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How to Build a Simple Faraday Cage for EMP Survival

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: June 6, 2022
How to Build a Simple Faraday Cage for EMP Survival

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Of all of the reasons to prepare, one that we all need to take seriously is the possibility of a catastrophic EMP, or electromagnetic pulse. This is a frequent topic in many post-apocalyptic novels and something that most of us are aware of, even if we do not completely understand the science.

How to Build a Simple Faraday Cage for EMP Survival - Backdoor Survival

As I wrote way back when in the article Prepping for an EMP and Solar Flares:

To be blunt about it, an EMP, if large enough, would affect the entire planet.  In an instant, civilization as we know it would change as we get swept backward in time by a century or two.

Understanding the risks of an EMP goes hand in hand with threats of a cyber-attack since there is a cause and effect relationship between the two.  In this article I want to accomplish a few things:

Explain EMPs and the risks in simple, easy-to-understand language
Give you instructions to build a simple Faraday cage to protect your electronic equipment.
Provide a list of items to put inside your Faraday cage

What is an EMP?

An electromagnetic pulse or EMP, is an abrupt burst of electromagnetic radiation. EMP energy can be very powerful. Let’s explain that a little better.

To start with, an EMP is caused by certain types of high energy explosions.  An explosion from nuclear weapons, for example, will surely cause an EMP. Likewise, an EMP can be the result of a suddenly fluctuating magnetic field.  Or, as I have mentioned before, it can be the result of Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from solar activity. But perhaps most sobering of all, is the possibility of a man-made EMP weapon that is purposely deployed in order to wreak devastation on our planet.  Scary stuff.

Regardless of the trigger, an EMP can be devastating to the power grid, resulting in rapidly changing electrical fields that will create fluctuating electrical currents and wild voltage surges.  Bottom line? The electronic gizmos we have come to rely on would be toast. The microchips would be fried or so severely damaged that they would become useless.

So what would life be like following a massive EMP event or episode?  There would be no power, no transportation systems, no communication systems, no banking, no internet, and, no surprise, no food and no water delivery systems.  This would truly be an End of The World As We Know it situation.

Ask yourself these questions:

What if the power went out and never came back on?  Could you fend for yourself?

Could you keep yourself warm in the winter and cool in the summer?

Where would you find food?

What would you use for money if credit cards and ATM’s no longer worked?

How would you get from one place to another without transportation?

How would you wash your clothes?

How would you keep yourself healthy if sanitation systems were no longer functional and medicine could no longer be manufactured.

And the biggest question of all, how would you communicate with the rest of the world?

An electromagnetic pulse could potentially fry the vast majority of all the microchips in the United States. In an instant, nearly all of our electronic devices would be rendered useless.

Back in 2004 the Wall Street Journal wrote:

No American would necessarily die in the initial attack, but what comes next is potentially catastrophic. The pulse would wipe out most electronics and telecommunications, including the power grid. Millions could die for want of modern medical care or even of starvation since farmers wouldn’t be able to harvest crops and distributors wouldn’t be able to get food to supermarkets. Commissioner Lowell Wood calls EMP attack a “giant continental time machine” that would move us back more than a century in technology to the late 1800s.”

With that introduction, today I would like to introduce you to the Faraday cage, and further, how to build a simple Faraday cage.

The Faraday Cage

In the simplest of terms, a Faraday cage is any shielded enclosure that surrounds your electronic devices and protects them from an EMP blast. 

You may have heard Faraday cages referred to as an EMP box or EMP proof box.

Commonly used enclosures include galvanized metal garbage cans, popcorn tins, and even tightly sealed metal filing cabinets. In all cases, the metal container is lined with insulating material to prevent the contents from having contact with the metal.  Examples of insulating material are cardboard, Styrofoam, and even carpet scraps.

More elaborate structures can be custom built from sheet metal but for the home user, why bother?  As a matter of fact, I suspect that wrapping your devices in plain, ordinary, aluminum foil will work as well.

