Grid power is available on some rural properties, but generally those are the first ones to get bought up so we’re probably going to have to use off-grid power. There are multiple ways to get electricity off-grid, including generators, solar panels, wind turbines, and steam turbines. I’m still researching our long-term options, which will evolve over time as we experiment with different methods and get hands-on experience, but I believe our initial camp should be powered by a commercial-grade gas-powered prime generator. Eventually, it’ll be powered by producer gas that we create with a gasifer, which can convert food waste, sewage, grass, wood, and plastic into clean fuel.

There are multiple types of generators, including emergency, prime, and standby. Emergency generators are used for a few hours at a time during power outages while standby generators can be used for weeks at a time, but still have a relatively short life-span of around 3,000 hours of expected use. What we need is a prime generator, which is designed for construction sites and mining operations that need continuous power for long periods of time. Prime generators can be run for up to 30,000 hours, which is 3.5 years.

There are also multiple fuel options to consider. A natural gas connection would be ideal, but impractical in a rural area. We could get a 250 gallon propane tank mounted on a trailer and use about 6 gallons a day, which would cost between $12 and $16 a day and last about 40 days on a full tank. Gasoline is more efficient than propane and diesel is more efficient than gasoline. When we switch to using producer gas, we’ll need an ignition-based engine so a diesel engine wouldn’t work without making modifications.

In Homosassa, our hourly power consumption stays around 1 kw, give or take so it wouldn’t take much to power our whole house. On an average day, that’s 4 window air conditioners, two TVs, two ceiling fans, a standup fan, a refrigerator, laptop, Xbox, 6 lightbulbs, water heater, water pump, hot plate, air fryer, microwave, and a washer and dryer running every now and then. A 4kw unit should be plenty to power anything we need. When we build multiple buildings it’d probably be a good idea to have a separate generator for each building just for the convenience of not having wiring all over the place or overloading the generator.

I’m still in the process of picking out a generator.

What Is A Gasifier

A gasifier a type of fuel distillery. It’s basically a burn barrel inside of a burn barrel (or off to the side) with a pipe attached to the top to let smoke out. You put logs or coal in the bottom of the main barrel to light a fire and you put biomass in the smaller barrel, which is air-tight. The fire heats up the smaller barrel and converts the biomass directly to smoke without burning it and the smoke rises up the pipe (or chimney), condenses, runs through a tank of water to trap the pollutants in the smoke, and then is collected in a resevoir to burn as a gas. We would ideally want to also build a refinery to convert the gas into liquid for easier storage, but I’m still learning how that process works. The gasifier can also be used to heat our water and buildings by wrapping a pipe around the gasifier and running water through it. That pipe can then be connected to an adjustable heat exchanger so we can control when our water or air is heated.

FEMA has instruction manuals for building a gasifier and other off-grid survival guides. Gasifiers were used heavily in WWII to power trucks by burning the gas directly in the engine as you drive.