Posts Tagged ‘off-grid’

14 June

Aussie Couple Living Soulfully Off The Grid

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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I’ve been busy with some projects recently. Now that I have returned to Sun Is The Future, let’s resume by easing into several lay-back topics. Namely, did  you know that there’s been a Tiny House Movement in recent years? It’s a perfect outcome for our new age of 4R’s (Recycle-Reuse-Repair-Reduce). Above is a video of an Aussie couple (Mr. & Mrs. Paul Chambers….sorry, don’t know wife’s name) who had begun building a home out of two shipping containers as a project. But when Mrs. Chambers got tired of suburbia and utility bills, they put their four-bedroom home on the market and his project became the couple’s full-time home. Check out Paul’s ebook: www.buildshippingcontainerhouse.com)

Chambers’ choice of shipping container was motivated by the fact that they did not own any land and need for easy mobility. His background as an engineer-teacher-adventurer enabled him to take on this project without having had any background in formal building training. His forte is in the fact that he believes that any one can do anything that he/she puts his/her mind into it. He’s picked up the skill of welding, building, etc. along the way. Without an initial fixed design, Paul simply started with a concept and learned and adapt along the way. The Chambers have built an off-grid mobile home with 2 shipping containers using 12-250 watt solar panels and 2 storage battery packs normally used in golf carts. They are able to run normal household appliances (such as refrigerator, chest freezer, washer (with both hot and cold water), bread machine, 3 computers. The main difference is that they use electricity during the day time when electricity is being created. Careful monitoring and back-up generator brings greater assurance even on rainy or cloudy days. Australian sunshine produces some very high temperature days. There is more than enough sunshine to help power the air conditioning needed for a pleasant environment. However the couple’s preferred cooling method is better ventilation through opened windows and cargo door. Couple of 12 v car outlets are placed in their container home to charge cell phones and to power their modem for internet. To increase the strength of the signal for their modem, they’ve installed an external area on the roof for directional antenna to increase the signal strength. Their sunroof has multiple functions: protecting the couple from radiant heat, harvesting for electricity from solar panels, and harvesting water from the rain via pipe into a collection tank at the side of the house, side of the firewood shed, and added catchment by the kitchen. Their water is then filtered through a 20 micron sediment filter for washing and showering, and additional filtrations for drinking water (down to 0.5 microns, removing germs, pathogens, and heavy metals). Living with natural water from the rain is much more pleasant than the town water with much chlorine in it. There are also detailed description on composting for growing plants.

Fundamentally, the Chambers use the electrical energy generated from the Australian sunshine, using it when the sun is shining and not at night. “It is ridiculously easy,” Paul commented. Batteries are fully charged between 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. By 4:00 pm, they’d stop using the non-essential items to avoid draining the batteries. By 6:00 pm, they’d only be using their computers (which takes up very little power). They’ve gotten to the point that they no longer need to worry about power while others in the area have been experiencing power cut and are having a difficult time.

I invite you to view what this couple have done to live naturally in the Australian Bush country, with wild life of abundance around them. I hope you will enjoy this video as much as I had.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Any comments, suggestions, concerns regarding this post will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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10 August

Are Utility Companies Aware of the Off-The-Grid Trend? Time To Wake Up & Adopt FIT(Feed-In-Tariff)

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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Please show your support for Renewable Energy by visiting-signing-sharing Renewable-FIT For Sunshine State!

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I was in the midst of watching a cable channel’s program on “Buying Alaska” tonight. Seeing quite a few homes in Alaska being off-grid, I got curious and googled “how many households in USA are off-grid”.  What I’ve discovered was that as of August of 2010, about 750,000 U.S. households were living off the grid and the number is increasing around 10% each year, according to Nick Rosen (author of Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America). Mr. Rosen’s web site has a map showing where these people live.

“Going off the grid is like insuring yourself against a time the lights may go out,” Rosen tells the Christian Science Monitor. “In the 1970s you had a lot of old-style hermit-like survivalists. But these people are different. This isn’t the Stone Age anymore; you can live a quite comfortable life.”

People go off-grid for a variety of reasons: to avoid reliance on electricity from the coal-burning power plant or for the simple reason that it’s too costly for the utility company to extend and maintain lines to certain rural properties.

At this point, I’d like to share a video clip of some one from Montana who renovated a 100 year old Montana cabin in a meadow surrounded by pine forest: living radical simplicity in an off-the-grid, passive solar design cabin with a cheap, simple, and efficient solar electric system, food-producing forest garden, and root cellar. There is a spring above the cabin that provides gravity flow water for the cabin’s one sink and the garden, two 135 W solar panels, two 275 amp hour batteries, 80 acres of pine forest to manage for wood heat in addition to the passive solar gain, and a blending of old technology and new technology. Below, you will see this cabin in the video:


Email solar@Slate Creek Engineering.com for details on the solar system. For more on the forest garden system go to veganicpermaculture.com

 

As the cost of solar continues to drop and the battery storage technology continue to decrease in cost and improve in capacity and efficiency, isn’t it time for the utility companies to wake up and adopt programs such as FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) to help provide incentives for its clients to remain connected to the grid before more/most of the households will be showing up in the off-grid camp?

For viewers/visitors with higher energy consumption, be sure to also check out our next post on VS5 Hybrid System of Bosch.

