New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Preparedness - What's In It For Me?

Why Prepare?  That is a question right up there with ‘what is life and beauty’.   Yet disasters and emergencies, or crises as I prefer to call them, can occur at any time, in any place.  They can be large or small, long or short in duration, come with or without warning and have a minor to major impact on you, yours and or your community.

Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster has lasting effects, to people, to property, to the area it occurred and economically too.  There is always that awkward moment of shock after tragedy strikes.  Everyone's thoughts are racing, wondering, “What is going on?” “What happened?” “What is wrong?” Then the bystander effect or denial phase kicks in, where people just kinda stand there and say “I can’t believe this!” yet do nothing and it's in these crucial moments that action must be taken.

Just think, after only seconds of a person being unable to breathe, irreversible brain damage begins, gradually progressing and unless someone acts a life could end.  It doesn't take a Doctor to step up to the plate; anyone can help if they know what to do.  The same is true with any crisis that can occur to you or in your area.

Apply this to a disaster that occurs in your community: Local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but they may not be able to reach you immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere.  Federal responders may shoot for 3 days to be on site and helping, but recent crises show the average to be closer to 5-6 days. So ultimately you need to be ready to take care of you and yours, without any assistance from these entities.

It's not really all doom and gloom if you shift your perspective to "needs planning and preparedness”, rather than “crisis planning and preparedness".   While all crisis events can't be totally avoided (tragic, catastrophic or small and controlled or not), you can have peace of mind knowing that you did your best to avoid loss of life and property and to reduce your trials and tribulations for you and yours.

It’s your gamble - You can choose not to have a disaster plan in place. If nothing occurs, then all is well!  However, in the event that something does happen or even worse, a disaster directly affects your family, then the consequences could be unthinkable. Bottom line:  It is YOUR CHOICE alone.

Being prepared does not have to cost you an arm and a leg.  It does not have to be a major lifestyle change.  However it will require some honesty, thought, time, effort and hard core planning; on top of  some sacrifices, like only going to the movies every other month instead of every month.

As with just about anything we humans endeavor to do, we seem to hit a point where we ultimately ask; “What’s in it for me?”  Ok so what are the advantages of being prepared vs being oblivious and or dependent on outside entities? 

To find out what the benefits are and how to get started read on @


“If it is to be, it is up to me.”
William H. Johnsen  
Depression-era realist/impressionist painter

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Grid-tied Alternative Energy & Shysterism

So you have invested thousands in some kind of alternative energy source and have been reaping the very small to nothing electric bill; but now the grid is down and you are still suffering the power outage blues.  Well dah!  That is because for some reason, (known only to the powers that be) the rules and regulations regarding independent grid-tied electricity generation think only of the line maintenance people and not about the everyday consumer/citizen.

Which means that when the grid goes down - so does your alternative energy!  In fact due to Federal Safety Regulations all private energy generation, tied to the grid, MUST have a device that shuts down electrical flow when the grid goes down.  This is rightly to protect any grid line workers from being inadvertently electrocuted.  I have no problem with that. 
My problem is with all these utilities and corporations wanting their Mega Bucks, Mega Profits, Mega Quickly, so that they rarely, if ever, tell us that we need at least one other device added to the system in order to have power during a grid outage.  To top it off these shysters then charge us a 700-1000% profit price to get it!!!!  In fact most states do not require the utilities or corporations to tell you about this.  Oh if you ask outright they will, however if you don’t ask, they won’t tell you.

The device that these companies use to shut down any power going to your home and grid is the Service Entrance Disconnect, which is a device that interrupts excessive current and allows for manually or automatically disconnecting your home or business from the electric utility. It is generally a circuit breaker that is either part of your utility meter base, or is part of your main panel. It could also be called your "main breaker". It is required by Article 230 of the National Electrical Code to be as close as possible to the utility meter. This ‘breaker’ is usually combined with the much needed inverter, that converts between electricity types. 

Most Inverters are designed to convert DC electricity generated by alternative sources (solar, wind, micro hydro, micro geothermal) into AC electricity which is what a home needs.
Note: If you have a grid-tied alternative energy system, most utility companies will either give the homeowner a check or a credit on their next electric bill. This discrepancy is the result of different power selling policies employed by various electric companies and various state regulations.  Depending on the electric company that your house is connected to, you can either get a check or a credit.  In either case, the company is obligated to take your excess energy.

On top of this many, if not most, utilities and companies will then charge the homeowner, at installation of the system, for the two-way meter that is needed to determine this credit or monies for the excess electricity that is 'given' to the grid.

Note:  Science has yet to correct the loss of electricity that occurs during AC/DC conversion.  I don’t know what the particular loss figure is, however, the total loss from conversion of AC/DC and transmission (transporting the electricity across the grid) is apx 30%.

So what is this much needed self-reliant device?  The Transfer Switch.

Transfer switches control which power source you are connected to and eliminate the possibility of back-feeding normal power supply.   Now get this:  generator systems that are used for back-up (stand-by) or emergency power require transfer switches.  

If the governments, utilities and alternative energy corporations were honest with their consumer/citizens, these would also be required for ANY grid-tied energy system too; or at least openly offered without shenanigans. 

Transfer Switches are available in a range of amperages and options to meet your particular application, whether you have a 30 amp residential service or a 4,000 amp commercial service such as office building.

