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Newbie needing help getting power resources beyond Coal/Manual machines - Cycle 53

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Hey all. I am LOVING this game, but I have been having difficulty finding power resources. I'm playing standard, survival difficulty on the base planet, I think it's called Terra or something. I'm hovering at 7 dups with a decent, some-what organized base. I pretty much have a steady supply of basic resources (food, water) and have a farm going as well as a ranch for eggs. Again, my problem is that I'm steadily running out of coal to keep my semi-small town going. I cannot expand further into the other technologies because if I don't have enough coal in storage or looking on the map to power them nor do I want to keep tossing dups on manual power machines.

So, my next thought was why try another machine. The wood burner is a no-go cuz there is no wood on this planet. Next up is the hydrogen machine. I cannot use that machine because so far, I've only seen at most 2 small pockets of hydrogen that might not do so much to go that route. Exact same problem goes with the natural gas machine. The only other option left is the petroleum generator. Main problem is, I cannot find ANY oil at all. I heard it's deep down, but I've been digging and digging and have not found any oil wells at all.

Another problem that deals involves the natural gas machine as well as any other machine that produces any "extra" gas is that the area eventually becomes TOO pressurized where the machine stops. The simply solution is the high pressure vent. The problem there is that I cannot build the high pressure vent because I don't have plastic. I can't make plastic because I have no oil. I don't have oil because I cannot find any. See the problem here? Goes round and round so I've been stuck at coal/manual machines at cycle 53.

Advice and tips?

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At cycle 53, you'd probably want to stick with coal; all the renewable sources are a bit expensive to build (require plastic, steel, etc.).

The question I'm having rn is: how much energy are you using? I usually get by with coal until cycle 200 (not that it's sustainable bc of the heat, but usually it lasts that long), so how many coal generators do you have running? I try not to have more than two by cycle 100, though if I go for exosuits then, I usually have a third dedicated coal gen for the suits.

Further questions: how far outside the starting biome have you explored? There's a whole lot of coal hidden in the hydrogen/chlorine biomes, which you can mine out. You mention ranching for eggs: afaik 8 hatches should suffice to keep a generator supplied (though I haven't done the math and may be wrong), as they poop out coal.

Oil is at the bottom of the map and it's pretty hot and further generates a bunch of heat when you're refining it (my first try using oil I fried my base almost immediately, so it definitely requires set-up).

I'm not expert by any means (and in fact still trying to figure out how to get away from coal in the early mid-game), but on Terra you definitely shouldn't run out of coal by cycle 53.

If you're interested in a guide, I've found this one by Jahws pretty helpful (though the base set-up and priorities aren't quite working for me), and I learned the basics by this guide by oni-assistant, though it may be out-dated in some places (I still think it's good enough for the early game).

Further tips that helped me:

  • Don't be afraid to stick to manual power for a bit! Yes, it takes dupe time, but it's definitely sustainable.
  • Use your power sparingly and build the generator away from the core of the base and towards the bottom, as CO2 sinks
  • Explore the surrounding biomes! If you're worried about gases spilling into your base, try the water lock
  • Farm hatches for coal
  • Don't be afraid to reject dupes from the printer! Expanding too fast is quite hazardous

Those are intermediate steps; for sustainable sources, I'll probably not be much help (but the first guide linked probably is).

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I often use hydrogen route for a long time.

13 hours ago, barcode120x said:

I cannot use that machine because so far, I've only seen at most 2 small pockets of hydrogen that might not do so much to go that route.

Most of hydrogen in your asteroid probably from electrolyzer, not from hydrogen pockets. How is your oxygen production?

14 hours ago, barcode120x said:

I cannot build the high pressure vent because I don't have plastic.

For vents, you don't need too much plastic. If you are into ranching, glossy drecko is available early. Alternatively, heavy use of atmo-suit and keep digging down.

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Do u use smart batteries already? They help a lot with stretching your resources because generators will only run if batteries are below a certain threshold.

If you use normal batteries generators will run weather power is needed or not

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The best way to get more energy is to use less energy. You shouldn't need anything more than a single basic wire to supply an early game base. So what are the big consumers?

