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May 15, 2024 31 mins

Robert broke his waterbed. Also, the world might end. Let's talk about emergency solar power.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Al Zone Media.

Speaker 2 (00:05):
Welcome to it could happen here. I'm Robert Evans, and
this is a podcast about things falling apart. This week,
the thing falling apart was my bedroom. Allow me to
explain three years or so ago, I was finally able
to buy a house, or at least you get a mortgage.
This allowed me to achieve a very stupid lifelong dream,
which was to finally own a waterbed. I know you're

(00:28):
wondering what all of this has to do with solar power,
and I swear there will be an answer to that question.
I also want to make it clear upfront that this
is not an ad. Some of the equipment I tested
was provided for free as review units, some of it
was purchased with my own money and some with company money.
I'll try to make it pretty clear at each point,
but I promise it doesn't matter ari my opinions on
any specific product. No one paid us in any way

(00:50):
for their inclusion in this episode. Anyway, back to my
stupid waterbed. The first thing to know about waterbeds is
that they are surprisingly cheap. They cost about as much
as an equivalent sized mattress. Knew, so not cheap, But
the one I bought cost the same as any delivery
mattress sold for, and cheaper than some of them. The

(01:11):
reason that most people can't afford a waterbed isn't the
actual cost of the bed itself. It's that landlords are
terrified of the things, and so you can't get one
if you don't own your own home. In case you're curious,
my desire to own a waterbed is entirely the result
of the fact that, as a small child, my aunt
and uncle fell upon hard times and had to live
with us for a while. Then for another while they

(01:32):
lived elsewhere, but their stuff stayed with us. That stuff
included a waterbed, and for a few glorious months it
was my waterbed. I have craved the insane high of
waterbed ownership ever since. For three perfect years. Then I
slept in wavy comfort until about two days before I
wrote this episode, my bed sprang a pinhole leak. I

(01:52):
don't know how you might guess a cat, but the
actual bladder that contains the water is inside and underneath
a very thick, padded frame that cat claws can't really puncture.
I should also know that the bladder sits inside a
vinyl sort of soft cage, so that when it sprang
a leak, it got some of my sheets wet, but
it did not cause damage to my home anyway. Because

(02:13):
waterbeds are the kind of product that only an insane
manchild would dare to own, fixing a hole in one
is not the same as performing maintenance on your regular mattress,
because the kinds of beds that reasonable people own don't
spring leaks. To patch the leak, then I had to
purchase a patch kit. But you can't apply a patch
kit to what is effectively a soft bladder filled with

(02:33):
roughly a metric ton of water. I did do the
bare minimum of research here, and king size waterbeds weigh
around two thousand pounds. Now that's not all water weight,
but it is basically all water weight. I bring this
up because I'm proud of myself for guessing right. So
to apply the patch we had to first drain the bed,
which necessitated attaching a hose to one of the spigots

(02:55):
through which we had originally filled the bed. Because of
the layout of my home and the ground outside of
the window where we intended to pour the water, we
couldn't get the hosts started without assistance. The kind of
assistance that you would say, need to suck gasoline free
if a stranger's truck were you hard up for fuel money. Thankfully,
my roommate had a wetback which we were able to
hook up to the hose, but how to power the

(03:17):
wet back well. We could have run an extra long
extension cord, but mine were all in use for various
insane projects around the farm, and instead I opted to
wheel out the solar generator that I had filled with
the beneficence of the sun God Raw just a couple
of days earlier. The generator was one of two similar
products I tested for this episode, a Jackery SG two

(03:37):
thousand plus, which had been sent to me by the
good people at Jackery in previous weeks. I'd tested it
by powering my deep freeze and a refrigerator, and in
case you're wondering, with the panels outside in the sun,
I got a little over a day before things ran
dry on my refrigerator. If I'd had the panels in
a better position, I could have had longer and the
deep freeze it would have been able to power essentially indefinitely,

(03:58):
because deep freezes are actually insanely efficient machines. I also
used it to run a heat gun for my friend's
art project, which is about as intense a test of
output as you can run a battery through short of
powering your home, and it handles that. In terms of specs,
this battery is part of a more modular system that
you could wire into power your home or off grid setup.
You can actually attach this to your breaker. It has

(04:20):
a maximum output of six thousand watts in parallel connection
and one twenty to two forty expandable voltage. For a
rough idea of what that means, it can power most
household electronics and even power tools for a while. You'd
get about one and a half hours of running a
home AC unit, and more like two two and a half.
You know, with a portable unit or a window unit.

