One stormy evening after a midday nap, I woke up to find that all the power in my homestead was out. I had no electricity, no hot water, and my wife and kids had gone for a sleepover at my mother’s house.
After years of skepticism about solar energy, I realized why my good friend Mark had been urging me to switch to solar. That day, I couldn’t cook as my stove uses electricity, so I was forced to eat a dry loaf of bread, butter, and a cold cup of Mongolian tea.
After a sorrowful supper, I decided to go back to sleep. The dreadful thunderstorm carried on through the night. When I woke in the morning, the electricity was back. I danced for joy, took a hot shower, prepared a rich, hearty breakfast, and started researching solar.
Today, I’m a proud solar advocate. Although my family hasn’t completely switched to the abundant resource, we’re on our way there. You might be feeling the pinch of the recent gas and electricity price hikes and wondering how you can combat them.
Well, here are 8 solar-powered items that can help you do just that:
I’ll never forget how I felt when my phone battery dried out, which is why a solar flashlight is number one on the list. It’s an excellent backup light source that doesn’t require batteries.
These flashlights usually have a built-in solar panel that recharges the batteries during the day. They are durable and can withstand being dropped or left outside in the harshest conditions.
Solar flashlights are also often more powerful than traditional ones in the sense that they now come with LED bulbs, which are significantly brighter than traditional incandescent bulbs. That means they can provide more light for a longer period.
Related: DIY Solar Lantern
My first experience with a solar oven came when I lived completely off the grid in Washington State.
One day when I was so desperate for a cookie, I remembered a story of how my friend managed to bake some bread on top of his car, so I tried the ingenious hack myself. I parked my car under the scotching sun so it could heat up.
Then as soon as it heated, I whipped up some cookie dough and spread it out on a baking pan. I placed the pan on the dashboard of my car and positioned it, so the sun was shining right through the windshield. The windows were all rolled up, and I placed the baking sheet on the dashboard. A little more than an hour had passed when I checked on my cookies.
Guess what! They were delicious! As I continued to live there, I developed creative techniques for baking on hot, sunny days in my car. The proverb “hot enough to boil an egg on a pavement” took on a whole new meaning in my life.
Related: 25 Powerless Appliances for Your Homestead Kitchen
I’m not advocating for baking on your dashboard, but for getting a solar-powered oven, as it can save you a lot of gas or electricity costs. Solar ovens work by using the sun’s rays to heat food. The sun’s rays are focused on a dark pot or pan, which heats up and cooks the food. These ovens can reach temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, making them ideal for cooking a variety of foods, including: roasted chicken, baked potatoes, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, homemade bread, apple pie, etc.
You can also use them to sterilize water or cook rice and beans. If you’re considering adding a solar oven to your homestead, you’ll need to hire a contractor or if you’re skillful enough, build one for yourself.
Perimeter House Alarm
You can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of your family and home.
Imagine your house alarm being unable to function because of a power outage. That’s why you need a solar system. The sun powers this type, so they’re self-sufficient and environmentally friendly. They are also very easy to install and can be placed anywhere around your homestead.
Solar perimeter house alarms work by emitting a loud, continuous tone when they detect movement. That is a great deterrent for burglars, as they’ll typically not want to break into a home where they know an alarm is present. The bright flashing light accompanying the alarm will also help scare off potential intruders.
A solar perimeter house alarm is the perfect solution if you want a way to keep your home and family safe without compromise.
One of the easiest ways to save money on your utility bills is to install a solar water heater, which is a DIY project that anyone with basic plumbing skills can complete.
The most common type of solar water heater is the active solar water heater. These types use a pump to circulate water through a solar collector usually mounted on the rooftop. The water in the solar collector is heated by the sun and then pumped into the storage tank of the water heater. The hot water in the storage tank is available for use when needed.
Active solar water heaters are the most efficient type of solar water heaters.
On the other hand, a passive solar water heater does not use a pump to circulate water. The water in the solar collector is heated by the sun and then flows by gravity into the storage tank. These types of water heaters are less expensive to install than active solar ones, but are not as efficient. A solar water heater can supplement your existing water heater or become a stand-alone system. If you already have a water heater, you can install a solar one by adding a solar collector to the existing heater with a copper pipe.
A solar water heater reduces your utility bill by offsetting the energy used to heat your water. They are reliable, low maintenance, and you can use them for various applications, including space heating, domestic hot water, and pool heating.
Solar-Powered Battery Charger
The solar-powered battery charger is yet another amazing solar item for the self-sufficient individual. Often, homesteaders will work all day and charging their phones is not usually at the top of their concerns. Even though they’re unlikely to use their phone for gaming or social media, it is an essential tool for safety.
Accidents can occur, particularly when working alone or with machinery. Having a way to call for help can make the difference between life and death. Additionally, because your phone must constantly search for a signal when you are in a region with a poor network, the battery on your phone will dry up.
One of the great things about solar battery chargers is that you can use them to power just about anything – not just phones. For example, if you have a laptop that you want to use while you are away from an electrical outlet, you can charge the laptop’s battery using a solar charger.
With a little bit of research, you should be able to find the right charger that suits your needs and your budget.
A solar dryer is a great way to keep your homestead energy bill in check while reducing your reliance on fossil fuels. These dryers use the sun’s energy to evaporate water from wet clothes, towels, bedding, food, or other materials.
You can purchase a solar dryer or build your own with basic materials.
To use your solar dryer, place, veggies, herbs, or other items and leave them in the solar dryer during the day. The sun will evaporate the water from the items, and they will be dry in a few hours.
Related: DIY Solar Dehydrator
A solar generator is perhaps the most useful solar device on the list because of its versatility. These generators can cost usually anywhere from $200 to $7,500, depending on your required size and features. Each generator has distinct properties that can be easily tailored to your needs. The more expensive generators will be able to power more things on your homestead.
It would help if you determined your goals for the solar generator before making your choice. You won’t need one as big and pricey if you only require power for a few specific items in your home.
Portable smaller solar generators are popular with homesteaders as they can store enough power to supply the necessary appliances during emergencies. These generators are gradually becoming a “must have” choice for regions that frequently experience natural disasters, where hurricanes can knock out power for weeks and gas can be scarce.
A homesteader depends on the weather, which is why you should always have a solar-powered weather radio handy. A severe power outage may occur and a radio can provide an important lifeline for your family by giving you news updates. A solar weather radio offers a way to stay informed and connected even when the power is out.
There are several different types of solar weather radios on the market, so choosing one that meets your specific needs is important.
Some radios have additional features like a flashlight or cell phone charger. Others are designed specifically for use in the car. And still, others offer a package deal that includes a solar panel, batteries, and radio all in one.
No matter which type of solar weather radio you choose, it’s important to ensure it’s properly programmed before severe weather strikes. Once the power is out, you won’t be able to change the settings.
Please familiarize yourself with the different weather alerts available on your radio, and make sure you know how to activate them. No matter where your job takes you, having a solar weather alert radio lets you stay connected and informed.
If you’re truly serious about self-sufficiency, you should consider getting the above solar items. They can save you money in the long run and take some stress off your shoulders.
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