Recommended Equipment and Sources

This section of the book should be helpful to most readers including those who have the booklet 10 Packs for Survival.  Finding the right products and resources to build a home is often difficult, so I have listed here some of the most unique and valuable resources I have come across over the years.  I have not included many conventional products that are easily available for building but rather have concentrated on those less conventional items that I have commented on in the text.  I concentrate on products that I have personally used or, when they are no longer available, similar looking products, but there are many items that I have not had personal experience with and although I have attempted to judge these within the limitations of written claims, you should use your own judgment when evaluating their suitability to your needs.  I make no guarantees about the performance or reliability of these products or services.  Surely, there are other similar products to the ones I have mentioned that may be valuable and yet unknown to me.  Because they are not mentioned does not mean that they are not acceptable. If they follow the general criteria given, feel free to consider them.  If I have time, I can try to check out a product of interest to you, if you will provide me some relevant sources or descriptive information.  Any feedback you have, negative or positive, about any of these products will be appreciated. Note: Some links on the website version are affiliated.

In most cases I try to list an address, telephone number an Internet website URL (URL means an Internet address, usually preceded by a www).  Going to a company website will allow you to view the product and read important information.  This will save you much time and effort.  If you find errors here or see web addresses that do not function, please inform me by email (joel [at] joelskousen [dot] com).


Here is a list of suppliers who are frequently referenced in the product reviews because of their service related to a product or because they sell items mentioned in this list.  To save space I will only mention their name as a source instead of giving out their address and telephone numbers each time they are mentioned.  Check here for contact information if it isn't listed in the body of the list. 

ABRAHAM SOLAR EQUIPMENT—This is my top recommended source for all your solar and alternate energy products. Mick has low prices and he knows all the equipment personally, including how to install it. Above everything, I can personally vouch for Mick Abraham’s honesty and integrity.  This is a source you can completely trust.  Tel: Order line (800) 222-7242; Consultation (970) 731-4675; (mick [at] abrahamsolar [dot] com); address: 124 Creekside Place, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. URL:

BE SELF RELIANT.COM—A company with a lot of practical experience in designing and installing self-sufficient and multi-fuel systems within homes.  They are based out of Idaho and are quickly developing into a comprehensive one-stop resource for self-sufficiency products and information. This includes: alternative energy, heating, home production, self-reliant skills development, consulting, and installation.  They have developed a unique home heating boiler system that uses any available fuel, simply by changing out the burner. It also uses coal and wood. I don’t know of any other system that matches this one.  All of their systems come with extensive “How To” documentation for the do-it-yourselfer. Tel: (208) 624-3135 or (888) 624-0040 URL: email: (info [at] beselfreliant [dot] com)

EMERGENCY ESSENTIALS—Largest of the Utah-based full service preparedness products stores. 653 N 1500 W, Orem, UT. 84057 Tel: (801) 222-9596. URL: Email: (sales [at] beprepared [dot] com)

Provident Living—Excellent online shopping for some of the best prices on all the basics of storage foods. They also sell 72 hour kits and specialty preparedness equipment. 729 W 350 S, Orem, UT 84058. Tel: (800) 723-0635. URL:

MAJOR SURPLUS AND SURVIVAL—Biggest of the California survival food and products stores. 435 W. Alondra Blvd.; Gardena, CA 90248. Tel: (800) 441-8855 or (310) 324-8855 URL:

NITRO-PAK—Carries a full line of survival foods and products. 375 W. 910 S., Heber City, UT 84032. Tel: (800) 866-4876. URL:

WALTON FEED—Largest of the survival food suppliers. 135 North 10th (PO Box 307) Montpelier ID 83254. Tel: (800) 847-0465. URL:

LEHMAN’S CATALOG—The largest of the self-sufficient/back-to-the-land suppliers. 289 Kurzen Road North Dalton, Ohio 44618. Tel: (877) 438-5346 Email: (info[at]lehmans[dot]com) URL:

AMATEUR ELECTRONIC SUPPLY (AES)—Biggest of the mail order ham radio and antenna stores. Order their catalog: (800) 558­0411. URL:

HAM RADIO OUTLET—Major competitor to AES with outlets in some major cities. Tel: (800) 444-4799. URL:

RADIO SHACK—Nationwide electronics parts, radios, telephones and security systems. Tel: (800) 843-7422. URL:

WW GRAINGER—Nationwide wholesalers of almost every type of equipment. You must have some type of business in order to establish a wholesale account with them, but it is worth it. Check their website for the nearest warehouse. URL:

NORTHERN TOOL AND EQUIPMENT—Big discount mail-order catalog company for generators, major tools and equipment. Tel: (800) 221-0516 URL:

Product ListING

Air Filters and Ventilation


            Canners and Dehydrators


            Washing Machines

Wheat Grinders


            Chargers and Maintainers

Cold Weather Clothing


            Composite Decking

            Concrete Homes


            Fire Retardant Finishes


            Log Homes

            Modular Homes


            Steel Decking

Stucco Siding

            Underground Homes

            Waterproofing and Dampproofing

Concrete Crack Repair



Filter Masks

Firearms—See Weapons

Food Storage

Fuel Storage


            Small and Portable (up to 2kW)

            Medium (up to 7kW)

            Transfer Switches


            Hand Crank



Lamps: Oil and Kerosene

Lighting: Backup and 12v

Nuclear Preparedness:

            EMP Protectors

            Radiation Meters

            Thyroid Protection


            Gray Water






            Antennas and Towers


            CB and Walkie-Talkies


Seeds: Non-Hybrid


Gate Openers

Steel Security Doors

            Bullet Proofing, Armor, Fabric and Panels

            Vault Doors

            Door Hardware

            High Security Locks



Security Systems

Shelter Systems and Plans


            Resources and Gurus

            Photovoltaic Panels

            Charge Controllers

Control Assemblies

Current Boosters

Power Arrestors


Solar Water Heating



Stoves and Heaters

            Cook Stoves

Supplies to Stockpile

            Batteries, Rechargeable

            Duct Tape and Other Tapes

            Matches and Lighters

Transportation: Bicycles

            Hybrid and Touring Bikes

            Bicycle Lights

            Bicycle Accessories

Electric Bikes and Equipment

Transportation: Electric Vehicle Conversion

Water Filters and Treatments

Water Desalinators and Distillers

Water Heating with Wood Stoves

Water Storage Tanks


            Air Guns


            Firearm Products



Wind Power


Window Wells and Skylights

Recommended Books:


Air Filters and Ventilation

Andair (or LUWA) VA-150—Swiss nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) filter. High quality but super expensive (about $6,000). Note: This filter mounts inside the shelter so we recommend installing a prefilter over the outside air inlet so radioactive particles are kept out. Available through Paul or Sharon Packer, Utah Shelter Systems, 11576 S. State Street, Suite #502, Draper, UT 84020. Tel: (435) 657-2641 or (801) 380-2932. URL:

HDT Global—Makes NBC filters for the military. We recommend the M48A1 for up to 100 cfm. It is circular and is perfect for placing over inlet pipes to the shelter. The M98 filter works for larger air supplies but is about $2,500 just for the filter so it is only cheaper than the LUWA system if you buy the filter alone and build an airtight housing to suit your shelter. URL:

Safe Cell—NBC filter for about $3,900 from multiple sources:,,

Honeywell CPZ filters—For a cheaper, non-military-grade option, we recommend using a round Honeywell CPZ filter (part # 36200) that will nest within a 99.97% Hepa filter (# 28600) for an excellent quality dual filter for about $250. These can be purchased as replacement parts from (wholesaler for Honeywell). Although most shelters won’t need the 300 cfm capacity of the taller filters, we still recommend them over the 6” tall filters (if you have room) since the bigger area will last longer. Be sure to purchase these with the carbon prefilter (part # 38002). Prefilter should be replaced when the airflow starts to become restricted. Honeywell recommends replacing carbon filter after 3 months of continual use. If airflow is still restricted replace the Hepa and/or the CPZ filters. Make sure to follow our detail so the air gets pulled from the inside of the ring so it passes first through the carbon, Hepa and then CPZ filters.

CO2 Monitor—Sensor and alarm if carbon dioxide from occupant breathing gets too high. Each breath only uses 25% of the oxygen in the air, but elevated CO2 will cause problems before you run out of oxygen. Most carbon dioxide sensors are too expensive for common use ($300 to $1,200) but may be worth it for some people. Available from many online distributors including

Whole-House Hypo-Allergenic Filter System—The CVI-series EnviroConditioner controls every parameter of indoor air quality. As an integrated part of the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system, the air in the entire house is processed and distributed through the central air conditioning ductwork. Nothing on the market can compare to the effectiveness of the CVI EnviroConditioner but units are expensive. URL:

12 Volt Fans—ITT Jabsco model 35115-0020. Best all-around 12 volt ventilation fan is the DAYTON brand 12 volt fan from WW Grainger Stock # 2C646. About $75, 175 CFM and fairly quiet. What makes these fans convenient is their 3” flange which allows you to easily attach it to the vent pipe shown in the shelter designs. The stock number for the 115 volt version is Item # 2C647. Use the 110 volt fan during non-emergency times to keep the air in the shelter fresh.

Appliances: Canners and Dehydrators

ALL AMERICAN CANNERS—Makes pressure and steam canners. Available from kitchen stores and online retailers like

UNIVERSAL PEELER—Apple, Potato Peeler (about $30, plus $12 for potato attachments) Available from Emergency Essentials.

NESCO AMERICAN HARVEST—Also called Harvest Maid. Available at many preparedness stores listed at the beginning.

EXCALIBUR—Top rated dehydrator with large, square trays for easier cleaning. More expensive than Harvest Maid. Available from retail stores and

Appliances: Refrigerators

Small Refrigerators—Kenmore, Whirlpool and Frigidaire brands have 15 cubic foot conventional fridges that are very efficient—using less than 1.0 kWh/day or $65 to $78/year.

Sun Frost—Efficient, quality fridges in 12 or 24 volt DC, or 110 or 220 volts AC. Prices: Full size ($3,500) uses less than 1kwh/day, Medium ($3,300) less than 0.75 kwh/day, Under counter units ($2,500 to $1,800) use less than 0.5kwh/day. P.O. Box 1101, Arcata, CA 95518 Tel: (707) 822-9095. URL:

SunDanzer—Top-load refrigerators and freezers. Very efficient units. Made for applications with solar power like sailboats. URL: and available from several appliance shops online like

Nova Kool—DC and AC/DC small and medium refrigerators for marine, RV and truck use. Good, durable, units but lacking in thick insulation (because designed for small spaces). $1,200 to $2,000 depending on size. Available at many RV wholesalers. 1578 Hartley Avenue, Coquitlam, BC V3K 7A1 (Canada). Tel: (604) 523-6515. URL:

Koolatron—Portable 12v coolers use non-compressor technology (4 amp). Available at most outdoor stores. URL:

Igloo and Coleman—also have portable electric coolers or heaters. Place cooler on its side to operate like a small fridge. Available at outdoors stores or retailers like

Norcold—Designed for RVs, these will operate on propane, DC or AC power. Insulation is thin and needs electric power for lights and thermostat even when running on gas. URL:

Dometic RGE 400—8 cubic foot propane fridge (same as Servel brand from Sweden) for about $1,500. Can also buy these with 120 volt backup power, or in natural gas or kerosene. Gas units are completely self-sustaining (D-battery required for light). Many RV suppliers distribute this product. URL:

DIY SOLAR REFRIGERATION/COOLING—Several projects online show methods for cooling systems with basic materials such as earthen pots ( or with more advanced materials like ammonia gas it is possible to make a solar ice-maker (

Appliances: Washing Machines

SPEED QUEEN—Reliable, front-loading washers. Same brand as used in many Laundromats. Moderately energy efficient. At 3.0 cubic ft loads are smaller. Look for units with 1000 rpm spin speeds to help reduce drying time.

FISHER PAYKEL—This lesser known brand produces efficient washers with fast spin cycles (1100 rpm) to get clothes almost dry. Lots of automatic controls including water level and rebalancing sensors have caused users problems. Very energy and water efficient.

ASKO—The best of the current models. Swedish import and top of the line Euro appliance. High priced. URL:

STABER—Washers use less than 200 watts-hours per load and thus are recommended for solar applications. Lots of mixed reviews, however. Designed to be maintained by end user. Maintain the bearings regularly and buy extra motor brushes and belt. Phone support is reportedly awful. Made with basic components that are all accessible behind front panel. It is a top loader and the clothes go through a door in the rotating drum, which is not as convenient to load or unload because of the small opening. Tel: (800) 848-6200. URL: or from several resellers.

MANUAL HAND WASHING—Requires agitating the clothes in soapy water and then again in several rinse baths. Wringers help get more water out for faster drying. Look for metal basins that can warm the water on a stovetop or black basins to heat in the sunshine.

HAND AGITATORS—Some people just use toilet plungers with a hole or two in the side to help aerate/mix the water during agitation. The $20 RAPID LAUNDRY WASHER is similar but is better at moving water through clothes. Buy at Lehman’s or

WASHBOARDS—Good for scrubbing stains out of clothes. Lehman’s has a glass board that is reported to be easier on clothes and doesn’t wear out as fast ($33).

WRINGERS—Quality on these matters. Lehman’s reportedly doesn’t last long and rusts. Look for one that will also mount to curved edges (tubs, barrels, etc.). Dyna Jet has good hand-crank wringers Tel: 913-381-6779 URL: Also look for chamois wringers ($160) at auto supply stores.

JAMES HAND WASHER—This is a single unit with a tub/hand agitator and wringer on the side. It is costly at over $500 and reviewers say it is not durable. Look for the old-fashioned hand washers at antique stores. You can buy the James washer through Lehman's catalog or call the manufacturer, Lake City Industries at (814) 774-9616.