(04:40):
You could charge this thing too full in two hours
with good sunlight if you had six two hundred watt
panels attached in perfect sunlight, which is another three thousand
or so dollars in panels. But that's not an insignificant
thing to be able to do, mind you, that would
mean just running your race most of the day and
nothing else. Of these are cheap products in Jackery's case,

(05:02):
the battery itself runs about two thousand dollars. I understand
that's out of reach, perhaps wildly so for a lot
of people. We will be talking about cheaper options at
the end, but it is an unavoidable fact that unless
you are a skilled electrician and scavenger, setting up substantial
solar systems costs money period. Jackery actually represents one of

(05:22):
the more affordable options for a plug and play home
backup system that is also portable, i e. Can be
taken camping or hauled away with your shit during an evacuation.
I should note that you can connect the Jackery SG
two thousand plus directly to your breaker, and also connect
the battery to other similar Jackery battery generators to g
additional capacity and output from it. I tested another solar

(05:45):
generator system for this episode, the Genniverse Home Power O two,
which was provided to me by Genniverse. Both the Genniverse
and Jackery systems are similar enough that they can use
each other's solar panels and operate in basically the same manner.
This product is cheaper. Other reviews I've read suggests the
Genier system might be more robust, lasting longer, over time.

(06:07):
It is certainly heavier and thus has a higher capacity
around twenty four hundred watt hours as opposed to a
little over two thousand for the Jaggery system. Both of
these can be the basis of an off grid or
full backup power system for your home, and we'll be
talking about home off grid power in future episodes. I
want to make clear upfront that what I am advising
you on today is the quality and utility of different

(06:29):
solar generator battery products for emergency power. So let's talk
about what emergency means. The primary emergency you might encounter
that a battery solar setup would help with is a
power outage at your home. In that case, you have
a couple of immediate and real needs. I will list
these from most basic and easy cheapest to fill to

(06:49):
most expensive and difficult to meet. Number one would be
to keep your devices and stuff like flashlights that are
chargeable topped off so you can keep in contact with
your community and stay aware of breaking news on whatever
emergency you happen to be in. Being able to entertain
yourself with books and movies does, in my view, count
as one purpose for these systems in an emergency because
morale ain't nothing. Number two is being able to run

(07:13):
emergency cooling devices, starting with fans and terminating in stuff
like window AC units or even portable camping AC units.
Number three is being able to keep a fridge going
so your food doesn't spoil. If you're prepping for disaster,
you should have storable food, anything from freeze dried stuff
to beans and rice, et cetera. But losing all of
your shit in an outage is expensive and annoying, and

(07:34):
it's nice to be able to avoid. The most achievable
of these systems for a person of normal income is
number one, and if you have disposable income at all,
you can afford some sort of emergency solar setup to
keep your phone or laptop and rechargeable lights going. There
are a wide variety of battery packs that have solar
panels built into them. I have tried a lot of

(07:54):
these over the years, and I have never once been
happy with the quality, either of their ability to charge
in the sun or to last over time. The system
that I currently take with me on trips is made
by a company called Goal zero, who produce a variety
of solar battery and charger products. I purchase for myself
a Nomad thirteen solar panel set, which folds into something
that approximates the size of a trapper keeper set you

(08:16):
had as a kid in school. I've had this for years.
I take it with me on every flight as my
carry on. I have it and two batteries, which are
different incarnations of Goal zero's Schirpa one hundred on me
wherever I go. The schrip On one hundred has a
little three prong outlet you can charge basically any laptop
on it. You could even do like emergency power for
a computer. I think with it this and one battery

(08:39):
would allow me to keep my phone going for emergency
purposes indefinitely. Two batteries and sharres. I'm able to travel
with roughly three or four working days of power for
my laptop and phone wherever I go, and that's without
me actually trying to recharge them using the panels. You
can find various years of this battery model on Amazon
or at other retailers, from two hundred dollars on up.