Factoid: Faraday cages are named after English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented them in 1836.

How Do They Work?

Effective Faraday cages protect what is inside of them from static electric fields. This could be an electron or proton as it is a force field surrounding a charged particle. As your probably already know, electromagnetic radiation is all around us, but it is also what Faraday cages are trying to keep out. Electromagnetic radiation is in microwaves, radio waves, ultraviolet light, and visible light, but when it is in these forms it is not harmful. However, when it is stronger, it can be disruptive and harmful to many electronics, and this is when we need Faraday cages. 

When an outside object with an electrical charge gets near the outside of the cage (the conductor, ex: aluminum mesh), the positive and negative particles separate. The electrons that have the opposite charge of the approaching object are drawn to it, and at the same time, the electrons with the same charge are repelled and move away from the external object. This process is called electrostatic induction.

Virtually any type of metal will work as a conductor to build your Faraday cage with. It is usually alright if the cage has small holes in it, as long as they are not too large in comparison to the wavelength of the incoming electromagnetic wave. You can also use an existing metal box to serve as your Faraday cage as long as there aren’t too many large gaps that would allow leakage, so creating a Faraday cage could cost you no money and minimal effort!

What About Using a Microwave Oven?

In my research, I read that a microwave oven, new or used,  can be used as an effective Faraday cage. On the surface, that seems logical since, by design, a microwave oven keeps the energy it creates confined to the interior which likewise, should prevent strong electrical pulses from getting back inside.

This was easy enough to test. I put a cell phone inside my microwave oven and tried calling it. It rang. Oops.  On the other hand, I wrapped my cell phone in aluminum foil and called it. Nothing. Nada. No Michael Buble ringtone; the call went straight to voicemail.

Protecting Small Electronics from an EMP - Backdoor Survival

A foil-wrapped cell phone blocked the cell signal

Granted, cell phones operate at various radio frequencies so while one cell phone may not work, another one will.  Still, with this being so easy to test, why chance it?

Testing the Faraday Cage

Aside from calling a cell phone, you can test your homemade Faraday cage by putting a portable radio inside the shield after tuning it to a strong FM station.  If you can hear the FM station while the radio is inside your Faraday cage, then you need to go back to square one to ensure your shield is properly sealed.

Sealing your garbage can with duct tape will help tremendously.

A Second (Expert) Opinion

I asked my friend George Ure to comment and to offer his perspective on Faraday cages since EMP preparedness is something he covered in-depth on his subscriber site, Peoplenomics ($40 a year but worth it for the technical information on the many topics he covers.).

He was quick to point out several things about EMPs.  The definitive public information is contained In the 2004 Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report “High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments”.  The following diagram shows how an EMP causes the complex systems we rely on to provide everyday essentials for living, to fail in a cascading manner.

EMP Cascade Effect

So, a quick inspection of the EMP failure modes, George offers, is one way to build a list of items to put in your Faraday cage.

He also told me some personal research he’s done that seems to indicate that about 90% of cars will continue to operate after an EMP event of moderate size. The problem, he points out, is that with an EMP, the grid is likely to fail, and with that, power transformers will likely fail, along with the supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) control systems for railroads, power, water, and other utility distribution.

George’s personal Faraday cage is a 33 gallon garbage can.  He considers his metal garbage effective by itself because the metal lid overlaps the can itself by an inch and radio waves don’t like to go around corners, too well. Still, the ultimate prepping device would be a metal garbage can which has the top cover sealed to the bottom of the can with aluminized duct tape such as the type found at Lowes, Home Depot and other hardware stores.

What to Put in the Faraday Cage

The equipment you store in a Faraday cage should encompass those devices that will help you communicate with the world following a devastating loss of the grid. Short-range communications will be critical after an EMP event. A good starting list would include:

Multiple GMRS radios and chargers along with cables to plug in for solar charging.

Multiple 2 meter and 440 MHz ham radios (such as the portable Baofengs), again with charging cables and solar power adapters.

A laptop computer with a fresh battery, a charger, solar adapter, and all the key software on CD so if you need to bring up a fresh copy of the operating system, you’ll have the product key and then any prepping articles or references you might need.

An AM/FM/Shortwave/NOAA Weather radio that includes a solar panel charging mechanism.

High-capacity USB thumb drive holding  pertinent financial information including past year tax records, scanned copies of birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses, deeds, vehicle registrations and medical records.

A flashlight or illumination devices to help you see in the dark if the power goes out. Having all of the supplies you will potentially need will make everything much more convenient for you in the event of an EMP attack.

Walkie talkies may also be useful for short distance communications, especially with famuly members. Remember that your cell phone is not something you can rely on during and after an EMP event.

George also recommends simple insulation for your electronics, so that units do not touch each other, He uses low tech insulation: a combination of cardboard and bubble-wrap works well.

Protecting Small Electronics Day to Day

This article would not be complete if I did not mention the availability of small, shielded metalized bags that can be used to provide EMP protection on a daily basis.  I am currently testing this type of bag from Mobilsec and am quite impressed. While my phone is in the bag, it reads “no service”.

If a cell signal cannot be detected, I can only assume that an EMP would also not touch it.  Good to know and certainly an option, especially for a laptop that could be placed inside a properly sized bag when not being used.  Couple the Faraday bag with a solar charging system and if there was an EMP, you would still have a working computer.

One other thing. You may find sources online that say that when a device is turned off, it will not need EMP protection.  I reached out to Joel Ho, the developer of the Mobilesec Bagsand asked him about that.  Here is what he said:

I’m assuming you are referring to the part about devices being off not needing protection – it’s simplified a bit – essentially, devices that are off are extremely difficult to damage because there’s no existing current to piggyback on.

Imagine that an EMP is a tidal wave.  If it approaches a full reservoir (electricity and current) it can keep going. If the reservoir is empty (no juice), the tidal wave loses energy navigating the reservoir.

There are hints of this in the article Electromagnetic Pulse Protection by Jerry Emanuelson.

The major reason [most sources] don’t say “your devices are safe if off” is because most devices are usually still connected to power lines and thus susceptible – but if devices are in EMP bags (which by definition are almost always disconnected as the filters are expensive), AND the devices are off, it is unlikely, given the relatively high FCC shielding regulations to prevent excess energy from bleeding OUT into the environment, that enough can get IN to damage those electronics.

This is NOT true for every device – more like a guideline than a hard 100% rule.  Different devices have different levels of built-in shielding – a computer has much more than a $10 Radio Shack timer, for example.

Protecting your credit cards is also something that you can easily take precautions with. There are wallets that are made with RFID-shielding technology (like these). This may seem like something small, but having one less item to worry about in the case of an EMP attack, can save you a ton of stress.

Vehicle Faraday Cage

Keeping a Faraday Cage in your vehicle with you at all times is a necessity because if your vehicle gets disabled by a massive EMP or solar flare, you’ll want to be able to communicate with others in the event that you get stranded.

All you will need in your vehicle Faraday Cage is a spare radio and a spare cell-phone. Having multiple communication devices is a good idea in case one of them has been disabled by the EMP. This can be kept in your glove box or under your seat.

Faraday Cage Myths

  1. Chicken Wire Works Well – Chicken wire provides very little protection from EMP in comparison to foil and metal boxes.
  2. Faraday Cages Must Be Grounded
  3. All Electrical Devices Will be Taken  Out by an EMP Blast – Different nuclear/solar EMp blasts have different frequencies so they won’t all affect the same devices or be able to affect some devices.
  4. All Modern Vehicles Will Not Work After an Attack

The Final Word

Should a massive EMP occur, stores won’t be open, credit cards won’t work, and the gas you have in your car may be all the gas you’ll ever have for months, or even possibly years. When you think about it, an EMP will become the “Ebola virus of electronics”.

That said, you know that I am not a doom and gloomer.  Quite the contrary. I am an optimist to the nth degree.  Yet even the optimist is sobered at the ramifications of an EMP and especially at the prospect of a weapon-based EMP. If nothing else, I would like to have a mode of communication following a massive EMP.

Will the DIY Faraday cage work?  It is speculation to say for sure.  My own research plus my limited understanding of electronics tells me it will, but this premise will remain unproven until an actual EMP event occurs.

The bottom line is that I hope a catastrophic EMP never happens.  But if it does, I want to be ready to fend for myself without electronics. Sure, having communication gear and other electronic gizmos in a working Faraday cage will be a wonderful thing.  But even if it doesn’t work, the goal of preparedness is to prevail, even if that means living in an off-grid society for weeks, months, or even years.

I would like to acknowledge my pal George Ure for his assistance with this article.  His research and first hand experience with Faraday cages, along with his perspective, is appreciated.

Update:  Clearly, there are many unanswered questions and that is to be expected. Rather than answer them individually, I will compile the questions and seek answers from individuals whose technical experience and background far exceeds mine.  Please leave your questions in the comments area below.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to the items related to today’s article.

Behrens 10-Gallon Locking Lid Can: This 10 gallon can would make a perfect Faraday cage from small electronics.  The locking lid is a bonus although I would still seal the edges with 2” duct tape. This price, by the way, is less than my local Ace Hardware store.  Also available in this larger size 20 Gallon size.

3M Duct Tape: A good quality duct tape is an absolute necessity when sealing your DIY Faraday cage.  For slightly less, you can purchase 3M Utility Grade Duct Tape

Midland 36-Mile 50-Channel FRS/GMRS Two-Way Radios: These are the handheld radios that I own. There are lots of good uses for the these radios. Handy while hiking, traveling, or simply keeping in touch with your partner while out shopping. Just be aware that getting a 36 mile range out of any handheld FRS radio is a myth.

Pofung/Baofeng UV-5R Ham Two Way Radio: Redundancy is the name of the game.  I also have two of these inexpensive HAM radios.  Keep in mind that if you are just planning to listen, you do not need a license (I am still working on mine).  The price is right.  Also consider the NAGOYA Antenna for BAOFENG UV-5R  and the USB Programming Cable for Baofeng UV-5R UV-3R+. Note: the Pofung was formerly known as the Baofeng UV-5R).

SunJack Portable Solar Charger:  SunJack® helps mobile users stay charged on the go anywhere the sun shines. The SunJack® is able to fully charge its internal battery pack in about 5 hours of direct sunlight, or directly power any USB device. When the sun isn’t shining, users can still energize their devices from the powerful SunJack® battery, which holds enough charge to power up to 4 iPhones.

Kaito Voyager Trek Solar/Crank AM/FM/SW NOAA Weather Radio with 5-LED Flashlight: This simple to operate radio can be powered by three AAA batteries or the built-in rechargeable Ni-MH battery which in turn can be charged by hand cranking, by solar panel or even by a PC. . The 7-weather channels are pre-programmed and numbered from 1-7, you can easily and conveniently tune into the stations by adjusting the switch.  Note that not all emergency radios include the NOAA weather band so this is an important feature.

Cell Phone Faraday Cage Bag:  This is the bag I have been testing.  It is also stops hacking and the tracking of your phone.  Mobilsec also has a laptop sized Faraday Cage EMP Shield

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!

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109 Responses to “How to Build a Simple Faraday Cage for EMP Survival”

  1. Unfortunately, most of the information on your website regarding authentic EMP pulse weapon yeild is naive. A nuclear EMP **WILL** burnout almost any metal structures comprised of circular shaped metals. Objects such as chain-link fences will burn, automobile wheel-rims,gold-stripe around porcelain dishes on your shelves, bracelets, aluminum window-frames, etc. Of course the closer one is to the epicenter of the device, the more severe the metal damage.

    I am not guessing at this and the information was not acquired through other folks studies; the limited information I am allowed to share here was learned as result of my having instrumented (1988) the effects of an EMP pulse weapon system used to irradiate commonly available items found the public sector as well as household items, such as FM radios, TV sets, automobiles, toaster ovens, hair-blowers, electric pencile sharpners, and yes, microwave ovens too. The purpose of the tests were to determine device survivability. From that research data that I generated under DARPA contract, military vehicles, communication systems and other things were developed to remain functional following nuclear weapons detonations.

    Also the notion that simply placing an electronic device inside a microwave oven, by doing so will protect it from being damaged by an EMP pulse is uninformed, although its a cool idea, and if far enough away from zero?…its sketchy. On the other hand, a survivable Faraday cage would need be quite robust, but can be home fabricated. Make it large so that you can get inside of it along with your gadgets, solar-panels, for post detonation power, and of course a few pumps, for water, and gasolene, etc.

    The reason a microwave oven blocks cellphone RF signals is that the construction of the microwave oven enclosure (metal box) and the see-through pin-hole metal-mask ‘glass’ door of microwave ovens, operate on similar wavelengths and are designed to ‘stop-band’ those frequencies. Phrasing it another way, the RF energy of a microwave oven and a cell-phone are very nearly the same frequencies and the oven door is specifically designed to prevent that energy band from leaking out, or in your scenario, from leaking in. Blocking just one narrow band of frequencies, while an EMP pulse weapon generates a huge multi-spectral (lo-bands, mid-bands, hi-bands, ultra-hi-bands…millions of bands) EMF field that moves in and out. And it critically rings over hundreds of miles. While it is true that the microwave oven could block the band of frequencies it is designed block, it will not block any of the OTHER millions of bands emitted by the EMP pulse weapon. So everything inside the microwave oven as well as the microwave oven ‘itself’ would be burned out, including your dishwasher, your garbage disposal, your ceiling fans, your digital clock, your chain-link fence around (catch fire and melt) the yard, the rings on your fingers or nose, etc.

    EMP pulse weapons are very nasty.

    DC electricity is generated by moving a magnet back and forth through a length of wire, which has been coiled. A small light-bulb may be lit by putting it on the wire ends. Remove the bulb and twist the wires together creates a ‘short’, while moving the magnet back and forth causes the wire to heat-up, and if the magnet is strong enough, the wire will melt.

    A ring on one’s finger is a 1-turn shorted ‘coil’ when exposed to the moving ‘magnetic’ field of a nuclear EMP pulse.

    Best defense, no nukes.

  2. Yet another question—If anyone has had their stuff in a tape-sealed trashcan cage for an extended period of time (like a year or two), I really would like to know whether there have been any problems with moisture & mildew collecting inside. I read somewhere that it would take a very large amount of desiccant to be effective for such a large space. I am putting a wealth of electronics in there, and don’t want them all destroyed by such a pathetic cause, after all that!

  3. Will a metal trash can with a cardboard liner truly work as an absolutely effective Faraday cage? Has this been scientifically tested? I’m starting to think it might be too simplistic. Does the tape need to achieve a completely air-tight seal around the cover of the can? The bottom of the cans are certainly not air-tight seals in their construction….Just asking.

    • Yes, check out //www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYWhTMmv6bs

      He tests with a meter with just the can and a taped can to show the difference.

    • Thanks very much for the link, dmwalsh568! I’ve just watched several of the videos by the same guy, and find them very reassuring. Getting to work on putting mine together this afternoon. Things seem at a near-boiling point on this planet, and there are a couple of insane people leading countries with nuke buttons….