MEAN GREAN WASHING MACHINE—A barrel mounted with a hand agitator and solid wringer. $230 from Dyna Jet. Tel: 913-381-6779 URL:

LAUNDRY DETERGENT—You can make your own laundry soap by grating a bar of Fels-Naptha (brand) or Zote (brand) soap or three bars of handsoap (Ivory brand or homemade lye soap) into small shreds and mixing these with 4 cups Borax, 3 cups washing soda and 1 cup baking soda (all these are carried in most grocery stores and Walmart). Mix the powders together and add 1/8 or 1/4 cup to each load, as needed. The Zote and Fels-Naptha bars are good for pre-treating stains.

Note: be careful storing scented laundry products, soaps, chemicals or fuels in the same room as food and grains (unless they are both in sealed metal cans). The fragrance or smells can traverse plastic containers (including sealed 5 gallon buckets) and change the flavor of food products.

LYE—for homemade soap look for food grade sodium hydroxide (NaOH) crystals (here’s an example URL: or look for 100% lye drain cleaners at your hardware stores. Roebic and Rooto brands have one product like this (in Canada look for Gillete’s lye).

Appliances: Wheat Grinders

Family Grain Mill—This manual grinder is unique in that it offers both a grain mill and a roller mill attachment. Can be purchased for hand-power, electric drive or both. You can mix and match the components any way you want. Buy both options for about $270. Available from preparedness distributors such as Homestead Products, 2049 Woodland Rd., Kamiah, ID 83536. Tel. (208) 935-0292. URL: and

Everything Kitchens—Online shopping with competitive prices on wheat grinders and other countertop kitchen equipment. URL:

Nutrimill—Wheat grinder from, Emergency Essentials or Waltons.

Golden Grain Grinder—A conventional type of stone mill motorized grinder. URL:

Country Living Grain Mill—Manual wheat grinder with V-groove wheel for quick and easy conversion to electric motor. Cast-iron flywheel for easy turning and smooth flow of flour. 30% less torque or energy required to turn than any comparable hand mill on the market. Does not grind flour as finely as electric grinders. Available from sellers above.

Back to Basics Hand Grain Mill—This is an economical, compact unit but with limitations. Relatively slow grinding, especially for fine flour. Consider the options above first.


6 volt Golf Cart Batteries—Cheapest option. About 200 amp hours ($100-$150 each). Battery lifespan is 2 to 5 years depending on maintenance and temperature of storage. Available at most auto parts stores and some large retailers like Sam’s Club.

Deka—Several varieties of high-quality batteries. Consult with Mick Abraham for the right fit (see “Solar Resources and Gurus”). Deka Road, Lyon Station, PA 19536 USA. Tel: 610-682-6361. URL:

Trojan—L-16 and L-16H batteries are 6volt, 400 amp-hours. Good, moderately priced batteries. Decent lifespan up to 5 years.

Surrette or Rolls—Heavy-duty, 6 volt, 400 amp-hours, deep cycle batteries for Solar Systems. Expensive, but can last up to 20 years.

AGM—Absorbed Glass Matt batteries are sealed for non-ventilated or living areas. Recommended over sealed gel batteries. Heavy duty, high amperage delivery capacities without ruining battery. Prominent brands are Optima or Lifeline ( Check with Abraham Solar or other distributor sites listed above.

Batteries: Chargers and Maintainers

Battery Web—See this webpage for a rundown on battery maintenance technology. We do not recommend trickle chargers as they keep a constant, low charge across the battery and they will overcharge and eventually ruin the battery by boiling it dry. Look for a battery float charger or “battery maintainer” which turns on and off as needed to maintain the optimal voltage. Sulfation of the lead plates occurs on all batteries over time. There are technologies that keep batteries from sulfating and can even remove sulfation once it occurs. URL:

Schumacher SE-1125—Automatic battery charger and maintainer. Keeps battery at a perfect float charge without overcharging. About $25 from Wal-Mart and other auto parts stores.

DSR PS-1562A—Battery charger/maintainer ($55). Also consider DSR PSC-15AOB for maintaining car batteries that are sitting for long periods ($56). Available from Grainger or other auto part stores.

Power Pulse—12, 24, 36 and 48 volt units provide electronic pulse that breaks down sulfur crystals that build up on batteries, often revitalizing poor performing batteries. Available at specialty battery sites such as:

BatteryMINDer—Charger/maintainer/desulfator units ($45). Optional units with solar power ($100). Available at Northern Tool and online wholesalers like

VANNER—Voltmaster Battery Equalizer 60-50A. Use for combining 12 volt batteries and a 24 volt battery system. Available through Abraham Solar or see distributors listed on the Vanner website. URL:

Hydrocaps—These units condense the water vapor out of battery gassing so you don’t have to maintain the water level in the battery as often. Available through Abraham Solar (800) 222-7242. URL:

Battery Watering—System for maintaining water levels in battery banks. PO Box 696, Lewisville, NC 27023. Tel: (877) 522-5431. URL:

Flow-rite—Automatic battery watering products. 960 74th Street S.W., Byron Center, MI 49315. Tel: (616) 583-1700. URL:

SUNFORCE—5-watt solar battery trickle charger.  Small portable battery trickle charger from Radio Shack. Catalog #55038529 URL:

CRANE 11-in-1—Solar battery charger for D, C, AA, AAA and other small NiMH or NiCd batteries. With battery meter. Takes 7 hours per set of batteries (more on cloudy days). $25 at REI and several online retailers.

Cold Weather Clothing

PALS SYSTEM—Jim Phillips developed an extreme cold weather clothing that is so good he calls it a shelter you wear. The Phillips Arctic Living System (PALS) is marketed in economical kits or ready-made suits made from a breathable foam core that keeps moisture and body heat balanced (you add the outer shell by buying high quality Gore-Tex (brand) outerwear). They also have a complete series of preparedness training videos on the clothing system and all other aspects of survival. Excellent. Safe Harbor Alliance in Utah at (801) 503-0322. URL:

FORTRESS CLOTHING—Foam clothing developed for gas and oil workers in extreme environments. Excellent moisture and heat management also using a foam core. Volunteers have jumped into ice water in these clothes and became warm and relatively dry minutes after getting out. Work in a wide range of temperatures (-30 to 70 deg. F). 1175 S Blackhawk Blvd, Mt. Pleasant, UT 84647 Tel: (435) 462-9999 or (855) 487-9276

CUSTOM CLOTHING—Mareen Robinson custom makes these bulky foam clothes to suit your size and shape (especially for women). Spanish Fork, UT. Tel: (801) 794-0550 Email: (mymagicwanda [at] gmail [dot] com URL:

Construction: Composite Wood Decking

GENERAL INFORMATION—Now available at all home building stores. We recommend fiber cement board for fire hazard areas (see “Construction: Fire Retardant Finishes”)

VERANDA DECKING—Expensive, but attractive decking from composite materials. Available at Home Depot stores. Website:

ESPS PLASTIC LUMBER—Also called "Bear Board." Can be more expensive than Veranda. Tel: (800) 480-2327. URL:

Construction: Concrete Homes

GENERAL INFORMATION—Methods for constructing a concrete home are described here:

THERMOMASS RESIDENTIAL BUILDING SYSTEMS—The best residential system in the world. It uses a thermal sandwich of foam in between two concrete precast surfaces. Has heat mass characteristics, rodents cannot get into the foam layer, bullet-proof, and the best sound-proofing available. 1999 Highview Rd. Coralville, IA 52241 Tel: (319) 351-4232 URL:

KISTNER CONCRETE PRODUCTS—Prefab security buildings and precast basement foundations. They also have very innovative retaining wall systems with planting areas. 8713 Read Road East Pembroke, NY 14056. Tel: (716) 762-8216 URL:

HOLLOW CORE CONCRETE SLABS—For use as flooring or roofing systems. Heat or cooling air can be ducted through hollow spaces. FLEXICORE brand slabs is one option available in multiple states. Check with commercial concrete contractors in major cities. Example URLs: and

FROST PROTECTED SHALLOW FOUNDATIONS (FPSF)—Protect from frost heave without excavating below the frost line with these building recommendations. Website with more information including CAD details go to and search for “frost protected shallow foundations” or use this quick link:

THE NATURAL HOME SOURCE—These designers and builders have the most experience in heat mass - passive solar homes. Their system is applicable to most areas of the country, but especially the West. I don't agree with all their techniques or their pricing commissions, but you can learn a lot from their information and implement what you want on your own. They cover waste treatment systems, earth sheltered homes and buildings, solar air heating systems, composting system components, indoor gardening and attached greenhouses. 186 County Road 1400, Silverthorne, CO 80498. Tel: (970) 262-6727. URL:

INSULATED CONCRETE FORM—ICF construction is one of our most recommended construction methods because of strength, insulation and ease of use. This construction method is commonplace enough that there are many manufacturers and installers throughout the country. See below for some examples. The Portland Cement Association (PCA) has a book on building with ICF and a 5-part video series on the topic. 5420 Old Orchard Rd., Skokie, IL 60077. Website:

ARXX—Foam block system that allows an 8" wide, full-width concrete wall. Tel: (800) 293-3210. website:

SMARTBLOCK—Variable width form only up to 8". Pre formed blocks with integral ties. Plastic ties are built into foam, recessed 3/4" from outside which may make it harder for attaching drywall and siding. Often available at Home Depot stores. URL:

LITEFORM—Foam form pieces for assembly or already assembled. Pieces are easier to ship and store but construction takes longer. You can buy wholesale direct from the factory and possibly save money. Headquarters at 1210 Steuben St., Sioux City, IA 51105. Tel: (712) 252-3704 or (800) 551-3313. URL:

QUAD-LOCK—Foam forms for assembly. They also have insulated decking for floors and ceilings. Quad-Lock Building Systems Ltd. 7398 132nd Street Surrey, B.C. V3W 4M7 Canada. Tel: (888) 711-LOCK or (604) 590-3111. URL:

Construction: Exterior Insulated Finish Systems (EIFS)

GENERAL INFORMATION—This exterior finish system consists of synthetic stucco applied over insulation board, which is then installed over sheathing. These systems have been particularly used in commercial applications. There are many EIFS manufacturers and distributors including: senergy, surewall, finestone, sto corp. Several years ago EIFS systems received bad press from homeowners complaining that these systems were falling apart. Moisture had penetrated the wall and the sheathing and structural members were rotting. Modern systems now allow moisture that gets behind the stucco to drain harmlessly to the outside.

DRYVIT—Provider for stucco and concrete products with distributors around the country. Dryvit Systems, Inc. One Energy Way, P.O. Box 1014 West Warwick, RI 02893. Tel: (800) 556-7752. URL:

PLEKO—Dryvit alternative with cheaper prices. URL:

Construction: Fire Retardant Finishes

RETARDANT SPRAYS—The following three manufacturers produce a fire-retardant spray for shingles, wood siding and almost everything else including cardboard. Water-based, non-toxic.



FLAME SEAL PRODUCTS INC.—15200 West Drive, Houston, Texas, 77053. Tel: (713) 668 4291. URL:

GEOBOND—Invented by Patricia Billings, this cement additive produces a fireproof cement or plaster that is vastly superior to type XX sheetrock (which merely sloughs off during a fire). It comes in panels as well as a stucco-like exterior coating and can be used in combination with many other materials. URL: (website and phone numbers inactive). Truly an amazing family of products, but it looks like it was not a commercial success and may not be available now.

REFLECTIX—One of the latest innovations is bubble poly blankets with foil on front and back. It is great for molding into window jambs, stapling to attic rafters or to cover existing attic insulation to reflect summer heat out and winter heat in. Several brands besides this one are sold at home improvement stores and URL:

FIBER CEMENT PRODUCTS—Building products made unburnable by adding cement. They also stop moisture and are bug proof. Products come in a variety of forms and board shapes including roofing, siding and trim. It is almost as easy to cut and use as wood. We have found the following product suppliers useful when cladding homes in areas of potential fire dangers. Most roofing and siding require an underlayment to get the most fire-resistant rating (Class A).

PLYCEM—This is fiber cement mixed with recycled material which has higher densities than all other sheathings. P.O. Box 1893, Ventura, CA USA 93002. Tel: (800) 672-7872 URL:

HARDIE PRODUCTS—Non-combustible fiber cement siding and trim products. Mold and mildew resistent. URL:

MIRATEC—Trim from a composite with only a Class C fire Rating but with the same moisture and bug resistance as fiber cement. Ok for moderate fire danger. URL:

Construction: Insulation

MINERAL WOOL INSULATION—Sometimes called “rock wool” insulation. R-values per inch are better than fiberglass in batt form and the rigid board form is almost comparable to poly-iso sheets (R-4.5/inch compared to R-5 for poly-iso). More fire-resistant than fiberglass and does not offgas in heat like other synthetic materials particularly spray foam. Most available residential brand is Roxul. Available at some home improvement stores.

EPS---Extruded Polystyrene is the cheapest foam insulation board available (R-3.5 to 4.2 per inch). Some forms of this are water resistant and useful for below-grade applications. Available at all home improvement stores.

Construction: Log Homes

GENERAL INFORMATION—There are hundreds of log home kit companies. However, it has been my experience that log home suppliers in the eastern US are almost double the price of western log home suppliers. Call for price comparisons. It may be cheaper to ship log kits from the west than buy in the east.

