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When I lived on the farm; beyond normal household appliances I had a wood burning stove for cooking and heating, a PTO powered generator for when there was no wind, and a windmill for hydro and water when there was wind, but not much in solar power. Most of the time I lived on the grid, but when the power was out for weeks during the ice storm that hit Ontario and Quebec or the blackout that hit the whole east coast, other than a couple added chores my life did not change we even had a windmill in the field to water the cattle.
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Step 1: FOOD

Picture of FOOD
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I grow crops and raised livestock as well as I am a good hunter, gatherer, and fisherman, I can get my meals from the wilderness when I need too.


I live in town now the bylaws don’t allow me to install a windmill or a wood burning stove so I have a propane barbeque with extra tanks for cooking when the hydro is out. $200.oo


I have a Coalman 3750 portable generator and two jerry cans of gas to run the refrigerator and freezer in the summer and the furnace in the winter. In the winter I can put the refrigerator and freezer outside in the cold. I could not build one for the $175.oo this one cost me. For the generator fuel, additive will make the gas last a year in storage.


I have flashlights that don’t need batteries the little one you pump to charge up, the larger one you shake to charge up. 12 of them at $2.oo each I can’t build them that cheaply.


Picture of 400 WATT INVERTER
This 400 watt power inverter is strong enough to run my satellite and TV, it cost me $25.oo easier and cheaper to buy than to build. A friend of mine got a 1000 watt inverter for $10.oo.


Picture of SOLAR CELLS
Other than the solar array I built the other 12 volt 2 watt cost me $20.oo for the pair. I use these to charge batteries.
You mention the generator to power your furnace. We just went through the worst storm in 125 years here in Toronto so I'm looking for a long term solution like this. First, how would you hook the furnace up? A long extension? Then, does it control the thermostat by itself? Next, is it possible to hook up the deep cycle batteries to the generator meaning you only have to run it now and then. I'm thinking fridge/freezer and furnace, that's it. Thanks!
Josehf Murchison (author)  MacGyver20011 year ago
First DO NOT RUN THE GENERATOR IN AN ATTACHED GRAGE OR THE HOUSE. A fellow in Barry was running his in the attached grage and the gasses killed him and his elderly mother this week.

I live in Shelburne Ontario about an hour and a half N/W of you, there are still people without power near me.

Not all thermostats work the same but mine runs directly off the furnace so when I power the furnace I power the thermostat.

I disconnect the furnace from the mains and plug it into the generator with a long extension.

A little trick here during the summer I bought a pool toy, foam noodles I use as a weather seal to keep the patio door sealed from the cold.

My generator is 3500 watts and the furnace only uses 800 to 1000 watts so I can run all three at the same time, however I like my TV, satellite, and Internet. Its colder here in Shelburne than Toronto and I put the fridge outside when it is cold so I can use the extra wattage for other things. That won't always work in Toronto for more reasons than one.

You can use deep cycle batteries and a pure sine wave inverter for intermittently running appliances. The induction motors in appliances don't like square or modified sine wave inverters so pure sine wave is best for them. And then keep them charged up with the generator.

I hope this is helpful and Happy Holidays.

This is a life to live by. To be self-sufficient is to be strong enough to take care of yourself and your family. Only then can you help others. Thank you Sir for inspiring me and other to do what we think is right. You brother in the trench with you, Matthew Lalowski.
Josehf Murchison (author)  skilalowski1 year ago
This month we have had an ice storm and a tornado knocking out the hydro for a day twice.

The ice storm knocked the hydro out at 5:30 am; I started up my Coleman 3750 generator at 6:30 and warmed up my propane barbeque to make breakfast.

My neighbor is a single mother of 3, I invited her and the kids over for breakfast and they watched cartoons with my sons while they ate a hot breakfast, everyone else in the neighborhood sat in the dark or went to the warming center in town.

All the stores in town were closed because their tills need hydro so the whole town was closed but the warming center me and two other people with generators. I had all the enmities of modern day living even the internet to track the storm.
Way to go! Your projects are wayears and years beyond my capacity of understanding, but your comment about putting the fridge outside in winter really intrigued me. Can you tell me more details. ie. what about sleet, and snow on top of it. doesn't that kill it?
On the porch in the shade the sun can heat the fridge my porch has a roof.
Ahh thanks for answereing. how much snow do you get?
In a bad year 20 + feet most of the time 3 to 6 feet we get a lot of wind here hence the wind mills.
Dear Josef, I live in asia, and would love to help you out with your daily work, and hopefully learn some electrical stuff, Will work for free, as long i got food, a place to stay and some knowledge on electronics to be gained
Sorry no can do.
Foxtrot702 years ago
Josehf - Great Instructable! I am curious in your final step showing the various wave forms with the output being a stepped sinewave if for example a 100uh @ 40 amps choke were placed on the output side of the transformer. Would this be enough inductance to round off the corners of the steps to be more like a natural sinewave?
Josehf Murchison (author)  Foxtrot702 years ago
I don’t know how much a 100 uH 40 amp choke would round the wave form, I was building the signal circuit for the existing circuit in step 8 and since the circuit wasn’t made with an inductor other than the output transformer so I didn’t try it.

The last step is more about the signal generation and sharing it, people have a hard time making pure sine wave inverter circuits. Modified sine wave inverters run things square wave inverters wont, the wave forms show you if you are building the signal generator right.

You can add caps to the output of the transistor/mosfet banks, but they would be very large 200 volts 4800 uF and up depending on current draw. The Inverter circuit in step 8 of this instructable has 8 caps, 4, 200v 4800 uF and 4, 2.2 uF, the only thing larger on the circuit board is the 4 ¼ inch long heat sinks for the mosfets, everything else on the circuit board is tiny in comparison. At 20 amps run 30 amps surge I am not sure how a 40 amp 100 uH choke would act on the output.

The only downfall of a pure sine wave inverter is a lower surge tolerance. For readers that don’t know what surge is, a motor runs on 5 amps while running but draws 10 amps when it starts. Most of us have seen the lights dim when the fridge starts. Modified and square wave inverters have a high tolerance to serge’s up to 60% as to 20% in pure sine wave inverters.
Thorough write up! Voted .
Josehf Murchison (author)  scraptopower2 years ago
Thank you
I liked and voted for Thermoelectric USB charger - off grid electricity and its possible geothermal applications.
Schmidty162 years ago
sweet im going to do what u did when i get older but my projects are going to beconnect to a camper
Josehf Murchison (author)  Schmidty162 years ago
If you buy the components to build a system, don't pay more than $5.oo a watt, less is better on solar panels and $0.10 a watt for a Modifide sine wave inverter or $0.15 a watt for a pure sine wave inverter.

My Coalman generator cost me $0.05 a watt the solar cells cost me $2.50 a watt and the 400 watt power inverter cost me $0.06 a watt.
rimar20002 years ago
WOW, your projects are awesome!
Josehf Murchison (author)  rimar20002 years ago
Thank you
pantalone2 years ago
Very cool stuff. I always assumed power inverters were much more complicated. Clearly they aren't simple, but your description makes me believe I could build one, too. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!
Josehf Murchison (author)  pantalone2 years ago
Yea my wife says I have a tendency to make things look simple when I do them also.