There are two types of Transfer Switches:

The Automatic Transfer Switch is the’ brain’ of a generator or alternative energy system – it does the transfer automatically when it detects a loss of power from the grid.  So basically it determines whether you are connected to normal grid-tied power, your alternative power source and or generator power system. 

A Manual Transfer Switch needs us humans to manually flip the switch when the grid goes down and again when power is restored.  Some states have laws against manual transfer switches when coupled with grid-tied alternative electricity systems.

When installing a transfer switch that will supply power to your entire home, the transfer switch needs to be installed between the "Service Entrance Disconnect" and the main distribution panel. If your home utilizes a  main breaker that's part of the main distribution panel, then you'll need to have a "Service Entrance Disconnect" installed, either separately, or as part of a "SERVICE ENTRANCE RATED" transfer switch.

Considering all the obtuse rules and regulations regarding grid-tied alternative energy systems, the easiest cheapest solution is to buy a "Service Entrance Rated" automatic transfer switch.

The National Electrical Code requires that all manual and automatic transfer switches be UL-1008 listed by Underwriters Laboratories and carry the UL-1008 label. This is in annex A of the 2002 National Electrical Code.  If a transfer switch meets this tough safety standard and has been certified by Underwriters Laboratories, it will carry the UL-1008 label. This label will clearly say one of the following:


If you want to run your entire house in case of a power outage and you have a large enough alternative energy system or generator, you need a transfer switch that is the same rating as your main breaker panel. For a home this will normally be either 100 or more likely 200 amps. The transfer switch would be installed between your main breaker (normally at the meter) and your main electrical panel. Some homes have a 400 amp service utilizing two distribution panels, in which case you'll need two 200 amp or one 400 amp Automatic Transfer Switch.
If you want to run only certain loads during a power outage you can install a sub panel off of your main panel and use a 100 amp transfer switch. This is a great idea if you don't have an alternative energy system or generator big enough to run everything. Some Transfer Switches even offer a “series 185” automatic transfer switch, with a built in load center, that saves space and makes installation easy.

FACT:  If you want to use your alternative generated electricity during a grid outage: even if the sun is not shinning, the water is not moving, the wind is not blowing or the steam is not building up to generate electricity, ie: even if these alternative generation sources are not 24/7; then you will need to store excess energy in something – most commonly some sort of battery grid. 

Any alternative energy system or generator, inverter and or transfer switch needs to be installed by a licensed electrician and the installation needs to be in compliance with all local and national codes. This is not a do it yourself job. Please hire a licensed electrician that will do the job right.
Bottom line: Depending on state laws, you may or may NOT have been told that having this alternative energy tied to the grid needs a transfer switch or it will NOT be there for you if the grid goes down and most states DO NOT require the salespeople to tell you this information either.  So be sure to ask about transfer switches and electrical storage options.  Just keep in mind that these companies are out to not only make a profit, but make a huge mega profit off YOU, so please do your research and shop around before you spend thousands.

So research thoroughly before you buy and be sure that if you are going to be utilizing a grid-tied system during a power outage that you have a transfer switch to do so.

For more detailed information on inverters, transfer switches and choices of alternative energy systems read on @

Today is the Tomorrow that you worried about Yesterday

Friday, June 8, 2012

Gun Show Folly

I have been setting up a “Dare to Prepare” table at the gun shows in my town for about the last 6 years.  This past week I had my usual “Dare to Prepare” table at a local gun show and I gotta tell ya I was appalled at what I heard while there.  

Now understand that I sell nothing, I merely give out information and answer questions. For this show I had a military academy on one side, the ATF on the other side and FFL dealers behind me and all around.  People would come by my table and say things that just threw me for a loop!!!   Of all the towns, in all the states I have lived in, I am sorry to say that this one takes the prize as being the most apathetic and uninformed – the most unprepared ;-{

"People only see what they are prepared to see."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here are some examples of what I heard all weekend ...

“This is confusing, you have every possibility here and you’re not telling me what I should be most concerned with.”

“I live in blah-blah (suburban town to the major metro area where this show was) and all people have to do is come to my house, cause I have a garden and septic system and well water, etc.”

“I’m going to shelter in place and have a case of MRE’s and freeze dried food, and my spouse has the guns and ammo part taken care of. I don’t need to worry about go-bags or anything else.”

“We have a grocery store on every corner and a farmers market just 2 miles away.  I’ll be able to see the ‘writing on the wall’ in enough time so I don’t need to stock up on food stores.”

“Nothing happens in this town so there is no need to prepare for anything.”

“I always cook with fresh food, so food stores would be a waste for me.”

“Preparedness takes too much time, effort and money.  Besides that’s what FEMA, the fire department and Red Cross are for.”

“Preparedness is just a government scam to have us running scared; there is no need for this town or state to prepare.”

“You can’t prepare for everything”

To see how I replied to these statements go to

However my little ending speech was a simple:  “I am not interested in turning you to my way of thinking.  That is your choice.  However, I have to wonder why you bothered to stop and engage me in conversation.  Was it because you want to be swayed or because you want to sway me?

With that, some of the people who stopped to rebuff my ‘Dare to Prepare’ table subject, huffed and took off to the next table, some said ‘good question’, smiled then went on and others stayed and talked some more. 

Bottom line - I hope I got every last one of them to exercise their brains a bit ;-}

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

William H. Johnsen  
Depression-era realist/impressionist painter