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Security Camera Systems:
With POE Wired Security Camera Systems (such as the Reolink 
RLK8-410B4), Drones, GPS navigation systems, and specialized cameras.

Can you view the Reolink POE camera system without internet and commercial power?  Answer:  Yes, the cameras are powered over ethernet by the the DVR.  Simply cable the cameras to the DVR with Ethernet cable.  The DVR has an HDMI port for an external LED/LCD monitor or TV.  You would only have to provide battery power to power the DVR and monitor. This system is self contained, so having a Router or WIFI is only necessary to be able to view the cameras on your pc or phone over the internet.  A portable battery power station (recharged by a solar panel) could be sized to power the system.  A small 24" HDTV uses about 75 Watts AC, and the DVR requires about 78 Watts AC max for a 6 camera system (see calculation below).  A 160Wh portable power station would only power a 6 camera system and TV/monitor for approx. 1 hour.  During Doomsday, you could power the Reolink RLK8-410B4 outdoor camera system with 6 cameras & monitor with either one of the larger portable power stations OR keep the TV/monitor turned off almost all of the time, and only power it on when remote motion detectors sound an alarm (such as from an early warning system like the BlueBits system described above in this article).  You could also reduce the number of cameras installed during Doomsday, and even keep both the TV/monitor and the NVR/camera system turned off until receiving a motion detector alarm.

Calculation of AC Watts required:  The power block supplied with system is 48 volts DC at 1.87 amps (90 watts DC) which supports 8 cameras at night.  This specific system requires 48V DC, 0.75A, 36 Watts With 4 cameras and the included 2TB HDD included with NVR system.  With 6 cameras it would take approx 40 watts during the day and 70 watts during the night.  At 100% efficiency DC Watts out = AC Watts in.  However, most conversions are approx. 90% efficient, so a 6 camera system would require approx. 45 Watts AC during the day and 78 Watts AC at night with night vision on.

Security Lighting:

See Top 10 High Tech Motion Detection, Camera & Lighting - Early Warning Systems For Preppers in 2020!

5. Ability to directly power devices (lighting, cooling, soldering irons, electric blankets, medical equipment (such as CPAP machines) & more)

Beaudens 150W Power Station Powering Five USB Devices, One DC-AC Inverter & One AC Soldering Iron Simultaneously

Beaudens 150W Power Station Powering Multiple USB Devices, DC-AC Inverter & AC Soldering Iron Simultaneously

****IMPORTANT NOTE: One thing to keep in mind when comparing battery powered tools & devices for solar powered prepping is the amount of power the devices use. Be a "Watt Mizer" and buy like items that have the smallest wattage requirements. For battery operated devices (like power tools) look for the lowest amount of required "watt hours" required to recharge the batteries. We have already done a pretty significant amount of testing to pick some devices with relatively lower power requirements. This is critical to maximize the use of your portable solar panels and battery power stations. Closer to the bottom of this article, we explain the power terms you need to understand plus we provide our recommendations on the best solar panels, portable powers stations, and many of the best devices & tools that have low power requirements for charging.****

Choose Devices That Use Less Power!

  • Directly power low wattage 12V DC, 5V DC, 18V DC and 110V AC devices
    • USB Electric Blankets
    • 110V AC Dremel Tools
    • 12V DC Tools (Electric Car Lift Jack, Impact Wrench, Tire Inflator Pump) - Impact Wrench is 12V DC 14 Amps (make sure your power station DC outlet will handle 14 A).
    • 12V DC Portable Stoves & Mini Coolers

<Add ability to charge smaller power banks>

See Top 10 Direct 110V AC, DC & USB Powered Devices For Preppers In 2020!

6. Ability to directly power and/or provide battery power to communicate locally, regionally, and worldwide

<Insert picture of the following devices being powered (shortwave radio, portable HAM radio, Walkie-Talkies, FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios, stationary HAM Radio)> 

If you are a Doomsday prepper, it is good to diversify your SHTF communications capabilities and have as many of the following communications devices.  Ham is king, has the longest transmission distance, but requires that obtain a license by passing a test.  The unlicensed radio services CB & FRS still have a place in your communications plan. 

Read the following articles to become familiar with the different types of communications devices:
Everything But The Ham - gives a great overview of non-ham radio communications

Shortwave Radio:

Portable & Stationary Ham Radios:

Stationary 40W GMRS Radios:  Midland - MXT400, 40 Watt GMRS MicroMobile Two-Way Radio - Up to 65 Mile Range  In 2020, this requires $70 GMRS license from the FCC that is good for 10 years.  The GMRS license is issued to one person for short-distance two-way communications to facilitate the activities of licensees and their immediate family members. Each licensee manages a system consisting of one or more transmitting units (GMRS radios).  In 2017, the FCC updated the GMRS by allotting additional interstitial channels in the 467 MHz band, increased the license term from 5 to 10 years, allowed transmission of limited data applications such as text messaging and GPS location information and made other updates to the GMRS rules to reflect modern application of the service.