TIMBERLINE LOG HOMES—This is the company we use as a reference for a fair price. Check your prices locally and then give the same specs to this company to see how they compare. We have shipped from Timberline to the East Coast before and saved money. 915 N. State St. Orem, UT 84058. Tel: (801) 226-8786. URL:

INTERNATIONAL HOMES OF CEDAR—These are laminated cedar homes. P.O. Box 886, Woodinville, WA 98072. Tel: (360) 668-8511 or (800) 767-7674. URL:

REAL LOG HOMES—Distributors in most states. Compare prices with other outfits. Tel: (800) 732-5564. URL:

LOG HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION—This organization helps instruct people how to build a log home as a Do-it-Yourself project and save significant costs by circumventing the kit builders. We have not attended their seminars but their building method seems sound, and many people have built a cabin with their help. They recommend whole logs with simple corner joints (butt and pass) and tying the posts together with rebar lengths to eliminate settling from wood shrinkage while resisting earthquake and wind forces. Some find this method less aesthetically pleasing than some of the designer cabins out there. See their website for classes, forums and further information. 14241 NE Woodinville-Duvall Rd #335, Woodinville, WA 98072. Tel: (360) 794-4469. URL:

Construction: Modular Homes

GENERAL INFORMATION—Modular homes can be a quick home solution. There are many options available today beyond rectangular, single-story homes. Also consider reusing steel shipping containers (insulated reefers) for quick, drop-in storage. List of modular home providers by state:

EXCEL HOMES—Probably the most advanced type of modular homes available. A great deal of customization is possible. Not your normal modular tract homes. 10642 S. Susquehanna Trail Liverpool, PA 17045. Tel: (800) 521-8599. URL:

STORAGE SHIPPING CONTAINERS—Also called “insulated reefers.” 20' storage containers cost $2 - 3,000 plus shipping. There are many outlets across the nation for these containers. Consider and ebay.

Construction: Steel Decking

GENERAL NOtes—Many brands of steel decking are available at local steel suppliers in most large cities. Deal locally to avoid shipping costs. When pouring a composite concrete over metal deck get decking with embossments to reduce reinforcing steel.

FormDeck—Comes 36 inches wide in a variety of lengths. 49 Cardiff St. Johnstown, PA 15907. Tel: (814) 536-8731. URL:

Metal Deck Direct—All kinds of metal deck. URL:

Metal Deck Supply—Tel: (800) 894-7741. URL:

STRUCTURAL INSULATED PANELS—See “Construction: Structural Insulated Panels.”

Construction: Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)

GENERAL NOTES—Factory-made wall systems that replace typical wood wall framing. Typical panels are sheets of insulation with plywood glued to both sides. EPS (extruded polystyrene) foam is cheaper than polyurethane but has a slightly lower R-value and has to be glued to OSB panels because of its corrosive nature.

R-CONTROL—Structural Building Panels for walls, floors and ceilings. AFM Corporation 24000 West Highway 7, P.O. Box 246 Excelsior, MN 55331. Tel: (800) 255-0176 or (612) 474-0809. URL:

RAYCORE—The most versatile system. Standard panels have studs in them so they can be cut to varied sizes. Panels have a polyurethane core and reflective foil. URL:

INSULSPAN—Pre-manufactured wall system with an EPS (extruded polystyrene system) core. URL:

THERMOCORE—Pre-manufactured system with polyurethane core. URL:

Construction: Stucco Systems

NOTE—Conventional stucco can be more moisture resistant and cheaper than other sidings

QUIKRETE® STUCCO SYSTEM—Fiberglass-Reinforced Stucco can reinforce a wall and acts as a drainage medium. Great siding system though usually applied with a conventional stucco topcoat. This system can be used for the concrete stack-block method. URL:

TIROLESSA STUCCO SPRAYER—Can be used for applying plaster and small scale shotcrete. Eugene, OR. Tel: (541) 683-4167 URL:

Construction: Underground Homes

GENERAL INFORMATION—All of the following companies have been in business over 20 years, so they know what they are doing.

FORMWORKS BUILDINGDesigners and installer of an underground system using concrete dome or tunnel type structures. P.O. Box 1509, Durango, CO 81302. Tel: (970) 247-2100. URL:

TERRA-DOMEUnderground or bermed buildings. They have tremendous experience in the field. 8908 S. Shrout Rd. Grain Valley, MO 64029. Tel: (800) 481-3663 URL:

DAVIS CAVES CONSTRUCTIONP.O. Box 69, Armington, IL 61721. Tel: (309) 392-2574. URL:

Construction: Dampproofing and Waterproofing

GENERAL Notes—Waterproofing can be a difficult task in underground situations. Many of the best products are applied on the outside of the foundation and are often only sold at contractor outlets. We still list some of those here. Your local home improvement store will also likely have several products not listed here.

CONCRETE ADMIXTURES—Concrete additives that react with water to make the concrete impervious—even fills in small cracks. Some products can be painted on afterwards to soak in. Check with your concrete supplier for the best product. Xypex is common:

Superseal—The ultimate sealing system around foundations with dimpled plastic sheeting, cloth, drains and paint. Fairly expensive. PO Box 61646, Brookswood RPO, Langley, BC, V3A 8C8 (Canada). Tel: (800) 571-1877. URL:

Tremproof 201/60—Ideal for waterproofing foundation walls. By Tremco Incorporated 3735 Green Rd., Beachwood, OH 44122 Tel: (216) 292-5000 or (800) 321-7906. URL:

Tuff-N-Dri H8—New asphalt emulsion product also by Tremco (see above) and is “good up to 8 feet of hydrostatic pressure.”

Bituthene—Heavy-duty waterproof membranes that can literally surround the outside of a basement (even under slabs and footings) to make it waterproof in a high water table area. Bituthene 3000 by W.R. Grace Co. Available at building and construction supply stores. See website for distributors:

For underground roofs—Apply 30 or 45 mil EPDM rubber pond liner material over polyurethane foam sprayed on insulation. Pond liners widely available at rural farm stores.

Watertite TPM—Cold applied, two-part liquid rubber for exterior application of foundation walls or rooftops. URL:

Bluemax—Roll on rubber coating. Best if applied to exterior or surface in contact with water (not inside of basement). URL:

Vulkem #350/351—Pedestrian Deck Coating System. Also a Tremco product (see Tremproof product above for contact info).

Polyurethane deck coatings—There are several brands including Sonoguard, Conipur or Polycoat. These systems have a basecoat and topcoat of color. Contractor distributors sell most of these products, for example:

Concrete Crack Repair

Most products use hydraulic cement which is too rigid. For a better job, fill the crack on the inside using a tough, but flexible professional-grade sealant. Several options including Sikaflex are usually available at most home improvement and hardware stores.


GENERAL INFORMATION—Cupolas are great for roof ventilation and architectural decoration that used to be common on top of traditional styled roofs and barns.

STEPHENSON CUPOLAS AND WEATHERVANES—Several Manufacturers including C. W. Ohio, Inc. Tel: (440) 593-5800. URL:

EDON FIBERGLASS CUPOLAS—Indestructible vents that never need maintenance. Tel: (800) 255-0176. URL:

DECKING—See “Steel Decking” or “Construction: Composite Plastic Decking.”

DOORS—See “Security: Steel Doors.”

ELECTRIC VEHICLES—See “Transportation: Electric Bike” and “Transportation: Electric Vehicle Conversions.”


LIFT-AVATOR—Elevators and lifts for residential homes. 435 Park Ave, Lockport, NY 14094. Tel: (716) 434-1300. URL:

NATION-WIDE LIFTS—Distributor for many of the most common residential elevators and stair lifts. Tel: (888) 323-8755. URL:

Filter Masks

Smoke Hoods—MyXcaper Smoke Mask is a thick face mask that comes moist out of a sealed pouch to better catch particles. Filters smoke, carbon dioxide and other gases ($39 for the mask, $58 for kit with goggle LED light and whistle). Hyline Safety Company, 421 Seventh Ave, 5th Fl., New York, NY 10001. Tel. (212) 688-5600. URL:

ASE30A—Smoke Hood with built-in filter. Bulky and more expensive ($76-$85) than Smoke Hood but is complete as a single unit. Available from multiple sources including

Paint Grade Respirators—These dual filter masks used by commercial painters are the least expensive way to get chemical and smoke protection—about $30-$40 from Home Depot or Lowes.

M95—Dust masks for keeping radioactive particles out of lungs after a nuclear disaster. Available from home improvement stores. Store in cars and in all 72-hour kits.

Note: Kaptair Exitair is no longer being produced although a few outlets still sell this product online.

Food Storage

General Notes: Best buys in food storage are in bulk dried grains: Wheat, rice, and beans. Due to the shipping weight of bulk foods for storage, it may be better to buy these items close to home. However many bulk wholesalers like Emergency Essentials have found a way to get very cheap shipping rates. You can buy large bags of beans and rice at wholesale warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Clubs nationwide. You can buy bulk wheat in many locations in the West, as indicated below.

In the Midwest few grain growers bag any wheat for consumers and almost everything grown now is GMO—genetically modified, which you should not eat. The best bet for people in the Midwest is to join together with a few other families and buy grain from an organic non-GMO grower. Load up your pickup truck with grain, and then package it yourself in plastic 6 gallon buckets. Many farmers in the Midwest and Canada have small grain cleaners that can take out the dust and other particles from field grain. Add a spoonful of diatomaceous earth per bucket of grain to kill any bugs.

Emergency Essentials—Good variety and fairly competitive prices on food goods and preparedness items of all kinds. Maximum shipping charge is $12 no matter how large the order. Order online or via catalog. Tel: (800) 999-1863 URL:

Alpine Food Storage—Small outfit in Utah that can ship within the US. Best prices on the most important storage food items but focuses on those that are healthy and for everyday use. 11800 North 6000 West, Highland, UT 84003. Tel: (801) 319-9111. URL:

Shelf Reliance—Competitive Utah-based full-service preparedness products. 810 North 2800 West Lindon, Utah 84042. Tel: (877) 743-5373. URL: They also have a Canadian outlet. Email: (info [at] incaseof [dot] ca)

Provident Living—Excellent online shopping for some of the best prices on all the basics of storage foods. They also sell 72 hour kits and specialty preparedness equipment. 729 W 350 S, Orem, UT 84058. Tel: (800) 723-0635. URL:

Nitro-Pak—Carries a full line of survival foods and products. 375 W 910 S, Heber City, UT 84032. Tel: (800) 866-4876. URL:

Walton Feed—A full service chemical-free supply outlet that has all types of survival foods and equipment. Very reputable. 135 North 10th (PO Box 307), Montpelier, ID 83254. Tel: (800) 847-0465. URL:

Montana Chemical Free Wheat—Certified organic wheat, grains and other products. URL:

Lehi Roller Mills—Triple-cleaned hard or soft wheat. Reasonable prices. 833 E. Main St., Lehi, UT 84043. Tel: (801) 768-4401. URL:

Moisture and Oxygen Absorbers—Preservative aid for dry packing.  Oxygen absorbing packets available at most dry goods retailers including Provident Living (above). URL:

Storage Buckets—Ropak West, Tel: (800) 547-2347. Also available from Emergency Essentials or Alpine Food Storage (see above).

DIATOMACEOUS EARTH—Stock up on food grad DE for sprinkling over your stored grains as you put them in buckets to stop bugs from eating it while in storage. There are many other uses for internal use, care of animals and general insect control, so get the 50 lb bag (yes, it is the same food grade product as the smaller portions in fancy packages).

JARBOX—Mason jar storage bins. This innovative product is a clamshell-like plastic box that stores 12 jars with enough space between them they will not bump and break during travel, an earthquake or even when dropped while carrying. Multiple bins lock together for easy, sturdy stacking. $16 per set. Available direct from the inventor. URL:

Fuel Storage

Kerosene — Ideal for lamps or stoves because it stores well. Note: do not add alcohol to make it burn hotter.

Stabil—Gasoline stabilizer found at Pep Boys and other auto parts stores.

PRI—PRI-D (for diesel) and PRI G (gasoline)—These are the best stabilizers for stored fuels but also the most expensive. This additive can keep diesel fuel, kerosene and gasoline fresh in storage, but you must keep gasoline tightly capped and cool to keep it from losing vapor. Gasoline stored over 2 years, even with PRI-G should be mixed with fresh before using. Available from many distributors including

Octane Booster—Gives much better mileage on cars where timing is computer controlled (most modern cars) to create maximum compression just short of knocking. It can be found at auto parts stores but is cheapest at Wal-Mart. This additive also helps rejuvenate old gasoline (although you should always mix old with new if available), so keep several bottles near fuel storage. Also keep fuel injector cleaners on hand to eliminate residues from old fuel.

Diesel Biocide—Racor or Biobor JF brands. When condensation forms in part-full tanks the water drips into the diesel and settles to the bottom eventually accumulating enough to growing algae and other solid organic matter in the water. These products are a kind of pesticide or chemical treatment to kill or reduce these organisms. Available at marine supply and most automotive stores.

Fuel Tanks—Available in all major cities. See Yellow Pages or check with local petroleum distributors.

Fuel Pumps—Available from online stores such as Northern Tool (

Foot Valves—Used at the bottom of a suction line. These are available at petroleum equipment dealers or at large plumbing outlets. Here are some sample brands of foot valves: Simmons, Merrill, Wayne, Flotec and Brady (plastic).

GATES—See “Security: Gate Openers”

Generators: General Notes

General Notes—Because of shipping weight, the heavier generators are sometimes best purchased from local generator dealers (see Yellow Pages). However, always compare price with one of the major mail-order generator supply houses. W.W. Grainger and Northern Tool will supply a wide variety of the cheaper or discontinued generator lines. Also, has most units mentioned here. For the best prices on the high quality units compare to Norwall Power Systems (see below).

Norwall Power Systems—These people ship all over the world and are experts - very good prices, too. They don’t sell any junk, and service all major brands (so they know which ones are best for maintenance). 2455 Kiowa Blvd North, Suite# 102, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403. Tel: (928) 453-4494. URL:

Central Maine Diesel—For larger generators (7kW and up) this is the source we use for diesel generators, which we prefer for most circumstances. Prices are reasonable, but they are very busy and lead times and delays can be long. 29 Carey Circle, Hampden, ME 04444. Tel: (207) 941-1188. URL:

Generators: Small & Portable (up to 2kW)

Mini Portable Units—Small, suitcase-size generators are available that produce less than 2000 watts, are super quiet and very fuel-efficient:

Honeywell 6064—800W generator for about $350. Cheap, light, economical. Noisier and less reliable than brands below.

Yamaha EF1000—It is only 1kW but it is very fuel efficient and quiet and runs all day on a gallon of gas. Costs double the Generac brand (see below).