(09:00):
The latest model retails for three hundred dollars off Goal
Zero's website. These batteries are TSA approved, as are the panels.
I have never had an issue flying with them. Obviously
in different countries, your experience may vary, but I have
taken these things to most parts of the world, and
again I haven't had an issue. They have varying sizes,
but the Nomad one hundred, which is one hundred watt hours,

(09:22):
runs about three hundred bucks. So you're looking at five
or six hundred dollars for this traveling setup, which is
also great to keep in your home and just have
less a bit. You know, if you find used versions
on eBay or wherever, which is often possible, that's not
an insignificant cost. But if you're building an emergency kit
over time, most people are capable of bearing that cost. Again,
over time, you could just start with the battery, which

(09:44):
is the most initially useful part of the kit, and
then you could get a panel set six months or
whatever a year later. And this brings me to what
I'm talking about quantifiably when I discuss a disaster and
what you actually need when we're talking about emergency power
in a disaster. It is uncommon for the average US
consumer to lose power for more than an hour or
two at a time. In twenty eighteen, most consumers lost

(10:07):
less than two hours of power per year without quote
major events. With major events, that number leaped to six
hours per person per year on average. In twenty seventeen,
it was closer to eight. As we deal with more
climate change, more natural disasters, all of these things are
going to become inevitably more common. These are also all

(10:27):
averages of huge numbers of people in huge areas of terrain.
I will guess that the percentage of people listening to
this who have as adults lost power for a day
or more at a time is very close to one
hundred percent. Now, given the averages, you might consider just
perching battery power units without solar panels, because in most instances,
what you're trying to do is ensure that if your

(10:49):
phone is dead and there's a bad storm and you
run out of power by the time you get home,
a two or three hour outage doesn't leave you unable
to contact your people or emergency services. I have a
fuckload of different portable batteries because I try to keep
enough in my work bag wherever I go to function
in my job for most of a week without power
when I go on trips. This kind of preparation has

(11:09):
stood me in good stead in places like Syria, Iraq
and the desperate wilds of Seattle that one time. But
if you're not going to such terrifying hellscapes, you can
probably get a suitable battery that's reasonably tough for under
one hundred dollars. And we will continue talking about batteries
and talking about you know, next kind of home solutions
and eventually cheap solutions. But you know what's not cheap

(11:31):
is the products and services that support this podcast. Affordable
but not cheap. Anyway, here's these ads. We're back and
we're talking about portable batteries, right And my only note
here is that if you're buying portable batteries, you know,
stuff not necessarily to run on solar, just to have

(11:54):
some extra juice with you wherever you'd go to keep
it home in an emergency. These fluctuate wildly in quality,
and when it comes to disaster kit, to something that
you need to work in an emergency, it can be
worth going with a brand that is a known quantity
with a long record and a lot of testing done
on their products, rather than whatever the Amazon algorithm spits

(12:15):
out when you Google battery. The advantage of a small
portable folding setup like the one I have from Goal
zero is that you can take it with you and
have it on demand if shit happens when you're traveling,
or if you have to evacuate and it's idiot proof right.
A good option if you just want something in your
home to keep your devices topped off is what I'd
call a large small battery generator. These are a couple

(12:37):
of steps below products like the Jackery two thousand to
the Geniverse that I tried, but above the handheld little
batteries that many of you have already. The two examples
of this product category that I have and have tested
are the Yeti four hundred from Goal zero and the
anchor a n Ker Solix Solix C eight hundred. The
Yeti four hundred is the product I purchased with my

(12:58):
own money and what I've taken with me for years
into the mountains when I go shooting or hunting, usually
with a set of folding panels. This ensures that if
my car dies and I've been dumb enough to let
my jumper box that I keep with me die, I
have a backup that I can use to charge my
jumper box. I also have a convenient way to top
off my phone or my E reader or my SAT phone,
both for normal use and in an emergency. It handles