  4. Anyone can build a Faraday cage, of any size with simple household materials. Start with a wood frame, depending on the size, you can create it from a 1″ x 1″ or from 2″ x 4″ lumber or larger; to the cubical frame, staple copper window screening, but make sure the copper screen section are in contact with one another. Some soldering could be easily involved. Just make sure that there is an opening for you to access the inside to place and remove you items. Other screen material can be used, like aluminum but not a nylon or other synthetic materials. Copper is by far the best all around and is easiest to solder to maintain electrical continuity of the “circuit”.

    • Hello. I’m kinda techno-challenged, but with regard to using a galvanized trash can to shield electronics from EMPs, could you remove the handle, using the up-side- down lid as a base to stack your items such as your solar generator, laptops, ipads, etc., and use the can as the cover?
      Access might be easier, but would there be a danger of bouncing EMP?

    • As long as you aren’t creating any holes in the outside of the can or lid, and you remember to keep an insulating layer on the inside between the can and your gear, then the orientation of the can shouldn’t matter. However, depending on how strong the lid is, you may have trouble with it buckling under load. The barrel of the can is designed to take the weight, not sure if that was ever considered for the lid.

  5. I find it amazing that some people are more worried about if they will be able to download e-books from the cloud,,, rather than being concerned about their own survival. Maybe some people don’t get it… but if a solar corona event,,, or multiple nuclear EMP’s fry the power grid… we will be shoved back into an 1800’s lifestyle or further back.

    Any kind of SCE or EMP will fry the power generators at ANY electrical producing power station. When that happens,,, the gasoline/diesel/propane producing refineries will explode… because those chemical processes don’t stop on a dime with the closing of one valve. Natural gas pumping stations will shut down also.

    With no fuel souce we will have no power for the construction equipment needed to rebuild the power plants and refineries. Once gasoline runs out… we will have no transportation,,, no jobs… and no money. We will go back to a barter and trade sytem and food and heat will be the main sources of trade, (currency), just to survive. Most water won’t be safe to drink without distillation or boiling. I really don’t think most people on this site realize how bad it will get.

    Where do I get my knowledge from??? As a construction worker that has spent most of his career working in refineries and power generation plants. Trust me!!! A SCE or multiple EMP’s will do more damage to soceity than most people realize!!!

    A SCE or multiple EMP’s would take YEARS to recover from,,, and most likely half of the population in advanced societies would end up dying or killing each other off. Third world countries will fair much better because they are still living an “old fashioned” lifestyle… without what we have become dependent upon.

    WAKE UP!!!

    • I agree. but even if using a metal trash can and lid, how effective can using aluminized duct tape be when only the exterior surface is metal – the inside is just glue? There would be no conductivity. What can be done to protect the computers on a vehicle? Cover them with tin foil and use a chain bolted to the frame to drag on the ground. Maybe attach a wire from the frame to a ground rod in the driveway, using a wire disconnect that would pull apart automatically if you forgot to disconnect it? I even disconnect my ham radio antenna at the radio just in case.

    • I thought the same think initially about the aluminized tape, but Dr Bradley has some good youtube videos about some testing he did. The old link I posted above seems to have gone away, but I found it again at:

      //www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYWhTMmv6bs

  6. with all the nuke testing done since the 40s why hasn’t this problem come up decades ago. think of all the countries that set off nukes. hi in the air all the way to underground and no phd said stop your going to hurt tv? I SMELL PEOPLE MAKING MONEY ON SCARE. 44jon

    • There have only been a limited number of nuclear bombs exploded above the earth’s atmosphere. The most well known is known as Starfish Prime and wikipedia has a nice article on it at: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfish_Prime
      Basically, not only did the test prove that EMP effects are real, but it damaged electrical equipment about 900 miles away in Hawaii, and this is 50s and early 60s electrical equipment, not the more sensitive integrated circuits we use today. Inferring from the Starfish Prime results, unless serious steps are taken to protect the electrical grid and critical infrastructure we’ll be in a world of hurt after a well placed nuke, say above Kansas.
      As for folks making money scaring people…that always happens, but is it money making selling plywood and generators to folks in the path of a hurricane? Or selling out of shovels and ice melt for people in the path of a blizzard? But I have to wonder how well (or if) you read the article….galvanized trash cans and aluminum foil aren’t exactly high priced items, yet they are highly effective as “simple faraday cages.” So to protect a few useful items from an EMP, wrap the box in aluminum foil and if you really want to be safe, put that foil wrapped box inside a galvanized trash can that has cardboard lining and a tight fitting lid. I have 4 of those cans setup myself. So for under $120 I have protection for MUCH more value of prepping electronics – flashlights, lanterns, small solar chargers, LED light bulbs, multimeters, radios, civil defense radiation meters, dosimeters, etc. Basically, I consider the foil and trash cans as cheap non-expiring insurance.

  7. Just dawned on me that maybe my propane Big Buddy space heated needs to reside inside a cage. It’s pretty large, so can anyone confirm that I need to do this?

    • The only thing on your space heater that would be affected… is if it had electronic ignition. As long as you have a Zippo lighter or basic Big disposable,,, you should be ok. Long term souce of propane would be my concern at that point. Especially if you live in a colder climate.

    • I’d be concerned about the thermocouple safety system that shuts the heater off in low oxygen environments. If that gets damaged (not sure how sensitive that is to EMP) who knows what condition the heater will be left in if the thermocouple is fried. There is also a fan, but that’s not important to the heater function so if it fries, not a big deal.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, dmwalsh. Would that be a dangerous situation? I had intended to use the heater only with a window cracked open.

    • Depends on how the heater responds to a fried thermocouple. Most likely possibilities are: it won’t turn on at all, or it will turn on, but won’t stop working until O2 levels are low enough to not support combustion anymore. Possibility 2 is the most dangerous since if there isn’t enough airflow to replenish O2 levels you can easily suffocate before the flames are snuffed out. Although a complete lack of heat in frigid temps has its own risks…
      Opening a window a crack for air might be enough, but I’m not an engineer so I couldn’t tell you what airflow rates would be necessary to be safe. I have a Big Buddy myself, but haven’t put it in a trash can due to its size, just wrapped the box in heavy duty aluminum foil. But I have plenty of candles and other plans in case the Big Buddy fails. Layers upon layers…can get excessive, but I like to have at least 3 ways of doing any given task just in case. Obsessive? My wife thinks so, but at least she humors me. 🙂

    • Thanks again so much for your thoughts, dmwalsh. I think I will put my heater in a trash can since I am still unsure if it would be put completely out of commission with an EMP. I think multiple layers are a great plan, whether others consider that obsessive or not. I don’t live in a frigid winter environment (NC), but I sure want to be prepared for the cold. Any idea about whether a Weber propane grill will be disabled by an EMP?

    • I suspect not. Most propane grills just use a piezoelectric igniter which wouldn’t be affected by an EMP. It’s just a crystal that makes a small spark when it’s hit. Unless you have a grill that has fancy electronics or a rotisserie then there’s nothing that could be damaged by an EMP.

    • Oddly enough, there’s no reply button under your last response to my question about the grill. So thank you again, dmwalsh! Hope you find this.

    • Thank you, Mike. How will I know whether the space heater has an electronic ignition? Do they operate the same as a gas grill? I really am counting on my gas grill as well, and I don’t think I can fit that in a trash can, haha!

  8. I own a kindle, I have several books there that are needed for after an EMP event. My question is (that I have NOT see answered yet)……

    When the system fails, and I want to pull that kindle out and use it, will I still be able to get the books if they are “downloaded” to the device? Is the download like it is on a computer where I can access it if the equipment is protected? Or will that information all be lost in a “cloud” somewhere? I am not sure how the kindle works with everything being clouded these days. The lady that I spoke to when I called customer service for the kindle either thought I was nuts as hell, or didn’t understand English.

