Category Archives: Homestead

SunBell Solar Light & Phone Charger Review

SunBell Solar Light & Phone Charger

I recently got the SunBell Solar Light & Phone Charger from EarthEasy and ironically it could not have come at a better time. A solar light is one of those items that seems like a good thing to have on hand “just in case” you need it. As sure as things happens sometimes, the SunBell arrived just a few days before we had a power outage. This gave me the chance to not only see if it works, but see if it works in an emergency.

Solar Light

I was very pleased with the SunBell. It is built from sturdy materials and all of the connections and connection points are well protected from the elements. The performance of the solar light function was flawless and versatile, offering three different settings (5 lumens, 50 lumens, and 150 lumens). The option to use it as a gooseneck lamp, flashlight, lantern, or overhead light is super convenient and really makes it practical for numerous applications. That is only half of what the SunBell does!

In addition to being a solar light, the SunBell is a cell phone charger as well. A USB adapter plugs into the Sunbell that allows phone charging cords with a USB plug to be connected for charging. I did not try charging anything other than the prescribed cell phone but I am almost thinking that the USB charger could be used for more than just a cell phone. Of course, you will have to expirement on your own and at your own risk.

I took the SunBell outside on a sunny day and plugged my phone in just to see how well it worked. It took only ten minutes for my phone battery to increase twelve percent. I was very pleased with the results to say the least. What was also impressive is that there is no need to direct the solar panel in any certain direction. I just set it on top of my table outside and the SunBell did the rest. It is even possible to leave the solar light unit itself inside and place the solar panel outside using the nine foot cord that the SunBell comes with. The panel could easily pass through a window on the sunny side of a house for charging.

Overall, the specifications are quite impressive:

  • 150 Lumen Output for 4.5+ Hours
  • 50 Lumen Output for 14+ Hours
  • 5 Lumen Output for 130+ Hours
  • Charging Time: 3-8 Hours (Depending on Sun Conditions)
  • 1.8 Watt Solar Panel
  • Weight: 21.2 Ounces

If you were to set the solar panel out for just a few hours every day, the SunBell could meet the lighting requirements for the average room. In fact, since I got my solar light, I have charged it once and use it every evening for general tasks around the house and it doesn’t even exhibit any sign of getting dimmer after about four hours of use. To say that I like this solar light would not do it justice. The fact that it has the phone charger option is just icing on the cake. I think the SunBell is worth every penny!

If I were going to live off grid or set up a bug out location, I think that I would definitely select the SunBell as a viable lighting option. The SunBell Solar Light & Charger is a perfect solution as a back-up light during a power outage, camping light, or for living off grid. If you have been looking for a versatile solar light to serve as a backup lighting source, primary lighting source, or both; there is not really any need to look further than the SunBell Solar Light & Charger.

How To Make An UNwelcome Mat

Security requires a constant effort that not only involves keeping a watchful eye on your property, but also maintaining practices that mitigate the risk of loss or damage. It usually helps to have good relationships with friends and neighbors too. There are many crimes that are prevented or cut short because of having a neighbor or passerby notice that something is out of place. An unwelcome mat is a door mat that consists of a mat with a grid of nails or screws with points upward as a deterrent. It is typically a passive measure that can be taken to not only protect your property from human intruders but curious wildlife as well. It is a suitable measure for an occupied property as well as a remote location such as a vacation home or bug out property.

Photo Credit: Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission

Step 1 – Decide what to use for the base of the unwelcome mat. This could be a piece of plywood or even a rubber mat like the ones used in gyms and horse stalls. Typically, the thicker the mat, the better.

Step 2 – Determine the size of mat that you would like to put together. The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife recommends a 4 foot by 4 foot mat for a single doorway or a 4 foot by 8 foot mat for a double door entry.

Step 3 – Measure the thickness of the mat material to determine the length of nails or screws to use. The spikes extending through the mat should be about 3/4″-1″ above the top of the flat surface of the mat. An unwelcome mat will require approximately 25 nails or screws for each square foot of size.

Step 4 – Install the nails or screws in a grid pattern, approximately 2″ apart. It can be easier to put nails or screws into the mat if a pilot hole is drilled first.

Step 5 – Place the unwelcome mat in your decided location. Ensure that it cannot be moved easily or flipped over by securing it using nails or screws. If the unwelcome mat is going to be placed somewhere other than a porch, it can be secured using landscape spikes or tent stakes.

While this is not a standalone security system, an unwelcome mat can be a simple addition to a comprehensive system designed to deter both human and animal invaders. Along with being simple and easily made, an unwelcome mat can be placed almost anywhere making it very versatile.

