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Subnautica: Below Zero – Best Power Sources

Running a fully operational underwater Seabase is going to take some serious power requirements in Subnautica: Below Zero. There are also different tools and vehicles that require their own sources of power. Power Cells for the Prawn Suit, Batteries for the Habitat Builder, etc, etc.

Each power source has its own pros and cons. Solar Panels, for example, are ideal for a base that is close to the surface, whereas they’re totally useless if you’re building a base 300 meters deep. In this list, we’ll cover all the different power sources in the game while giving you a bit of information on what works and what doesn’t.

Solar Panels – Useful For Early, Shallow Bases

Solar Panels are one of the easiest to construct and simplest to use when it comes to power sources. The efficiency of Solar Panels above the water means lots of players want to build their bases on land rather than in the water.

Solar Panels are crafted with:

  • 2 Quartz
  • 2 Titanium
  • 1 Copper Ore

Quartz, Titanium, and Copper Ore are quite easily found at the beginning of the game. The nearby Twisty Bridges biome (close to where the Drop Pod lands) has everything you need to craft Solar Panels.

Solar Panels generate electricity based on their proximity to the surface of the water. Outdoor bases are simple to set up with Solar Panels, and bases in the Shallow Twisty Bridges biome near Delta Island work well with Solar in the early game.

Solar Panels are ideal for:

  • Starter bases that are close to the surface of the water.
  • Small outposts and survival bases in different biomes.
  • Small battery charging stations.

Solar Panels do not provide enough energy to run some of the more energy-intensive building modules or furniture, such as the Moonpool or multiple Power Cell Chargers.

Thermal Plant – Situation Specific Power Source

Thermal Plants are highly efficient if you place them in the right spot. Close to Hydrothermal Vents, such as in the Purple Vents biome (one of the best places to build your base), Thermal Plants will generate plenty of electricity.

Fragments for the Thermal Plant are found in:

  • The Koppa Mining Site
  • Tree Spires
  • Large Tree Spire
  • Tree Spires Fissure

The Thermal Plant is crafted with:

  • 5 Titanium
  • 2 Magnetite
  • 1 Aerogel

Compared to Solar Panels, Thermal Plants are more expensive and trickier to put together, but they will reward you with extra power. Because you need to place them close to Hydrothermal Vents, you may need to use Power Transmitters to pull the power towards your base.

Thermal Plants are ideal for:

  • Larger bases, close to natural heat sources for power generation.
  • Providing very consistent power. If placed correctly, a Thermal Plant can generate over 60 Energy per minute. Not bad.

Bioreactor – Transform Useless Items Into Valuable Power

Unlike Solar Panels or a Thermal Plant, the Bioreactor needs constant management to continually generate power. Some fuels perform better than others, with Nootfish, Arctic Peepers, and Marblemelons leading the charge on most efficient fuel sources.

Blueprint fragments are found in:

  • Omega Lab
  • Bow of the Mercury II

The Bioreactor is crafted with:

  • 3 Titanium
  • 1 Wiring Kit
  • 1 Lubricant

Bioreactors are one of the best power sources if you have a system set up for farming resources or fish. They can only be placed in Large Rooms or Multipurpose rooms, but with the right setup, you can have several interior Growbeds or Alien Containment Units (full of fish) supplying you with a constant source of energy.

Bioreactors are ideal in these situations:

  • Bases where local flora and fauna are plentiful. If you can regularly get fish and plants without farming, a Bioreactor will be able to give you sustainable power.
  • Bases where Solar or Thermal energy is not possible.
  • Working with indoor Growbeds and Alien Containment Units for farmed fruits, plants, and fish.

Nuclear Reactor – Late Game Power For Mega Bases

Expensive, powerful, and surprisingly noisy, the Nuclear Reactor is the ultimate endgame power source. Powered with Reactor Rods (some of which you can find pre-built in the sections of the crashed Mercury II) the Reactor can kick out thousands of energy per hour.

A Nuclear Reactor is crafted with:

  • Plasteel Ingot
  • Advanced Wiring Kit
  • 3 Lead

Quite a few players will opt for a different power source than the Nuclear Reactor simply because of the noise it makes. It’s very loud! With a balance of other Thermal Plants and Bioreactors, you can power even very large bases. If you do want to go all out with a powerful Nuclear Reactor, you will need a constant supply of Reactor Rods.

Reactor Rods are crafted with:

  • 2 Uraninite Crystals
  • 1 Lead
  • 1 Titanium
  • 1 Glass

Each Rod provides a massive 2000 Energy, although once expended they are used up and you need to craft another. Wasted Reactor Rods must be deposited in a Nuclear Waste Disposal Unit. That being said, these Rods do not run out very often.

Nuclear Reactors are ideal for:

  • Megabases with areas for large-scale charging of Batteries and Power Cells.
  • Bases that have space for a large Reactor room (must be placed in a Large Room or Multipurpose Room).

Portable Power Sources – Batteries, Ion Cells, and Power Cells

Other than powering modules on the Seabase, you will need portable power sources to operate vehicles, like the Seatruck, and even various tools, like the Mineral Detector and Repair Tool.

Thankfully, crafting basic Batteries is a simple process. You only need:

  • 2 Ribbon Plants (found most commonly in the Twisty Bridges biome)
  • 1 Copper Ore

Batteries can be recharged at your base as long as you are providing it with one of the above sources of power (like Thermal, Solar, or a Bioreactor).

More complex power sources (like Ion Batteries and Power Cells) are used to power the more advanced tools and vehicles. For example, the Prawn Suit requires Power Cells to run, and the Ion Cells are basically an advanced form of regular Power Cells.

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