This week was a big step forward in grasping the basics of both electronics and off-grid living.
I took ownership of the first in a series of devices that will accompany my journey into the technical world of electronic experimentation, with a view to understand what (or should I say watt?) works, what doesn’t, what our basic needs are and what luxury items one can still use whilst being isolated from the grid.
So the sustainable energy basics are already acquired, this week saw two exciting deliveries; the first a 100w portable solar panel, the second an entry-level 240wh power station.
I intend to review both items in time, but what it has already allowed me to do is to think in a different way. Us on-gridders invariably don’t think about how devices work, how much electricity they consume and how much it costs to run them, one typically plugs, plays, enjoys and pays the hefty energy bills at the end of the month.
With the start of the build of my “Cabin In The Yard” (the prototype for the build of over a dozen ecolodges at our retreat in Wales), only weeks away, I wanted to fully explore and understand the art of what’s possible without drawing any resources from the house.
Thankfully, my son is an electrical engineer and he gave me an electricity 101 to explain what watts, amps and volts are, how to find out the inputs and outputs of devices, and by doing the maths, I could work out the drain from each appliance on the limited power reserves I have.
I’ll admit the 101 didn’t make much sense until I started to do some research on which devices and appliances are powered by 12v batteries, USB or AA / AAA rechargeable batteries.
Once I found out the watts for each device, the penny dropped. By documenting the watts of each device, I knew exactly how much each one would drain from the 240 watt hours I had to play with on my power station.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer volume of devices out there that could continue (somewhat) a life of luxury, totally cost free (besides the initial investment of course), as long as the sun was shining (the fundamental flaw in my plan of living in the monochromatic grey realm of North West England).
Here is the list of devices I found, not exhaustive by any means and somewhat primordial when compared to those in the house for the likes of heating, cooking and lighting, but still an impressive list nonetheless (those marked green I already possess):
🟢 Portable Showers (15w)
🟢 Cooler Boxes/Fridges (58w)
🔴 Heating Stoves (40w)
🔴 Travel Kettles (120w)
🔴 Hair Straighteners (20w)
🔴 Hair Dryers (150w)
🔴 Toastie Makers (120w)
🔴 Heater Fans (120w)
🔴 Travel Hoovers (12.5w)
🔴 Electric Blankets (55w)
🔴 TVs (40w)
🔴 Air Pumps (120w)
🔴 Water Pumps (60w)
🟢 Desk Fans (1w)
🟢 Desk Lamps (5w)
🟢 Bluetooth Speakers (5w)
🟢 iPhones (5w)
🟢 iPads (10w)
🟢 Surface Pro (60w)
🟢 Nintendo Switch (25w)
🟢 Logitech Web Cams (5w)
🟢 USB C Computer Monitors (25w)
🟢 Mavic Mini Drones (15w)
🟢 Sony XM3 Headphones (15w)
🟢 Apple Watches (2w)
🟢 Portable Power Banks (15w)
🟢 Recyclable Battery Chargers (15w)
🟢 Oculus Quest VR Headsets (15w)
🟢 Portable Shower (15w)
🔴 Portable Projectors (15w)
🔴 Mini Blenders (65w)
🔴 LED Lights (45w)
Rechargeable Battery Appliances
🟢 Portable Speakers
🟢 Nose Trimmers
🔴 LED Lights
Yes, I’m at the stage of my life now where nose trimmers have become an essential item!
The beauty of buying the items above is that they are all 100% portable, so not only can I use them in the soon-to-be-erected cabin, but I can take them camping with me later in the year, and if the zombie apocalypse does turn up some point soon, I’m sorted.
Clearly to stay connected, I’ll need to tether my phone to the internet-based devices I have, so not everything is free, but it’s a good start, and does go to show that the art of what is possible is both sustainable and achievable if you want it…