Honda EU1000i—900W high tech wonder from Honda, but it is also the most costly for its size. The special inverter gives excellent sine wave power but may be a high tech problem to maintain.

Generators: Medium size (up to 7kW)

Notes—There are two classes of generators here: the cheap group with flat-head, side valve, lawn mower type engines, and the more expensive group with longer life overhead cam and valve engines. Here are the most notable brands from the best and most expensive to the lower quality and economical.

Honda Deluxe Series—Honda is one of those companies with a high quality line and a medium quality line. The deluxe models usually have added features.

Generac EXL Series—Generac also has a high and low line. The XL or EXL lines have the pressurized oil system “vanguard” engine or the Honda engine.

Kubota AV Series—Excellent machines (Kubota always builds nice engines). See also Kubota Gensets Model GL6500—6.5kW about $4,500 from Kubota Tractor Dealers.

Generac and Winco—Are cheaper brands.

Generators: Transfer Switches

Manual and Auto Transfer Switches—Most generator manufacturers offer a wide variety of these transfer switches. Abraham Solar is expert at these. Also available from generator distributors like these: and

Generators: Mufflers

Harco Silencing Mufflers—Three levels: Extreme, Critical and Super Critical (attenuates down to nearly silent). They also have similar levels in a “low profile” unit for small, tight locations but these cost about 25-30% more. All these mufflers are state-of-the-art silencers and are very reasonably priced. You can afford to stack two mufflers together if near a living space. 1000 Industrial Parkway, Newberg, OR 97132. Tel: (503) 537-0600 or (800) 394-7571. URL:

Generators: Hand Crank

K-TOR Pocket Socket—This is a compact hand-crank generator ($75) that supplies 110 volt power for a 2-prong outlet. Good for low-power items like shortwave radios but requires significant effort to charge thirsty electronics like iPads and laptops.

Eton Boost Turbine—Hand-crank generator with integrated battery for charging electronics via USB cable. Available from online distributors and

Solar rechargeable batteries—Are another option for small flashlights, etc. ($150 and up). Available via or through most emergency supply stores.


CONLEY'S MFG.—Commercial greenhouse manufacturer. Will send components to you as well as twinwall glazing at wholesale rates. 4344 E. Mission Blvd., Montclair, CA 91763 Tel: (909) 627-0981 URL:

NATIONAL GREENHOUSE—A division of Nexus Corporation. Nexus is a commercial greenhouse manufacturer who has created the National Greenhouse division to focus specifically on low-cost residential greenhouse solutions. 10983 Leroy Drive Northglenn, CO 80233 Tel: (303) 457-9199 URL:

Greenhouse: Components

MAX/MIN THERMOMETERS—There are several non-electric options but the liquid-based thermometers are very unreliable. Look for bi-metal dial thermometers with maximum and minimum indicators for monitoring the peaks and lows of places like greenhouses, rootcellars, food storage rooms, fridge, freezers, ovens and outdoors between (manual) resets. Very useful. The Durac thermometer ($23) has a good range (-20 to 140 F) but its plastic housing feels cheap. The Brannan Thermometer has a better feel and boasts a humidity sensor but Fahrenheit shows up small on the dial.

PLASTIC COVERS—Cheapest way to enclose a greenhouse is with 6mil polyethylene greenhouse film. Look for that manufactured in North America such as by AT Plastics. Available at greenhouse supply warehouses such as

ALLIED TUBE & CONDUIT—Aluminum square tubing, round tubing etc. See also warehouse supplies available at steel/metal distributors in all major cities. 16100 S. Lathrop Ave. Harvey, IL 60426 Tel: (800) 882-5543 URL:

See also listings under "Solar: Greenhouse Vent Openers"

Lamps: Oil and Kerosene

Kerosene Lamp—Rapid Kerosene Pressure Lamp uses hand-pressurized fuel and a mantle to generate 500 lumens (300 watt light bulb). Burns 10 hours from one-third gallon kerosene (one filling). About $100. Get extra mantles and parts when ordering. URL:

PETROMAX—Multi-Fuel Lantern $120 from Homestead Supply. This German beauty is the Cadillac of lanterns. Burns all liquid fuels, nickel finish, very classy. Puts out tremendous light. See:

Dietz Wick-Oil Lamp—The best of the old fashioned wick/oil lamps - beautiful and inexpensive ($20). Available from old fashioned products stores and Lehman’s (

Humphrey Propane Lamps—The oldest and best company and from Lehman’s (see above).

Lighting: Backup and 12v

Thinlite Corp.—We recommend these 12 volt fluorescent lights for the most lumens-per-dollar: 36” long (item #197) or the 48” long unit (item #139) are practical. For 24 volt systems use model numbers #297 or #239, respectively for same cost (about $65). Available via Abraham Solar or RV supply stores such as and

Dome Lights—We like the round 18 LED surface mounted lights with built-in switch (12 volt). Available at most boat and RV suppliers such as this one:

Note: GE brand compact fluorescents run better off an inverter than other brands.

Sunpipes—Skylights. 1,500 watts of free, fresh light as easy to install as a stovepipe. Hollow, super-reflective pipe runs from your roof down to a translucent ceiling fixture that spreads the light down. Less expensive and easier to install than typical skylights. Doesn’t build up unwanted summer heat, create condensation, allow sun-fading or leak.

Lite Touch—One of the premier computer/iPad-controlled lighting systems (now owned by Savant). Great for activating lights and shutter systems remotely—or anything electrical. There are dozens of other less expensive automation controls out there, too numerous to list. Tel: (801) 268-8668. URL:

COAST RECHARGEABLE FLASHLIGHTS—Look for powerful (300 lumen or more) flashlights that work on standard alkaline or the included rechargeable batteries. These recharge on AC or DC via mini USB making it valuable to recharge with a backpack solar array.

LOG HOMES—See “Construction: Log Homes”

MODULAR HOMES—See “Construction: Modular Homes”

Nuclear Preparedness: EMP Protectors

Waber Power Strips—Good quality EMP surge protection (clamping speeds of less than 1 nanosec). Also produces whole house protectors. Available through electronic wholesalers and distributors. SL Waber 520 Fellowship Road, Suite 306C, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054. Tel: (609) 866-8888. URL:

Zero Surge — The newest instantaneous clamping technology. Use for all your valuable plug-in products and computers. ZeroSurge 944 State Route 12, Frenchtown, NJ 08825 Tel: (800) 996-6696. Email: (sales [at] zerosurge [dot] com) URL:

APC by Schneider—Whole house and powerstrip arrestors. 1 nanosecond response time. Available through online retailers such as Allied Electronics,

Tripp Lite—IsoBar models. Powerstrip arrestors with less than 1 nanosecond response time. $60 for two outlet version, $100 for eight outlet powerstrip. Also available at Allied Electronics (see above).

Alpha Delta Communications—Coax lightning arrestors, coax switches with surge protectors. P.O. Box 620, Manchester, KY 40962. Tel: (606) 598-2029. URL:

Ameritron - Remote coax switches, inrush AC current protector. Louisville Road Starkville, MS 39759 Tel. (601) 323-8211 URL:

SCHNEIDER – HEPD (Home Electronics Protection Device) is a whole house surge protection box for installation at the electrical panel. Less than 1 nanosecond response time. Sold under Square D brand. Available at Home Depot ($100 - $200)

I.C.E.—Industrial Communication Engineers. In-line lightning arrestors suitable for EMP. Designed for antenna and coax leads. P.O. Box 18495, Indianapolis, IN 46218 Tel: (317) 545-5412. URL:

Transtector—Top of the line military grade EMP protection equipment that can provide shunt protection for incoming power lines. Prime source for all US government, so their equipment is very capable. Boise, ID. Tel: (877) 532-9423. URL:

Grounding Straps—The Wireman stocks copper wire up to #4 AWG, 2-inch flat copper strap, 8-foot copper-clad ground rod and 1”x1/4” bus bar. Certified Quality. 261 Pittman Rd., Landrum, SC 29356. Tel. (800) 727-9473. URL:

Nuclear Preparedness: Radiation Meters

Victoreen 717—Surplus survey meters. Range 0-500 rems/hr (highest range available), comes with detachable ion chamber so you don’t have to buy a separate probe to take measurements outside the shelter. Uses one D-Cell battery. Simple, low tech, reliable. These are not in production anymore but can be bought unused in new condition. Most have not been calibrated since their original production, but they are usually only off by 10-20% at the most, which is not critical for the high dose measurements you would make in a nuclear war. KI4U website: URL:

Calibration Note—Meters can be recalibrated if necessary by sending them to or contact Ed Manughian at Jordan Nuclear, 3244 Arroyo Seco Ave, L.A. CA 90065. Call for rates: (323) 222-8141.

Nukalert—Small keychain unit chirps in the presence of radiation. We like the prices and ease of use of the distributor in CA. URL:

Dosimeter Corporation—Produces top of the line quality radiation meters. Recommend model 3009a with range of 0-100 rems/hr.

Kelly Fallout Meter (KFM)—This kit meter is available for under $20 from Emergency Essentials ( or the plans are free from KI4U (

Nuclear Preparedness: Thyroid Protection

Transformative Iodine—This nascent, bio-available form of iodine is easier for the body to uptake without getting iodine poisoning. Can be taken as a daily supplement too. Available from Sunstone formulas, URL: or “Detoxidine” from

Potassium Iodide or Iodate tablets—Take after any nuclear incident to saturate the body with stable iodine and avoid thyroid contamination by uptake of radioactive iodine. Available from most preparedness stores and from

Plumbing: Gray Water

Simple Gray Water Systems—Ideas for building one from common plumbing materials can be seen here:

Natural Home Building Source—Sells a tank with a filter and options such as a pump. Their website has many common-sense recommendations about gray water use. 0186 County Road 1400, Silverthorne, CO 80498. URL:

Plumbing: Toilets

Biolet—Mini-composting toilet. Finally a composter about the size of a regular toilet. Look for the BTS 33 for a non-electric model. Tel: (800) 524-6538. URL:

Sun Frost—“Human Hummus Machine.” One of the most economical composting toilets around. Purchase these kits for converting two 55 gallon drums—one for use and the other to store material as it composts. Low watt fan requires DC or AC. P.O. Box 1101, Arcata, CA 95518 Tel: (707) 822-9095 URL:

Clivus Multrum—Special toilets as part of a large tank system. Will compost continuous use for multiple people and also kitchen waste. Large tank system must be sited in a basement area.

Sun-Mar—Look for self-contained units that are moderately sized for placement in bathroom. Non-electric, AC or DC and automatic controls depending on unit. From $1,200-1,800 depending on options. Many online retailers such as

Chemical Toilets—($20-50) available at camping and RV stores.

Marine Toilets—Our preferred manual toilet system for shelters. These toilets have a manual pump that will pump waste up a 1-1/2” pipe as high as 6 feet allowing use in basement shelter systems where one must connect to existing plumbing drains at ceiling height. JABSCO brand, order model #29120-2000 for the larger, elongated bowl. Available at yacht and marine supply stores or

Porta-John Systems—Dry Flush Toilet. 50633 Ryan Road, Utica, Michigan 48317. Tel: (888) 767-8256. Several retailers online.

Toilet Distributor—This site compares several composting and non-electric toilets next to each other:

Plumbing: Misc.

Biodegradable Detergents—Required if you reuse gray water so as not to damage plants. Look for “camp soap” products or natural products from websites such as:

Grundfos—Variable speed 3 inch submersible pump. URL: shows distributors.

PEX—Flexible plastic piping. There is no better plumbing system for the do-it-yourself plumber than flexible plastic pipe systems. Easy to install and freeze resistant since it will expand rather than split or break. There are a variety of clamping ring connectors or slip-on, non-clamping connectors on the market. Available at all plumbing supply stores.

Radios: Suppliers

Amateur Electronic Supply (AES)—Largest mail-order supplier of ham radios and antennas. 5710 W. Good Hope Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53223. Tel: (800) 558-0411. URL:

Ham Radio Outlet—Major competitor to AES, with more stores around the country. 390 Diablo Rd., Suite 210, Danville, CA 94526. Tel (Corporate Sales): (800) 444-4799. URL:

Universal Radios—Old standard in radio sales. 6830 Americana Parkway, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068 Tel: (800) 431-3939. URL:

Radio Shack—Nationwide electronics parts, radios, telephones and security systems. Scanners and CB radios but no ham radio equipment. Tel: (800) 843-7422. URL:

Radios: Transceivers

High Frequency Transceivers—Ham radios that transmit and receive in a compact and portable design. Requires a ham radio license which is not hard to get. The four major manufacturers of ham radios are Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood, and Standard—all of which put out extremely high quality products. Radios have a similar range. If you aren’t going to get deep into ham radio (which requires a lot of study and time), choose an HF transceiver that has the minimum features plus a built-in antenna tuner. These will cost between $1,200-$2,000. Don’t go for the top of the line models as they are very complex and hard to remember how to use.

Desktop Ham Radios—Powerful units for sending and receiving. Larger panels with knobs make them somewhat easier to use than handheld models below.

Handheld Portable UHF, VHF Radios—Portable base station units. Lots of options depending on the model including units capable of dual band and acting as a repeater. Keep it simple for beginners. Folks at HRO are very friendly and helpful.

Radios: Antennas and Towers

Rohn Towers—Mostly radio towers but also copper strap and tower grounding products. Rohn products available through Amateur Electronic Supply or Ham Radio Outlet (see above). P.O. Box 2000, Peoria, IL 61656. Tel: (309) 697-5612. URL:

Car Mount Antenna—There are several whip-type antennas available, including some with magnetic mounts for the car top. Store in trunk when not in use.

Base Station Antenna—This is your fixed antenna at home or retreat. Make sure it will match the bands and power ratings for the desktop radio you are using.

CB Antennas—Flexible antennas of various lengths. See Radio Shack catalog.

SWL Antenna—Short wave antenna for your world band portable. Available from Ham Radio Outlet.

Cell Phone Antenna Booster—Cellular phone signal boosters. Many brands and options. Stronger signal boosting capabilities cost correspondingly more, but most are between $100 and $300. Available from electronics outlets such as Radio Shack (Tel: 800 843-7422)

Radios: Scanners

General Notes—Listen to radio chatter from Police, EMT and other public safety departments as well as aviation, marine and utility radio transmissions. In big metropolitan areas police and city radio transmission keep getting more complex with computer controlled channel swapping to maximize their bandwidth. Scanners have kept pace except for some localized systems in big cities and encrypted government transmissions. Many counties now use trunking and digital scanners which require a more sophisticated (and expensive) scanner. We found the FAQ page at Scanner Master to be helpful ( and their prices on new products are usually competitive. See also Ham Radio Outlet (

Pre-programmed units—These are easy to use, just input your location. Subscription-free updates of frequencies using USB cable or SD card keep your unit tracking the frequencies around you.

Uniden HomePatrol—A very popular and capable preprogrammed unit that also receives digital trunked systems ($500).

Desktop units—Consider Uniden Bearcat models and comparable GRE or Radio Shack units.

Antennas for Scanners—Home base station: Diamond D130J. Car-mount: Spectrumforce Wideband ($20) or Austin Spectra ($120) for tuned 4-band. Available from most radio shops.

Radios: CB and Walkie-Talkies

Family Radio Service (FRS)—No license required, 1-2 mile, 0.5 watt powered. These are the cheapest alternatives to ham radio for short distance communication. Like a walkie talkie, only higher quality. Available at electronic and large department stores.

CB radios—40 Channels, no license required. 4 watts maximum power, though many transmit at higher powers illegally. Most CB radios cost less than $100. Available at all radio stores including Radio Shack.

Radios: Shortwave

Shortwave Radio—Receive news and stations from all over the world. Critical in an emergency. Common bands include AM, FM, Aircraft Band (118-137 MHz) and Shortwave (1.6-30 MHz). Some units will even receive some Ham Radio transmissions.

Eton Globe Traveler ($100) and TECSUN PL660 ($160)—Intermediate brands that also offer aviation bands (communications between and for aircraft).

Sony ICF-SW7600G—Best buy of the medium-sized, fully capable receivers ($300).

ETON (Grundig) Satellite 750—Excellent desktop unit for serious shortwave reception. SSB reception for eliminating interference. AM, FM, Aircraft Band and Shortwave. About $275.

Sony ICF-SW100s—The ultimate in miniature-sized world band receiver (size of cassette). Available second-hand ($200) from online retailers like Amazon or eBay.

Hand-crank—And/or solar powered shortwave (SW) radios. Although there are many reliable hand-crank radios that receive AM, FM and Weather well, we have yet to find one with even decent shortwave reception. The Kaito KA009 ($40) is no exception (unfortunately) but we like that it receives AM, FM, shortwave (4-26 Mhz), and aviation (118-137 Mhz). Also Consider the Eton (Grundig) FR350 ($150) or Kaito Voyager Pro ($80). The hand cranks are reportedly unreliable, so consider solar battery charger and a mini external generator (see “Generators: for Small Electronics”).

Seeds: Non-Hybrid

Non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds—Sealed in moisture-proof packets and stored in #10 cans. 4-5 year shelf life. Much longer if refrigerated or frozen. Available from the following sources:

Preparedness Seeds—URL:

Territorial Seed Company—P.O. Box 27, Lorane, OR 97451. Tel: 541-942-9547. URL:

Harris Seeds—Tel: (800) 514-4441. URL:

Heirloom Seeds—URL:

Jankala Organic Seed—

Pre-packaged “Seed Vaults”—Available through preparedness wholesalers like Emergency Essentials and Alpine Food Storage (

Security: Gate Openers

NOTE—We prefer the technology that uses hydraulic actuators instead of gear motors for strength and longevity.

STANLEY—Full range of residential and commercial gates and opening types (available nationwide) call 1-800-STANLEY for distributor info.

MIGHTY-MULE—DC and solar power gate opener systems. 738 Capital Circle NW, Tallahassee, Fl. 32304. Tel: (800) 543-4283. URL:

Security: Steel Security Doors

Amweld series 1544—Bullet resistant to Level III (high powered handguns) about $1,500 including high security locks. Available through architectural door suppliers such as and

Trussbilt—Level III and level IV (good for up to 7.62 high velocity military round) ballistic protection available. Trussbilt’s detention hollow metal products are used in prisons, jails, juvenile facilities and detention centers worldwide. URL:

ESCO Supply Co.—Armored steel plate. Custom order for your door size. Thickness is 3/8” (actually 5/16”) tempered steel for level IV protection. Order from ESCO Supply in Phoenix, AZ. Tel: (800) 528-4021 or local (602) 252-8061. Attach this plate to a 14 guage steel door such as provided by Deansteel (see below).

DeanSteel Door—Only steel reinforced door with metal strips attaching front and back face panels making it suitable for gravel fill. To make a bulletproof door for all normal handgun loads fill the inside of a 14 gauge B-series door with pea gravel. Order it with two deadbolts at 1/3 and 2/3 of the height for the least expensive secure door for a shelter. Specify no insulation—and don’t mention gravel fill. San Antonio, Texas. Tel: (210) 226-8271. URL:

STEELCRAFT – Steel security doors. This company makes heavy gauge production doors including 14 gauge steel thickness for both doors and frames which are bullet-resistant to some small .22 or 25 caliber arms. See Deansteel doors above for gravel fill. SteelCraft 9017 Blue Ash Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242. Tel: (513) 745-6400 or (800) 243-9780 URL:

Total Door—“Secure Sentry” is a hurricane rated door. 6145 Delfield Drive, Waterford, MI 48329. Tel: (800) 852-6660. URL:

SPECIALTY METAL HATCH DOORS—The biggest and best company to supply all types of specialty hatch doors (roof, floor and wall hatches) is Bilco door. Long known for their sloping basement/tornado shelter doors. The Bilco Company, P.O. Box 1203, New Haven, Connecticut 06505 Tel: (203) 934-6363. URL:

Security: Bullet-Proof Armor, Panels and Fabric

ALPINE ARMORING INC.—Armored SUVs, sedans and trucks. 503 Carlisle Drive, Herndon, Virginia 20170 Tel: (703) 471-0002 or (800) 992-7667. URL:

BULLDOG DIRECT—Kevlar fiber building panels for protecting walls. A do-it-yourself source. Also sells armored vehicle kits for level IIIA hand gun protection from: 9 mm, .357 mag., .44 mag., and higher. Each armor kit comes with installation instructions. P.O. Box 8561, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A., 45208-8561 Tel: (513) 281-6700 URL:

Armorco—Everything for bullet-proofing from fabric to helmets. URL:

Kevlar Reinforcing—4x8 Kevlar and fiber-reinforced panels for home installation. Use webbing to create an earthquake or tornado-proof room or closet in the home. Nail special Kevlar webbing crosswise (X-pattern) around home or walls to make powerfully rigid shear walls. Also binds home down to foundation. Tape is 3” wide in 100 foot rolls and about the thickness of a nickel. Very strong stuff. URL:

BULLETPROOFME.COM—(Nick Taylor) Brand-name bullet proof vests and body armor accessories at discounted prices. Very reliable source you can trust. URL:

Security: Vault Doors

Liberty Safe Co.—Strongest vault doors available for self-installation ($6,000). Springville, UT. Tel: (801) 489 8550. URL:

Fort Knox Co.—Same vault door quality as Liberty, slightly different options. Taller rough-in opening requirement—see discussion in Chapter 3. 993 North Industrial Park Road, Orem, UT 84057. Tel: (800) 821-5216. URL:

Homeland Security Safe—For cheaper, less-beefy alternatives ($2,000) for a vault door get the “Economy” or “Elite” vault doors from this manufacturer.

AMSEC—Lightweight vault door. Model VD8030 ($4,500). Rough-in opening: 77-1/2” H x 26-1/2”W Weight: 550 lbs. American Security Products Co. 11925 Pacific Avenue Fontana, CA 92337. Tel: (800) 421-6142. URL:

Security: Door Hardware

SWINGING SHELFS—CS Hardware has complete kits or individual components including concealed hinges. Competitive prices. Tel: (800) 882-0009. URL:

Electric Door Strikes—Von Duprin Company, Strike Force electric latches. URL:

Bronze Pivot Bearings—For concealed pivoting cabinet (about $3 for a set of two). All major cities have bearing specialty shops. Check the phone book. Ask for oil-impregnated brass or bronze bushings.

Door Club—Simple reinforcement for the bottom of the door. Available from locksmiths and online retailers like

Security: High Security Locks

Medeco—Has special pins and key that rotates the lock tumbler pins to prevent picking. URL: (Available at locksmiths everywhere).

Assa 6000—Pick-proof, double-keyed, drill resistant dead bolt (at locksmiths nationwide).

Security: Safes

Liberty Safe Co.—Builds many safes including gun safes and vault doors for home installation (also builds National and Remington brand safes). See contact info above.

Fort Knox Safe Co.—Gun safes and vault doors. Owned by Liberty Safe. See above.

Floor Safes—Hayman Safes (, Adesco Floor Safes (, Value Safes (

Security: Shutters

ALL SEASON ROLLING SHUTTERS—These people have the best product on the market now. URL:

Roll-A-Way—Full line of hurricane shutters, including rolling or accordion shutters in Aluminum, PVC, or clear Lexan. 1661 Glenlake Avenue, Itasca, Illinois 60143. Tel: (866) 749-5424. URL:

Rolsafe—Hurricane protection. 12801 Commonwealth Dr. Suite 7, Fort Myers, FL 33913. Tel: (239) 694-5400. URL:

Rolladen—Top of the line, most expensive system, aluminum, PVC rolling shutters. Rolladen also produces working colonial security shutters. Tel: (800) 748-8837. URL:

Security Systems

GE SECURITY SYSTEMS—Self-install systems available with wireless or hardwired connections. URL:

HONEYWELL—Used to be APEX (hardwired) Advantage has the latest in voice prompting technology (voice tells you where intrusion is). It also has numerous control features included which allow you to control lights and equipment automatically. URL:

ADT PRO—Custom hardwired or wireless systems. ADT is the largest national chain of alarm systems. The ProCustom system has most of the features that the Honeywell/Apex system has, including voice annunciation and being able to check the whole house from any master keypad. Tel: (800) 238-3009. URL: Check out the entire listing and description of all the different types of security devices you can order.

Security System Components and Misc.

SECURITY BASE—This website has many security components from security cameras to stun guns. URL:

INTERCOMS with Cameras – Nutone, inc. Get their top of the line unit, with remote listen in, plus up to 10 cameras.

VEHICLE ALARM SYSTEM - Mobile Alert Vehicle Security System from Radio Shack. Also consider Optima II (monitors vehicle electric system for any turn on, or motion ) from a variety of online sources. For example:

HIDDEN VIDEO CAMERAS - Security Base (see above) has the widest selection of covert video cameras.

VIDEO MOTION DETECTION—There are many options for security system monitoring via cameras, including DVR recording linked to multiple cameras including with night vision options. See Radio Shack, and

MICROWAVE FENCE AND PERIMETER DETECTION—Southwest Microwave’s Intrepid system uses coax cable and sensors to detect any vibration (3 yards accuracy) on fence from climbing. Their Micronet system is even more accurate and displays intrusions onto a computer screen with a map of your property layout. 9055 South McKemy Street, Tempe, AZ 85284. Tel: (480) 783-0201. URL:

SURVEILLANCE AND ANTI-SURVELLANCE EQUIPMENT—Electromax International has a full range of high-tech equipment available for surveillance and counter-surveillance. 11140 Westheimer, #276, Houston, Texas 77042. Tel: (281) 531-7437. URL:

DRIVEWAY MONITORS - DWA-3 Suitable for burying beside driveway - so you won't have to dig up asphalt or concrete drive. ($200) URL:

STRESS FLOOR DETECTORS—Stress sensors detect walking on flooring, roofs, decks or on boats for marine security by Sure Action. URL:

GPS VEHICLE LOCATORS - To protect against auto theft or carjacking and kidnapping in your own vehicle. Small transmitter is hidden in vehicle which allows a GPS signal to alert a North American tracking company of the vehicle location.

AERTRAX VEHICLE LOCATOR—Address: AerComTec International, 1359 Silver Bluff Rd., Suite G-5, Aiken, South Carolina 29803 Tel: (803) 649-2900. Available from many sites online: Sample:

ROOM FOGGER—Smoke Cloak fogs the room in seconds with a dense, non-toxic glycerin-based fog that dissipates with no residue. This is an excellent passive defense against mobs or vandals entering the home. Smokecloak Ltd., 10 Cochran Close, Crownhill, Milton Keynes, MK8 0AJ, ENGLAND Tel: 44 (0) 1908 567007 URL: Other options: FLASHFOG; Tel: (888) 282-7740.

Shelter Systems and Plans

Oldcastle Precast—Custom pre-cast waterproof concrete tanks. These can be modified and even combined to make economical sealed, drop-in-the-ground shelter systems. They have local manufacturers in several states. Oldcastle Products, 2820 A Street, SE Auburn, WA 98071. Tel: (253) 833-2777 or (888) 232-6274. URL:

Culvert Pipes—8 foot diameter steel culvert pipes can be used for an economical underground fallout shelter. Bury at least 5 feet underground. About $10k for the basic structure.

Utah Shelter Systems—Galvanized metal pipe system buried deep. Comprehensive shelter units, built to suit. Uses the Swiss Andair (LUWA) NBC filters (See notes on this under Air Filtration). P.O. Box 638,-Heber, Ut 84032. Tel: (801) 942-5638. URL:

Storm Chaser Shelters—Small shelters for storms. 1200 Lawson Road, Fort Worth, TX 76131 Tel: (817) 847-9000. URL:

Homeland Civil Defense—Civil Defense and nuclear preparation info including do-it-yourself plans for tank type shelters. 2251 Dick George Road, Cave Junction, Oregon 97523. Tel: (541) 592-4142. URL:

Safecastle—Lots of options with these shelters. Fairly expensive. URL:

Survival Center—Submarine-style buried tanks. Note: the air filter should be outside the shelter.

American Bomb Shelter—Do-it-yourself kit or individual parts. URL:

Radius—Pre-manufactured and installed shelters. Sleek but expensive. URL:

Solar Resources and Gurus

Abraham Solar—Mick Abraham really knows all things alternate energy, from solar and hydro to batteries and inverters. He is our best consultant on these topics. Mick is particularly helpful if you are doing anything yourself. He is a friendly consultant, a dealer for finding the best price on equipment and an expert at partially or completely assembling components for easy install. Address: 124 Creekside Place, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Tel: (970) 731-4675 or (800) 222-7242. URL:

Online Advice—Many of these websites have good advice about choosing solar panels and batteries, including:, or The website has good products but only sells to licensed solar distributors so work through Mick (see above).

Do-It-Yourself Energy Systems—Gary Reysa maintains a great website resource for alternate energy enthusiasts. Nothing sold on this site just helpful tips and lists of sources and materials. URL:

Solar: Photovoltaic Panels

Solar Panel Brands—Solar panels are cheaper than ever partly due to Chinese companies producing cheap panels that are fast approaching top tier in reliability. We would still rather buy from non-communist countries but that line has become muddied as more product lines have some parts from China. An important factor in choosing panels is often space—available square footage facing the sun. Sanyo panels have some of the best watt per sq. foot units. Abraham Solar is very good at finding the most cost-effective type and number of panels for your needs (see “Solar Resources and Gurus” above).

Suntech and Canadian Solar—The cheapest (watt per dollar) and are both Chinese brands.

Sharp and Kyocera —Considered better quality but cost more. They are both produced in “more-free” countries.

Sanyo (Panasonic)—Panels are compact to give you more watts/sq. ft. but are also expensive. Their cost/watt is almost double that of Suntech.

Sunpower—Only designed for grid-tie, not for a battery bank, which is the key part of your electrical backup. Look elsewhere.

Solar: Current Boosters

Linear Current Booster (LCB)—Regulates the power between solar panels and pumps or DC motors to keep systems (like motors or pumps) running off panels getting consistent power during intermittent clouds or sun angles. Many units have variable voltage converters to draw the most power from the solar array (by varying the voltage/amperage ratio).

Solar Converters Inc.—Is the principle source for LCB’s. Multiple sizes and specs from low to high amperage (and corresponding cost). This company has several good products including battery desulfators. 558 Massey Road, Unit 1, Guelph, Ontario, N1K 1B4 (Canada). Tel: (519) 824-5272. Distributors include:,

Dankoff LCB—Input 12/24/36 volt DC, 12/24 volt output. About $350. Available from many distributors including:,

Solar: Control Assemblies

Notes—Basic control assemblies are mass produced by Outback, Xantrex, Apollo, Magnum or Midnite. Almost all of these need some customization or modification such as addition of a circuit for the charge controller. The modifications can be done on site or by a shop such as Abraham Solar.

Sine Wave Inverters—Produce AC power from DC with a nearly perfect sine-wave output (as opposed to the cheaper square wave inverters), similar to utility-supplied power and thus compatible with most AC electronic devices. Solid state inverters (more common now) means the sine wave conversion is accomplished electronically without moving parts.

Xantrex—Inverters, chargers and charge controllers. Considered by many to be “top of the Line” but energy guru Mick Abraham says they have now become too complex. So, now he also sells Victron units (see below). Most solar dealers sell Xantrex including Abraham Solar.

Magnum—Inverters, chargers and interconnect panels. 2211 W. Casino Road, Everett, WA 98204. Tel: (425) 353-8833. URL:

Victron Energy—Inverters, chargers, panels, batteries and more. Simpler to use than Xantrex. De Paal 35, 1351 JG Almere (The Netherlands). Tel: +31 (0)36 535 97 00. URL:

Solar: Charge Controllers

Notes—These units regulate (step down) the voltage from the solar array to meet the needs of the battery bank. Cheap controllers discard the power when not needed, moderately priced 3-stage systems ($200 range) have more settings to keep the batteries floated but still don’t extract all the power the modules can produce. MPPT (Maximum Power Point Trackers) charge controllers are the most expensive ($600 to $900) but these units can get 15 to 30% more power compared to a “legacy-type” (non-MPPT) controller. MPPT units regulate the voltage/amperage coming from the solar panels to maximize the watts (energy) out of the system and then use this to charge the battery bank. Available brands include: Outback Power, Xantrex XW-SCC, Blue Sky Energy, Apollo Solar, Midnite Solar, Morningstar MPPT and a few others. We recommend the MidNite or Xantrex units.

MidNite—MPPT charge controllers rated up to 96 amps and many other solar and battery control products. MidNite systems have an impressive array of options but they are also more expensive than most of the competition. Many solar distributors sell these units. 17722 67th Ave NE, Arlington, WA 98223. Tel: (360) 403-7207 URL:

Xantrex—Good quality charge controllers (3-phase and MPPT), inverters and control panels. Often cheaper than MidNite systems but without as many features. Sold at almost every solar warehouse online and via Abraham Solar.

Outback—Charge controllers (3-phase and MPPT) available mounted to a power center from Outback. Prices similar to MidNite without as many features. URL:

Morningstar—for smaller solar arrays (150 to 200 Watts) use SS-20L (20 amp) charge controller to inexpensively ($75) maintain small solar setups with a battery (or two). URL: Available at many solar wholesalers such as:

Blue Sky Energy, Inc.—Solar Boost 3024iL can compete with the big Xantrex and Midnite MPPT controllers but for a much better price. One of the few controllers with power diversion to a heat sink or second battery bank when the first batteries are full (see DUO-option). 2598 Fortune Way, Suite K, Vista, CA 92081. Tel: (760) 597-1642 or (800) 493-7877. URL:

Solar: Power Arrestors

Notes—Energy guru Mick Abraham says beware of the complexity with arrestors, there are many issues to consider here. Each system seems to have its weaknesses. Transtector ( has good products but their applicable surge arrestor is not rated for the high operating voltages of most solar arrays. Delta arrestors ( are lagging behind MidNite in performance but both of these allow too much power through and don’t shut down fast enough for EMP. We recommend running an extra stranded grounding wire from the solar panels and combiner boxes to a solid grounding rod. This should be larger than the power lines coming off the panels. Shielded wire should be used between the solar array and the charge controllers and interconnecting panel below. See also “Nuclear Preparedness, EMP Protection” for other kinds of surge protection.

Solar: Water Heating

GENERAL Notes—We have seen mixed results with solar water heating. Vacuum seals leak over time and plastic parts decompose after years in the sun. But it is hard to beat this basic form of solar collection and, fortunately, systems and controls are improving thanks to European technology. They are still most valuable as a backup and pre-heat system so don’t invest a lot of money to make this your only hot water or hydronic heating source.

ProgressivTube—By TCT Solar. Insulated units with glass-covered copper tubes. 101 Copeland Street, Jacksonville FL 32204. Tel: (904) 358-3720 URL: Available from many distributors including: or Abraham Solar.

Solahart—Self-contained storage tank, optional enclosed system for cold climates, easy to install. US offices (partners with Rheem) Rheem Manufacturing Company, 101 Bell Road, Montgomery AL 36117 Tel:  (800) 621 5622 URL: Several distributors in OR, CA and southern states.

Cirrex by A. O. Smith—Complete system for a moderate price (approx $1,700). Lots of dealers listed on their website. 500 Tennessee Waltz Parkway, Ashland City, TN 37015. Tel: (800) 527-1953 URL: and

Skyline by—Simple, complete systems. Skyline5 closed loop system (cold climates) starts at $4,500. Skyline3 open loop systems (temperate climates) start at $3000. 5840 Gibbons Dr. Suite H, Carmichael, CA 95608 Tel: (888) 801-9060 or (916) 481-7200.

Thermomax—ThermoTech’s evacuated tube collectors. This company has wide experience in joining a solar water heating systems with a wood heating backup system into a hydronic floor-heated home. 5560 Sterrett Place, Suite 115, Columbia, MD 21044. Tel: (800) 776-5277 or (410) 997-0778. URL:

Sol*Saver—Solar water pasteurizer by Safe Water Systems who also makes a wood burning water purifier. 1600 Kapiolani Blvd., Suite 721 Honolulu, HI 96814 Tel: (808) 949-3123. URL:

Solar: Misc

Solar Vent Openers—For regulating temperatures in greenhouses. This website sells several kinds including Thermofor, Univent, Regal and Optivent.

Bayless Mk-7 or XL—Made in the UK. Lifts up to 14 lbs. You can buy directly from them online or through greenhouse suppliers. URL:

Oasis Montana—Has a webpage where people post their used or surplus solar and alternate energy equipment. URL:

Abraham Solar—Has a link for surplus or used items on his webpage.

Solar Wiring

Wiring Sizes—These will vary according to specific installation, but this should give you a general idea for a small to medium installation. Solar panels to junction box use #6 stranded copper. For junction box to APT power center or charge controller use two #2 stranded copper or one #6 stranded copper for external ground connection. For the battery interconnect cables use #2 stranded copper (available at most auto supply stores). For the connection from the battery bank to the inverter use #2/0 stranded copper, preferably welding wire.


Soundproofing101—This website has reasonable ideas for soundproofing and links for materials and windows. URL:

Soundproofing materials—This seller has glue that can be laid down between two layers of sheetrock for good sound attenuation. URL:

A plastic layer laminated between two panes of glass provides excellent soundproofing and reinforces the glass. They are sold here:

Insul-Tek—A self-adhesive, automotive-type soundproofing with O.E.M. Sound Deadener. This is a very compact, effective material. Call Juliano’s to order. Orders: (800) 300-1932. Technical Assistance: (860) 872-1932. URL:

Sonex foam—Sound damping finger foam, ideal for shooting ranges. Fairly expensive at $5 per sq. ft. Acoustical Solutions Inc, 2420 Grenoble Road, Richmond, VA 23294. Tel: (612) 521-3555. URL:

Rockwool Insulation—Better sound absorbing qualities than fiberglass. Roxul is a typical brand name. Available at some home improvement stores, including Lowe’s (

Stoves and Heaters

REGENCY/HAMPTON WOOD STOVES—Reliable and cheap dual-burn steel stoves with efficiency ratings over 75%. The convection heating of air gaps around this stove make the blower option particularly effective. The large F3100 model (80,000 BTU) can easily heat over 2000 square feet. Cost is about $2000. Regency/Hampton products are sold at most local shops. Specific dealers can be found on their website. URL:

WOODSTOCK SOAPSTONE STOVES—Radiant heat stoves are more expensive but very efficient. Dual burn and catalytic burn systems combined with unique air distribution results in up to 81% efficiency. The large “Progress Hybrid” stove is rated for 80,000 BTUs and goes for $3200. 66 Airpark Road, West Lebanon, NH 03784. Tel: (800) 866-4344. URL:

VOGELZANG WOOD STOVES—Middle to lower cost wood stoves with decent ratings. Good stoves for the price. Parts and assembly may need some tweaking, blowers may be loud. TR009 “Performer” is rated to heat up to 2,000 sq. ft. for $1,200. Smaller TR002 “Shiloh” $1,050 rated for up to 1,200 sq. ft. Available from many distributors and online.

PLEASANT HEARTH STOVES—Moderately priced stoves with good reviews. The 2,200 sq. ft. stove is the cheapest Made in the U.S.A. ($1,000) and has better quality than other stoves in this price range.

US STOVE—Although some products work many reviewers have found the customer service very poor and many of the materials cheap or defective (steel cracking). Look first at the product lines listed above.

PORTABLE WOOD STOVE—The TMS Portable Military Camp Stove and Tent Heater is useful if you don’t have a fireplace but still want to heat and cook with wood in an emergency. Essentially a burn barrel turned on its side it only weighs 38 lbs and comes with plenty of welded additions to make it worth the $60 cost. Legs, stove pipe and accessories store inside for a convenient package in a garage or with camping gear. Downside: this is cheap and the paint isn’t high temperature paint. Burn it off outdoors and spray with high temperature BBQ paint. Also be prepared to seal gaps with wood stove gasket and sealer.

BARREL STOVE KITS—Convert a 30 or 50 gallon metal barrel into a stove using metal cutting tools and a kit with a door, flue and legs for the horizontal barrel. The kits are all cheap and made in China, so fit and finish problems are common. But it does give you heat. Extract more heat from your fire by mounting a second barrel on top with another kit. The paint on the barrels burns off, so prepare to refinish them with high temperature spray paint. Flue pipe not included. Kits are available at and many home improvement stores.

FLUE HEAT RECLAIMER—The Miracle Heat Reclaimer is a pipe-mounted fan and heat exchanger that captures some of the heat escaping up your chimney and uses it to heat more air in the room. Thermostat control keeps enough heat going up the chimney to maintain a good draft and keep excess creosote from  forming. $100. Available at Amazon, several online outlets and home improvement stores or direct from the mfr., US Stove. URL:

GAS FIREPLACES—Look for “heater rated” units rather than just decorative gas fireplaces. Heater rated gas fireplaces can be more efficient than a gas furnace (although they won’t move the heat to other rooms of the house as well). Get the firebox and flue that is built for wood burning so in a crisis you have the option of converting to wood heat (by remove the fake logs and gas pipe).