(13:21):
extreme cold and extreme heat well, and that's not always
something you can take for granted with batteries. Again, kind
of top of the list is that I am an idiot.
I don't know much about electricity, and these products are
pretty idiot proof. When it comes to my YETI four
hundred or the C eight hundred from Anchor, I keep
them both plugged into the wall at all times that
I can grab either for an emergency. Now, the Solix

(13:42):
C eight hundred that I have was sent to me
as a review unit by Solix, and by necessity I
have not been able to subject it to the years
of rigorous real life testing that my Goal zero YETI
four hundred has endured. I will note that it is
well reviewed, and from the exploration I have done on it,
which does not include years of testing but does include
a decent amount of reading and some testing, I think

(14:03):
it's better constructed and more conveniently laid out in the
Goal zero, and it also gets you about twice the
storage nearly eight hundred watt hours as opposed to a
bit over four hundred. Both products cost the same price
around six hundred dollars, although older generations are often available
cheaper online. New and used. Either is enough to keep
a family of Force phones charged for a two or

(14:24):
three day outage without severe rationing. You can get a
lot more obviously on the anchor, and you might not
want to have someone like gaming on an alien Ware
laptop or whatever with either, but you can charge your
laptops and the like off of them if you want to,
like watch a movie at the end of the night,
you're all huddled together there in the dark. That's not
going to be something you have to stress out about
too much. Again, Boncer Solex is going to give you

(14:45):
a lot more juice to play around with. But either
should be enough for an average outage if you just
keep them plugged in. You can also use them to
power a fan during the day. They will not run
small AC units. These are worth considering as an intermediate
option for the more cash prepper. What you're looking for
here is not a full off rid replacement, but something
that can provide you with options for more than just

(15:07):
basic gadget power. With these big, small batteries, you can
run a fan or fans, maybe not long enough for comfort,
but in bursts throughout the day to get you through
the hottest part of the day during a blackout, during
what we call a wet bulb event, This would be
the life saving health emergency that a basic solar setup
would be most useful in saving you from. For context

(15:28):
in case people aren't up to date, a wet bulb
event is a weather situation in which the temperature reaches
a critical level above eighty eight degrees fahrenheit and does
not drop below that point for an extended period of time.
If people lack access to effective cooling during heating events
like this, they will die. We saw one of these
hit a couple of years ago where I live in Portland, Oregon,

(15:48):
which has been long famed for its mild temperatures and
thus most homes lack central air. During a three day
heat wave, temperatures rose to record highs and did not
drop low enough at night to allow people any recovery time.
More than one hundred of them died. This kind of
thing is possible anywhere if you have central air standard
where you live, the grid can always go down, as

(16:09):
we've seen happen in Texas over and over again. For
someone with money, your best bet might be pairing a
portable air conditioner like the Idea Duo, which ranges from
five hundred to six hundred dollars on Amazon, with something
like the Jackery SG two thousand plus, which with panels
and a good sunlight, would allow you to run it
during the day at least in a single room. As

(16:30):
an aside, this is actually a case in which someone
with a window unit is at more of an advantage
than someone with central air. You can connect your jaggery
directly to the breaker, but without expansion batteries, it's not
going to run a whole home long, so you'd want
to unplug everything and turn off the lights, running your
AC in short bursts, and maintaining discipline with your doors
at windows, ideally putting up foil or at least cardboard

(16:52):
over the windows to maximize efficiency. If you're just being
able to run a fan because you've get a smaller unit,
you're probably looking at something like, you know, getting towels
and rags well, but putting them over people's chests and
faces and kind of getting directly under the fan for
the periods of time that you can afford to run
it again. We are not talking about the most ideal
comfort situations here, we are talking survival. The limitations I

(17:13):
found for are generally twofold. One is that even with
good sunlight, folding panels like the ones Jackerie and Jennifer's
ship Me don't always hit their advertised wattage. This is
because you've got to deal with a lot of other factors,
the movement of the sun throughout the day, where shadows
fall on your home or property, your access to the roof,
how clean the panels are, and under normal use conditions,

(17:34):
it is surprisingly easy to get stuff on them. On
a sunny spring day in Oregon, I found my two
hundred watt Jackery panels tended to get one hundred and
twenty two one hundred and fifty watts during the most
optimal parts of the day. I was able to plug
the Jackery panels into the Geniverse generator and vice versa,
and I found that jackerres panels generally performed ten to
fifteen percent better during real life conditions. I looked it

