Those who are truly prepared understand that, although it may not appear likely, we’re always at risk for worst-case scenarios. A quick look back at recent natural disasters and terrorist attacks shows us how individuals, families, and communities can be put at risk and thrown off track in an instant.
Oftentimes our electric grid is one of the first things to be compromised in these situations. And unfortunately, many aspects of our lives require power--such as fresh food preservation and cooking, communication systems, medical equipment, and lighting. That’s why it’s helpful to have an alternative power and energy source (or two) at your disposal.
From the earthquakes in Southern California to Hurricane Florence’s strike on the East Coast, recent disasters have reminded us that backup power is needed for survival.
When it comes to surviving in the wild, campers and hikers also often depend on some sort of portable backup power source.
Solar energy is one of the best backup power sources for emergency situations. And today, I’m going to share five reasons why.
Read on to discover all five…
#1: Solar Power Can Be Used for a Wide Variety of Purposes
When disaster strikes, solar-powered solutions can come in handy for a wide variety of uses, both small and large. From powering cell phones and communication devices to cooking meals with a solar-powered stove, there is an endless list of uses.
For example, this 4-in-1 Solar Powered Radio requires no batteries and can be powered by hand crank, solar panel, or via USB port. Featuring an AM/FM/Weather radio, LED flashlight, room light, and a cell phone/USB device charger, this compact tool is a must whether at home or while camping and hiking.
Individuals and families aren’t the only ones beginning to pick up on this great source of alternative energy for disasters.
When it comes to widespread disaster relief, many rescue workers and aid agencies have traditionally used expensive portable standby diesel or gas generators. While that’s fine for a while, fuel sources to power generators tend to run out quickly during an emergency. However, rescue workers and aid agencies are beginning to pay attention to the cheap and decentralized energy source offered by solar power.
- After Hurricane Maria, automaker Tesla donated their Powerwall battery systems with solar arrays already in place on the affected islands in order to run microgrids until the main energy grid was fixed and fully operational.
- When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Kathmandu, Nepal, the nonprofit SunFarmer deployed their solar power and batteries to fix street lights in the city and donated solar water purifiers and small solar-powered systems to surrounding villages.
- The Japanese government is subsidizing the installation of disaster preparedness measures such as high-capacity home storage battery systems. Their goal is to make sure homes have batteries that can be quickly charged in about two hours using either the grid or solar panels. The stored energy can be used to power the lights, refrigerator, PC, and TV for up to 12 hours at a time, and is instantaneously switched on by sudden power outages.
#2: Solar Power Is Affordable
When you hear “solar energy” you might initially assume it’s an expensive solution. Though it’s been expensive in the past, as technology has advanced, renewable energy has become less expensive.
In fact, due to the decreasing cost, a Bloomberg report titled “New Energy Outlook 2018” shares that “half of the world's electricity by 2050 will be generated from wind and solar.”
Since solar energy doesn’t require fuel, you also won’t have to worry about purchasing fuel such as gasoline and diesel to power your devices. And even if you don’t have the monies to install bulky solar panels on your home, there are various smaller and cheaper gadgets that utilize the power of the sun to perform essential tasks during disaster scenarios such as charging your phone, cooking your food, and listening for updates on the radio. One popular and easy-to-carry 400Wh option is the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Portable Power Station which can power a cell phone 20+ times, headlamp 70+ times, and a laptop computer 3-5 times.
#3: Solar Power Is Portable
Large solar panels installed on your home’s roof isn’t the only form of solar energy. These days, there are a wide range of portable solar-power generating devices. Lightweight and compact in size, these gadgets come in handy for disaster prep as they are easy to store, move around, take with you on the road, or place in your go-bag.
For example, the Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit allows you to charge your devices whether on the go or at home. Using the kit, you can recharge AA or AAA batteries quickly only using the power of the sun. This way, you won’t have to worry about small USB-charged devices like your phone or 2-way radio dying on you when you need it the most. Whether you’re riding out a hurricane at home or lost on a mountain while hiking, you will be able to rest easy.
Another slick, portable option is the Wireless Lit Solar PowerBank Charger & LED Light with 20,000 mAh of power. This powerful device can power three devices at once and includes a bright panel of LED lights that can flood a room and eliminate the darkness.
#4: Solar Power Is Renewable
As Bob Harris, an emergency expert with GamePlan, puts it, “In the relief and recovery stages, you absolutely need power. Having energy from solar is renewable and will not run out. You don’t have to depend on the grid.”
When resources are already limited or inaccessible during a disaster, the more self-reliant you can be, the better. Unlike a portable gas generator, solar energy doesn’t require external fuel and nonrenewable resources. All you need is the power of the sun, and you can recharge devices for months or years.
At the very least, make sure you have the 9-in-1 Multi-Function LED Solar Rechargeable Flashlight which has a bright light and weighs less than a pound. In addition to the flashlight, this handy tool also includes a room work light, seatbelt/rope cutter, glass-breaking hammer for car windows, detachable compass, and a magnet to attach to your vehicle or other metal.
#5: Solar Power Is Safe
Unlike gas generators, with solar power, you won’t have to worry about certain hazards. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, gas generators pose risks such as…
- Shocks and electrocution from improper use of power or accidentally energizing other electrical systems.
- Carbon monoxide from a generator’s exhaust.
- Fires from improperly refueling a generator or inappropriately storing the fuel for a generator.
- Noise and vibration hazards.
With solar power, you can rest easy knowing you don’t have to worry about the hazards listed above. And as EnergySage describes, “Since photovoltaic solar panels are primarily made of silicon, there are no dangers of leaking toxins or fumes.” With solar as an alternative to a generator, you’ll have less to worry about while you’re hunkered down during a hurricane or snowstorm.
When disaster strikes, finding alternative energy sources may not be the first thing to come to mind, but it’s one of the most important aspects of survival.
If you want to ensure you and your family have access to light, communication channels, clean water, and more, invest in backup renewable options.
And remember--looking for self-reliant power sources after the power grid fails might not be possible. Prepare in advance for emergency situations, and take precautionary steps sooner rather than later.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply