Feeling Hot Hot Hot: Solar Cooking in Action

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Solar cooking, parabolic, box cooker, panel cooker, solar, off-grid, self-reliance, cooking, food, technology

Despite looking futuristic – solar cooking has been used for many years

Cooking can be challenging in itself. Following recipes, getting the right ingredients and hoping it comes out tasting delicious – unless you’re a top class chef, everyone has had a fair few burnt dinners in their time. When you’re off-grid however it’s not just worrying about what it tastes like, but how to cook the food in the first place!

Harvesting the power of the sun for cooking has been a practice conducted for many years.

Solar cookers have been on the market since the mid-80s and have become a popular option for safe and easy cooking with no fires or fuel involved. There are obvious benefits to solar cooking, after the initial investment it is a free renewable source of energy. Not only this, but it is seen as a healthier way of cooking without smoke from fires etc.

Solar cookers convert the sun’s rays to infra-red radiation producing heat. Therefore, it is not the sun’s heat itself or the ambient air temperature outside the cooker that causes the food to cook.

There are three main types of solar cooker which can vary in their design and build.

The solar box cooker is derived from a box with reflectors that funnel the sun’s rays into the chamber which contains the food to be cooked. These models can reach very high temperatures, on average between 200-350°F, which is ideal for most baking needs. With a good heat retention and little need for supervision it is perfectly safe to leave food for long periods without fear of burning. Being a box shape these cookers are less likely to tip over and when constructed will have high levels of insulation.

The solar panel cooker on the other hand doesn’t reach temperatures quite as high; between 200-250°F. Essentially the design is a pot or pan within a plastic enclosure, with a 3-5 side reflective panel surrounding it to channel the sun’s rays. This type of design is best for slower longer cooking periods, leaving food very succulent. With no adjustments needed to track the sun, little supervision is needed.

Solar Cooking, food, cooking, solar, off-grid, technology

No need to worry about the risk of fire or burning food with solar cooking

Finally, the solar parabolic cooker can maintain the highest temperatures of the three main types and so can be used for grilling or even frying food. It can cook food much quicker, however usually smaller amounts than what can be held in the box or panel solar cookers. Also more attention is needed when cooking using this model, as the angle and direction of the cooker will need to be changed more frequently to track the sun.

There are many plans and designs for you to try if you want to have a go at a DIY solar cooker. Many designs include using materials commonly found around the home or are easily obtainable. For example, cardboard boxes, aluminium foil, black paint, some form of adhesive and even umbrellas!

If you don’t want the hassle of DIY or want a larger cooker with a guarantee, then there are several options on the market.

The All American Sun Oven is a box cooker design which can cook, bake, dehydrate and boil. Reaching temperatures of up to 400°F with even heating across the entire cooking chamber, the Sun Oven can do almost anything except frying. The built in thermometer also allows you to monitor the temperature. Weighing in at 23lbs the Sun Oven folds up like a suitcase, with its reflectors easily collapsing, making it easily portable. An adjustable leg prevents toppling and a levelling tray inside the cooking chamber ensures there’s no spillage when adjusting the Sun Oven.

Manufactured in Illinois, cooking times are similar to a standard electric cooker or oven after preheating. Factors that will affect the cooking time include the quality of sunlight at the time of cooking; the type and amount of food being cooked and how often the oven is refocused or the door opened. A typical rule of thumb stated on the Sun Oven website is to add between 10 to 15 minutes on to the cooking time, every time the oven door is opened. The model has an estimated life span of 15 years and can last a lifetime if cared for and maintained properly. The Sun Oven is available on Amazon at $298.00.

If you want something a little closer to the $200 mark, then the GoSun Sport is worth checking out.
Solar cooking, solar, food, cooking, off-grid, technology,

Small and compact the GoSun Sport and GoSun Dogger are perfect for fitting comfortably in an RV

This slightly futuristic looking design features parabolic reflectors and a solar vacuum cooking tube, which absorbs light and acts as an insulator. The tube converts approximately 80% of all the sunlight captured by the reflectors into useable heat for cooking – pretty impressive. With the parabolic shape of the reflectors, the GoSun Sport rarely needs readjusting as it captures light from a variety of angles. Not only this, but this model can cook in the cold and snow due to the high levels of insulation. Although, you will have to add up to 15 minutes onto the cooking time to allow the oven to heat fully.

With the cooking tube shape, food cooks evenly and in as little as 20 minutes, with temperatures of up to 550°F being reached! Despite this, the GoSun Sport is cool to the touch, easy and low maintenance and weighing only 7.5lbs is perfect for an RV or boat.

GoSun Ambassador Patrick Sweeney lives off-grid in his tiny trailer called Patcave. He told GoSun, “I love to cook and I love to be self-reliant. I also can’t afford to eat at restaurants. Living on the road in the Patcave, the GoSun stove allows me to cook great food anywhere the sun shines.”

The GoSun Sport retails at $229.00 on Amazon.

A smaller version of the GoSun Sport, the GoSun Solar Dogger, retails at $59.00 on the GoSun website. It is lightweight at only 2.5lbs and is perfect for hotdogs. Reviews on the Solar Dogger have shown that this model can be used for a wide variety of foods from oatmeal to fish.

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Breathe easier: new tech monitors urban pollution

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Pollution, Technology, Smartphone, App, Off-grid, Air Quality, Monitoring

Smartphone Apps plot “toxic areas” on maps, so you can avoid them.

One of the many appeals about living off-grid is breathing in that fresh clean air.

It’s safe to say the air quality in any city isn’t exactly top notch! High levels of pollution have been linked to serious health conditions such as asthma and emphysema. A report in the Guardian has found that in heavily polluted cities exercising can do more harm than good because of the high levels of particulate matter in the air. But for many people going off-grid and leaving city life behind tomorrow isn’t exactly feasible.

So until then, monitoring the air quality in your home and as you’re out and about in your everyday life is a good way to go. Not only will it make you more aware of the air you breathe, it will also help you take preventative measures to improve it. Whether this be through taking a different route on your way back from work, opening the windows or switching on the ventilation when you’re cooking.

If you have tried any of the technologies discussed below, please comment and give us your feedback – we’d love to know how you’re getting on with them!

Only want to monitor your air quality at home?