ROCKET MASS STOVES—Build your own very efficient stove that uses inexpensive materials and burns one-tenth the wood of typical fireplaces. Information and plans are passed around freely on forums such as but the most information and details are in the book Rocket Mass Heaters by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson. Order from their website ( or pay less for the e-book. For an easier time consider the kits and parts from Dragon Heaters: Tel: (281) 292-2177. URL:

Kerosun DC 100—Most fuel efficient Kerosene heater and with the cleanest burn. No longer imported but available second-hand. MSI Wicks sells wicks and parts and has a few of these and other stoves. A wick should last a few seasons depending on Kerosene quality. Stock up on a few extras. Tel: (765) 584-2041 or (888) 537-6786. URL:

Blueflame by ProCom—One of the last ventless heaters on the US market. Fortunately it comes as a dual fuel unit. Also look for the infrared units which are still available at some sellers. Sold by Northern Tool, Harbor Freight, Grainger and many heater wholesalers. We still recommend Vanguard and Martin Industries propane and natural gas radiant heaters for their efficiency and warmth, but apparently they aren’t being produced anymore. Still available at some wholesalers and second-hand stores.

Cook Stoves


expedition 3x—Camp Chef made this excellent three burner stove with wind block and custom large cast iron griddle. Keep one with several containers of propane gas available for emergency cooking. Available from Camp Chef ($250) URL: or used and new at Amazon.

PORTABLE STOVE AND OVEN—Camp Chef has a 3 burner stove combined with a small oven for camping off of a propane tank ($250). URL: but it is cheaper at Amazon.

Kerosene Stoves—Useful so you don’t have to store multiple kinds of fuel. Many don’t burn as hot as propane but reliable. Buy extra wicks when ordering these. More information and sold by Miles Stair ( and from St. Paul Mercantile (

Aladdin—Has the most complete line of kerosene heaters and stoves. And their lamps are the brightest kerosene lamps available. But they are pricey and burn more fuel than other brands. Handle with care as they get hot. See the Aladdin website ( or buy from online distributors such as Lehman’s (

Alpaca—Great stove if you need something stronger and simpler than a backpacking stove. Very sturdy and will take as large a pot as you care to put on it (about $79). Extremely simple, reliable design, with a minimum of moving parts to wear out. Fuel tank holds 0.9 gallons and has a fuel level gauge. Runs for 16 hours on a filling. Output 8,500 BTU; weight 13 lbs; size about 13” high x 13” diameter. Available from preparedness supply stores and old fashioned outlets like Lehman’s. There are many foreign models as well, since Europe and South America use kerosene extensively. Primus is perhaps the largest foreign model (available at outdoor enthusiast stores).

STUCCO—See “Construction: Stucco Systems.”

Supplies to Stockpile

Batteries, Rechargeable

FUJITSU—The best brand of low self-discharge AA and AAA batteries. Made in Japan. These are the “true Eneloop” batteries now that Panasonic bought the brand and moved production of Eneloop batteries to China. Pack of (8) AA is $22, and (8) AAA runs $29.

TENERGY—The best low self-discharge C, D and 9-volt batteries. Technology is still improving in this area so these rechargeables are still lower capacity than the disposables and they are “only” rated for 500 cycles but it sure beats buying and trying to store 500 alkaline. $16 for (4) C size, $47 for (8) D size, $15 for (4) 9-volt.

Battery Chargers

OPUS BT-C2000—Excellent Ni-MH/Ni-Cd charger with four individual charging slots for AA or AAA batteries or 2 C or D cells. It has six thermal monitors (4 for the batteries and 2 for charger circuits). It will charge, condition, test and analyze each battery. Doesn’t accept 9V or rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. $34 on Amazon but for a better warranty and customer service buy directly from DC Workshop.

ACCUPOWER All-In-One IQ338XL—Will charge more battery types than the Opus above including 9V and lithium-ion batteries. In fact it will charge any round rechargeable batteries including RCR123A (rechargeable C123A), and C or D cells. It doesn’t recharge 9V lithium and is missing the temperature sensors and the peak charge feature (-dV) of the Opus that help you get the most out of your batteries. But most people can live without these features if they charge slowly. $47 from DC Workshop.

ACCUMANAGER 12 slot battery charger—This large battery charger will charge 12 batteries independently meaning you can mix or match AA, AAA and Ni-MH or Ni-Cd. It has auto detection of reverse polarity, non-rechargeables, and defective batteries. 12 unit charger is $33 or get a 16 slot charger for $47.

LA CROSSE BC-700—The smallest ‘smart charger’ with independent charging of (4) cells and includes charge, discharge, refresh and test for Ni-MH and Ni-Cd AA or AAA only. $34 on Amazon.

Duct Tape and Other Tapes

DUCT TAPE—Duck brand duct tape and Gorilla Tape are the best rated for their strong fabric base, good adhesive and quality backing. Look for a tight weave on the fabric and sticky adhesive that stays with the tape when removed. 3M (or “Scotch) has a wide weave fabric core but performs well overall. Lee Valley heavy duty duct tape is a premium grade (13 mil. thickness) duct tape for a very reasonable price. URL: 

HEAVY DUTY DUCT TAPE—For situations where extra tension, strength and adhesion is needed or where surfaces are rough or dirty try the T-Rex tape from the Duck brand. Gorilla Tape is also rated well for tough conditions and rough surfaces due to its thicker adhesive coating but it can be expensive. Gorilla’s thicker adhesive is one of the best at resisting water.

HVAC TAPE—For true duct tape look for foil tape or aluminum tape rated for at least 200 deg. F. like the 2.7 mil tape from XFasten that is a thick aluminum foil tape adhesive backing.

UV-RESISTANT TAPE—The clear UV-resistant tape from Lee Valley is useful for patching holes in greenhouses. Standard Gorilla Tape has superior UV resistance, or you can look for “All Weather” in the Scotch (3M) and Duck brands. The Duck brand is usually cheapest.

GAFFER TAPE—Gaffer Power tape is a strong waterproof fabric tape with a synthetic rubber adhesive that won’t leave a residue. Consider this tape over duct tape for any application where you may want to remove the tape later such as taping plastic around windows, bookbinding, or securing cables temporarily. URL:

MICROPORE SURGICAL TAPE—Duct tape can be used for many medical emergencies, but 3M Micropore Surgical Tape is much less painful to remove. It adheres to moist but not wet or oily skin. Tears easily into strips or squares.

SUPER STRONG DOUBLE SIDED TAPE---This version of “Speed Tape” by FastCap is very strong and durable. This double-sided tape works very well. Do not apply to surfaces you want to get apart later.  Often used for securing laminate to countertops. Available at Amazon and directly from manufacturer. URL:

Matches and Lighters

UCO Matches---The best modern brand. The “strike anywhere” wood kitchen matches light on more surfaces than other brands and the wood doesn’t break like the cheaper (but ubiquitous) Diamond brand matches. $20 for 3200 matches. Penley and Redbird aren’t as middle quality. Store all matches in waterproof containers.

Cardboard Matchbooks---The cheapest option for stockpiling a lot of matches for barter. These plain white matchbooks are only $5 for 1000 matches.

Bic BBQ Utility Lighters---Reliable long-nosed lighter that is ideal for lighting fires, candles, stoves, etc. $5/each but some available for $4. Not refillable.

Disposable lighters---Bic brand are reliable and when bought in bulk are less than $1 apiece. Off-brand lighters can be bought in packages of 100 for only $0.17 apiece. This is the cheapest fire lighters though not as versatile as BBQ lighters above. Keep matches on hand as backup.

Transportation: Bicycles

Cargo Bikes

Momentum Magazine has an excellent run-down on the categories and most common companies producing bikes like utility bikes, cycle trucks, longtails, box bikes, cargo tricycles, and even electric cargo bike options. Very informative.

Hybrid and Touring Bikes

Value/Low End

SCHWINN DISCOVER HYBRID BIKE---This top-selling hybrid bike (in both men’s and woman’s configurations) is a decent practical bike with average-grade components for a very reasonable price ($275). Fenders are plastic but acceptable, rear gear carrier is sturdy, 21 gears are adequate for moderate hills. Aluminum frame is sturdy, but parts may break down under rough conditions or heavier riders. Lifetime warranty.

NORTHWOODS SPRINGDALE---This upright commuter bike has 21 speeds, Shimano parts, fenders and a rear gear carrier rack to handle even hilly towns or cities in comfort---and costs only $160. Too much wind drag for long distances and in need of lights, baskets, and kickstand.

RALEIGH MARS COMMUTING BIKE---This men’s bike has a vintage look with modern components including a 7-speed Shimano hub gear for minimal maintenance and only mild hills. Fenders and rear rack add practicality to this bike but many parts are of poor quality including the lights and pedals. $319.


VIVA JULIETT CLASSIC CITY CRUISER---This women’s city bike has an easy on-off thanks to the step-through configuration. Its upright position is comfortable for local rides around town or on mild hills thanks to a 7-speed hub gear. Integral dynamo hub powers front and tail lights for reliable lights without batteries. Components are sealed and durable to nearly eliminate maintenance, oiling or greasing. Higher end components brings the price to $1100. Not practical for long distances. Add a basket to the back for groceries.

High End

GHOST SQUARE URBAN---This modern city bike is sleek enough to take on long rides and has top of the line components including hydraulic disk brakes for sturdy handling under all kinds of conditions. The 8 speed hub gear will handle moderate hills and the modern styling integrates fenders and rear rack seamlessly. At $1,400 at REI it comes with a lifetime warranty, but you will still need to outfit it with lights, and panniers or a collapsible basket to handle trips to the store.

Bicycle Tires

KENDA TIRES---All-weather mountain bike “slick” tires (not knobby). These are durable and grippy with grooves to channel water away.

CONTINENTAL GATORSKIN TIRES---Sturdy, tough tires with a low profile to still perform well on road bikes.

SCHWALBE MARATHON PLUS TOUR TIRE---Puncture resistant tires for your road bike. These tires are nearly bulletproof against road debris and nails. These will save your precious inner tubes and last a long time.

NOKIAN HAKKEPLITTA SNOW AND ICE TIRES---If you live in an area where you might need to get around in the snow on plowed or icy streets consider these studded tires for your mountain bike or even hybrid/road bike. Highly rated for being grippy and keeping you up even on black ice. $55 per tire.

Bicycle Lights

SHIMANO DYNAMO HUB---High quality sealed hub ($75) produces power for lights and some USB equipment---both of which are bought separately.

SCHMIDT’S ORIGINAL NABENDYNAMO---Made in Tübingen, Germany this hub is rated for tens of thousands of miles and produces little drag. It power 6V headlights and taillights (light combinations sold separately). You have to thread the spoke to connect this to your wheel. $250 to $300 at 24 Hall Rd., Hillsborough, NH 03244. Tel: (603) 478 0900

Bicycle Accessories

CASCADIA FENDERS---This set of metal fenders is sturdy and includes mud flaps for a very complete coverage against rain or mud ($53). A must if commuting by bicycle or converting a bike into a practical means of transportation in all weather.

UNIVERSAL BIKE RACK---This seat post mounted unit will install on nearly any bike and is rated up to 110 lbs. Also consider collapsible baskets, panniers (saddlebags), and even rear seats. For the front consider detachable baskets.

TOWING OTHERS---There are tow bar and tow rope options for helping less capable kids (or adults) along. The tow bar could be useful for those times when you need to bring an empty bike to someone waiting.

BIKE TRAILERS---There are many options out there from small units to extra-large cargo trailers but remember that bikes are inherently limited by the practicalities of pulling (and stopping) based on your weight and strength. The Aosome Wanderer is a good all-around option.

Transportation: Electric Bicycles and Equipment has the best summary of the top-of-the-line electric bicycles including forums where other riders add input and share experience.

HIGH-END E-BIKE---The Kalkhoff Integrale S11 is expensive at $5,700 but you get a class 3 pedelec bike (which means it will assist you up to the maximum allowed e-bike speed of 28 mph) with a range of between 55 and 125 miles. 350W mid-drive motor, fenders and rack but no lights.

MID-ECONOMY E-BIKE---The Onway 7 speed is a nice city bike with lithium ion battery-powered motor. It comes with lights, fenders, kickstand and rack. The hub motor is only 250W so top speed is just 16mph for (at best) 40 miles. Still, marked down to $1099 from nearly $2K it is a good deal. Gears/motor not adequate for areas with big hills.

ECONOMY E-BIKE---The Vilano commuter bike has 7 speeds and a 250W hub motor with lights, fenders and Li-Ion battery. Only $800 but many components are cheap, including plastic pedals.

E-BIKE CONVERSION KIT---The e-RAD 500W Conversion kit is a fairly powerful motor that connects around the pedal bracket to make good use of existing gears even on hills. Fits many bikes. 16 lbs with battery. $850 to $1100 but battery is an additional $650 to $850.

BIKE LOCK---Protecting your bike will be extra important in hard times. A sturdy U-lock with cable through the front tire and any other part that can be removed is best. At 5lbs the 18mm NYC lock from Kryptonite is a big, heavy lock, but it holds up against anything except an angle grinder.

FOLDING ELECTRIC BIKE---If you commute in traffic or use a boat or RV this foldable bike is good option for getting around or getting out of traffic in an emergency. The Ancheer Power Plus is a folding mountain bike with lithium ion battery that weighs less than 10 lbs with lights and fenders. Cons: 250W motor is weak and range is limited.


CONVERGENCE TECH, INC.—Plans to Convert a Mountain Bike: $29 from Bill Gerosa, 12-6 Foxwood Drive, Pleasantville, NY 10570 Tel: 914-773-6749 URL:

ZAP POWER SYSTEM—Add-on package to motorize a mountain bike. Can still pedal with this system. ZAP SX Rear Range 15 miles with SX and 8 miles with DX. Has regenerative charging of battery while going downhill and pedaling. "Electric Cruiser" and mountain bike model can be purchased with the electric package. URL:

CHARGER BICYCLES—Electric bike designed from ground up with the latest innovative technology - multi option pedal assist system, dual chain, 20 mile range.

