A solar primer — How it works, how it’s made, what it costs

By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #72 • November/December, 2001 Buying a solar power system is not like buying a kitchen appliance or power tool. These, unlike a solar system, have published capacity and performance data...

Solar Food Drying

By Marcella Shaffer Issue #58 • July/August, 1999 The oldest known method of food preservation is drying food using the heat from the sun. Unfortunately it has become the least used as freezers and pressure canners...

Grid-tied, Grid-connected, Off-grid. What’s the difference?

By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #140 • March/April, 2013 Several weeks ago I received a call from a woman in Florida complaining that they just had a power outage lasting several days and her solar...

Power your bug-out bag

By Jeff Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #160 • July/August, 2016 More and more people are starting to see the advantage of having a bug-out bag for each member of their family. Normally these bags are kept...

Handy Keychain Mini-Gadgets

By Jeff Yago, P.E., CEM Winter, 2017 I believe when most people think of being prepared, they immediately think in terms of bug-out bags, stored food and water, guns, and generators. However, there can be less...

Solar charge controllers — myths, hype, and facts

By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #153 • May/June, 2015 Most people with a basic understanding of solar power are aware they need a solar module and a storage battery to power an electrical device using...

Solar Building Design

By Steven Heckeroth Issue #63 • May/June, 2000 Solar building design has been used since ancient times. In the more recent past, it has been more or less ignored as impractical, complicated, or too expensive. Incorporating...

An $89 backup generator

By Jeff Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #159 • May/June, 2016 While I strive in all of my articles to only recommend products of high quality and reliability, I realize many of us are on a fixed-income...

What if the electricity GOES OFF?

By Michael Hackleman Issue #55 • January/February, 1999 Just as everyone was getting ready to throw the party of the century and millennium—out with the old and in with the new—someone springs Y2K on us. Power...

Keep those gadgets working after the power goes out

By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #84 • November/December, 2004 The recent 2003 northeast electric grid failure taught the residents of many large cities what most rural residents learned years ago: Lights, air conditioners, televisions, stereos,...

Our journey to modern off-grid living

By Jackie Clay-Atkinson Issue #177 • July/August/September, 2019 We’ve lived off the grid for decades. Throughout the years, we’ve traveled the path from living a very rustic lifestyle with few amenities to our current off-grid homestead...

Solar Power 101 — Solar arrays

By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #90 • November/December, 2004 This article is the fourth and final part of our beginner's course in solar electricity. Simultaneously we have instituted a Home Energy Information (www.homeenergy.info) section on...

Prepper power! Part 2

By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #137 • September/October, 2012 I discussed in Part 1 the many reasons why preppers need to think more long-term about providing reliable electric power. I also mentioned that while it's...

How to select the right backup generator

By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Issue #82 • July/August, 2003 Now that the threat of terrorist sabotage to our utility infrastructure has been added to our basic concerns about storm related power outages, this may be...

Solar hot water systems

By Jeffrey Yago, P.E., CEM Photos by Patrick Redgate Issue #118 • July/August, 2009 With continued shortages of wood for home heating, the Greeks built the North Hill section of Olympus in the 5th century B.C. This...