Sources of particulate matter include burning wood and oil, smoking tobacco products, pesticides and even some household cleaners. The indoor air quality monitor Speck detects fine particulate matter in the air and informs you about the changes you can make to improve your air quality. The 4 inch by 3 inch model comes with a touch screen and only needs to be plugged in for you to start receiving feedback straight away. The toggle feature allows you to look back over the past 12 hours of data to see how your actions, like cooking or cleaning with certain products, influences your personal air quality. Not only this, but the Speck has enough memory to collect up to two years’ worth of data without any need to connect online.

Free Speck software or the mobile app lets you upload data to your computer, tablet or smartphone to monitor the data collected. The SpeckSensor app also allows you to compare your personal air quality to the government’s air quality index stations. If you want to check out the outdoor air quality in your area, you will need to be within 40 km of a regulated particulate matter station. Currently, this service is only available for customers in the US and parts of Canada and Mexico.

This Speck model currently can’t be used outdoors, however the development of an outdoor friendly model is currently in progress. Although, this is a pricey option at $200 per unit, the Speck is easy to use with a range of features.

If you want something for on the go – try these!

Atmotube is a portable air pollution monitor which detects volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide, as well as the temperature and humidity which can also affect air quality. This small robust device is titanium coated for longevity and sends data to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Weighing in at just 40 g (1.4 ounces) this device can be clipped on to clothing or bags, with the airflow mesh allowing the air to pass through its sensors.

Air Quality, Technology, Monitoring, Pollution, Smog, off-grid, app, smartphones

The LA skyline shrouded in smog – new mobile technology can notify you when air quality becomes low

The free app which can be downloaded from the Google Play App store or ITunes has a global air quality map which is free to access by absolutely everyone. So even if you don’t own an Atmotube, you can still benefit from the data collected from these devices. But only Atmotube owners can view their air quality history and get notifications to their phone if they are in a location with low air quality. Shipping worldwide, this nifty little device retails at $89.

The Flow Device is another small scale air quality monitor, being only the size of a pack of chewing gum. The aluminium shell houses a set of sensors that detect dust, exhaust fumes, temperature and humidity, amongst others. A set of LED lights on the device indicates the air quality in the immediate location. Whilst data is sent to a mobile app which displays it on a map. This then flags high pollution zones so you know where to avoid when you’re out and about. Coming with a dock and cable the device can be charged at home whilst monitoring your indoor air quality too. Designed by Paris based company PlumeLabs, beta testing of the Flow Device is set to begin in London over the next few months. Prices are yet to be confirmed.

If you don’t want to carry your own device, then the BreezoMeter may be worth checking out. This free app is now available in 28 countries including the US, Australia and the UK. Set up in Israel in 2014, the BreezoMeter gathers air quality and weather measurements from a wide range of sources – including 7,000 official air quality monitoring stations worldwide. This data produces real-time air quality maps and gives you notifications on changes in the outdoor air quality.

Tech-savvy and fancy building your own air quality monitor, well you can!
Smog, Pollution, Air Quality, monitoring, urban, off-grid, new technology, apps, smartphone,

You don’t have to go to extremes – apps available on your smartphone can give you air quality in real time, allowing you to avoid polluted areas – and wearing a mask!

This article at electronicsforu.com outlines how you can make your own air pollution meter and connect it to your smartphone. The set up uses the Blynk platform which displays readings from your homemade meter that is connected to an Arduino board. Of course you’ll need to buy the components in order to do that. This set up requires an Arduino board costing $20 from the online Arduino store (other websites sell boards that claim to be Arduino but are actually replicas). A Nova particulate matter sensor SDS011 is also used, which retails from $36 on Amazon. You will also require a Gas sensor model MQ-135, which range in price on Amazon from $2.45 to $16. A temperature and humidity sensor model DHT11 is also needed, once again ranging in price from $4.79 to $10.99 on Amazon.

Other projects elsewhere in the world have got volunteers to build their own air quality monitors. Greenpeace Bulgaria set up their own Dustcounter project in 2016, getting members of the local community to build their own air quality counters. Designed to be easy to assemble even for the not so technically minded (that’s me then), the schematics for building your own Dustcounter can be found here. (Google Translate will be needed because the instructions are in Bulgarian!) The charity is hoping to bring out the Dustcounter 2.0 later in 2017 after successful monitoring trials.

Alternatively, if there are any teachers out there who want to bring hands on practical sensor building to the classroom, this step by step guide and lesson plan outlines everything you will need. Making children and young people aware of air quality is an important issue that should be brought into the classroom environment.

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Be Our Guest – Food Preserving Part 2

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Creek, Food Preservation, Off-grid, Refrigeration, Spring House,

Want a spring house but have no spring? Diverting water from a small creek is an option

In Part I, I covered canning and smoking as food preservation methods. This aricle take a look at refrigeration and dehydration.

Freezing and refrigeration is the easy way to preserve food compared to some other methods. The only problem is, once frozen or cooled it has to stay that way until consumption.

Before the wonders of electricity and modern technology, how did people do this?

On farms and in small villages it was common to have a spring house which would provide natural refrigeration. A stone building with troughs dug into the ground on which the house stood would be built over a natural spring. Water from the spring would flow through the troughs and jugs of milk or other produce could be placed in the channels. These would then be kept cool as the water flowed around them. Ledges and hooks would also be provided in the spring house, to hang meat and vegetables in a cooler environment.

If the house wasn’t built over a natural spring, water could be redirected from a nearby creek. Initially some spring houses were made of wood, however this was prone to rotting. Stone therefore is the better material, not only does it hold the cold better but it won’t decompose or decay with time.

Fancy building your own spring house? You can find out more at Bright Hub.

Another option which was used before electricity and still used today is root cellars.

These underground rooms stay cool in the summer but above freezing in the winter – perfect for fruits, vegetables and canned goods. The cool temperatures prevent bacterial growth and the humidity prevents withering. Ideally the cellar will have temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, have low levels of sunshine, good insulation from materials such as straw or soil and be easily accessible.

Root cellars come in a variety of forms from walk in rooms to putting trash cans in the ground to create a “mini” cellar. If you’re on a tight budget, take a look at this video by the Walden Effect, who made a root cellar out of an old refrigerator.

Speaking of refrigerators, if you want to be a bit more tech-centric, then there are various options for off-grid cold food storage.
Propane fridge, RV, off-grid, food preservation, chest freezer, solar freezer

RV owners have relied on propane fridges for many years – but are they worth the cost?

