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Recent blackouts in California have millions of people looking for ways to keep the power resulting in a huge spike in interest in another technology – solar panels and home batteries
Solar Power to Solve Northern California Wildfire Electricity Blackout Crisis
The recent blackouts in California have millions of people looking for ways to keep the power on. Some bought portable generators, but there was a huge spike in interest in another technology – solar panels and home batteries. Lauren Sommer of member station KQED reports.
Interview of Anne Hoskins by Lauren Sommer, KQED
LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: Power is out at every house on this block in the Berkeley Hills. You could tell ’cause all the cars are parked outside the garages ’cause the garage doors won’t open, except for one.
HOWARD MATIS: Well, it works.
SOMMER: Hi, there.
SOMMER: I’m Lauren.
MATIS: Hi, Lauren.
SOMMER: The lights were on at Howard Matis’s house during the last PG&E outage. His fridge…
MATIS: Which you can see – fully powered and cold.
SOMMER: That’s because inside his garage…
MATIS: OK. We can go up here.
SOMMER: …Are two Tesla Powerwall batteries, about four feet tall, mounted on the wall.
MATIS: The whole house – everything – everything is powered by these two batteries.
SOMMER: The solar panels on his roof keep them charged. Solar alone won’t usually work during an outage because it’s still connected to the grid. But batteries let you wire a house to be its own little island, a 24-hour microgrid. Matis bought this system because he expects California’s fire problem to get worse.
MATIS: I lived through one disaster, and so I know what a wildfire is like.
SOMMER: Matis lost his home in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. Some of his neighbors died trying to escape. People there are more fire-aware now. The power lines are buried underground. But they’re not immune from PG&E’s blackouts. Matis is still frustrated with the utility.
MATIS: I’ve talked to PG&E in the past, and I realized they didn’t know what they’re talking about.
SOMMER: Folks from the utility beg to differ. But other companies see an opportunity in that resentment.
ANNE HOSKINS: We’ve had a very big uptick in – I guess we would call them leads.
SOMMER: Anne Hoskins is chief policy officer at Sunrun. It sells solar and battery systems.
HOSKINS: We have a better way than relying on this, you know, over-a-century-old system.
SOMMER: Hoskins says the batteries aren’t just for emergencies. Homeowners can use them every day to store solar power, unlike portable gas generators.
HOSKINS: They’re loud. They’re dirty. And that also contributes to the problem, in our view, that we’re facing, which is climate change.
SOMMER: But batteries are pricey. A Powerwall costs more than $6,000, plus installation. Hoskins says state rebates and federal tax credits can knock thousands off that price, and Tesla is offering a discount for Californians affected by the blackouts. Still, there’s the potential for wealthier homeowners to buy their way out of these blackouts, leaving everyone else feeling the brunt.
HOSKINS: How can we build a system so that all those investments that people are making can bring a benefit to the grid as a whole?
SOMMER: Hoskins says that’s possible. You can have a bunch of solar and batteries in people’s homes that can feed into the local grid and supply everyone. It’s called a virtual power plant. Sunrun is planning one in West Oakland, where 500 low-income households will get solar and batteries. The idea is that making power locally means you don’t need as many big transmission lines to bring it in from far away.
Read more of Lauren Sommer, KQED report => https://buff.ly/2NM45Xk
The Facebook pages/groups and off grid website provide info on building off grid homes, producing solar power, growing organic gardens, raising livestock and harvesting rainwater
Sacramento, California (November 11, 2019) – The Guide to Off Grid Living announced today that it has launched a new website, Living-Off-Grid.com, to educate people that want to buy a rural piece of property and build an off grid homestead in Arizona, California, New Mexico, New York or Texas.
“Today’s world is full of high-technology gadgets, computers, cell phones, cloud-based services that are all dependent on electricity, but as more than 2 million people found out in California, that can change instantly overnight and without warning,” said Robert Hoskins, Editor, Guide to Off Grid Living. “Our Guide to Off Grid Living is written specifically to help people learn how to survive as long as the sun is shining and the clouds are raining.”
