are gold mines I would have killed for back in the day, LOL.
          For example, a Google search for “how does a microwave oven work” produced About 90,900,000 results (0.47 seconds) one of which is the following: Microwave ovens
          Although I’m an EE I have worked with engineers from many disciplines, and basically we all use the same processes to solve problems, applying our core discipline to specific types of problems. I was on a software team with another EE, a software engineer, an aerospace engineer, and a ceramics engineer, and once we determined the specification for the problem, we all worked together. I have a friend and fellow ham who has no degree; but, is one of the best RF & antenna engineers I know. In short, you can learn anything you put your mind to, with the possible exception of cardiothoracic or neurosurgery both of which do take very specific training and practice, LOL.
          Over the years I’ve completely refurbished two houses, so nearly all of the carpentry, wiring, concrete work and plumbing were done by me, with no specific training other than my dad and friends who knew how.

          Solar and wind power are easier to understand. But lacking an engineering background I would be hard pressed to fix a system.

          That’s where you start searching, reading, and asking questions.

          However, I can cook with solar heat.

          And I suspect there are those who only wish they could do that; but, also haven’t done the research and the trial and error to figure it out, possibly because they don’t want to miss their reality TV shows.

          The biggest problem with a return to subsistence living is the overwhelming need to know everything about everything. Our forefathers are to be appreciated.

          I agree that our ancestors had to know a lot if they were mountain men living on their own; but, since humans are social creatures, we formed common bonds with others and shared the knowledge in common living arrangements we called communities. The most common surname in the US is smith, for a very good reason. Bob was a blacksmith, Sally a Silversmith, Charles a Copper Smith, and Tom a tin smith; but, eventually they were all called smithy or Smith.
          The cooper made barrels, the Wheelwrights made wheels for wagon and carts, the Cartwright’s made the wagons and carts and a Cobbler worked with leather and when he made shoes, was you Guessed it, Mr. Shoemaker.
          While our ancestors were not at all afraid of hard work or trying new things, many specialized in areas they enjoyed, or were good at, or could simply do well enough to fill a niche and make money.
          Most rural people I know and most preppers do the same, with wide general knowledge and the attitude to never stop learning.

  4. I seemed to recall a pdf on the subject I had in my 150GB of files on self reliance.
    It’s a link I think was originally sent to me by Jesse M. and is worth a look.
    Five Gallon Bucket Hydroelectric Generator Build Manual – Version 1