Disclaimer: Make sure to check all applicable laws, regulations, and rules to verify that the use of unwelcome mats is legal. It is also likely that in an effort to avoid liability, a sign warning visitors of your unwelcome mat should be posted. Of course, if things go in a southern direction, it may not matter how legal it is.

Revolutionary Security Innovation

Have you ever wondered how you might be able to extend the capabilities of your security system? Or if there was a good solution for safeguarding a piece of equipment without incurring obscene costs? The solution is here and it costs less than 30 bucks!

.22 Caliber Mini-Sentry Trip Wire Alarm

Effective 24/7 Security for Preppers and Survivalists

The Mini-Sentry trip wire alarm can be used to protect large areas or individual items. It can be used on pastures, fences, roads, gates, vehicles, equipment, tools, supplies and more.  A distinct advantage to a trip wire alarm with the loud crack of a gun shot is the trespasser or thief knows that you are aware of their presence and location, and that you are serious about security.

The Mini-Sentry is tiny, easily concealed, uses a loud, readily available, inexpensive .22 caliber blank, is constructed of machined brass, galvanized and stainless steel and is coated in a flat black finish.

The Mini Sentry can be installed temporarily with a zip tie, string, tape or wire, and more permanently with screws For additional information on protecting your loved ones and property, go to:

Check out a YouTube video demonstration of the Mini-Sentry:

NOTE: The author in no way was/is being compensated for this article. I just believe this is an awesome and highly effective piece of equipment!

What The Holzhaufen!?!?

If you don’t know, don’t worry. Until the other day I didn’t know what a holzhaufen was either. As it turns out, in German, holzhaufen means “woodpile.” But the term holzhaufen has been taken a little bit further and has been associated with a certain method of piling wood. From what I have found, a holzhaufen in its modern definition is a cylinder shape stack of split wood with a pyramid on the top (see picture below). I thought this was too cool to not share because it not only seems to offer an alternative to the traditional wood stack but it dries quickly with a built-in visual indicator of when your firewood is ready to burn.

Picture Credit:

So how the heck do you build one of these things?

The rough guidelines to construct a holzhaufen include:

1. Wood must be cut in lengths between 12 inches and  24 inches.

2. Wood must be split. Split wood not only dries faster, but also interlocks which is a requirement for sturdy holzhaufen construction. (Have some kindling size pieces available for filling in the gaps when needed.)

3. Build your holzhaufen on a level piece of ground. (Dry ground is recommended.)

4. Decide how high your stack will be (anywhere from 4 to 10 feet high) and drive a stake in the ground to the height, centered in the location of your holzhaufen. FYI – Don’t build the stack higher than you can reach to the top!

5. Determine the diameter of your stack (4 feet to 6 feet across) and start stacking your wood aligned with the outer perimeter. This will leave a space in the center around the stake. As the stack grows around the outer perimeter, fill the empty space in with wood stacked vertically to fill in the gaps. (It does not have to be a real tight fit.) The key is to allow air to move up the stack like a chimney to allow the wood to dry quickly and effectively.

6. While stacking the wood keep an eye on how level the stack is. The idea is to maintain a slight inward lean after about the first third of the stack is built. This can be accomplished by setting the thinner end of the split wood on the inside of the stack. To avoid the stack getting out of balance, “cheater boards” (thinner pieces of split wood) can be placed perpendicular to the other boards on the inside or outside of the stack as needed to keep the stack from falling. (This can be seen in the picture below.)

7. Once you get to the top foot or two of your holzhaufen start the pyramid effect toward the center. When you do this, ensure that the wood used is placed bark side up to offer the highest level of protection to the wood stack below from the elements.

8. Now that you have a completed holzhaufen, sit back and wait for your wood to season. Once the stack has settled about 20 to 25 percent it should be good and ready for the fire. A simple way to know when the wood is ready would be to make an indicator mark at about the 25% point on the center pole when you are building your holzhaufen.

Advantages of the holzhaufen:

  • One holzhaufen can contain as much as two and a half cords.
  • Includes a visual indicator of approximately how dry the wood is.
  • A 6 foot diameter and 10 foot high holzhaufen can be constructed in just one hour.
  • Drying time is shortened compared to other stacking methods due to the chimney effect of the holzhaufen.
  • The small footprint of the holzhaufen compared to other wood stacking methods results in less wood rot and bug infestation because of less wood being in contact with the ground.

*Fancy Homesteader Trick – If you would like to offer even more protection to your holzhaufen from the elements, you can place a patio table umbrella down the middle of the stack to keep it dry. A few words of warning with this method…it might be a good idea to find a way to anchor the umbrella if you do this, you may end up with a smaller holzhaufen this way, and it is also unlikely that you will any longer be able to sit outside and enjoy lemonade under your patio table umbrella when there is a huge stack of wood underneath it!

Sources:, Mother Earth News, The Morning Call