“Even if you live in a suburban or a downtown urban environment, almost anyone can prepare themselves and their family to live in a world without water, gas or electricity from the local utility company, which might vanish overnight, whether it be just for a couple of days or many months at a time,” Hoskins continued. “Imagine what it would be like to live in a house with no utility or grocery bills.”
For food, the site details how to plant organic raised-bed gardens, how to build aquaponic gardens/fish farms as well as how to raise chickens, ducks, rabbits, bees and other live stock to put food on the table.
For water, the site details how to collect water utilizing rainwater harvesting systems using rooftops and collection barrels and cisterns, how to build a fresh water ponds for raising fish and aquatic plants and how to drill your own well if the water table is close to the surface.
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Off Grid Property – How to Build a Duck
House and Duck Pond for an Off Grid Property
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How to Build a Duck House and Duck Pond for an Off Grid Property
Arizona – Duck housing can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose. Whether you convert a small doghouse or build a custom shed, the one thing a duck house must be is predator-proof. Domestic ducks move very slowly on the ground and can’t fly, so they are extremely vulnerable to predators—especially at night—and need a safe place to sleep, lay their eggs and maybe even raise ducklings.
Ducks, unlike chickens, don’t need roosting bars and will rarely use nesting boxes, instead preferring to make a nest in one corner of the house on the floor. An old playhouse or a gardening or potting shed works quite well for duck housing. As long as it’s fitted with a door and has hardware cloth over any openings, any of these structures will get your ducks’ approval.
Please join our Off Grid Living Discussion Group on Facebook
- To learn more and discuss off grid topics, please join our free Facebook group at:
Off Grid Living: Prepping to Live Off the Grid
- Or, read more topics in our “Guide to Off Grid Living” at:
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#OffGridLiving #LivingOffGrid #Ducks #Ducklings #DuckHouse #DuckHut #DuckPond #Bathtub #KiddiesPool #Covered #DuckRun #Floating #KiddiePool
Off Grid Living – Rustic Outhouse and Bathroom Design
and Decorating Ideas for an Off Grid Sheds, Cabins or Homes
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Off Grid Living Bathroom and Outhouse Design Ideas
Arizona – Many off grid cabins use self composting or septic systems. In addition, many off grid bathrooms are designed to conserve and separate gray from #2 waste which is either composted or fed into a septic tank.
If you’ve never hear of using black soldier flies in tandem with composting toilets, you should do some research on them. They are a great way to turn human manure into free chicken feed.
Different areas of the country have different regulations about this. For example, most cities are against it and only more rustic regions of the country will generally be accepting. Even if you are allowed to have one however there will be a lot of restrictions put in place including the distance away from any water source for sanitary reasons.
Feel free to like, share and make comments about which off grid bathroom design you think will work best for your home.
Please join our Off Grid Living Discussion Group on Facebook
- To learn more and discuss off grid topics, please join our free Facebook group at: Off Grid Living: Prepping to Live Off the Grid
- Or, read more topics in our “Guide to Off Grid Living” => https://livingoffgrid.home.blog/guide-to-off-grid-living/
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#Arizona #OffGridHomes #OffGridCabins #OffGridSheds #OffGridLiving #LivingOffGrid #HowTo #Build #Rustic #Outhouse #Bathroom #Bathtubs #Design #Decorating
The Benefits of Using Passive Solar Heating and Wood Stove Water Heating Jackets to Heat Water for an Off Grid Shed, Cabin or Home
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Various Types of Solar Hot Water Heaters to Heat Water for Off Grid Homes
United States – There are many options for solar water heaters that range from inexpensive home-made jobs to high-end state of the art commercial models.
If you switch to a solar water heating system, your use of electricity or propane will drop significantly; that number will approach zero rapidly if your backup heating system is a wood stove or firebox with a water jacket rather than occasional use utility electricity.
