Friday, September 21, 2012

Gadgets for Living Off the Grid

I revisited my fascination with living off grid today because I'm moving next Saturday and I have nowhere to go. Except, perhaps, to my tiny third acre of desert outside of Belen NM. The major sticking point for me is that I have a delightful iMac which I need in order to breathe.

Solar Power
Anyway, I got sucked into this really interesting web site of a company that makes real apocalyptic solar-power generators with military versions. Or, at least, to something they call military specs including camouflage coloring. They make neat backpack solar chargers as well as survival packages.

This led to other versions of solar power, including this nifty modular item from Cabela's that enables solar panel and battery storage chaining. (Watch the video!) They have a cool Wind Generator that you can plug into a battery storage unit. Wind and solar! You're covered!

I found an interesting article about African's who live off the grid because they have to. And a cool company called Bare Foot Power that makes solar-power gadgets with Africa in mind. Right now, on this planet, ordinary people are using solar power to get along day by day. Encouraging!

For those of you who like to make your own, there's this guy

While I was at Cabela's I revisited the Shower, Toilets, and Accessories section aka "other ways to poop and pee." At one time I considered living in a van, so having ways to eliminate human wastes was a vital element. Unfortunately, I don't feel I can seriously consider van living. I like my comfort too much (i.e., running water, comfy bed, shower, desk space, etc.) to take the plunge. Also, the paranoia would take away much of the smugness of being able to live off the beaten path. There's a Yahoo! group for that, if you're interested. Most of the women swear by the Lady J.

As to the shelter part, once you have the power and the waste issue resolved, any kind of structure can serve as a house. So, why not Darryl Hannah's environmentally friendly tipi? While you're there, check out the solar powered boat which looks big enough to live on. Theoretically, I could drive to NM, gut my car, add extensions, and live in that. Or maybe I could sell it and use a truck instead.

Water is the unresolved problem. My little third acre of desert has no water and piping in municipal water would be self-defeating. I haven't found any solutions to porting water. Sure, there are purifiers, solar showers, and containers. I think you can even put a little tent over a hole in the desert and distill water when it's hot enough. Although that little tent only generates enough to slake the thirst.

Off-grid water supply usually involves deciding to settle close to a water source or digging a well, which also involves choosing an optimum site. Here's the beginning of a three part Mother Earth News story on off-grid water systems.

Okay. That was interesting and chewed up an afternoon. Don't think I'll be living off-grid anytime soon. Good to know I could, though, if I wanted to ... if I had to and preferred that to being city-style homeless or renting a room from one of my kids. As my Mom says, "Privacy is important."

No comments: