Anything you want to build in Astroneer is going to come with a power requirement. Whether it is smelting resources or crafting more advanced materials to use in your printer, you will need to make sure your base has power.
When you first start out, your base will have a set amount of power that is generated from the shelter. This is not enough to fuel a growing base. This guide will cover all of the methods used for power generation and storage that will allow you to build up your base as big as you need without needing to worry about limitations on the amount of power that you can provide to your structures.
Generating Power In Astroneer
Generating power in Astroneer comes in a couple of different forms. When you first get started, you will notice a device on your shelter that is producing a limited amount of power that will allow you to use a printer and some other structures. Quickly, you will find that this is not enough and need to increase your capacity.
There are three main ways to produce power in Astroneer. They vary in their effectiveness depending on both the planet you are on and also the resources you have available at a particular time.
Power Generation Through Combustion
Generators are devices that will consume organic material and produce power. This is essentially a generator that we have in real life. Instead of consuming gas, it consumes organic matter. This is not renewable and it requires the highest amount of maintenance.
A generator will only function when there is some organic material for it to burn. To use a generator effectively you will need to ensure there is a storage unit on the same platform for the generator to consume once the current unit runs out. Once there is no more organic material left to burn. The generator will stop producing power.
Generators are useful when you are stuck and need power quickly. They should never be used for any long term power generation solutions.
The main two types of renewable energy come in the form of sunlight and wind. Wind turbines capture wind and solar panels capture sunlight. Both of these occur naturally which means you will have very little maintenance. Once the structures are connected to the grid, you will have a regular supply of power from them with minimal effort to maintain them.
The biggest flaw with renewable power is that it is not constant. Depending on the planet, the wind might not blow often or the sun might not shine bright enough to capture the light. Even on planets with an abundance, they do not allow for sudden surges in supply requirements. Renewables are only effective when combined with batteries.
The RTG – Infinite Free Power
The RTG is a power generation device that requires no fuel, no natural elements but will still produce power. One of these is actually fitted on the shelter at the start of the game. Once you progress far enough to be able to construct one of these, all of your power needs will be sorted.
An RTG requires you to spend 12500 bytes to unlock. Once unlocked, you need to obtain nanocarbon alloy, which is the most complex of all of the composite resources in Astroneer. You will need to have a lot of scrap to spend or have bases set up on enough planets that you can easily gather all of the resources and gasses that you need to be able to craft it.
Creating a Power Grid
When you start generating power, you will need to find a way to deliver it to the structures and platforms in your base. When you create a platform, you will notice that there are little cable connectors on the different sides of it. Some structures like the small printer and the tractor will also have these connectors. Once you connect them to your shelter, they will be powered, allowing you to use them.
Placing a structure that requires power on top of a platform that is connected to the central shelter is enough to deliver power. But what if you want to add more power production structures to increase the capacity of the power grid?
Connecting More Platforms
Expanding the grid simply involves connecting more platforms. A standard platform will have 4 connectors. When you connect it to the shelter, it will essentially become a splitter, giving 3 new connectors for you to connect to other platforms and it grows exponentially.
There does not appear to be a cost to the amount of power, the further away a structure is from the source of power. Nor does there appear to be a cost in having other structures that consume power appear in front of a new structure. The cables essentially generate a pool. Power consumption will take from the pool. If the power supply falls too low, everything will power down rather than it being given to specific structures on the grid.
Understanding Grid Connectors
The example below will give you a basic, messy layout that lots of people will end up having when they first build a base in Astroneer. Structure platforms maybe things like smelting furnaces, research chambers or printers. Platforms generating power will contain windmills, batteries and solar panels. The table below the image will explain some things about each of the platforms to help you understand their role in the grid and how they consume power.
|Structure Platform 1
|This is connected directly to the shelter which means it is connected to the central source of power.
|Structure Platform 2 & 3
|Power is transferred to this platform through platform 1. There is no degradation of power supply due to another platform coming before it.
|Structure Platform 4
|There is no connector connected to this platform. This means that if a printer were to exist here, it would not work as it does not contain a source of power. If a windmill were added to this platform, it could power a printer as you will have essentially made a mini power grid on a single platform.
|Structure Platform 5
|This platform is connected to the Shelter through platform 6 and through power generating platform 1. Power will flow to this from both sources. This won’t increase the power or give it an advantage.
|Structure Platform 6
|This platform is connected to the shelter and to platform 5. Power can both flow to and through this platform. It doesn’t make any difference. There is no advantage to having a platform like this. It is connected to the grid through two connectors. It still has access to the same amount of power that Structure Platform 3 does.
|Power Generating Platform 1
|This platform can have a windmill and solar panels. It does not consume power but rather produces it. It will send power to structure platform 5, the shelter and to Power generating platform 2. What it also does is consume power from the grid in order to pass it onto the power generating platform 2, even if this platform is not consuming power, it is being delivered. It doesn’t matter where in the grid you add these structures.
|Power Generating Platform 2
|This platform contains batteries. It both sends and consumes power. The windmills and solar on platform 1 will generate power and the batteries will consume this to charge. These batteries will also deliver power to the grid through power platform 1 when there is a enough of a draw that the windmills and solar panels cant supply enough.