The home-made options are typically not suited for use during times of the year when temperatures dip below freezing. You would need to winterized them before any threat of fall or winter weather arrives. There are probably hundreds of variations that may be found on the internet. They range from coils of black plastic pipe on one’s roof to coils of copper inside a box with outer glass cover (creating a greenhouse effect).
Some of these utilize a DC electric circulating pump. It pushes the heated water into a storage tank and bring fresh cool water into the heater. This pump may be activated by a switch that is temperature controlled. But some are directly connected to a solar panel and only run when the sun is shining (precisely the same times that the water is being heated and needs to be circulated).
Evacuated Tube Solar Hot Water Heaters
Evacuated tube models are composed of numerous rows of glass tubes with another smaller tube inside each of the larger tubes. A vacuum is pulled between each of the two tubes which greatly lessens the loss of heat to outside weather. Water or an antifreeze solution is then circulated through the inner tubes.
The advantages of evacuated tubes lie in greater efficiency and less heat lost. So they work quite well even during surprisingly cool temperatures. However they are somewhat fragile and may not be as suited to areas with a great amount of snow and ice due to the potential for breakage from buildup.
Flat Panel Solar Hot Water Heaters
These heaters look much like solar electric panels but contain tiny water passages which enable a great amount of surface area to come in contact with the heat from the sun. While not as efficient as evacuated tubes, flat panels still work very well and are certainly more rugged when faced with heavy snow and icy conditions.
Typically an antifreeze solution is circulated through the tubes or panels and the hot fluid is routed inside to a heat exchanger which transfers the heat of the fluid to the home’s hot water. There are some varieties of evacuated tube heaters that are called drain down systems, which do not require the use of antifreeze because the water drains away from exposed areas once the water cools off.
Thermo-Siphon Solar Hot Water Heaters
It is possible to set up a solar water heating system that doesn’t require an electric circulating pump. This would be called a thermo-siphon system, operating on the principle that heat rises.
This was the type of system we planned to install for our cabin in the summertime. The disadvantages would be the amount of work involved in installation, significant cost of commercial systems, and reliance on an electric circulating pump (unless it is set up as a thermo-siphon system).
- Solar Hot Water Heater – How Install an Off Grid Solar Water Heater
- How to Make a Solar Hot Water Heater for Off Grid Living
- OffGrid Solar Collectors Use Copper Tubes Painted Black to Heat Water
- Black Barrel Solar Hot Water Heater for Off Grid Homes or Cabins
- Simple Coiled Black Hose Off Grid Water Heater in a Solar Oven Box
- Solar Hot Water Heaters to Provide Floor and Wall Radiant Heating
- Off Grid Living Solar Still to Purify and Condense into Clean Water
- Portable PVC Hot Water Heaters for Off Grid Situations
- Tankless Propane Hot Water Heaters for Off Grid Homes
- Electric Radiant Heating Mats for Under Carpet and Flooring Heating
Off Grid Living: Solar Powered Lighting
Systems for Off Grid Cabins and Sheds
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One of the first things you’ll learn when camping or off grid living is that without electricity, it gets dark quickly.
But solar power is a great way to provide a wide variety of lighting and security systems that will let see what is making that big bumping sound in the backyard at 2:00 am in the morning.
How Off Grid Solar Lights Work
Solar spotlights are powered by photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight to electricity on the atomic level. Each cell contains a thin, flat semiconductor panel with a positive charge on one side and negative on the other. Sunlight causes the semiconductor’s atoms to blow apart, releasing electrons; the electrons are recaptured as electric current between the positive and negative charges. The electricity then travels through a cable to power the spotlight. Solar energy is also stored in the interior battery for use at night or on cloudy days.