Propane fridges have been a staple for many RV owners and in off-grid homes. Some models can run off propane, DC or AC, making them more flexible. Although these appliances are good for keeping food cold and frozen with ample storage, they do require some maintenance and if they break down can be expensive to repair. Not only this, propane may be unavailable or very expensive to get hold of in certain areas and some propane fridge models can be extremely “fuel hungry” – not exactly the most economical option. There is also an initial investment of over $1,000. Take the Dometic DM2652 on Amazon at $1,119.99. This model measures 24 x 23 x 53.8 inches and so is perfect size for an RV, if you’re willing to spend the money.

Solar power refrigerators are also gaining ground.

Some of which can be hooked up directly to solar panels, running off direct current. The EcoSolarCool Solar Refrigerator on Amazon operates on 12 or 24 DC volts and is reported to be the most efficient solar refrigerator when tested against two other leading brands also advertised on Amazon. Coming in at 121lb, this stand-alone 25.3 x 23.6 x 57.1 inch model is a good size with just over 9 cubic feet capacity for storage. It comes with an upper freezer compartment and a lower refrigerator compartment. With prices starting at $1299.00 though, this is also an appliance that comes with a rather large price tag.

Another alternative is investing in a chest freezer.

These range in price but can be fairly inexpensive and have good storage space. Plus they can average under 2 amps when running. However, because of its shape (it’s a chest) rummaging around for the food you want can be a pain. Chest freezers can also develop condensation and it is best to buy a separate thermostat to monitor the temperature. Some chest freezers come ready to be run by solar power such as the Sundanzer Solar-Powered Refrigerator – 1.8 Cubic Ft., “>Sundanzer Refrigerator, specifically designed for off-grid use.

If you want a more DIY approach and temporary refrigeration then a zeer pot could be the answer.

Popular in Africa, zeer pots are essentially one terracotta pot inside another. One pot must be small enough to fit inside the other pot, but large enough to hold whatever you want to keep cool. The gap between the two pots is filled with sand and then water. The process of evaporative cooling keeps the inner pot much cooler than the outside environment. Although this is not cool enough for meat storage, it is still an option for other produce such as vegetables. If you fancy making your own zeer pot, have a read of this.

From keeping things cold to heating things up! Another food preservation technique is dehydration.

Efficient with zero energy input and little hands on time required, dehydration is perhaps one of the easiest ways to preserve food. The downsides to dehydration are that even though foods weigh less and so are easier to store, there is a longer time for food preparation later when making meals. Also dehydrated food can have a different taste (and texture obviously) to fresh produce. If using a solar dehydration method then you are limited to when the sun is out. This may not be such a problem at lower latitudes, but higher latitudes can be very restricted in their “sun time”.

Dehydrator, food preservation, solar, off-grid

Dehydrating foods can be done in a variety of ways from drying in the sun to using an electric dehydrator

Herbs and greens are the easiest foods to dehydrate; they dry quickly with no slicing required. Fruits and veggies are a little trickier; they need to be sliced thinly or diced into small pieces for drying. Smaller fruits like blueberries should be punctured to allow the moisture to escape during the process. Meat and fish are the most challenging to dry safely. The cuts need to be sliced as thinly as possible and be kept in a constant supply of warm air. Salting first will help with the preservation. Meat and fish especially should be stored in a cool place after drying to ensure they last for a few months.

So what can you use for dehydrating?

Firstly, you could invest in an electric dehydrator. These are probably the most convenient option for setting up (with no babysitting) but require a power source. The Excalibur Food Dehydrator being sold on Amazon at $244.95 is one such appliance. With nine large trays boasting 15 square feet of drying space, you can hardly complain for lack of room. But despite this the whole body is not overly large at 17 x 19 x 12.5 inches. An adjustable thermostat ensures you dry at the temperature you want and a 26 hour timer means you can walk away without the fear of forgetting about your food!

If you want to go down the solar dehydrator route, there are pre-assembled options. For instance the Hanging Food Pantrie Solar Food Dehydrator has five drying trays and protects food from insects and pests whilst using the suns energy to dry the food. No noisy fans and it’s collapsible for easy storage after use. Retailing on Amazon at $59.99, this is an option if you want something that stores well but also has good drying space.

Alternatively, you can go the whole hog and build your own solar dehydrator.

There are many variations and the beauty of this option is you can adapt the design to suit your needs. The basic components are a heat collector and a drying box. The heat collector has a clear plastic top which heats the air inside causing it to rise up and into the drying box. This is typically made of plywood with trays to rest the food on top of. Strategically placed vents help to control the air flow into and out of the dehydrator box to keep a constant circulation around the food.

If you want more detailed information on building your own solar dehydrator, take a look at this guide.

The post Be Our Guest – Food Preserving Part 2 appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Pellet Power: Fossil-Fuel-Free Heating

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Pellet Boiler, Wood, Heating, Renewable, Self Sustaining, Carbon neutral, cheaper,

Pellet boilers beat oil for price and efficiency

A clean, cheap and carbon neutral way to heat your home – sounds good. Its a reality for thousands of families and businesses in Europe and North America.

Pellet boilers are growing in popularity; with grants and incentives offered by various states and governments – often in the form of financial assistance towards equipment and installation, depending on location. Ecoheat Solutions, a pellet boiler provider, have put together a summary of incentives for US based consumers here.

Why a pellet boiler?

Pellet boilers function exactly like an oil or propane burner with fully automatic operation. The only difference being instead of oil, wood pellets are being used as the fuel. Pellets are a cleaner source of fuel, being completely carbon neutral. The reason for this is that for every tree burned as pellets, another tree is planted to take up the carbon released. Not only this but wood pellets are readily available in North America and Europe – a local renewable fuel source. This not only bolsters the local economy but pellets are also much less volatile than oil or propane. Pellets are also much cheaper than fossil fuels – try 60% cheaper. One pellet boiler owner cited a saving of upwards of $1,500 per year on fuel – you can watch the full video of their boiler experience here.

There are a couple of downsides to pellet boilers. Fuel tends to be a little bulkier to store than oil and the ash bin(s) from the boiler need to be emptied every month or so. However, due to this ash by-product containing natural minerals, it can be spread on lawns, gardens or back into the woods; acting as a mineral fertiliser. Some pellet boilers also have motors, just like a pellet stove, and so some noise can be heard. However if the boiler is housed in a boiler room or basement, the noise levels can be much reduced.

The upfront cost of a pellet boiler is also higher than an oil fuelled counterpart. Depending on the model chosen; average prices for a pellet boiler come in at around $15,000 compared to a more conservative $10,000-12,000 for a fossil fuel boiler. However, with the pellet fuel being much cheaper in comparison (and don’t forget those state grants), the long run savings will more than make up for the initial investment.

What’s the difference between a pellet boiler and a pellet stove?

These two terms can sometimes be used interchangeably because they use the same fuel, but there is a fundamental difference between the two. Pellet stoves are room appliances, meaning they heat the room they are in. Of course, depending on the size of the house, this could be an ample heat source (tiny houses I’m looking at you).  A pellet boiler however, replaces an oil boiler and is connected to a heating system and so is more suitable for larger houses and commercial properties.

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Be Our Guest: Food Preservation Part I

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Canning, off-grid, cooking, food preservation, water bath, pressure canner

With the “know-how,” food preservation isn’t so daunting

Charcutier Sean Cannon is opening his first restaurant, Nape, in London this month. Born and bred in Norfolk, Sean told the Guardian how growing up in a self-sustaining community influenced his cooking. His best kept secret – preserving.

“Whether it’s killing an animal and having lots of fresh meat, or early summer and everything is ripe, knowing what to do with a glut is key.” Cannon said.

If you live off-grid you’ll know that preserving food for future use is essential. Not only does it provide food security, but also allows you to taste sweet summer berries in the winter. By doing this age old tradition, it also stops more modern thoughts and concerns of “what is actually in my food?” If you do the preparing and the preservation, you know exactly what has gone into the food you will be eating.

There are many ways to preserve food including canning, freezing, dehydrating and smoking.

Canning is a valuable and low-tech way to preserve food. There are two main methods for this, either water bath canning or pressure canning. It is worth noting that water bath canning should only be done for acidic fruits, such as berries and apples. If canning other produce such as meats and vegetables, pressure canning should be used; otherwise there is a high risk of food poisoning.

The basic process is to heat water in your canner (or large pan if water bath canning). This should not be filled to the top; 3-5 inches should be left for your jars of food. Jars should have lids secured and be placed carefully into the canner, being careful not to knock other jars, as they could crack or break under the high temperatures. The jars should be immersed in the canner with the water just covering the lids. The canner lid should be locked in place if pressure canning and the jars left for as long as needed according to the recipe. After the required time, the canner should be allowed to depressurise if using a pressure canner, before the jars are removed. Heat protection and necessary precautions should be taken to ensure you do not burn yourself. The jars should then be left to cool and seal for a minimum of 12 but ideally 24 hours. The sound of popping and pinging will mark your canning success!

Canning is so popular because of the wide variety of foods that can be preserved this way and the length of time they will remain edible for. Plus there’s no worry of keeping food frozen or cool!

Canning does however come with an initial start-up cost. If you’re only looking to preserve fruits and jams, then water bath canning in a large pan is of course an economical way to go. However, if you’re looking to preserve a wider variety of foods which includes meat and vegetables, then it would be wise to invest in a pressure canner.

The Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker comes in at a reasonable $86.44 on Amazon. This can double as a water bath canner and a pressure cooker. Made out of aluminium, the canner allows for fast and even heating and with a liquid capacity of just under 22 litres, seven quart jars fit comfortably inside. The lid has a strong lock and an over-pressure plug can relieve any build-up of steam. With a 12 year warranty and excellent reviews, this canner will certainly suit the needs of most canners.

Canning, food preservation, jars, canning, water canning, pressure canning, off-grid, storage

Good jars & lids are a must – there’s nothing like hearing the “pop” of sealing success!

The Presto’s rival is the All American Canner. This is a pricier option at $225.37 on Amazon and has many similar features, being made of aluminium and also holding 7 quart (or 19 pint) jars. This is a heavier unit though, coming in at 20lbs to the Presto’s 12lbs. A reviewer having access to both canner makes did however point out another comparison between the two. She noted that the All American Canner has a weighted gauge which needs less “babysitting” than the Presto with its dial gauge, which required her to keep adjusting the heat of her stove. However, she pointed out that when compared side by side, both the Presto and All American took the same amount of time to get to pressure, to can the produce and to bring back down ready to remove the jars.

Once the initial canner investment is made, there are a couple of other bits and pieces which you will need. Jars are a must and are reusable. However, if using second hand jars to try and save on cost, it is important not to have any that are cracked or damaged in any way – this could lead to some nasty accidents later on!

In terms of lids, these can either be replaced for around $3 per pack or you could spend a little extra and invest in some reusable Tattler lids. These are marketed at $8.88 on Amazon for a pack of 12 and are “indefinitely reusable”.

Other kit you might want to buy (and are recommended to prevent nasty burns) are a jar lifter and canning funnel. These can be bought separately or in a set with other equipment such as kitchen tongs, a jar wrench and magnetic lid lifter advertised on Amazon at $8.79.

For more detailed information on canning basics for beginners, check out Starry Hilder’s video on YouTube!

Another popular preservation method, especially for meat and fish is smoking.
Smokin' Hot! Only if you want to eat your meat straight away. If you want to preserve your meat, cold smoking is the way to go!

Smokin’ Hot! But only if you want to eat your meat straight away. If you want to preserve your meat, cold smoking is the way to go!

This involves long exposure to wood smoke at low temperatures, which is different to grilling over an open fire. Smoking preserves meat and fish by drying the produce and the smoke creates an acidic coating on the meat surface, preventing bacterial growth. The addition of a rich mouth-watering smoky flavour only adds to the appeal of this preservation method.

 

There are two types of smoking method. The first is called hot smoking and cooks the meat so it can be eaten straight away. This involves getting the temperature above 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The meat will still need to be cooked over a long time, leaving it very tender.

The second is cold smoking which doesn’t cook the meat for consumption straight away. Instead temperatures between 75 and 100 degree Fahrenheit are used to seal the meat and flavour it. The time meat or fish is left to smoke depends on the cuts and type of produce. Adding salt to the meat can help to speed up the process as it is a natural preservative. After drying the meat should be placed in an air tight container and stored at a cool temperature until consumed.

There is a wide range of smokers from electric or gas to charcoal and wood. This propane smoker from Amazon comes with a built in temperature gauge and retails at $211.40. Alternatively, instead of trying to find a smoker that suits your needs, why not build your own? That’s what this family has done!

 

Part II of “Be Our Guest – Food Preservation” will cover refrigeration and dehydrating.

The post Be Our Guest: Food Preservation Part I appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Tech 101: All about Batteries

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Batteries, lead acid, lithium ion, saltwater, off-grid, solar, wind

Choosing the right battery can be positively overwhelming

New to off-grid living? Thinking about going off-grid? Have years of experience? Bet you’ve thought about batteries.