US PRO DRIVE—Here's a direct-drive adaptive system with a variable speed controller. The direct drive system mounts on the rear hub of most 26" bicycles and weighs 6 lbs. The battery shell locks. Most people change out the awkward thumb throttle to a twist grip type. Van Nuys, CA 91406 Tel: (818) 947-0366. URL:

EV RIDER, INC.—Mostly electric powered wheeled carts, but also have a folding electric bike. 060 Commerce Boulevard, North, Sarasota, Florida 34243 Tel: (888) 743-3738 URL:

ELECTROBIKE, INC.—Complete bike with 20 mile range:

Transportation: Electric Vehicle Conversions

ELECTRO AUTOMOTIVE—This is the most economical way to get an electric vehicle. Convert a pickup or van to electric use with batteries and solar panels. Great when gas becomes unavailable, but maximum range is typically 40 miles. The most experienced one stop shop for all necessary items is in California: P.O. Box 1113, Felton CA 95018. URL:

UNDERGROUND HOMES—See “Construction: Underground Homes.”

Water Filters and Treatment

Berkey—One of the few filters that also filters fluoride. Filter also removes chlorine and its byproducts like trihalomethanes (THM’s). Countertop unit is completely portable. Downside is the slow gravity filter. $250 to $350 depending on size. Many distributors including For a cheaper ($190) version of the same filter units look for the Doulton brand. Available at

Pureflow 2000—will remove bacteria, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, chlorine, chlorine byproducts, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), trihalomethanes, pesticides, herbicides, tastes, odors and more but falls short of removing fluoride. Uses cleanable ceramic microfilters and a dense solid block of extruded activated carbon ($270). URL:

Aquasana—Uses high tech filters for longer life with low replacement price. Shower filters are also available. Best price is direct from source. URL:

Big Blue 20 INCH—Generic whole house water filter for a good price. UV sterilization is possible. Available from many sources including

Aerobic KO7—Oxygen based water purifier with potassium base. Only buy the potassium based liquid with the “K” in the title. (Aerobic O7 is chlorine based). Approximately $16 from local and online health food stores.

Lifestraw—Portable water filter that filters pathogenic bacteria, particulates. About $20 each. Available from

Water Desalinators and Distillers

Watercones—Floating water distillers. These units convert non-potable water sources such as lakes and oceans into 1.5 liters of distilled water per day in strong sunlight through evaporation. URL:

PUR/Katadyn—Solar and manual desalinators. Manual units are survivor 06 ($1,000) and Survivor 35 ($2,200). PowerSurvivor units are 40E, 80E and 160E ($3,600 to $5,200) and are all 12 volt operated. URL: and through outdoor recreation wholesalers

Sea Recovery—Marine desalinators for boats. Consider the Crystal Sea 12, 24 or 110 volt models. P.O. Box 5288, Carson, CA 90745. Tel: (800) 354-2000 or (310) 637-3400. URL:

Blue Spring—Large solar desalinator units. Requires significant solar array to run. Produces 80 to 1800 gallons per day (depending on unit).

Water Heating, with Wood Stoves

For solar water heater section see “Solar: Water Heater”

THERMA-COIL—This U-shaped stainless steel pipe can be installed inside the firebox of almost any woodstove to heat water whenever the stove is lit ($130). Be sure to follow the instructions so there is a pressure relief valve in the system. 399 E. 7th Street, Chico, CA 95928. Tel: 530-743-0900. URL:

HILKOIL—More U-shaped pipe coils to install in the firebox of your stove. This brand is slightly more expensive but has more sizes and options. Note: more coil length is not always better. Since these coils are right in the firebox they can cool the fire and make it smoke or burn less efficiently. Manufactured by Thermo-Bilt. 375 Altamont Avenue, Schenectady, New York 12303. Tel: (800) 807-7041. URL:

Water Storage Tanks

Notes—There are several types of plastic water tanks on the market and all of them are preferable to steel in the small to medium sizes. The white tanks are polypropylene, colored tanks are usually polyethylene and black tanks are ABS plastic. Fiberglass tanks are used for the larger reinforced tanks and are not suitable for stored drinking water due to chemical outgassing. We do not list individual suppliers here because these are obtained locally in every rural farm community in the country, including the entire East Coast. Check the Yellow Pages for “tanks” or “water tanks.”

Water Barrels—New 55 gallon polyethylene

Kolaps A Tank—Bladder type, collapsible tank that is useful for hauling water in a pickup, and for temporary storage. It will even act as a giant solar water heater.

Weapons—Air Guns

MULTI-PUMP AIR RIFLES—These low-powered air rifles are best for target practice “plinking” and for training kids on weapons. Cheap, accurate at short range and reliable.

BREAK BARREL AIR RIFLES—The best balance of stand-alone power in air rifles. Look for .22 caliber rifles with slightly less than 1000 fps (feet per second) muzzle velocity for best power while still being quiet. Use heavier pellet (lead) for slower velocity but greater stopping power. Here are recommended models:

In .177 caliber: Ruger Blackhawk Combo ($90), break barrel, 1000 fps, includes 4x32 scope. Manufacturing and components is not the best quality but a good gun for an excellent price.

Gamo Whisper Silent Cat ($149), break barrel, .177 caliber, 1200 fps, 4x32 scope. Popular gun, powerful and accurate. Note that the non-removable sound suppressor does not stop the “crack from the sonic boom”, so not “whisper silent.”

In .22 caliber: Crosman Nitro Venom ($150), break barrel, 800 fps, 3-9x32 scope. Fairly quiet, decent quality, good accuracy, good stock. Some users prefer a new trigger (see below). Uses the nitro piston which is quieter and less recoil than the typical spring.

RWS .22 Pellet Model 34 ($300), break barrel, 800 fps. 4x32 scope. Made in Germany, this is an excellent air gun with a lifetime warranty. Robust barrel with good trigger and scope quality.

Modified triggers for air rifles from

RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Heavier (lead) pellets are slower but more powerful. Dome shaped pellets are accurate. Hollow points, both open and plastic-filled, are available for varmint huntin.

RWS pellets are high quality and don’t leave as much lead dust in barrels ($6 for 250)

Crosman Premier Dome-shaped pellets are more accurate than other shapes ($11 for 500)



MAG-SAFE AMMO: Special penetrating shotgun type ammo for auto weapons. Awesome and deadly stuff. URL:

SILENT .22 AMMO—CCI brand CB CAP cartridges. Available at most gun shops.

Weapons—Firearm Products

SPOTTING SCOPES, TELESCOPES—For a great place to buy binoculars, spotting scopes, telescopes, and accessories, try Eagle Optics. Tel: (800) 289-1132. URL:

TRITICON—Glowing night sights from Armson. Tel: (207) 797-8200. URL:

HEARING AMPLIFICATION MUFFS—These specialty ear muffs will not only amplify small sounds, but they will attenuate loud sounds so that everything comes within your hearing comfort range. These are a must for combat shooting when you want ear protection but not so much as to keep you from detecting intrusions. Several brands available including Pro-Ears, Silencio and Gentrex. Available from sport enthusiast stores like Cabelas and

MILITEC-1—Dry lube for weapons URL:

MAG-NA-PORT ARMS—Recoil reduction mod to weapons. 41302 Executive Drive, Harrison Township, MI 48045 Tel: (586) 469-6727. URL:

WILLIAMS TRIGGER SPECIALTIES—Smooth trigger mods. 111 SE Second Street, Atwood, IL 61913, Tel: (217) 578-3026. URL:


KEYCHAIN KNIFE: The Swiss Army knife with scissors and tweezers is still the best here for $15. If you just want a tiny knife consider the Gerber STL (2” blade) for $9 or the Ultralight (1.75” blade) for $13.

POCKETKNIFE: Swiss Army has the best extra features, but their blades are too long and thin for rugged use. For a sturdier blade consider the Buck knives with thicker blades and sturdy handles. The Buck 110 is the original 3-3/4" folding hunting knife ($39) and the Buck 112 is 3" for easier everyday carry in a pocket ($32). Buck still has a lifetime warranty on their knives. Beware of the $10 Chinese versions.

CLIP/BELT KNIFE: The best brands (out of many) are Benchmade, SOG and Blade-Tech and cost upwards of $100. Buy 440 or 420 high carbon stainless steel for the wear and occasional wet-use of everyday carry. Serrated edges near the handle or concave shapes are hard/impossible to sharpen, so look for straight edges and outside curves. The newer styled Buck Bantam is a good knife with a lifetime warranty for less than $20. I also like the Leatherman Crater multi-tool knife ($40) with a sturdy blade in a thin handle that also has practical fold-out phillips and regular screw drivers.

KA-BAR MK2: Good all-around knife that was issued to Marines in WWII through Vietnam. Its high-carbon blade is harder, holds an edge better and is less brittle than stainless steel, but it can rust—unless you take care of it with a little oil periodically. Most knives are painted black except on the edge to reduce rusting. If you keep the leather sheath it comes in properly oiled, it will naturally protect the metal too. Buy directly from Ka-Bar ($104) for the best Made in the USA quality and avoid the many knock-offs on Amazon.

BOWIE KNIFE: The 9.5" Western Cutlery Bowie knife was the best but stopped manufacturing after 1989. You can still find them on Ebay for around $100 but some collectibles go for over $300. They were made of good carbon steel, nicely balanced to easily shave and chop vegetables at the campsite and yet heavy enough to work like a hatchet. The closest modern knife with a good reputation is the Ka-Bar BK9 which is made of 1095 high carbon steel, is 9" long and boasts a full tang ($94). Reviewers were less impressed with the composite handle and nylon sheathe.

MACHETE: This knife that is more like a sword is better for clearing brush than self-defense, but you will still need decent carbon steel to keep the tool working hard. The 18” Ontario Knife Company machete is made from good 1098 carbon steel. It will need to be sharpened and the sheathe is extra, but very durable ($27). Don’t fall for the popular Gerber Gator. Gerber has seriously compromised on steel quality when they switched to Chinese manufacturing and stopped making the handle full tang.  


DILLON RELOADING PRESS—Best of the progressive reloading presses. Tel: (800) 762-3845. URL:

FIREPROOFING—See “Construction: Fire Retardant Finishes.”

SOUNDPROOFING FOAM—For shooting ranges. See “Soundproofing.”

Wind Power

SOUTHWEST WINDPOWER—AIR 403 is the best small windcharger. Cost is about $550 for the new 400 watt machine. Installation is cheap and easy because this system is so small and portable. URL: Available through many solar outlets like Abraham Solar and

WHISPER CORP.—Excellent units from 600 watts to 4500 watts - cost all below $2.00 a watt. Widely available online including at:

AERMOTOR EQUIPMENT AND PARTS—Dean Bennett Supply keeps these and Fiasa windmills running. Toll Free: (800) 621-4291.

AMERICAN WINDMILLS—New, used and refurbished windmills and plans for towers. Tel: (530) 644-3008. URL:

AERMOTOR WINDMILLS—New units and parts. P.O. Box 5110, San Angelo, TX 76902 Tel: (800) 854-1656 URL:

AIRLIFT WINDMILLS—New windmill lifts water as much as 315' using pumped air bubbles. No moving parts underground. Installs without a crane. 1540 Barton Rd #263, Redlands, CA 92373. Tel: (909) 446-1780 URL:


UNILUX WINDOWS—Top quality and super-efficient triple pane European style "tilt and turn" windows. Comes with a top price, about $100 per sq. ft. Few other windows feel as solid or perform as well. Also comes with a safety package: 4 bolt locking and "highly tear-proof" safety glass. Website is in German (click on british flag icon for English). There are several distributors in the US. URL:

CANADIAN WINDOWS—Ultra-efficient with good solar gain (for heating in winter). Prices are "only" $40 to $50 psf. These are the most common manufacturers: Accurate Dorwin (, Duxton (, Fibertec (, Inline Fiberglass ( or Thermotech (

US WINDOWS MANUFACTURERSThe Dept. of Energy maintains a website of high-efficiency (R-5) window manufacturers that offer storm windows. Although there are likely good windows outside this list, it also shows relative pricing.

GILA FILMS have a full range of energy saving films to apply to windows. Available at most home improvement/hardware stores. Website:

SHATTERGUARD—Unbreakable film backing to standard glass. Can be applied to existing windows. Makes windows bullet-proof to small caliber (.22) weapons and makes windows impenetrable to intruders. You can also use this on car side and rear windows to keep thieves from breaking in, which is highly recommend. URL:

WINDOW QUILTS - Quilted insulating curtains for solar windows. Rolling shutter type system that is easy to install. URL:

SCAPEWELL—Premanufactured wells with cast-in steps by The Bilco Company. The Bilco Company, P.O. Box 1203, New Haven, Connecticut 06505 Tel: 203-934-6363, sales 800-854-9724. URL:

Window Wells and Skylights

WINDOW WELL SECURITY - The Improvement Network ( ) markets a full range of lexan plastic window well covers for emergency escape and security against entry. Tel: (888) 934-6776.

ROTO FRANK—German made, high strength skylights. Available in the US at skylight distributors. URL:

ANDERSEN WINDOWS—Makes a triple laminate glass with polymer layers in between. These windows are intrusion-proof, and will not scratch like Shattergard film. This is the glass system they use on their high strength (hurricane-proof) skylites. You can order this glass in their regular window line as well. Cost is about 30% higher than standard glass/wood windows. Andersen Windows (available at window suppliers everywhere).

Miscellaneous Products

BARGE ALL-PURPOSE CONTACT CEMENT--- Keep your shoes working by repairing or re-treading them using this glue preferred by professional cobblers for years. Be sure to buy the old formula in the yellow and red cans. The new formula in the blue or green cans is much easier on your lungs but it doesn’t have as good of a bond. Only use it in well ventilated areas. Get some Barge thinner for clean up and in case the glue begins to dry out. You can still find quart cans of the cement for around $30 or gallon containers for $80.



Seed Saving and Sowing---By Carol Turner. This guide has excellent pictures and descriptions of the most common varieties of vegetables and some herbs and flowers. It is more practical in my opinion than the popular Seed to Seed although that volume is more complete.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living---by Carla Emery. This compilation of all the old-time knowledge needed to live and work a farm or homestead is a classic that has garnered quite a following. Carla Emery has condensed a mountain of information into a very readable book thanks to her frank and humorous writing style.