What if you could build a solar power system for your home that would give you all the electricity you need for survival?
What if it cost just under $2,500?
And what if your home used only a fraction of the Watt/hours used by most American homes?
Think it’s impossible? Alan and Arlene Fiebig have done it, and they tell about it in Prepper’s Total Grid Failure Handbook.
Alan Fiebig was my DestinySurvival Radio guest for what turned into a two part conversation. In this post I’ll share highlights from that conversation and the Fiebigs’ book.
A Glimpse of the Power Team
Here’s background info on the Fiebigs..
“Alan and Arlene Fiebig (aka Off Grid Geeks) leaped off the grid in 2012. Their goal in this pre-emptive bug out was to become as selfreliant as possible while still maintaining their high-tech lifestyle and work-from-home jobs. While Alan’s 40-plus years of expertise in all things electronic and Arlene’s degree in mechanical engineering proved to be beneficial in their new lifestyle, their ability to think outside the box allows them to come up with inexpensive alternative solutions for costly projects.
“This husband-and-wife team lectures and consults on a wide range of off-grid and self-reliance topics and are appreciated for their ability to explain technical subjects in an easy-to-understand manner. You can learn more about going off the grid at their website, http://off-grid-geeks.com.”
Alan was an articulate, knowledgeable guest. During our chat he went into teaching mode a couple of times. I believe you’ll find it enjoyable because I think you’ll understand what he said when you’ve heard him.
A Glance Inside the Book
Prepper’s Total Grid Failure Handbook is a fascinating read.
Fiebigs have made an effort to make their subject matter understandable to you and me. Even if you’re not pondering the possibility of going off grid now, this is an informative book to get you thinking.
If you’ve forgotten what you learned in school about electricity, you’ll be glad for the simplified explanations the authors give. For example, do you know the difference between a dynamo and an alternator? An engine vs. a motor? Wiring in series vs. parallel?
This book is meant for both preppers and homesteaders. The Fiebigs want to help their readers make fewer mistakes than they did. Thus, they give specific component recommendations.
If you’re not sure if you want to build a solar power system yet, you may find the material later in the book to be challenging. Much of it went past me.
But if you’re serious about going off grid, I’m confident you’ll get what you need from this book. Start from the beginning and go through it. You should be able to follow instructions and descriptions given. Have a highlighter marker handy as you read.
Here’s a ray of sunshine on what the Fiebigs show you how to do…
- Create your own power
- Manage energy storage
- Choose cost-efficient solar panels
- Select durable battery banks
- Rewire for energy efficiency
- Control energy consumption
- Install a high-efficiency refrigerator and LEDs
- Charge laptops and cell phones
You’ll find a number of black and white photos throughout the book. Some are small. You’ll also find helpful charts and tables.
Appendices deal with zoning codes, the charge controller Fiebigs recommend, and keeping batteries healthy. The last appendix lists resources mentioned in each chapter.
A Nod to a Possible Threat
The prologue is a brief, fictionalized account designed to get you and me to think about what might happen in the event of a CME (coronal mass ejection) from the sun. What if a massive EMP (electromagnetic pulse) knocked out electricity and fried electronics everywhere?
What about an EMP or solar CME? Would the Fiebigs’ system stand up to one? Alan thinks it will.
He further explained why an EMP might not be as devastating as some predict. He’s no longer actively seeking to buy a pre-1980 car that doesn’t have today’s computer technology.
Of course, no one knows what will really happen until it happens.
An Overview of the Possible Solutions
Here’s something to keep in mind. Energy can’t be created. It can only be transformed. What’s the best way to transform that energy into something usable?
Alan and I discussed the merits of solar power compared to wind and micro-hydro power. Your location will be a determining factor as to which should be your primary alternative power source.
These other methods are touched on first in the book. The authors point out drawbacks compared to the advantages of solar power.
For example, if you use a generator, you’ll need the right kind of fuel. How will you store it? How long will it keep? How and when will you be able to use it to get the most out of it?
One of solar power’s greatest advantages is that there are no moving parts.
Solar power can be economical, too. The price of photovoltaic technology has come down considerably over time.
Decreasing cost and improved efficiency have made solar power more attractive and useful today. Alan hopes for continued improvement in storage battery technology.
But what about a string of cloudy days? Believe it or not, they don’t present the problems for the Fiebigs you might expect. They’ve figured out ways to have enough power to get by.
The Way It’s Done
Fiebigs started with a goal of becoming as self reliant as possible. Their book is for anyone else who wants to move in that direction.
Fiebigs began with only one solar panel, but they eventually ended up with four. They decided to go cold turkey and worked themselves up to the system they have now.
Alan and I talked about why they went cold turkey. In their situation they didn’t have much choice. The two of them agreed that, if you start with nothing, it’s easier to come up with solutions you can live on,rather than having to wean yourself off of what you’re used to.
If you’re thinking of setting up a solar power system that lets you sell electricity back to the utility company, you need to hear Alan’s comments first. Also read what Fiebigs say in their book.
The Fiebigs aren’t trying to equip you to use 100% of the electricity you use now. Rather, they want you to have enough power to survive should the grid go down. This means adapting your power usage to your power production capability.
In chapter 5 they walk us through the activities that might take place on a given day using their solar power system.
Chapter 7 and following chapters describe components needed–batteries for a battery bank, charge controller, an inverter, and, of course, solar panels.
Incidentally, if you’re thinking you need to put solar panels on the roof, Fiebigs tell you why you shouldn’t do that. They’ll tell you where to put them instead, since they must be repositioned at least twice a year.
Fiebigs give specific guidance on batteries–which ones to use and what to do or not to do to keep them going.
As for smaller electronics, which rechargeable batteries are best? How can you deal with all those wall warts that call for different voltages?
What about lighting? Fiebigs use LED lights which require much less electricity to produce the amount of light we’re accustomed to from other bulbs.
Fiebigs make a strong case for operating as many of their electrical devices as possible from 12 volt DC. Alan and I discussed that in the second half of our conversation.
The Path to Greater Enlightenment
Reading the above is no substitute for hearing the first part of my conversation with Alan Fiebig. You’re invited to listen to DestinySurvival Radio for May 2, 2017. (Right click to download.)