Having a back-up store of energy for those cloudy still days, when your renewable energy system isn’t exactly on top form, is a grand idea. But navigating through the types of battery and which is most suitable can seem like a bit of a minefield. Actually, quite a huge minefield.

Way back when…

Initially when off-grid living took off, people turned to car batteries for their storage needs. However, being designed to give out a large current in a short burst, they couldn’t take the strain of being used for longer periods. This usually ended in a burnt out battery after only a year or two of use (if you were very lucky). but a few folk DID get lucky and begged or bought old Fork-lift truck batteries – and found them to be ideal.

Enter Deep-cycle Lead Acid batteries

Designed for a steady current output over long periods and with several hundred discharge- recharge cycles over its lifetime,  these are perfect for partnering with renewable energy.

There are several different types of lead acid batteries which can be used off-grid. The most commonly used in conjunction with solar and wind power are: golf cart batteries, L16 batteries and industrial batteries. All of these are flooded with electrolyte which evaporates during charging, meaning maintenance is required. This extends to checking electrolyte level a minimum of once per month and topping up with distilled water when needed.

Golf cart batteries are good for those completely new to off-grid living, who have a small scale renewables system. The upfront cost of these units is low, meaning if first timers make any mistakes and ruin a battery, the financial loss is minimized. Lasting 4-5 years, these batteries have a reasonable lifespan. They are durable, and can withstand undercharging without too much impact on their storage capacity – reducing the chance you will be scratching our head and saying: “hmm this battery doesn’t seem to hold its charge as long as it used to”.

Batteries, lead acid, lithium ion, saltwater, off-grid, solar, wind

Car batteries for off-grid living are now a thing of the past – unlike Herbie, they weren’t exactly loveable!

Batteries can be scaled up in a bank, depending on the amount of storage required. A set of four 6 volt, 225 amp batteries in sequence can hold 4kWh, increase this number and you could potentially have a bank capable of storing up to 16kWh. With prices starting below $100 for one unit, this is by far the most economical option for those with small scale electricity needs.

 

If you want to step it up from a golf cart battery, then L16 batteries may be the way to go. Even though the units are twice as heavy at 120lbs! They can power small to medium set ups and have a lifespan of up to 8 years. There are also 2 volt models available, allowing for greater storage capacity if a lower voltage is not an issue. However, these units are between 2-3 times more expensive than your standard golf cart battery, but if you have a little extra cash to spend, this could be a good option to go for.

However, if you just want one battery rather than creating your own bank with multiple units, then an industrial battery might do the trick! At a hefty 300lbs these are not meant for RVs and boats. But with a 15-20 year lifespan and the ability to have them custom made to your specifications (including storage capacity) straight from the manufacturer, this does have its positives. But also a considerably higher price tag of between $2,000-10,000 per unit, depending on specs.

If you don’t want the hassle of maintaining a flooded battery you can always opt for a sealed lead acid one.

Instead of a fluid electrolyte, these units have gel or absorbed ones. This means the only thing they need to keep in good working order is proper charging. Alongside this, no gases are produced so you don’t have to worry about appropriate ventilation. They don’t suffer from corrosion either because there is no leakage. Models of these units such as Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) units are also easily stackable, taking up less space. However, despite all of these positives they are sensitive and can be easily overcharged. And the big whopper is they aren’t exactly a cost effective option, with prices that are double that of an industrial flooded lead acid battery, but with half the lifespan.

Alternatively, Lithium ion batteries are gaining ground, especially in light of this being the technology behind Tesla’s Powerwall.

They can deliver more discharge/recharge cycles over their lifespan (approximately 10 years), compared to lead acid batteries and can be charged at higher currents. They are lighter and take up less space also, making them easier to install and change. Due to their lightweight nature, they are also great for RVs and boats. Not only this, but when standing idle they lose only 1-3% storage capacity per month compared to up to 15% for lead acid batteries. So if you’re someone who only uses their RV or boat for vacations every few months, then this might be a better option.

However, there are some drawbacks to these types of batteries. Firstly, they need a Battery Management System (BMS) to monitor the voltage and temperature of the units. This is because even Lithium ion batteries made in the same batch can have variations in capacity. Therefore, when charging, some batteries can become full quicker than others, resulting in dangerously high voltages in some of the units. A BMS shunts the current away from full cells to still charging cells, protecting the system. It can also detect over-heating of cells and will shut off the charging pack to protect all the batteries.

Clearly, this all comes with a heftier price tag than a lead acid battery, for both the unit and associated BMS. And remember – in comparison to lead acid batteries the technology is relatively untested in terms of its longevity. Plus, Lithium ion batteries aren’t widely manufactured yet – so when it comes to replacement equipment or management systems it is not as easy to find what you need as lead acid batteries. However, when this technology becomes more widespread and the price of the units comes down, then there could well be a shift away from lead acid and towards lithium ion batteries.

Batteries, Lead Acid, Lithium ion, saltwater, off-grid, solar, wind, self-sustaining, storage

Could salt be the key to a new generation of batteries?

And just to throw a spanner in the works…

Aquion Energy have brought out a saltwater battery. Yes you read that correctly. Instead of using lithium salts or sulphuric acid for the electrolyte fluid, the Aspen battery uses a non-hazardous sodium sulphate solution. Coming in 24 volt and 48 volt models, the 260lb units are stackable and can be discharged 100% before recharging. The units can operate between -5 and 40°C. Currently, they are being tested in a pilot project in Vermont as part of an “off-grid package”, offered by utility company Green Mountain Power.

Although this is designed for long term stationary energy storage (sorry boat and RV owners) it is aimed at those living off-grid at a supposedly competitive price. The components of the battery are made from relatively cheap, abundant materials and each unit is easy to manufacture. Therefore, an inexpensive manufacturing process should pass on savings to the consumer. Aquion Energy have been given the North American Company of the Year award from the 2017 Global Clean Tech 100, and the Aspen Battery has been named in Building Green’s Top 10 products of 2017. So if you’re fancying something a little different, Aquion’s Aspen battery might be the thing for you. You can find out more about how many batteries you would need to meet your energy requirements here.

Hopefully, you haven’t been left too bamboozled by the battery minefield.

Essentially, what is going to be best for you depends greatly upon your circumstances and budget. If your budget is low and you don’t mind a bit of maintenance, then lead acid batteries are probably your best bet. However, if you have a larger budget, but only vacation in your RV or boat, then a Lithium ion battery with low rates of self-discharge might be a good option to consider. And if you want to break the mould and don’t mind being a bit of a guinea pig, perhaps give the saltwater battery a try – at least you won’t have the worry of your bank going up in flames!

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Regenerating the Eco-village

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Regen Villages, Off-grid, Sustainable, Eco-village, eco-friendly

Regen Villagers don’t need green thumb to live in greenhouse.

Self-sustaining communities that can talk to each other; sounds like something from the future doesn’t it? But Regen Villages is making this a reality – right now. The first Regen eco-village has begun building works in Almere, 25 minutes from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The 15,500m² project will house 100 families and aims to be completed by 2018.

But what is a Regen Village?

Founded by James Ehrlich, a senior technologist at Stanford University, in 2015, Regen Villages has a holistic approach. A regenerative system combining new technology and renewable energy powered homes, with organic food production right on the doorstep.

The houses vary in size and are built inside a greenhouse “envelope”, with some even having terraces. Each home has a built in water collection system, solar panels and are passively heated. The community has a seasonal garden, biogas facility and aquaponics amongst other things.

The base of the villages is that the output of one system is the input to another. Waste from the homes is sorted into different categories. Bio-waste is used in the Biogas facility, whilst compost is used as food for livestock and small flies. The flies are fed to fish and the waste from both them and the livestock fertilises the seasonal gardens. The plants in the aquaponics facility and seasonal gardens produce fruit and vegetables for food, whilst the livestock and fish provide a source of protein. Rainwater is collected and stored at the houses and water produced at the biogas facility is also stored. Grey water is separated and used to irrigate the seasonal garden, whereas clean water is put into the aquaponics. Solar cells provide the energy for homes and also to the “smart grid” which can be used for charging electric cars.

Regen Villages, who are partnered with Danish architects EFFEKT, have been termed the “Tesla of ecovillages” paving the way for new innovative developments. Plans include villages being linked up to the cloud and being able to communicate with each other through the internet. In this way communities are self-reliant and off-grid but can still learn from each other.

What about the future?

At a conference held at Sliperiet, Umeå University, Sweden James Ehrlich spoke of the future for Regen Villages. After the completion of the Almere pilot, EU funding of a proposed 300 million euros (approximately $319 million) will enable projects in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany to go ahead. These are aimed to be carried out during 2018-2022. Sights are then set on developments across Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, India, China and parts of the US, with government investments. As Ehrlich outlined, by targeting a challenging cold environment first, Regen Villages can be adapted to suit different climatic needs.

Off-grid sustainable greenhouse communities are not at all futuristic and Ehrlich is keen to make them a reality.

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Liberals Prep for Trump Presidency – even have own Gun Club

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Prepping, Survival, Trump, Prepared, Off-grid, Self-sustaining

Could a “Trumpocalypse” on the horizon? Preppers are taking no chances!

Time was, Preppers tended to be right-wingers concerned about the coming social collapse, but since President Trump was elected, it’s left wing liberals who have begun hoarding food and seeking out futureproof shelters.

Prepping or survivalism already has tens of thousands of individual followers or groups actively preparing for emergencies. This movement even warranted a reality series titled “Doomsday Preppers” which aired on National Geographic Channel in 2012.

With a Trump administration now on the horizon, previous non-preppers have begun looking at their earthquake and backpacking gear in a new way – the beginnings of a survival kit. This was the case for San Francisco based Liberal Jim Ray. He told Buzzfeed, “The world in general feels more tumultuous than it did, in a lot of ways. For liberally minded people, the election made that a reality in a way that it wasn’t before.”

Other Liberals are moving beyond simply stocking up their backpacking kit, adding foreign visas and unregistered vehicles to their prepping checklist, according to the Buzzfeed article.

Although left wingers are generally against stocking up on ammunition and guns, The Liberal Gun Club has seen an increase in paying members over the past few months. This group provides a voice for gun-owning liberals, breaking the stereotype of only right wing enthusiasts owning guns and ammunition. Not only this, but gun transactions reached a record high on November 25th shortly after the election result, according to The Trace. Although this could be due to stockists lowering prices to increase their sales.

Liberal Prepper Facebook groups have also begun growing in popularity and number. One group has nearly 1,000 members on the social media site.

On the other hand, some Conservative preppers have relaxed their prepping since the election. But other right wingers are cautioning against this, regardless of political opinion or viewpoint, a new president isn’t going to prevent a natural disaster or grid power outage. Therefore, prepping is still an important and vital part of many peoples’ lives. Only now, preppers can no longer be described as predominantly right wing, President Trump has seen to that.

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Solar TV: Entertainment Everywhere

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Solar Power, TV, Off-grid, Africa

Even in a remote location, the Solar TV can connect to satellite channels.

Living off-grid but want to keep dumbing down?

Cello Electronics have introduced what they claim is the first LED solar powered TV. With a screen size of 22 inches, the TV is still reasonably compact and so would fit well in an RV, hut or tiny home.

A built-in rechargeable battery and patented “Smart Energy Management System” ensures up to 10 hours of running time from a single charge! A smart antenna receives signals through a DVBT2 tuner giving the viewer HD quality. But if you’re located somewhere really remote where there is little or no TV signal, the built-in satellite tuner can still pick up satellite channels. This allows for TV entertainment, wherever you may be.

This unit can also play a more central role in powering an off-grid home. A 2.0 USB port can not only charge phones, but can also act as a connection or power source for other compatible devices. Not only this by connecting a flash disk to act as storage, the personal video recorder feature can be used. That’s right; this set offers the ability to record a show or series to watch when it’s more convenient for you.

A complete out-of-the-box solution:

The Solar TV package costs $300 and includes the TV, solar panel and antenna. All that needs to be done is to set up the TV with the solar panel (in a suitable location of course) and you’re good to go. A review of an “out of the box” opening can be found here.

UK based Cello Electronics launched the Solar TV at the third Solar Africa Expo in Kenya, last year. A large proportion of the African population do not have access to reliable electricity from the grid. Therefore, a TV that works completely off-grid offers a solution. Knowing that the $300 price tag could be a big barrier for poorer regions in Africa, the company set up a pay-as-you-go scheme. PAYGOTV allows the consumer to pay only for the TV they are watching by purchasing a code entered via the remote control. This also opens up a new market for customers that don’t have their own TV but have access to one in the local community.

Brian Palmer, CEO of Cello, recalled how it all started, saying in a press release, “Could we make a TV that was capable of working off-grid?” Seems the answer is, yes they could!

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Off-Grid School Gets Top Marks

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Recycling, Eco-desks, Off-grid, school, South Africa

Waste for desks? Deal!