- Gas and water pumps. Avoid using these whenever possible. Gas will flow for free, and water will pour downhill for free. Build oxygen machines directly on site and let the gas flow freely. When you do use pumps, use pressure sensors to ensure maximum pump efficiency and storage tanks so they don't have to be pumped ever again.

- Refrigerators. These dastardly machines are always on, so they will eat through your power supply. Keep them unplugged and use a sterile storage instead.

- Space heaters. Everything a space heater does, other machines will do for free. Metal refineries give a huge amount of heat AND useful metal at the same time.

- Dumb generators. Coal generators should always be plugged into a smart battery to save fuel. Other generators have similar options, however the hydrogen generator has a gas deleting bug if connected to rapid fire automation.

- Doors. Does anyone ever plug in a door? They're WAY too expensive especially when there are so many ways to activate them for free. 

Most other machines are pretty efficient. They only consume power when active and are generally worth the expense. 

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Someone else might've answered this already but here's my suggestion.


First thing first, 7 might be too many dupes.  If you are new to the game, I'd recommend not going over 4 until you set up sustainable oxygen which is generally from an electrolyzer setup.  If you are getting oxygen from algae diffusers, terrariums, oxyferns, or rust deoxidizers, you don't have sustainable oxygen yet.  Yes, you can find plenty of algae, rust, and dirt in the map, but you will eventually run out of those things.  One thing that's impossible to run out of is stuff from geysers.  They turn off now and then, but they always come back so long as they aren't over pressurized so that is one of the only ways to get sustainable oxygen.

Having too many dupes into a huge problem, but it can cause newer players issues since you have to deal with new mechanics quicker than you expect.  I have played this game for years now and know the basic flow of the game so I know that after fixing one problem I need to immediately search out X to solve the next one, whereas you might not know that already and having all these dupes force you to adapt before you are ready.  Once you learn more about the game maintaining a larger base is easy but for the first few colonies you start a small base will provide a gentler learning curve.

What we want to make our base sustainable is a renewable source of water.  Preferably a cool slush geyser but other sources will do.  Using that water we send it to an electrolyzer that breaks down the water into hydrogen and oxygen (if it's polluted, we have to sieve it first).  That takes care of your oxygen needs and also supplies you with a source of hydrogen that you can use for power or dreckos or anything else really.  This is generally where I get my power after coal and manual generators.  Many people have provided SPOM designs (self-powered oxygen machines) in this forum or just on the internet.  I don't really like them but they are a great starting block for how to get this type of design started.


Next thing is cut down on your current power requirements.  I generally only power my research station, my advanced research station, a liquid pump, and one or two water sieves.  Occasionally I'll have an additional thing to power like the rock crusher or whatnot, but that's it.  I achieve this small power footprint by using some tricks to the game. 

For instance, carbon dioxide is a sterile gas and food does not rot in a sterile environment.  So, instead of using refrigerators to keep my food good longer, I instead dig a cup to catch Co2 as it falls and put ration boxes in it.  The dupes will put the food in the boxes and since the boxes are in a sterile environment I don't need to use power.  You can also just place the boxes near the bottom of your base to make it easier but I like making a specific cup area so my dupes don't have a long trek to get food.

Another trick, despite airlock doors saying they need power, they actually don't need power.  If you want them to close as fast as possible, then yes you need to power them, but you can also just use them like a manual door instead and leave them unpowered.  Even when plugged in they don't form a perfect airlock, so there really is little benefit to plugging them in unless you specifically need something opened quickly.

Incubators are another thing people use a ton of power on.  Yes, they speed up hatch time if a dupe sings to the egg, but cost a ton of power to do this.  What you can do is use a power shut off and some automation to only provide power to the incubators for X amount of time and try to schedule your rancher to be there to lullaby them right then.  Takes a bit of setup but I normally set it for right after bath time since my rancher will run to take a shower and then immediately see the incubators have eggs that need to be sung to, so they rush to do that next.  Once done singing to them, the power is cut and the incubators stop drawing power which reduces my over all power consumption.

