Category Archives: lighting

Fire Starting is a Skill You Need to Practice

fire startingI watch several of the survival shows on TV and occasionally find some good information that slips by the directors. (It seems that many of these shows are more hype than substance.) I wouldn’t want to have my life depend on what I have learned from those shows. However, there is one skill that most of them point out is extremely important and that is fire starting.

Now over the years I have talked with people who thought that they could play Daniel Boone and start a fire easily. Most of them ended up using a surprisingly large quantity of matches and never did get a really successful fire started, and this was in good weather.…

Posted in cooking, lighting, survival | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Solar Powered Flashlights, How Good are They?

solar powered flashlights

Here is the original model.

I like flashlights; we have a ridiculous number of them.  If there is a good buy on a flashlight I have to have it.  They are kind of an obsession with me.  In my collection, I have several different types of solar powered flashlights and I have spent time testing them all.  Like everything, they have advantages and disadvantages.  But over all I think the advantages of solar powered flashlights outweigh the disadvantages.

The first solar powered flashlights that I encountered were the Hybrid Solar Flashlight that I published a review on in 2011, Hybrid solar flashlight review.

Posted in lighting, solar, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

How to safely connect a generator to your home


A generator plugged into an exterior connection to a transfer switch

There are several ways to connect a generator to your home, the trick is to use a safe method and don’t electrocute yourself. The first method that we will discuss is connecting individual appliances and lights with extension cords.

Now this sounds easy just run a cord from your generator to your freezer and you are in business. That is partly right. Your generator will normally have a built in circuit breaker. The wire size in the extension cord should be heavy enough to carry the load for the equipment you are energizing.…

Posted in lighting | Tagged | 2 Comments

Kill A Watt Can Determine the Size of a Generator/Solar System

Kill A WattThe last few days I have been playing with a new device.  I spent approximately $18 to purchase a Kill A Watt from Amazon. Now a Kill A Watt is a device that will measure exactly how much power you use to run an appliance.

The U.S Department of Energy reports that 20% of our electric bills come from items that are left plugged in when they are not in use, or items that are in standby mode. With the Kill A Watt P4400 we can monitor the energy eaters in our homes and cut down our electric bills at the same time.…

Posted in electronics, lighting | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Sewer Backups or Flooding, How to Clean Up After One

sewer backupThe other day we put up a post on the problems of sewer backups that can be caused by a major disaster or flooding.  Remember that after a major disaster or disruption of services that many of the flood control systems may cease to function.  This includes pumping stations and even dam failures.

The following is information that may help you cleanup if you are affected by either flooding or sewer backups.

Cleanup of Internal Areas after a sewer backup or flood

Once the floodwaters have receded and the property can be accessed safely you should begin cleanup.  The most important steps are to restore the environment to a dry state and salvage any valuable property.  …

Posted in lighting, Sanitation | Tagged | 4 Comments

Improvised Lamp from a Soda Can

improvised lamp

This only took a few minutes to make and works well

This morning I found a soda can in our house, this is a rare thing since neither one of us drinks much soda.  After looking at it for a couple of minutes, I got to wondering what I could make out of it.  An improvised lamp seemed like a good idea.

So I took a knife and made a vertical cut down the middle of the lamp.  I then made two cross cut so that I could fold the flaps open.  After inserting a candle, I had a handy little improvised lamp that reflected light well. …

Posted in lighting | Tagged | 1 Comment

Making Tallow Candles

tallow candlesHere is another good entry by Darlene in our writing contest highlighting a practical skill.


“Waste Not, Want Not” is one of my mama’s old sayings, and women from generations past were great at using things that they had to make the things they needed.  When animals were butchered, the fat was rendered and the resulting lard or tallow was used to cook with, make soap, or make candles.  Back in the day, women slowly simmered animal fats in large pots over an open fire until it liquified and strained through a cloth to remove small meat particles.  Without electricity, we would have to resort to a similar rendering method, but for now—-I’ll use my crock pot!…

Posted in lighting, self defense | Tagged | 3 Comments

New Duracell 1000 Lumen Flashlight

flashlightOne thing that I try to do periodically is tell you when I find a good buy on something.  Well yesterday, a friend was over and showed me his new 1000 lumen Durabeam Ultra flashlight.  It is made by Duracell and sells for $15.99 at Costco.  The amount of light it produced was impressive so I got excited and wanted one.  My wife happened to be in town so I called her and asked her to pick me one up.  Which she did.

The flashlight has a 3-beam setting, full power, a reduced power and a strobe light.  The beam can be focus in from narrow to wide angle. …

Posted in lighting | Tagged , | 67 Comments

Charging and Maintaining Sealed Lead Acid Batteries

sealed lead acid batteries

Battery boxes being charged

In my preps I have some sealed lead acid batteries, both 100 amp gel cells and some 7.5 amp batteries made into 12-volt battery packs.  See my old post A Simple 12 Volt Battery Pack., each pack contains two 7.5 amp 12 volt batteries.  These can be charged from the electric system in your home, vechicle or by solar panels.  See A Simple Way to Charge Your Homemade 12 Volt Battery Packs.

Several times a year I get the batteries out and check everything and make sure they are fully charged.  Sealed lead acid batteries are a good choice for many uses; they are rugged, will not leak, easily rechargeable, and offers a good amount of energy in a convenient form. …

Posted in electronics, lighting, solar | Tagged | 3 Comments

Crayons for Light, is it a myth?


Is this a myth?

On face book and other sites I keep getting all of these survival tips, now don’t get me wrong I like to get them.  But at the same time look at some of them with a bit of skepticism.  It seems like everytime I turned round for the last week or so, I have been receiving a survival tip about using crayons for light.

They have a very nice graphic that shows a crayon burning and underneath it says that a crayon will provide 30 minutes of light.  This afternoon I got to thinking that it would be nice to know if this really works. …

Posted in lighting, survival | Tagged | 5 Comments