Uses for Off Grid Solar Security Lights
Solar spotlights are particularly useful in illuminating outdoor spaces where traditional extension cords or bundles of wiring aren’t practical, such as in formal gardens, large open lawns or residential entrances. Newer models offer light emitting diodes (LEDs), which illuminate more effectively and efficiently than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. Whether you choose to light a wide area from above or train the beam from ground level on an individual object, such as garden statuary, you can easily install individual spotlights without hiring a professional contractor.
Best Places to Install Off Grid Solar Lights
The foremost concern with installing solar spotlights is ensuring that enough sunlight reaches the photovoltaic cell. Spotlights today usually feature a long power cable between the cell and the actual light, so you can place the cell in a sunny spot that receives about eight hours of light a day, and position the spotlight where you want it.
For ground-level lighting, stake the cell in the ground so the cell faces the brightest sun, and then stake the light in the ground a few feet away from the object you wish to illuminate. Train the beam upward to focus on the object.
Mounting solar spotlights over entrances, garage doors or decks involves screwing the light’s baseplate into the vertical wall or post over the area you want to brighten, then angling the light’s beam downwards. With these types, the solar cell may be attached to the light’s hood or via a power cable; in both cases, the cell still needs to receive sufficient sunlight for operation.
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Read more about Solar Powered Lighting for Off Grid Homes:
The 6 Essential Considerations for Buying the Right-Sized
Wood Burning Stove for Your Off Grid Shed, Cabin or Home
The video above presents a comprehensive buying guide for wood stoves – a primer on exactly what you’ll need to know before buying a wood stove for your off grid shed, cabin, container home, earthship, steel building, tent, tiny house, yurt and/or any other type of off home.
Top Stove Buying Decision Include:
- Steel vs. Cast Iron Cost
- Stove Output (BTU vs. Size)
- Firebox size
- Efficiency Catalytic vs. Non-Catalytic
- Flue (Interior and Exterior)
- Hearth Protection
- Wood Storage Ash Pan
- Aesthetics Maintenance
Checklist of Items to Consider when Buying a Wood Stove:
It may be summer now, but winter is coming and its going to be a cold one. Here are some simple considerations to think about when buying the right wood stove for your shed, cabin or other type of off grid home.
1. Decide Between a Fireplace and a Wood Burning Stove
There are two main types of wood stoves. A fireplace, which is usually imbedded into a wall and a free standing stove, which sits in an open air space somewhere in a room. Fireplaces are usually open and waste a lot of energy and are prone to fires outside the fireplace as popping wood can send sparks flying out onto the room’s floor.
Free standing stoves are usually better because they can control the burn rate of your wood. They are much safer because they keep the fire enclosed inside a door. And, they radiant heat on a 360 degree basis, which is really important in very cold climates. When combined with masonry stone walls, they will heat up stone that will do a great job of efficiently heating up your home and keeping it toasty warm.
2. How Large Should Your Heat Source Be?
Picking the right sized wood stove for your living space is critical. A number of wood stoves for sale come with huge fireboxes, 3, 4, and sometimes even 5 cubic feet. But with modern insulation and the supplementary heat that most houses have now, these are usually overkill. A home between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet usually calls for a wood stove with a firebox between 2 and 2.5 cubic feet. If you’re heating a smaller space, like a garage or a cabin, you might want to try looking for even smaller wood burning stoves – 1 to 1.5 cubic feet.
3. Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency – Meeting EPA Standards
Higher efficiency means less money spent on wood, less work chopping and hauling wood, and a product that is better for the environment. Older wood stoves tend to be inefficient and waste wood and many companies don’t publish their efficiencies as a result. Look for wood stoves for sale that have EPA listed efficiencies of 70% or above to get the most bang for your buck. Some new stoves, like MF Fire’s Catalyst, also come with smart thermostat technology that helps to cut down on overheating, giving a real world efficiency boost of 20 to 25%. Buying a wood stove from MF Fire means less chopping, less stacking, and fewer trips to the wood pile during winter storms.