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

any of your comments and suggestions will be welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Homepage: http://www.sunisthefuture.net

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9 August

Living Simply, Off-Grid, in A Float Cabin

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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Please show your support for Renewable Energy by visiting-signing-sharing Renewable-FIT For Sunshine State!

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In this post, I’d like to introduce you to the couple, Margy and Wayne Lutz, who chose to live off-the-grid with comforts of nature, camping in Coastal British Columbia in their dream home: the floating cabin of Powell Lake. This is not a houseboat, but “float cabin”, that is, it is permanently anchored to shore.

Float cabins were originally built on Powell Lake as inexpensive and portable homes for loggers and fishermen. In recent years, they’ve become regulated and the 200 float cabin owners now lease their water lots from the BC government for $500 per year.

The Lutz’s bought their retirement home in 2001 for 35,000 Canadian dollars (about $25,000 USD, at the time), what they considered worth the risk if their experiment in off-grid living didn’t work out. After the Lutzs retired from their Los Angeles school district jobs, they started to move into their floating home (420 square feet, plus a 200 square feet sleeping loft). Back then, there was no indoor plumbing, so they hiked 4 flights of stairs up the granite cliff to an outhouse. But they’ve since installed a composting toilet indoors.

Today, the Lutzs live completely off-the-grid. There is no water heater and no plumbing. They’d hand-pump water from the lake. For washing dishes, they remove most food first and use only biodegradable soap and the water is returned to the lake. There is no trash pickup, so they compost nearly everything. For their energy uses, the Lutzs rely on solar, wind, and thermoelectric power. For heat, they rely on a wood stove fueled mostly with driftwood. The wood stove has been rigged with an experimental thermoelectric system generating a trickle charge to their batteries. This buoyant home doesn’t make gardening easy, but Margy has found a way to provide much of the summertime produce by creating a hillside potato garden and a floating vegetable garden. Take a look at this float cabin of the Lutzs, below, in the video:


I am not saying we should all go out and move into a float cabin immediately, but I can definitely see the merit in Lutzs’ ingenuity in being able to live in a comfortable manner with nature, without much carbon footprint. Let us all simply try to make a greater effort in making all of our daily decisions more consciously. Let’s all simply take one more step toward the renewable on a daily basis…in turning off the light when not in use…in changing our light bulbs to compact flourescent bulbs…in installing an attic fan or more insulation in our attics…in contemplating starting a community solar garden in the community…in planning on getting solar hot water heater…. in participating in petitioning for Renewable FIT For Sunshine State or any other state or country (that does not have FIT yet)…there is always more we can do. Just look at the Lutzs!

Click: for more info on original story ;The Lutzs’ blog; Coastal British Columbia Stories” by Wayne Lutz

~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any of your comments will be welcomed below or via sunisthefuture@gmail.com (please note if you do not want your email to be shared)

Homepage: http://www.sunisthefuture.net

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30 May

Art & Function Via Solar Tree

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Dear Readers,

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If you are in favor of renewable,  clean, or solar energy, please sign this petition for FIT/CLEAN Program, accessible at http://sunisthefuture.net/?page_id=1065 Thank you very much.

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Dear Friends & Readers,

Did you ever read  that Dr. Seuss’ story of the Lorax when you were a kid?  “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for they have no tongues.”–Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)

I suspect when the young Aidan Dwyer (of New York) first read this book, Dr. Seuss‘ words must have made a great deal of impression upon his curious mind.   For he subsequently designed/invented (when he reached age thirteen) the solar tree, a decorative means of producing solar energy using multiple solar panels which form the shape of a tree via assistance of poles.  This design of solar tree can also double as street lights, producing 50% more power than a flat solar power layout during winter and 20% more power during other seasons.

Such ingenious concept was further evolved, now also found around streets of Austria

Solar Tree in Gleisdorf, Austria (Wikimedia Commons)

, or through the lens of the industrial designers Ross Lovegrove and founder of Artemide Ernesto Gismondi,  utilizing the synergy between solar and LED technology, into something that is low in maintenance and yet high in performance and may be totally off-grid and even feed back any excess electricity back into the grid.  Some believes that such an evolved design of solar tree represents more than just a light, but also a humanitarian statement about how to harness the power for free and then give it back to the society. Manufactured by Italian lighting brand Artemide and designed by Ross Lovegrove, the Solar Tree (it was previously located outside of the MAK Museum in Vienna) opened to Londoners on May 24, 2012 at St. John’s Square will remain there until late September.  It is seen in the video clip below:


This (Lovegrove’s) Solar Tree installation has an array of LED lit solar pads held up by 20 green stems.  The Solar Tree contains embedded artificial intelligence that automatically switches the LED lights on after dark and is smart enough to decipher the appropriate light intensity with consideration of the natural light conditions and the battery’s energy level. Lovegrove’s Solar Tree is designed to work with both on and off grid applications;when connected to a grid, the Tree is able to feed back any excess electricity back into the grid. When connected to an off-grid application, the Tree is able to provide lighting for up to three days before its battery runs flat.

Let’s hope the challenges that we face during this time of transition into the renewable energy era will continue to provide us with inspirations for our perceptions of nature, function, and beauty.

~have a bright and sunny day~

Gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

Any comments and suggestions are welcomed at sunisthefuture@gmail.com

Please also get into the habit of checking at these sites below for more on solar energy topics:

www.sunisthefuture.net

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