Posts tagged ‘off-grid living’

Homesteading: How We Do It

People often ask, so here is a short rundown of how things work here at Twin Lamps Farmstead.

What is a Composting Toilet?

A must-have for off the grid lifestyles, a composting toilet is economical and easy to use.

Want to Bring Your Electronics to The Homestead Without Draining Your Main Solar Energy System? This Works!

So we’ve been testing out this little solar battery charger by RAVPower for the past few days. It’s a 15w solar panel that charges basically anything with USB charging capability. That means it can charge not just cellphones and tablets, but lanterns, lamps, radios and lots of other things. We bought it to charge cellphones and tablets on the homestead, that way they would not be a constant drain on the main solar energy system. (Larger systems are pretty expensive, so the less one needs to power, the better.) The way our current house sits is in a weird place between two large buildings; it doesn’t get sunlight all day on any one part of the house. To test the panel, we hung it out an upstairs window onto the porch roof in the morning.

Happy to report that it works like a charm. It provided a full charge to a 10 inch tablet in about an hour with full sun and in about 2 hours on a very overcast, snowy day. (This is at like 9:00AM in February, people.) It charged a 7 inch “phablet” type of phone and the 10 inch tablet together to almost a full charge in about an hour as well with full sun. For $50, we are pretty impressed with it. We also bought this battery pack to go with it, just in case. The battery pack came fully-charged (a very nice bonus), so we have not been able to test yet how long it will take the panel to charge the battery pack. ravpower

PROS:

  • It’s lightweight
  • It’s compact and foldable
  • It seems very sturdy and stitched together well
  • Has two USB inputs so it can charge 2 devices at once

CONS:

  • It’s not waterproof, so it cannot be left out in the rain or in a heavy snow
  • USB ports in general break or stop working easily
  • The charging capability is reduced quite a bit by overcast days
  • It does not work well indoors, even with full sun coming through the window

Even if we weren’t moving to the homestead, we are still glad we have the panel. We paid $50 and can now charge any of our devices for free, anywhere there is sun. This includes while driving and in any emergency. You can’t beat that.

*This review is my own opinion and I was not compensated in anyway. Bought the product with my own money.

Living Off-Grid: Phase One COMPLETE!

Today my husband and I became the proud owners of 10 beautiful acres in the Midwest. By this time next year, we hope to be living off-grid completely on our land.

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Want to Live Off-Grid But Can’t Afford To Build a House? Try This.

The Leatherwood, by Wildcat Barns

The Leatherwood, by Wildcat Barns in Kentucky

A lot of us are yearning to live off-grid and with land prices so low, it’s a very realistic dream right now. However, some of us just don’t have the money to pay to build a house or the time and know-how to build it ourselves. In researching a solution to this, I found something that could be very workable: rent-to-own cabins. Most of these work on the same premise as places like Rent-a-Center: No credit checks and in many cases, no deposit. You pay a payment and sign the agreement, they give you the cabin and you either pay it off until you own it or you give it back when you are done with it (say if you just wanted it for one season at a hunting lease or for a few months at a vacation spot). You can also simply buy one outright if you have the money and with most companies I’ve researched, there are no penalties for early payment in full. Very easy. Basic models start at about $5,000, with the payment being about $200 a month. They are about the size of a single wide trailer (the biggest are around 18×40) and have loft sleeping areas. You can create other rooms in them if you’d like, of course.

They are cute, decently-priced and the company will deliver, set up and level them on your land for you. Some also build them on site. The basic cabins are not finished, wired or insulated, but you can choose one that is finished for more money. You could also finish it yourself. It’s all about what your needs are and what you can do. One thing I noticed, though, is that these do not seem to have a gutter system and if you want a rain catchment system like we do – and to keep the water from eroding the earth away underneath of your structure – you are going to have to put them on yourself.

cape cod cabin

Cape Cod, by Sunrise Buildings in Missouri

Other companies do not allow residential structures on their rent-to-own programs but they do allow structures that could be easily converted into living spaces, such as lofted sheds and horse barns. These guys will often do modifications for you to that end, such as insulated windows and doors. A converted horse barn could make a wonderful home and to be honest, it was my first choice and still is. These cabins are very cute though and affordable.

Living off-grid has never been more feasible than it is now. What are you waiting for?

Search “rent to own cabin” or “portable cabin” and your state. You should be able to find something. Most companies charge for delivery outside of a certain area, so check in your state first. Many offer statewide delivery for free, regardless of where in the state you are.

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