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Simple Steps for Going Off-Grid

If you're interested in green living, consider some of these options that let you go off-grid with small functions. You don't need to go off-grid with your entire home. You'll save on your power bill, plus enjoy some interesting independence and help save the environment, all in one.

  • Taking your reading lamp off the grid: If you like to read, you can spend $50 to get a small, battery-charged light (LED) that works for four hours on a four-hour charge. A PV module with a length of wire attaches to a battery/light/switch housing with Velcro backing. Apply the matching Velcro anywhere you may want light. During the day, plug in the PV module and set that in the direct sunlight. At night, press the light into the Velcro and use it.

    Solar lamps put out a lot of light, but it's focused on a spot. The trick is to get that spot on your book, and you'll find that you have plenty of light. For this, you want a lamp with an arm that extends out, over your book.

    Stick Velcro onto the bottom of a conventional lamp head employing a gooseneck adjustment arm, and press the solar light into that. You'll be able to position it directly over your book, about a foot and a half away.

  • Installing solar light tubes (tubular skylights): A solar tube lighting system collects sunlight on the roof and transmits it down a shiny silver pipe into the diffuser, which broadcasts the light into the room below.

    Solar light varies with the clouds and weather, changing the intensity of light in the room quite a bit. You're much more conscious of the outdoors. When the sky is partly cloudy, you can get a lot of fluctuation.

    With solar tubes, can make most rooms bright enough to work in, and they stay a lot cooler than if
    With solar tubes, can make most rooms bright enough to work in, and they stay a lot cooler than if you use conventional lighting.
  • Using solar fans: Simply take a small 12VDC room fan and a suitable PV panel and wire them directly together. The hotter the sun, the more the air moves; no need for batteries. At $150, a solar fan isn't a cheap option, but it may be reasonable if your energy costs are high enough. Plus, you can use one anywhere; you don't need a plug.

    These fans work nicely on porches, where you can position the panel right outside to catch the most sunlight. They're great for RV or even tent camping when the weather's hot enough. Solar fans are perfect for a pleasure boat in the hot sun. Pool houses, as well as remote casitas (small guest houses), likewise benefit.

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