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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Strange Off-Grid Solutions

Off-grid is pretty straight forward these days. Solar, wind, and generators are all fairly mature technologies. Someone with basic handyman skills can cobble something together.

Years ago there was a lot more hippie-tech. It didn't matter how odd or weird something was, as long as it did the job.

There was a guy who had an off-grid house deep in the woods. It was about a 50 mile drive for him to get to work. He took an old car, beefed up the suspension and removed the back seat. Where the seat was he installed a heavy duty battery bank. The car's alternator was upgraded to a more powerful one. The battery bank charged on his daily commute. When he got home at night he plugged the house into the car's batteries and had power for the night. He lived alone so there was no need for power when he wasn't there.

About ten years ago a guy I knew was looking for a viable electric car for his half hour daily commute to his business. Unfortunately, the technology wasn't ready for prime time yet. His idea was that he'd charge the car off his business's power and write it off as a business expense.

That did get me thinking. Electric cars are now coming into their own. Some businesses are allowing their workers to plug in while they work. I bet you there are people who charge at work, then tap into their car to run some of their household.

I've got a shed running on a small solar electric system down by the lake. This fall I'm going to remove it and install it on the boat. Next spring, to power the shed, I could run power from the boat, across a dock and into the building. Some care would have to be taken, as running power over water needs special protection, but it's very doable. Normally power is run from docks to boats, but there's no reason it couldn't be done the other way.

Sometimes it pays to think outside of the box.



  1. "There's more than ONE way to skin a cat," the old-timers used to say. (Why they were skinning cats, I never figured out.)

    1. You don't want to cook them in the fur. :)

  2. I may be mistaken, but I thought the power for electric cars is more than the standard electric service that many residences have. If the business has that power in their building, I can see that happening.

    The 1st time I read of a person using their vehicle battery for a DIY home power source was in the book RANCHO COSTA NADA by Phil Garrington (now deceased). A pretty good read if desert hermit experiences was interesting to you.

    This new solar panel information is very interesting, thank you for bringing it up.

    1. There are ways to connect different types of electrical systems.

      I'll have to check out that book. My lovely wife and I tried the desert and discovered we really are not desert people. Still, I like reading about it.

  3. I'm always thinking about moving to the desert. Maybe I have one last big move in me. I'm going to try to get the book that fellow mentioned.

    Good post. I got some ideas from it.

    1. Glad you got something out the post.

      My lovely wife and I tried the desert, but only discovered we are truly water people. The dry dusty air was hard on my damaged lungs too. Warm moist air helps.

  4. The cable doesn't care which way you run the current.