(17:56):
up and on paper, the genniverse has a solar cell
efficiency or EFF of about twenty three point four percent.
Jackery beats them by one percent with an the FF
rating of twenty four point three. That is not enough
of a difference to matter too much, although I should
know that what I saw in real life use was
a notable difference. You may experience something different with these panels,
with any panels that you get. I can't claim to

(18:18):
have tested anything but the ones that they shipped me.
The Jackery Explorer two hundred plus is capable of taking
fourteen hundred bots of input max, which would be seven
sets of panels, although from what the manual says, it
can take up to six Solar Saga eighty panels to
their two hundred wide panels under normal conditions. You can
expand all this with added Explorer two thousands running in

(18:38):
tandem and up to twelve Solar Saga eighties on a
single generator, but doing that requires some wonky shit with cables,
and at that point we're talking about a system beyond
what most people are likely to want or need. When
it comes to durability, I suspect that both the Jackerie
and Genniverse are probably close in functioning. Online reviews give
both systems good user reliability ratings. In real world conditions.

(18:59):
I had the opportunity to do something that you never
want to do in real life with the device you'd
paid for, which was work one of these systems to death.
It shows the genivers and the torture test I used
basically involved keeping it outside, charging and providing power at
a fairly low trickle for twelve days of intermittent rain
and wind in the Pacific Northwest late winter. We got
about two inches of rain during this time, and that

(19:20):
was enough to eventually kill the generator, but it took
close to two weeks of downright irresponsible treatment. We are
talking the kind of neglect you would not subject a
product like this too without no other option. And subsequent
tests with the Jaggery, I have been able to keep
it operating outdoors in bad weather without damage through taking
minimal measures to shield the generator. The least I did

(19:41):
was stick a plastic home depot crate lid above it
literally set it down on top of the unit to
stop water from just hitting the ports on the sides
and back directly. The most elaborate protective set up outdoors
was a simple tarp cover and making sure it was
elevated a bit above the ground when it comes to
which of these systems would be best for you. The
primary difference between the Giniverse and the Jackery is that

(20:02):
the Giniverse is higher capacity twenty four hundred and nineteen
watt hours as opposed to a little over twenty forty
two for the Jackery. This means that without input, you
can run a normal fridge off the Giniverse for about
six hours, and goodsun you can recharge it fully in
eight hours with two Geniverse solar powered two panels. The
Jackery system will recharge in a similar timeframe under optimal

(20:23):
conditions and give you a bit less usable power. It
has the benefit of being almost twenty pounds lighter and
significantly friendlier in design. For reasons that elude explanation, the
Geniverse lacks a telescoping handle or wheels to help you
maneuver it into or out of position. This sucks because
it's heavy, and if it's not wired into your breaker
and you're using this for an emergency, you might need

(20:44):
to move it around so that you can have the
panels in different positions to take advantage of the sun.
This also makes the Giniverse less useful than the Jackery
in normal daily life. Tasks. I started this episode with
a rather ridiculous story about my waterbed, but I've actually
found quite a few tasks which having a weeelable battery
capable of this kind of output is handy. Basically, any

(21:05):
power tool that you are likely to own will run
off of either of these systems, but only the Jaggery
is friendly enough to want to move around outdoors to
take advantage of this fact. And this kind of gets
us to the crux of a question some of you
have been asking this whole episode, how practical are any
of these solutions. My answer is complicated, but I think
fair if you can't or aren't going to expend the

(21:27):
energy to become competent with solar power to the extent
that someone living off grid would generally want to be,
these are exceptional solutions so long as you can afford them.
In both cases, you're looking at around three thousand dollars
for a setup that could power anything in your home
and would handle all necessary tasks for longer than the
length of an average blackout. The Jacquerie and Jenniver's systems

(21:49):
are also future capable. You can expand both with added
batteries over time and add in more panel capacity up
to a point that makes them quite attractive if you
can afford them. My personal recommend would be for the
Jackery over the Genniverse for most people, for a couple
of reasons. Please note that I received review units from
both companies and money from neither, so I have no