A cash-strapped performing arts school has traded a year’s worth of waste for 30 desks.

The off-grid school collected its community’s recycling, as well as its own, and bartered this for the recycled desks.

Set up in 2005, the grid wasn’t working for 65 pupil school Chistlehurst, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa so they devised a plan. Stick with their eco-friendly ethos and remain off the grid.  Unlike an on-grid school, there is no sprinkler system, no heating in the winter and strictly no technology in the classroom. So things are done a little differently, students carry buckets of water from the rain water tanks to the gardens and huddle by a bonfire to keep warm on cold mornings.

“Our kids have had to learn how to get along without certain ‘luxuries’, which is something they take a little time to adjust to, but end up loving the ‘quietness’ of it all,” said Jacyn Fanner, Headteacher.

When they moved into their current building, there were no roofs, doors or windows. Let alone functioning taps and toilets! But after a lot of hard work, the school reached their off-grid goal. Rain water tanks fill the toilet cisterns, solar lighting illuminates the classrooms and batteries, gas and a small generator provide extra energy.

The school is also home to a frog pond, vegetable garden and a recycling village with 12 bins for different materials. This allows the school to recycle a range of materials from mixed paper and cans to plastic and styrofoam. The majority of cleaning products and equipment are sourced from the local community and are as eco-friendly as possible.

Off-grid, School, Recycling, South Africa, Eco-desks, Water Tanks,

Drama Free! Water tanks & solar panels mean Chistlehurst doesn’t have to rely on the grid.

The school partnered up with the Wildlands Conservancy Trust 6 years ago, through their desire to recycle. The NGO, which operates in 6 provinces, provided the school with the recycling bins which are filled every week – even during the holidays!

Students have taken their eco-friendly lessons from school to home, encouraging their families to reduce re-use and recycle. So now recycling from the local community is brought to the school for collection. Each year the school get a rebate from Wildlands for the recycling they collect. However at the end of 2016 this rebate was traded for the eco-desks. The staff and students are very pleased with how they look in their eco-school setting and Headteacher Jacyn Fanner wants to see them fill all of the classrooms in time.

So what’s next?

“We have so many ideas and plans – which include a fully solar powered media centre – and we are so excited for what the future holds for Chistlehurst,” Jacyn Fanner said.

The desks are made from 100% previously unrecycled materials, are hard wearing and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Chistlehurst are so pleased with the outcome, they are encouraging other schools to get involved with green initiatives such as Sustainable Schools and Recycling for Life programs.

 

Images courtesy of Roger Fanner.

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Powerwall 2 takes homes off-grid

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Tesla, Solar, Batteries, Powerwall

Powering through, Tesla are expanding from cars to batteries

The sun is a huge energy source that can be taken advantage of using solar panels. But how to store the excess energy that solar panels capture has been a little tricky…until now. Tesla has come up with the solution – the Powerwall 2.

This wall or floor mounted battery pack stores excess energy captured by solar panels to be used anytime. This gives the consumer a reliable, available power source 24/7. Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, cited climate change and the need to move to a sustainable energy source at the product launch, claiming the Powerwall 2 could power all the sockets, lights and fridge of a four bedroom house indefinitely with solar power. The 14kWh battery would also provide a back-up energy source if there were a power outage, allowing peace of mind.

Each pack has up to a 7kWh power output, with an average 5kWh continuous power output. A liquid thermal control (coolant) system helps to regulate the internal temperature of the battery, maximising its performance. Whilst the water resistant, dust proof casing allows for outdoor or indoor installation.

For those who do not have solar panels, the Powerwall 2 can be charged at night (when energy is in less demand and less expensive). Then it can be used as a power source during the day time. Tesla is also in the process of bringing out their range of solar tiles. These come in four styles, from Tuscan to slate glass. They are opaque from the street but transparent from above, allowing the suns rays to penetrate the tile and the solar panels within to capture energy.

The use of a Powerwall 2 pack with solar panels enables homes to become self-sufficient in providing their own energy. Musk has a clear vision of an affordable, integrated power generation and storage system which can be rolled out across whole neighbourhoods, allowing whole streets and communities to be off-grid.

One 755mm x 1150 mm x 115 mm 14kWh Powerwall 2 battery costs $5,500 (£5,400) with installation costs starting at $1,500 (£950). The first installations are due to begin in early 2017. Prices of the new Tesla solar tile range are yet to be released.

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Learn to Love Ecovillage Life

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Off-Grid, Course, Permaculture, Eco-friendly, ecovillage, Earthaven

Permaculture is a sustainable way of living – not a trending hairstyle!

Want to test out living off-grid but don’t want to do it alone? If you have $6000 to spare you can with the School of Integrated Living (SOIL).

So if you want to try living off-grid in a community of over 80 people, consider the Permaculture and Ecovillage Immersion Experience. This two month residency running from June 10th to August 11th is less of a course and more of an eco-cultural learning experience.

Located in the aspiring ecovillage Earthaven near Asheville, North Carolina, you’ll gain new skills on a wide curriculum. From learning about ecological farming to efficient irrigation techniques and eco-spirituality, there is something for everyone. Most days will begin with a meditation session before getting stuck into the day. There will be unstructured time, but most weeks will cover approximately 50 hours of learning. A Permaculture Design Certification course is also included, which will take place in mid-June.

Earthaven was founded in 1994 and sits in 329 acres of land. A completely off-grid community powered with solar panels and two small hydropower stations. The buildings are made of environmentally friendly materials, usually lumber, with metal roofs for water catchment. Most are passively solar heated and propane burners help to keep them warm during colder months. The huts and residences have either individual or shared solar systems which supply their electricity. Batteries and generators are also charged by the micro hydropower stations for back up supplies. Although most of the residents get around by foot or bike, three solar powered golf carts can also be used.

Course participants will camp on site, with the majority of spots being for two person tents. A tarp covered kitchen with propane burners and a composting toilet are all available for use. Food is also included and most is sourced from the local environment and small farms in the village.

The cost of the course is $6,800 including tuition, food, camping, field trips and the permaculture design certificate. There is a $400 discount if booked before February 10th.

If you don’t want to spend two months at Earthaven but would still like to visit – you can! Workshops and tours are open to the public. Camping is also offered for $15 per adult per night, or $20 for two adults sharing a tent. The camping season runs from March 31st to November 5th.

