Shelter Power Sources
BatteriesWe highly recommend using a 12-volt system over the 48-volt system. The 48-volt systems are very expensive and replete with problems. The 12-volt chargers and inverters are reasonably priced and very dependable.
Batteries do not come standard with our shelters. Everyone seems to have their own electrical preferences. All of our shelters, however, come wired for both a 12-volt DC and a 110-volt AC system. We would be happy, however, to direct you to good sources for batteries and supporting equipment. We have used a number of different batteries in our shelter systems. The two we prefer are the 6-volt golf cart batteries and the 6-volt 'gel-cell' batteries. Car batteries should not be used in shelters, as they have a totally different function.
Our first preference is the 6-volt gel-cell battery. Two of these batteries wired for 12 volts are rated at 180 amp hours or 2160-Watts hours. We recommend having no fewer than eight of the 6-volt batteries to run your shelter. In our experience, we have found that gel-cell batteries can be charged many more times with excellent recovery than can deep-cycle lead-acid batteries. They are two to three times more expensive, however they do not outgas and they have a much longer life expectancy. Gel-cell batteries require a special charger. We like the IOTA DLS 55 or DLS 75 charger.
We have prepared our own personal shelters to run on battery power for at least 3 weeks, before needing to recharge. After that period of time, we plan to recharge the batteries with a small generator or other alternate power system. Solar panels are vulnerable to EMP, and may fail if left out during wartime.
Solar PanelsSolar panels may be used to recharge the batteries, but when not in use they should be stored inside the shelter for maximum protection from blast and EMP. They should be placed outside only after all danger of blast has passed. They may be adversely affected by the EMP. If in a remote area, consider putting out a 'sacrificial' panel and purchasing extra solar panels for later. Store these panels wrapped in aluminum foil, for 'EMP' protection, and keep them inside your shelter until use.
In remote areas, we use our 'sacrificial' solar panels to keep a charge on our batteries at all times. We know an EMP would most probably destroy the panels, but it is worth the sacrifice to have charged batteries when we arrive at the site. We usually run one 30-watt panel at a time. We keep several more solar panels inside the steel shelter to protect them from the EMP.
Don't spend your amp hours unwisely. Hand-pump your air system and eat pre-cooked foods. Wear warm clothing and think only, 'basic survival'. Your battery power should be used only for lighting and radio communication.
It should be obvious, how important the battery system is. Take care of them and keep them charged on a regular basis. It would be catastrophic to enter your shelter in an emergency, with uncharged or damaged batteries.
GeneratorsWe prefer diesel generators to gasoline or propane. Diesel fuel stores very well, if a stabilizer is added each year. We never store propane or gasoline in an underground generator room. A small generator can be stored in your shelter room, but must be taken outside to run it.
We recommend the purchase of a diesel generator at (or smaller) than 2kW, for battery charging. Large generators are great for running a house, but the fuel will not be readily available after large-scale emergencies such as full scale EMP or full-scale nuclear war. The exception to the large generator rule is if you need to run a motor in a deep well.
Mechron Power Systems (613-733-3855) sells a 2kW Portable military, brush type diesel Generator. It has very low fuel consumption, running on about 1 pint per hour. Brush type generators are less vulnerable to an EMP.
Energy Management (801-366-4100) has brush type generators available in 8 kW, 10kW and 15 kW sizes. You may wish to purchase an extra voltage regulator, as it will be EMP vulnerable.