Portable CB Radios:  Range with CB is easily the farthest after Ham and higher power GMRS.  There is no license requirement with CB.  Power output is limited to 4 watts AM and 12 watts SSB. AM frequency range is approx 3-5 miles under most conditions (much better than unlicensed FRS radios).  CB SSB frequency range is approximately ten or twelve miles with base stations.  There are no antenna restrictions. CB radio often has some noise and interference and frequent criminal / weirdo usage and there are approx. 30 million CB radios in the USA. 

FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios - Walkie Talkies:  Motorola Talkabout T465 Rechargeable Two-Way Radio Bundle (Green) - Stated Ranges - Mountain to Valley: Up to 35 miles, Open Water: Up to 6 miles, 
Neighborhood: Up to 2 miles. Good luck with those ranges as in reality especially with the unlicensed FRS channels you are looking at a range from maybe 1/4th to a 1/2 mile in a lot of "normal" conditions.  Includes NOAA Weather radio & built-in flashlight.  IP54 Weather Resistance (good dust resistance + can be splashed with water from all sides).  Comes with 2 radios, 2 belt clips, 2 earbuds with Push-To-Talk microphone, 1 carrying case to carry both radios.  The above link is to the radio units without the NiMH rechargeable battery packs & micro USB charging cables.  There are other options in the link to order the NiMH batteries (if you want them) but the run time is much better on 3 AA Alkaline batteries (each radio) or even better use 3 AA Eneloop rechargeable batteries in each radio.  The run time is Immersion, up to 1 meterusing 3 AA alkaline batteries or 10 hours using the NiMH battery pack.  Why not use the Eneloop AAs which can be recharged up to 2100 times and get 2.6 times longer performance than the NiMH battery packs.  The one advantage of the "crummy" optional Motorola NiMH batteries are that they can be charged directly from a foldable solar panel, battery bank, or portable battery power station.  These models came out in 2015, but are still listed on Motorola's web site as current Two-Way radios in their higher "Sports & Outdoor" category as of May 2020.  You can spend about $20 more and get the completely IP67 waterproof (
Immersion, up to 1 meter for 30 minutes) Motorolla Talkabout T605 model (2 radios).  The Midland GXT1050VP4 GMRS Two-Way Radio (2 radios) is also a good option.  This Midland and the Motorola Talkabouts will all work on a USB NiMH battery charger or you can use 3 AAs (Eneloop Rechargeable or Alkaline) to get about 2.5 x longer battery time.

Motorola Talkabout T465 Rechargeable Two-Way Radio Bundle (Green)

Motorola Talkabout T465 Rechargeable Two-Way Radio Bundle (Green)

Gotenna Mesh Review, The Future Of The Internet? Text & OffGrid Text & Locator Communicator.

GoTenna Mesh Review Great review and links to more details like creating a super node mesh repeater.

Uniden PRO520XL Pro Series 40-Channel CB Radio

SuperAntenna Amazon Store - Portable HAM Radio Antennas

Spot GEN3® Satellite GPS Messenger

CHECK-IN - Let family and friends know you're ok when you're out of cell phone range. Send a pre-programmed text message with GPS coordinates or an email with a link to Google Maps™ to your contacts with your location. With a push of a button, a message is sent via email or SMS to up to 10 pre-determined contacts and your waypoint is stored in your SPOT account for later reference.

See Top 10 Communication Devices For Doomsday Preppers In 2020!

7. Ability to have remote surveillance & reconnaissance

<Insert picture of the following battery powered devices (Drones, Smartphone Borescope, Garmin Etrex 30xXGPS )>

Reconnaissance definition:  Military observation of a region to locate an enemy or ascertain strategic features.

Contixo F22 Plus 1080P GPS Drone with HD FPV Camera Live Video for Adults, Portable Selfie Quadcopter for Beginners with Auto Return Home, Custom Flight Path, Follow Me, Long Control Range,2 Batteries

Ruko F11 Pro Drone 4K Quadcopter UHD Live Video GPS Drones, FPV Drone with Camera for Adults Beginner 30 Mins Flight Time Long 2500mAh Battery Brushless Motor-Black(1 Extra Battery + Carrying Case)

DJI Mavic Mini Combo - Drone FlyCam Quadcopter UAV with 2.7K Camera 3-Axis Gimbal GPS 30min Flight Time, less than 0.55lbs, Gray

See Top 10 Drones & Tactical Uses For Surveillance, Reconnaissance & More For Preppers In 2020!

8. Ability to have GPS navigation

GPS Navigation:

The GPS satellites are in a very high geosynchronous orbit. Because of the extreme altitude, an EMP that effects electronics that we use will not effect any of the satellites. If your receivers were shielded, and the military does not "turn off" or encode the signals, then it will work.

Top Of The Line Garmin GPSMAP 66st GPS Navigation System

Garmin GPSMAP 66st GPS Navigation System
See Top 5 GPS Navigation Systems For Doomsday Preppers In 2020!