(22:10):
vested interest in picking one over the other. One reason
that I chose the Jackery Explorer two thousand is that
it is a bit cheaper nineteen hundred for the base
system and four hundred and seventy nine for each set
of two hundred watt folding panels. Compare that to the
Genniverse home Power two Pro, which starts at two two
hundred and ninety nine dollars and thirty four hundred dollars
for the generator with two two hundred watt panels. The

(22:33):
Jackery is also meaningfully easier to use in recreational situations,
so it is a system that the average person will
get more use out of. You can take it camping easily,
you can use it for overlanding, and you can have
it ready for an emergency. I will note that if
you have a system like this, you will surprise yourself
with how often it comes in a handy for simple tasks.
What I like about both systems is again their future compatible.

(22:56):
You can start with the base system and then add
a couple of panels, and as you say, they have
more money, you can add an additional battery packs and
panels to give you both more capacity and more input,
with the goal of eventually storing a day or a
couple of days of power and being able to run
your home minimally during extended emergencies. The shortcoming that you'll
find with either system is that if you have a

(23:16):
normal home, it will cost as much as a nice
used car to have a setup that could run your
house for extended periods of time, let alone indefinitely. A
typical home AC unit can burn something like fourteen thousand
kilowatt hours per day, and that's just half of what
an average home draws. Heating amounts to a comparable draw
So while these systems can be expanded significantly with additional batteries,
if you're dealing with an outage that extends past several days,

(23:38):
you will encounter severe limitations. This brings me to the
most impressive but least accessible piece of gear that I
tested for these episodes. The Anchor Solix F thirty eight
hundred portable power station. This holds about three eight hundred
and forty watt hours of electricity and can output six
thousand watts if necessary. You can charge your electric car

(23:59):
or run a welding rig off of this thing. It
can be expanded with additional battery storage, and if you
had thirty or forty grand to spend, you could wire
this thing up to power your house for close to
a week without sunlight. The F thirty eight hundred itself
costs four thousand dollars, and you can run two of
them in tandem with twelve battery packs each to power
your home for about two weeks for just the cost
of at this point a rather nice car that is

(24:23):
wildly out of reach for most people, but if you
can afford it, the anchor is a really cool system.
There's been a tremendous amount of thought put into everything,
from how the device is constructed and laid out to
how you carry it. I particularly appreciate the fact that
you can wheel it like a big suitcase or lay
it on its side where it has additional pop out
handles to enable you to carry it in multiple different ways.

(24:43):
All of Anker's products feel premium, and the metal handles
that I said pop out are like metal. They're very solid.
Everything has a clean interface and what I would describe
as an exceedingly livable industrial design. If you happen to
be one of the people who can consider putting down
four thousand dollars for an emergency battery, the Solix F
thirty eight hundred will see you through ninety nine percent
of the power loss situations you are likely to encounter,

(25:06):
and require minimal knowledge to set up and get working.
It is easy to attach to your home breaker and
Anchor's instructions for doing so are simple to follow for
folks who can afford the cost then, and that cost
is not inconsiderable. It is a great mix of might
save your life and will definitely come in handy. I
should also note that the Jaggery system has a better

(25:26):
pedigree than the Geniverse system in the industry, probably similar
to Anchor. They've got a long track record and are
well regarded not as inexpensive solution, but as a reliable
one with a good warranty and a lot of history
to back them up. All of these systems are, in
my experience, reliable and easy to use. All of them
are and I have to hit on this a few
times because it matters expensive. That presents a problem if

(25:49):
you're someone who sees the value and these as potential
emergency devices but will realistically never be able to throw
down three thousand dollars for them. It would be irresponsible
of me to give you some specific technical advice because
I lack that knowledge. But I have some experience here,
and we're going to get to that after this next
set of ads. We're back and we're talking about what

(26:15):
you can do, at least a little bit of what
you can do. Again the furthest thing in the world
from an expert here, but I wanted to at least
provide some starting points from folks who are never going
to be able to afford these more formal, easier to use,
idiot proof kind of situations, because while I'm not an
expert on this, I have lived off grit a bit,
and I have known people who have done so in
a wide variety of weird situations. At one point, my