    My mother is wanting to purchase a kindle and have her books put on it to save having to tote them around, but I cannot answer the questions she has and we are both getting frustrated. Thanks for any answers.

    • Slightly longer answer:

      The Kindle keeps copies of anything you have downloaded until you delete them (just like your computer.) However we’re depending on 1) the device survives whatever event this is, and 2) that Amazon didn’t hide any requirements for periodic check-ins.
      I suspect Amazon didn’t do #2 to the software because they have been great about communicating (via email) when a required software update is coming and when things will break if you don’t update. And by break, I mean you can’t download fresh books from their cloud, not that it breaks access to downloaded content.
      I have a Kindle Touch that I have loaded around 2000 books onto as my prepping library, and while I have some physical books as backup for critical info, I’m really hoping my Kindle works for years to come.

    • I’ll just add that I’ve learned not to trust that things I can’t control won’t change without notice so my advice is to not rely on Amazon or any other ebook provider to not one day in the future put such a check in there or in some other way get in the way of opening content and make sure that you have another way to get at them. Again, open protocols and standards are the only way to go in the scenario where we may be without Internet or apps. That’s why, IMO, it is better to use a more generic device like a general purpose tablet that isn’t tied so much to the Internet and stuff an SD card with all your content. The advantage there is if the tablet breaks, the content can be opened on anything else that can handle standard pdf or epub (or even text files) formatted books like a laptop or phone or another tablet, etc. So to me, relying on a content provider’s app-even if the content is downloaded, be it Kindle, BN Reader, Google Play Books, iTunes etc. as the path to getting to my books isn’t something I want to take a chance on.

    • In general, once I went nearly all electronic for my books and information, I made it a rule to not rely on the cloud for ANY content that I have. This goes beyond EMP events (and of course assumes the devices were protected in such an event(s)). For that, I now have two (supposedly) EMP proof boxes with the idea that only one is opened at a time. I cycle through them syncing data and making sure they can still hold a charge etc every couple of months (no, it doesn’t take long, just made it part of my house maintenance tasks). In any case, you should develop an “offline” mode–i.e. what would you do if for any reason other than brief outages you couldn’t get to the network. Turn off your wifi at home and see how much stuff you can get to. Same for your phone-put it in “airplane” mode or just turn off the data connection. If there’s books you want/need that all of a sudden you can’t get to, that’s a good indicator of what you need to change. There are many scenarios which don’t involve some sort of conspiracy or apocalyptic event that could take out your Internet connectivity. I also don’t rely on cloud apps like Kindle or BN or Google Play Books (I don’t have any iOS devices so iCloud/iTunes is not an issue) so I make sure I can open content such as ebooks or videos etc. in standard apps like FBReader (epub/pdf) and VLC (audio/videos). You may have to find a way to export them and remove restrictions of find versions that do not have them. You should always stick to open formats. Another thing, if you have an Android device, take the time to export your apps so you don’t have to rely on the cloud based Google Play store. There’s several that allow you to save the .apk file. And the list grows from there. Also, make sure your backups of your devices are stored locally in addition to the cloud. Just to be clear, I’m not so much anti-cloud but I just want to get to my stuff whether the cloud is there or not. And for the stuff that is really important, should there be some sort of regional or otherwise event, you should have a physical copy. I’m taking about things like medical and other “survival” type information that would come in handy should a real shtf event happen. This is what I do anyways, so if you find it useful, have at it.

  9. I forgot to add… that where I live now,,, there are no natural gas or water lines. I use propane for heat,,, and have enough of a supply to last a year for cooking, water heating, and heat. I also have a propane powered generator… but if a solar event or EMP wiped it out,,, I could still find a way to heat a portion of the house. Would I miss electricity??? Of course!!! But it is a luxury,,, not a necessity.

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