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There's a great book, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch, talking about how to recover from an apocalypse where most people die. They recommend as a first step going out to the nearest golf course to grab the batteries in the golf carts because those are things you'll really need and won't be able to re-make for a while.


I've been doing some thinking along these lines and I always end up with the realization that if most infrastructure around you is down, there isn't that much you can do with electrical power in the amounts that could be available.

I mean, you can get light when it's dark, and possibly run a refrigerator from a solar installation, but otherwise what would you use the electricity for? Not for heating, not for transportation (not enough of it), your cell phones and other computer devices won't be of much use without the network anyway. Perhaps if you have portable radios you could charge them, but otherwise — what?

My conclusion was that we've become alarmingly dependent on infrastructure. I decided to get some maps, old-style paper books, and started considering getting radios and tiny solar panels to re-charge them.

Light and refrigeration were the earliest uses of electricity. Add simple communication (radio transmission/reception), and that's enough to keep you going for quite awhile.

Same things we do now. Lighting, yes. Communication. Power tools. Pumps. Winches. Automation. GPS should last a good while too.

A lot of those heavier duty things you mention require three phase power, which is very difficult and expensive to handle independently without the grid to support you.

Do they really require it? Or do they just currently use it because it's convenient with the grid? In an off-grid scenario, you probably wouldn't use AC power for anything. DC motors will serve perfectly well for the "heavy duty" applications.

I don't use computers to communicate as much as others. Mostly to pay movies and anime I have stored away. Basically, after people work all day to live I will be the entertainment center.

Hammering the extremely malleable lead into thin plates and mixing with some sulfuric acid seems the most easily solved of my technological problems. Now, the author isn't wrong, grabbing golf cart batteries would be a hell of a lot easier, and would make for better batteries. But making the tools needed to fill those batteries seems to be a much taller order, IMO. Solar panels and generators are the things I "won't be able to re-make for a while".

There is a ready supply of bicycles with dynamos around here. If you lift the back wheel off the ground and pedal hard you can get at least some energy. The old ones are very basic too. With more time and need one can probably rig a small stream to do it instead.

Reminds me of "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind". Amazing true story. Book is recommended.

There's alternators all over the place though. "Just" need to figure out how to get one turning.

In the same way that speakers are microphones, all motors are generators, albeit probably with very low efficiency.

Yeah, that's where I started, but if you are foraging for batteries, you probably aren't aiming so low.

I guess reasoning along those lines, you're looking for literal generators that can be adapted to whatever fuel you have available.

Where are you gonna get sulphuric acid from?

Indeed, the book has a chapter on that but it's towards the end. Solar panels are, sadly, outside its scope.

I also highly recommend this book. It uses post-apocalyptic scenario as a lens to examine fundamental society processes, and essential knowledge needed to reconstruct those processes in some crude form. Each chapter deals with different technology ( filtering water, growing crops, preserving food, making fabrics and clothes, forging metal tools, blowing glass). Explanations are wonderfuly clear and to the point, with some insightful comments about current and past state of technology. Great material for filling knowledge gaps.

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