(26:37):
partner operated a solar powered shack that they lived out of,
with batteries so comparatively primitive that she had to regularly
refill them with water. That kind of maintenance is going
to be second nature to people who know they're shit
with solar, and those people have a lot more options
than the layman. Probably the most impressive and cash neutral
setup I saw was in a place called East Jesus
in far southern California. This was It was a totally

(27:00):
off grid power setup that kept around twelve to eighteen
people alive year round and often intense temperatures, powering AC
units and trailers in RVs, fridges, fans, lights at the
entertainment equipment they used the wakes Now. Their setup was
all scavenged or bought cheap in auction. The batteries they used,
which took up an entire shipping container sized space, were
purchased cheap from a telecom company in the area which

(27:23):
retired its deep cycle batteries once they hit eighty percent
of their original functioning capacity or something like that. Panels
were likewise scavenged or bought cheap and used. Since they
had a lot of space but little money, wiring a
shitload of panels a varying efficiency together was a solution
that they could afford, both in terms of the money
that it cost and in terms of the space that
was required. Most people lacked the technical knowledge to set

(27:45):
something like this up. I sure do, and even more
of them lacked the space. But it is an example
of the sort of solutions that people with little to
no cash can cook up if they're clever and knowledgeable
about the fundamental technology. It would be extremely irresponsible if
I did not add here that solar setups are the
sort of thing where it behooves you to be exceedingly
fucking careful. The chief benefit of the system's goal zero anchor, Jenniverse,

(28:09):
and Jacker make is that they are all as close
to idiot proof as they can be. Part of the
cost comes from the fact that they use expensive but
extremely stable lithium iron phosphate batteries. These have long life spans.
Jackery rates THEIRS at ten years and a cycle life
of up to two thousand cycles. They have a good
standby time too. Jackery rates THEIRS at up to fifty

(28:29):
percent charge after two years in storage. A lot of
the cheaper or scavenged options you find are lithium polymer batteries.
These are rather infamous for igniting and burning down people's homes.
There are solutions you can find online and if you're
interested in cheaper homebrew solar setups out there, one place
I suggests starting is diyssolarforum dot com. The people there

(28:50):
will have suggestions for minimizing risk. Since LiPo is one
of the most dangerous battery chemistry types out there, some
people build what are called battery bunkers. One form I've
seen this tape is basically a cube of bricks around
and below the batteries with a ceramic flat sheet above them.
Some people will suggest lacing sandbags above the bunkers that
if the battery goes into a thermal runway, it will

(29:12):
melt the sandbag and pour sand into the battery to
stop the fire. Again, I am not giving advice here,
just providing you with an example of the kinds of
concerns that you do have to think about when considering
building setups like this for your own. It is unfortunate.
The most financially accessible way to do this is by
taking the research into your own hands and relying on
the experience of hobbyists and lifestyle explorers who have been

(29:33):
there before. But disasters aren't fair, and either is life.
Another exploratory option I'd suggest is googling questions like how
to run small room ac off solar or how to
run to twelve volt fridge indefinitely Comma solar, and then
add Reddit as a search term. You'll find threads of
people in off grids, solar or overlanding subreddits who have
explored these problems for themselves and their journeys can at

(29:55):
least act as a basis for your own. I'd like
to thank at the end of this as at Jack
Reach Universe and anchor who sent products for me to review.
It was incredibly nice of them all, and from an
esthetic point of view, they all make great gear that
is a genuine pleasure to use. Gool Zero didn't send
me anything, but I've paid for their stuff for years
and I've never had anything fail in the field, so
I figure I owe them a shout out here too,

(30:17):
and it's going to do it for us. It could
happen here for the day, so you know, check in
tomorrow or you know Monday, depending on when you hear this.
Whenever it drops and yeah, goodbye.

Speaker 1 (30:30):
It could happen here. As a production of clue Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website.
Cool zonemedia dot com or check us out on the
iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts,
you can find sources for It could happen here, Updated
monthly at cool zonemedia dot com slash sources. Thanks for listening.

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