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Free Home Batteries Trial Increases Grid Capacity

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Solar panels, smart battery, electricity, Yorkshire, grid,

Solar & batteries: the clever way to cut energy costs

A small community in South Yorkshire, UK has been targeted for a trial involving solar power and smart batteries. Forty homes in near Barnsley are having smart batteries installed at the end of January. Moixa, Northern Powergrid and Energise Barnsley are all collaborating on the £250 million ($308 million) project.

Moixa Batteries USB port

The Moixa batteries are smaller than a boiler (50cm x 30cm x 20cm), wall mounted with a 20 year lifespan. They even have a USB port so phones and other devices can be charged direct from the battery. Normally costing above £2,500 ($3,000), the residents received their batteries free of charge, with distributor Northern Electric footing the bill. 30 of the homes had solar panels, allowing them to be further independent of the grid. The batteries have good saving potential, giving the residents another reason to be positive about the trial.

The batteries allow residents to use the excess energy their solar panels generate during the day, at night time. They store the energy produced instead of transmitting it to the grid. This will relieve pressure put on the electricity network during times of high output but low demand. It is this reason that prevented the energy company Energise Barnsley placing more homes with solar onto the trial. Without expensive upgrades it is infrastructure which is limiting the number of homes that can have solar power. A project in Carmarthenshire, Wales, faced a similar problem, with only 37% of homes being able to connect with solar energy.

Lower Carbon

As outlined in Moixa’s press release, CEO Simon Daniel stated, “Batteries will allow the electricity system to support much higher levels of low carbon renewable power and increase UK energy independence.”

Linking the batteries in a virtual power plant system allows Moixa to make the wider grid more efficient, causing less need for back up from non-renewable sources. If rolled out across the country, millions could be saved by reducing the peak solar output onto the electricity network.

If the trial is successful, batteries could hold the key to UK energy independence.

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Return of the Scottish Hut

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Hut, Scotland, Building Regulations, Bothies, Off Grid

Huts or bothies were part of Scotland’s culture since early C20th.

If you fancy buying an inexpensive off-grid getaway in Europe – try Scotland.

The government announced changes to their building regulations early this year. This will include huts of up to 30m² becoming exempt from regulations, specifically aimed at making it simple for people to achieve a life off the grid.

In a few months, you could be gazing out from a building like the one in the picture for less than $25,000 inclusive.

Scotland has a strong hutting culture dating back to the early 20th century; it was only 60 years ago that this began to dwindle. The largest remaining hut community in Carbeth, near Glasgow, managed to weather this decline. The community bought the land on which their 140 huts stand in 2013. But now resurgence is happening, thanks mainly to the campaign A Thousand Huts championed by the environment organisation Reforesting Scotland.

This organisation recognises the benefits of hut life, offering a retreat for rest, recreation, enjoying nature and making memories with family. Alongside use as a base for outdoor activities, huts contribute to sustainable development and encourage learning new skills. Reforesting Scotland have been lobbying for changes to the law for some time and are keen to encourage more people to adopt the hut lifestyle. Now changes to building regulations are being finalised this year, more people can benefit from having their own off-grid getaway.

Scottish planning (zoning) policy requires all developments to get planning permission for a new build from their local authority. This involves providing a description of plans on the chosen location. This part of the process will not change and will still have to take place.

However, single storey huts will no longer need a building warrant or have to comply with strict building regulations. This gives hut builders more freedom in how they build their huts and can significantly reduce building costs. There are still some rules which will have to be met.

Firstly, the build must fit the description of a hut as given in Scottish Planning Policy documents, which is as follows:

“A simple building used intermittently as recreational accommodation, having an internal floor area of no more than 30m²; constructed from low impact materials; generally not connected to mains water, electricity or sewage; and built in such a way that it is removable with little or no trace at the end of its life.”

By restricting size, the risk of structural instability of the hut is reduced but its energy efficiency is maximised.

Secondly, some health and safety regulations will have to be met, for example relating to fire risk and spread. A guidance document outlining these will be published by Reforesting Scotland later this year.

The Scottish Government has also allowed provision for a sleeping platform and amenities such as composting toilets within the hut. In terms of energy use and production, off-grid solutions such as solar panels and micro wind turbines are most desirable, however these are location dependent.

There are hutting cultures in other locations, such as the Scandinavian countries. However, these seem to be growing in size and elaborateness. The aim of this policy development in Scotland is to take people back to basics and off the grid.

 

 

More information can be found here:

www.thousandhuts.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/160215-Huts-Guidance-FINAL-screen-res.pdf

A Guide to the Planning System in Scotland can be found here:

www.gov.scot/resource/doc/281542/0084999.pdf

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Best Beats Unplugged

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Music, Festival, Off Grid

It is not often that large events can call themselves self sustaining. But two upcoming music festivals on two entirely different continents are bucking the trend and doing just that – going off grid.

Introducing Off The Grid Melbourne Festival in OZ and Camphill Village Music Festival in South Africa. Two very different but self-sustaining events. Off The Grid Melbourne is taking place on 21/12/16 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts in Melbourne and Camphill Village Music Festival on 25/02/17 at Camphill Village near Cape Town. This will be the third music festival for both events, which have been getting bigger and better each year.

The Melbourne festival will be powered entirely through solar energy. Panels will be connected to a battery bank, which is rigged up to the sound system. This ten hour event will have music, food and plenty of dancing, with not a single piece of waste going to landfill. The company behind this festival, Finding Infinity, aim to make Melbourne a completely sustainable city – one renewable event at a time. Artists playing at this event include home-grown Australian Andras Fox and the eclectic, high energy No Zu.

The Camphill Village Music festival is a slightly different affair, but no less energetic. This festival helps to raise funds for Camphill Village, a community home to 90 intellectually disabled adults who aim to live self-sustaining lives. The farm includes a dairy, bakery and cosmetics shop, whose products are sold in the Cape Town area. Partnering up with Rays of Hope helped Camphill take the first steps towards living with no reliance on the grid. The dairy is now entirely solar powered, taking the community one step further to complete self-reliance. The festival will bring the whole community together and create a great atmosphere, with the sounds of Rockers Bootleggers, Albert Frost and the soulful Majozi keeping everyone dancing long into the night. Being located approximately 40km from Cape Town, there is the option to camp overnight – so the party really can go on all night long.

 

Both events are set to be real showstoppers, proving that you don’t need to be on the grid to have a good night out.

 

More information for both events can be found here:

Off The Grid Melbourne               –              http://www.offthegrid.global/

Off The Grid Camphill Village      –              http://www.camphill.org.za/camphill-village-music-festival

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