9. Ability to see the unseen - in broad daylight or pitch dark

<Insert picture of the following battery powered devices (NightVision - Smartphone & Binoculars & Riflescopes)>

NightVision / InfraRed - Smartphone & Binoculars:  
  • USB Thermal Imaging Camera
  • Binoculars

NightVision /  Infrared Riflescopes:

Boresope Camera:  USB Borescope "Snake" Inspection Camera

See Top 10 NightVision / InfraRed Imaging Optics:  Cameras, Binoculars, Riflescopes & Trail Cams For Preppers In 2020!

10. Ability to provide entertainment (music, picture & video library, bluetooth speakers, TVs)

See Top 10 Solar Powered Entertainment Solutions For Doomsday Preppers In 2020!

As a prepper, you are probably familiar with the military term "One is None!" and you really need at least two power stations, one as a backup and so that at least one is always available while the other(s) are being charged.  So that adds to the cost. 

How To Determine The Usable Electrical Capacity Of Portable Power Generator Stations

The units of capacity for the Portable Power Station that need to be understood are Running Watts (W), Surge Watts (W), AC outlet efficiency, DC Port efficiency and Watt Hours (Wh), A Watt Hour (Wh) is a measurement of the portable power generator's capacity in how many watts cumulatively can be provided over time.  Each power station battery also has a maximum running wattage (W) and a short time surge watt rating (also in W).  For example, a power station's battery might have the following capacities: 250 Running Watts, 300 Surge Watts, and 250 Watt Hours.  

Running and Surge Watts are pretty straightforward.  The device is rated at 250 Watts continuously running, but has a surge watt upon startup just for a few seconds of 275 Watts.

In determining AC outlet efficiency & DC Port efficiency, note that the portable power station's included DC to AC inverter (that powers one or more 110V AC outlets) has an efficiency loss that is greater than the DC to DC loss in the portable power station's DC Ports (including 12V DC, normal 5V - 2.4A USB ports and/or Quick Charge 3.0 - 18W USB ports, and/or Power Delivery "PD" Type C 45W DC or 60W DC ports).  So you should see an AC and DC efficiency rating for the AC outlets and DC ports.  As an example, you might see an AC efficiency rating of 85% and a DC efficiency rating of 95%. Using these efficiencies as an example, with a 240 Wh portable power generator, the AC output working time=240wh * 0.85/the power of your AC device.  Assuming the power of the AC device is 50W, the working time will be 240wh * 0.85/50w=4.08 hrs (rough calculation).  Likewise, the DC and USB output working time=240wh * 0.95/the power of your device.  Assuming I power a device like a USB solar light that uses 5W of power, the working time will roughly be 240wh * 0.95/5w=45.6 hrs before my power station would be fully drained.

Since direct DC powering is more efficient, always choose to use devices that require DC ports over their AC counterparts.  If you could purchase a 5W DC fan or a 5W 110V AC fan, choose the 5W DC fan since it will run longer than a 5W AC fan. 

On one extreme, there are a lot of relatively inexpensive solar products such as solar fans, solar flashlights, solar headlamps, etc. that are standalone.  On the other extreme are super expensive whole home solar arrays and battery banks.  Some of the standalone solutions should definitely be part of a preppers supplies, but they are not enough alone.  The large solar arrays are beyond a lot of preppers budgets and they are also not portable.

Any solar panel or wall charger with a DC voltage between 13 to 22 volts with the correct polarity will work to charge the unit. MPPT charge controller built into unit handles the charging. My unit charges at 43-watts maximum from any source. Most 12-volt solar panels (greater than 40-watts would be ideal) sold anywhere with an open /disconnected voltage of 22-volts or less will work. I would use a power source of at least 15 volts, an old 19 volt laptop computer charger works well. MPPT charge controllers will convert any input voltage that is higher than
battery voltage into more current to charge the battery faster.

Before learning anything more about solar prepping, it is instructive to categorize 4 different levels of solar & powering capabilities as these categories define which devices are required to support each level of capabilities.  The following are four different solar & powering capabilities categories.  As a prepper, Level 2 is the most important and exciting level of preparation and as such, Level 2 will be the primary focus of this article.  Most preppers interested in using solar power will only obtain some capabilities in Levels 1 & 2 and will view Levels 3 & 4 as either too expensive or that they have more desirable & affordable workarounds for Level 3 & 4 capabilities.

This article will discuss each category/level and will make recommendations on specific solar panels, portable power stations, and the associated useful devices and equipment available for each level.  Below is just a summary of the capabilities of each level.  More details & recommendations follow the summaries.  There could be arguments that some devices are listed in the wrong level, but do not get hung up on that, and instead just learn what devices are available and if any suit your needs as a prepper.  Also, in the detailed recommendations, it will be discussed what devices are more essential for survival situations and which are more nice to have as each level below is a mix of must haves and nice to haves.  

Capabilities & Recommended Solar Panels And Related Gear

You'll be glad you have