Our passion is learning more and more about enjoying our homes and living independently, while keeping costs as low as possible. Most investigations involve hands-on research.
There are lots of inventions that, when we read about them, seem to offer inventive and economic approaches to common preparedness problems. Too frequently, the neat idea is lost in poor execution. We seek to keep our customers from dealing with such surprises.
This principle extends to all of the products we recommend to our customers. We have installed and tested every product we might recommend.
We are constantly experimenting, seeking ways to use and modify commercially available devices, to increase their value in grid-down scenarios. We try every combination we can think of, that might be practical, to come up with low-tech, low-expense approaches to getting more from the equipment that people already have.
Our general rule is: Easier is better. That includes using parts that are generally available. We are thoroughly familiar with metal fabrication and other ways to repurpose devices. However, as much as possible, we work on approaches that minimize the skills required to use them.
We have worked on a number of ways to heat water, in a home, if the electric grid goes down. For example, we have tried different ways to heat water using a wood stove.
What makes this more of a challenge than in years past is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) no longer allows coils inside a wood stove. You cannot order a stove with a coil inside, unless it is a cook stove. The easiest way to heat water from a fire is, obviously, running water through a pipe that runs directly through the heart of the fire.
So, we sought other approaches to heat water, using an existing stove, while maintaining EPA compliance. We attached a commercially-available metal coil onto the outside of the back of a wood stove, and connected the piping it to a storage tank.
We first tried it as a passive siphon -- that is, without using a pump to circulate the water. In another experiment we used the same setup, with the addition of a little 12-volt pump. This kind of experimenting is what we do all the time.
We also tackle higher-difficulty projects. Bigger or more difficult projects make sense when there are big payoffs. Taking just two examples, we have used wood to power a pickup truck and to generate all the electric power for a home. Specifically, we:
1) Modified a gasifier and mounted it in the bed of a 1962 Ford pickup truck. We then made the modifications necessary to connect its output to air intake of the engine. We now have a pickup truck that is fueled on wood!
2) Used the output of the wood gasifier in the pickup to power an electric generator. The generator was connected to the electrical system of a house. It was set up so that, when a switch was thrown, the power source was switched from the grid, to drawing its power from the generator.
Even our more novel and difficult experiments are designed so that all the rules are followed. So, if it works, the results are meaningful and create no risk with any authorities. For example, prior to the house power cutover, we secured the approval of the local power company.
The many products and technologies available to preppers can be traded off in a wide variety of ways. Our research, testing and experimentation keeps us current on the available options. This includes refining our ideas of what options are appropriate to clients with different skill sets. See the Products section of this site for specific examples of the sort of tradeoffs we help clients with.