4. Clean Air and the New EPA Regulations
Gone are the days of smoke belching potbelly stoves. New clean air standards have set a high bar, restricting wood stove smoke emissions to only 2.0 grams/hour by January 2020, making nearly 85% of currently available wood stove illegal to sell. But some manufacturers are still trying to squeeze out their old units before the deadline. To get the cleanest and most efficient burn, look for wood burning stoves for sale with EPA listed emissions below 2.0 g/hr.
5. Catalytic or Non-Catalytic Fireboxes
When they were first introduced in the 80’s catalytic stoves, or wood burning stoves that use a catalytic combustor to reduce emissions, got a bad reputation. These initial poorly designed wood burning stoves were impossible to get started and used catalytic combustors that fouled and went bad after only a few seasons. New catalytic stoves don’t have those problems.
Most catalytic wood stoves for sale today are significantly cleaner and more efficient than their non-catalytic counterparts and those catalytic combustors can last for 10 years or more. When they do need to be replaced, the replacements generally cost less than $100. Some catalytic stoves can be harder to start, but buying a wood stove with new smart stove technology like automatic igniters or MF Fire’s TurboStart technology makes them easier to start than ever.
6. Smart Wood Burning Stoves
Technology is in everything nowadays: phones, cars, even refrigerators. Modern wood stoves are no exception. Some new wood stoves include features that make it easier to start, remotely control your burn, and even to protect your family from chimney fires. Buying a wood stove with these modern features help those of us who are getting up in years to do a little less work and have a lot more peace of mind. While smart wood stoves frequently cost a bit more, buying a wood stove with the added features are usually more than worth it.
7. Gathering and Stacking Wood
Acquiring, stacking and moving wood will become a part of your life. I personally embrace these as part of my choice to live in a cold climate, and I feel like the added effort is good for both myself and the environment — but it’s certainly not for everyone.
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More articles on Wood Stoves for Off Grid Homes:
- The Secret to a Keeping an Off Grid Home Warm During the Winter
- Using an Efficient Wood Stove to Heat an Off Grid Shed, Cabin or Home
- Heating an Off Grid Shed, Cabin or Home with a Wood Stove with Blower Pipes
- Heating an Off Grid RV, Shed, Cabin or Home with a Micro Wood Stove
- Using Water Jackets to Heat Water with a Stove for Off Grid Living
- Wood Stoves for Heating Tents on an Off Grid Property
- How to Build a Firewood Shed to Keep Wood Dry and Protected from Rain
- How to Build a Firewood Shed to Protect Your Wood During a Blizzard
- How to Build a Wood Burning Rocket Stove Mass Water Heater
- How to Build a Wood Burning Rocket Stove Mass Heater Bench
- How to Build a Rocket Stove Mass Heater with Masonry Stone Work
- How to Build a Rocket Mass Heater to Heat an Off Grid Cabin or Home
- Building a Rocket Heater with Stone and Wood Burning Stove
- The Bruno T12 Wood Burning Stove Heats Large Areas Easily
- La Nordica “Rosa XXL” Wood Stove for Off Grid Cabins
- Wood Chipper that Cuts Trees into Perfect Sized Fireplace Logs
- How to Properly Cut Firewood for an Off Grid Cabin
Off Grid Living – How to Build the World’s
Best Mouse Trap for Only $5 Easy to build
Catches and kills mice and rats all night long. No need to reset or re-bait. Rolling log mouse trap. This trap works best if you can get the holes drilled exactly in the centers of the pipe ends. In hind site I would have drilled them before pushing them onto the pipe.
Read, see and learn more at: https://buff.ly/2HSgWI7
Watch the #YouTube #Video: https://youtu.be/n1EsnIshQYw
#Arizona #Colorado #Kentucky #MouseTrap #NewHampshire #NorthDakota #OffGridLiving #News #SouthDakota #Tennessee #Traps #UnitedStates #Utah #Washington #WestVirgina
Off Grid Living: How to Build a Starter Aquaponic Garden System for only $75
#OffGridLiving #Howto #Build #Starter #Aquaponic #Garden #System