Posts tagged ‘off the grid’

How-to: Gravity-fed Rainwater Harvesting Off-grid Plumbing System

Off-grid gravity plumbing system hooked up to barrels for rainwater harvest. No electricity, no pumps.


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


  • 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


  • 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.

Dreaming of Alaska

As the year wears on and things get more and more unacceptable here in this country, I have been thinking more and more about moving to Alaska. (Yes, Alaska is still part of the U.S. but it is not part of the continental U.S.) I’ve wanted to move to Alaska since I was a kid; it’s got everything I love. It’s beautiful, it’s rugged, it’s got the beach and kenaithe mountains. It’s got wildlife, it’s got meadows. It’s got everything. So I’ve decided that it’s time to make my dream a reality.

I’m looking at Homer, on the Kenai Peninsula. It is a bigger city (for Alaska) but still affordable, unlike Anchorage or Juneau. My goal is to move to Alaska and stay closer to the city at first until I am certain that I can survive on a homestead and then transition to a more remote location. It is not an easy life and it is not for everyone; just because you want to do something doesn’t mean you can do it. We purchased a home here in the Pittsburgh area which we are rehabbing and will then rent out, so we do have something to come back to if we cannot make it in Alaska.

The plan is for my husband and mother to work (we are planning to take the whole family) so that I can take care of the gardening, animals and home chores since I know the most about those things. We plan on growing as much food as possible, raising chickens and owning a cow for fresh milk. We will also be hunting. Not fishing though; the ocean is far too dirty to eat any fish from any body of water, especially with what is going on in Japan.

This is not something that can happen overnight; it is a many-step project that will require a lot of money to succeed. It requires months of research, preparation, planning, double-checking, commitment and it still might not work. But the very first step is to decide to do it and we have.

Farmer Builds Cozy Little Cob House for About $250

Cob house built entirely from natural and reclaimed materials for less than £150 ($244.77 USD). Michael Buck’s home sweet home is built with a simple wooden frame and thatched roof. Buck’s philosophy is that one should not have to pay on a house for their entire lifetime, and be weighted down to that debt. I think most would agree with that. This home has no water or utilities (rain barrels and solar, anyone?) but what this tiny home lacks in that department it more than makes up for in cozy cuteness. Oh, and the price isn’t bad either.

Farmer builds a cosy cob home from reclaimed materials

Farmer builds a cosy cob home

Farmer builds a cosy cob home-interior

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