Last trick is lights.  While lights speed up a dupes, they also constantly drain power when dupes aren't their.  Early on I set up my research stations right beside the printing pod (since it gives off light) so that they have the boost to production but everything else in the base is dark.  Once I have a stable power system using nat gas, hydrogen, or some other renewable source, that's when I start placing lights around my base.  You can also use dupe sensing automation to only turn on a light if there is a dupe there, thus ensuring that power is only consumed when a dupe is around to get the bonus from it.


You mentioned have too much gas pressure with nat gas generators but those produce a very small amount of Co2 during use.  What I normally do is pipe that Co2 into a room or some other place in my base and just use a carbon scrubber to get rid of it or feed it to some slicksters to turn it into crude oil/petrol.  If you can't afford the power, you can always just pump in down near another carbon scrubber you already have and it should be fine.

If you can't find oil to make plastic an alternative is glossy dreckos.  Dreckos feed on mealwood, pincha peppers, and balm lilies, but if they eat mealwood they are more likely to produce a glossy egg.  So, set up a small ranch with some hydrogen in it (from electrolyzer or from random pocket in asteroid), wrangle your dreckos, and grow some mealwood in farm tiles in the ranch.  After a few cycles you'll eventually get a glossy drecko which, when sheared, provides plastic.  This is generally my means of getting plastic in a game since oil takes more time to find whereas glossy dreckos just take time to raise and are often found crawling around my base anyway.  They hydrogen allows them to regrow their scales so you can shear the same drecko over and over.

Another alternative is door pumps.  Door pumps are a series of doors that open and close using automation.  They can work like a powerless pump and move gas from one area to another.  This is really nice because you can create infinite storage tanks using them since doors don't break under high pressure.  So, you can use a regular vent to push carbon dioxide into a room and use a door pump to compress it into a small area till you can figure out how to deal with it.

A different way to achieve the same infinite gas storage as above is using water over a vent trick.  Vents overpressurize if enough gas or liquid covers them, but if a small amount of liquid sits on a vent, the vent will continue to output gas because it never gets over pressure.  The liquid maintains is max and since only one element can exist in a tile at a time, the gas never stops it.  I don't use these myself but I know I've seen people post images of them before and probably have some clever ways to easily produce them.


The last method would be using care packages to get what you need.  You said you are on Terra probably so you don't have access to trees.  However, you can receive arbor tree seeds from the printing pod.  It might take a while to get them, but they are really useful to deal with power issue.  Combined with Pips you can have infinite power from wild growing trees so long as you have enough of them.  They are a better power source on seeds with a starting forest biome but you can still use them on a starting sandstone biome.

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My tip is to stick to manual generators for as long as possible.

As soon as you find a natural gas geyser, you can use that one.

Coal is just a hassle because it creates alot of co2 and heat. It's also annoying when you run out of coal.

NG is much better, because it has no other use (apart from the new grill) and generates some extra polluted water for you.

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In very low detail, I strongly suggest wild farming arbor trees for acorns, and using wood burners. Throw the CO2 into space until you can ranch up some slicksters to put it to better use. I also strongly suggest that newer players avoid building an ethanol distillery. That should be something you tap into when you need the byproducts from distillation, more than the power from your tree farm.

There are quite a lot of other options but this is by far the simplest scalable / sustainable power source. Tune-ups are optional especially for how little power each individual generator makes.

Next on the list, I hope you're tapping into your natural gas geysers. They won't sustain your base, but they'll certainly reduce the amount of work you're putting into other power sources.

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With smart batteries and hatches coal lasts a long time. The smart batteries are vital so that the generator doesn't run all the time.

It's true that 4 hatches may only feed a single generator full time, but I have many generators and my 6-8 hatch ranch + wild hatches seem to even produce excess coal. Things simply don't run all the time.

CO2 isn't much of an issue either. I separated my base from the tunnels below it because it's very hot directly below. In my base I can vent CO2 into space. In the tunnels it just sinks down and I can place some algae terrariums now and then to create pockets where dupes can breath.

Heat is an issue if the generator is in the base itself, but insulated tiles and a wheezewort help with that

Automation can also prevent other things from running unnecessarily. For example the pump venting the CO2? Only activate it when there is a certain amount of pressure.

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