Adding New Power Generation Structures
To increase the capacity of your power grid, you simply need to add new power generation structures to a platform that is connected to the grid. For small turbines and small solar, you can connect them to a storage slot and it will generate power so long as the storage structure is sitting on top of a platform that is connected to the grid.
For larger structures like the medium turbine and medium solar, you will need to have a double slot for these. This means a double slot on a platform rather than it just being two slots on storage.
It does not matter where you place a power generation structure on the grid. All red cables with a solid yellow are two-way power lines. This means if you have 10 platforms in a row, you can place the power generation platform at the start, the end or in the middle. It does not matter as power is evenly distributed across all platforms.
Power storage is going to be the biggest challenge you face when starting a new game in Astroneer. Batteries require lithium to be built and this is not a resource that is present on the starting planet. You can often find batteries from damaged platforms that are scattered around the planet.
For better power storage, you will need to start constructing medium batteries. To do this, you will need to travel to a planet that has lithium as a resource. Vesania and Novus both contain this resource in large amounts. You should try to get here as quickly as possible so that you can start constructing batteries. They will be useful for your base and for rovers, which I will get onto in a section below.
Understanding Power Levels
The power grid you create can only deliver as much power as it creates. There does not appear to be an upper limit of how much you can produce, the game will likely crash before this is hit. There are limits to how much you can consume based on the supply, however.
If you are generating 5 units of power per second but your structures are consuming 7 units per second. Your batteries will quickly run out or the structures will start running at a sub-optimal performance. You will notice this when the research chamber starts to move slowly and the furnace has less power when smelting items.
The current power level can be viewed on any connector on any platform. It is split into two parts with 3 potential readings to take from it.
|You are consuming more power than you are generating. Structures are going to perform slowly and may stop functioning if supply drops to 0.
|Yellow on the bottom half
|You have enough power for all of the structures in your base. They are going to run at a steady pace. If it is slightly less than half, you will see some buildings slow down and it may turn red if too much is being used.
|Yellow on the upper half
|This means you are producing more power than your base needs. Some structures will perform at a much faster rate such as faster smelting and researching due to the abundance of excess power available.
Delivering Power To Structures Far Away
If you want to build a small camp or settlement a little further away from your main camp, or maybe just build something on the hill overlooking your camp. You will need to find a way to extend your power grid to this location. Based on what we know so far, you will need to do this by chaining platforms together. There is a much better way to do this.
There are several power connector items that you can build. Things like splitters to convert one cable to feed two structures or the most valuable, the extender. Extenders are cheap to produce. You can chain them together to deliver power to a structure much further away without the need to build dozens of platforms to achieve this.
The main drawback of these is that their power is only one way. Depending on how you connect to the extender, you will see arrows that are animating along the cable. This signals the direction at which the power is flowing. If power is flowing from the platform to the power source, no power will be delivered. You can fix this by selecting the powered platform first and connecting the cable to the unpowered one. This will deliver power in this direction.
Power Generation For Vehicles
I remember the moment when I first built a tractor and when I got in, it wouldn’t drive. Turns out they have empty batteries when you build them and you must charge them first. What we have learned by now is that batteries drain quickly and you need a way to fill them up.
Attaching a wind turbine to your vehicle and throwing a few spare batteries on the back is one way to ensure you can drive around the planet carefree. The RTG is the ultimate goal, but for most, you will not be reading this guide if you already have progressed to the point where you can build one of these.
To get the most out of your vehicles, I suggest you get a hold of a large rover. These rovers have a large battery, to begin with. If you attach another as a trailer, you will have 2 large batteries before you even get started with power generation.
A large battery and two large wind turbines should give you everything you need to be able to travel around the planet, but also to power the gateway chambers!
Powering Gateway Chambers
Gateway chambers are those large purple looking shapes that seem otherworldly. Well, they are pretty weird and offer some fun mystery to the experience of Astroneer. Each chamber has 3 connectors for supplying power. You can take advantage of the large rover method above to deliver power to these if you wish.
I won’t go into too much detail about these structures here. If you want to find about more, check out my guide for activating gateway chambers in Astroneer.