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At one with nature: French photographer Antoine Bruy travelled around Europe living with families who have turned their backs on modern civilization for a humble existence deep in the wilderness. Rustic: Arriving by donkey 20 years ago, English woman Kate settled on some land near the village of Bayacas in Sierra Nevada, Spain.
Humble existence: The French photographer has documented families who have chosen to turn their backs on the breakneck speed of modern life to become at one with nature.
Living off the land: Mr Bruy captured this picture of Olivier nursing a sheep while spending a month with the French shepherd. He said: 'I give them a hand for different kind of tasks, like growing vegetables, fixing a roof, building a straw bale house or taking care of animals if they have some.
Learn what it takes to live off grid and why many homeowners in Atlantic Canada are embracing this way of life. Debbie and Mike Cameron pose with their five-year-old golden retriever, Ben, in front of their off-grid home near Pugwash, Nova Scotia. Debbie Cameron was enjoying the good life—wind in her hair, sun in her face, salt spray at her back—when she experienced an epiphany. In the spring of 2008, she and her husband Mike were sailing with his relatives off British Columbia’s Gulf Coast. At home in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, the Camerons owned a beautiful log home they had designed and built themselves.
People choose off-grid living for two reasons, says Robert MacKean, owner of Nova Sun Power in Pictou, N.S. The Camerons maintain four deep-cycle batteries charged by solar panels and a small wind turbine. For Rob Elias in New Horton, New Brunswick, the choice wasn’t a moral issue, it was necessity. Annually, for his 1,100-square-foot home, Elias burns about four cords of wood that he cuts himself and spends about $900 for propane and gas. MacKean actually does not recommend converting to full off-grid living if electricity is financially feasible and available.
Back along the Pugwash shoreline, Debbie Cameron remains grateful for the epiphany that led her to a better way of living.
I own a plot of land in New Brunswick, I want to build a house on wheels or but a 4 season camper, and live full time.
Sign up with your email address and East Coast Living will deliver the news directly to you. For two years we travelled the country to find off-gridders, and studied their ways of life. The US is investing billions in a wired feedback loop telling consumers how to be electricity misers. To make our travels and encounters with off-gridders possible, Jonathan and I had to fly on dozens of planes, ride snowmobiles, paddle kayaks and canoes, walk in snowshoes, ride ATVs, sail on ferries and small boats, bike and trek across many beautiful regions of our country. To end our Tyee occasional series, we thought we would share with readers 10 simple lessons. One of the great appeals of off-grid living is that it allows you to practice a form of voluntary simplicity based in frugality, sustainability, self-sufficiency and resilience.
Most Canadians who live off-grid did not choose to move off the grid; their local utility made the choice easy for them. Rural properties far from the nearest electricity pole need to pay a lot of money to stretch the grid all the way to their outside walls -- as much as half a million dollars.
In two years we met all kinds of these people: single men, single women, young families, retirees, professionals, farmers, artists, expats and individuals young and old.
Most off-grid homes are in rural areas, where availability of land makes it easier to collect (and burn) wood, tap into groundwater, dispose of waste through septic fields or composting systems and even grow food.
But a 10-acre property isn't a cheap buy in some places, especially in areas like the West Coast or in highly popular ex-urban areas nearby Canada's major cities. On the other hand, the "energy tourist" might find great delight in hiking along unusual off-grid infrastructure such as Inuvik's utilidor; a network of pipes snaking its way above ground (rather than under) in order to keep its neck above the permafrost.
But what's more convenient than picking food you have grown yourself, just outside your front step?
Off-grid living pulls you away from a commodified world of hyper-specialization and pushes you to become a Jack or Jane-of-all-trades. Living off-grid on one's own might also be too difficult for people who are not physically able to take care of certain chores (firewood-chopping easily comes to mind). But ultimately off-grid living is not for people who expect things NOW, who want no involvement in the way a home works, who are not ready to adapt and make the occasional sacrifice to consumption habits, and who are not interested in understanding basic principles of ecology or mechanics. Micro-hydro, however, is almost unheard of in the rest of Canada, where flat land, seasonally-drying water sources or freezing weather can make it an impractical solution to local electricity generation. Nevertheless, the rest of Canada has a great deal of renewable resources we West Coasters relatively lack.
Off-grid living means living with whatever the land and sky provide, when they provide it, and consuming less when resources are not as available. Off-grid living can teach volumes about ethical and responsible consumption, resource conservation, sustainability, resilience and adaptation. It makes little sense, from a planning and engineering perspective, to isolate ourselves into small, separate, fully-independent atom-like homes.
Our energy futures won't be characterized by a simple, magic solution but rather by many diverse renewable resource technologies sensitive to local conditions and responsive to changing needs and intelligent, responsible demand.
The book Off the Grid: Re-assembling Domestic Life includesA the stories of nearly three dozen off-grid home residents, selected from the nearly 200 that Vannini and Taggart encountered throughout two years of travels across Canada. Life Off Grid is a forthcoming documentary film that explores the lives of Canadians who've made the choice to disconnect. Phillip Vannini is a professor in the School of Communication & Culture and the Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Public Ethnography at Royal Roads University in Victoria.
Jonathan Taggart is a Boreal Collective photographer and PhD student in Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. Simple Solar Homesteading is a Not-For-Profit social and cultural service organization dedicated to producing affordable off-grid housing designs and projects so that everyone everywhere can have a safe and sustainable home.
AUGUSTA, Maine (Reuters) - A Maine man who claims to have spent 27 years living in the woods as a hermit pleaded guilty on Monday to burglary and theft in a deal in which he will receive mental health counseling to re-enter society. Well, maybe because he wasn’t self-sufficient and the only way he was living outside of society was by stealing from it. In a more reasonable, and non-nanny state, environment, this man would have had to pay back what he owed, along with a fine and maybe a little jail time. Just I'm a hermit, so I guess I can expect to be captured and sent to a re-education camp.
There were a lot of stories about the man but nobody really knew who he was, where he lived or why he was always out in nothing but shorts even in freezing weather.
Camping out in nature on beautiful public lands and living off the grid in our RV are the very foundation of our lives today. As of January 2015, between our RV and our sailboat, we have spent nearly 2,400 nights off the grid, living within the electrical constraints of a house battery bank and dealing with funky RV and marine toilets that flush into holding tanks.
Is it fun to live this way, even though there are limits on electricity and water consumption? This page explains the techniques behind we live this very independent and free spirited lifestyle. In order to boondock efficiently, you need to equip your rig to supply its own electrical power for extended periods.
We have lots of pages on this site that explain the components and parts that make up a solar power system. When living off the grid, it helps to know a little about the stages the batteries go through as they get charged.
Once the batteries reach that voltage, they enter the Absorption charging state, and the charge controller changes its charging strategy.
During this Absorption period, as the voltage is held constant, less and less current needs to flow into the batteries to keep them there while they slowly get charged.
At the end of the specified Absorption time, the charge controller enters the Float charging state. If your battery bank and solar power array are big enough, you don’t have to scale back at all in your use of electricity. There are many ways to stay on top of how your batteries are doing, and there are all kinds of price tags for getting this info.
Another method is to look at the battery voltage being reported on your solar charge controller, if the display shows it. Our Outback FlexMax FM60 MPPT charge controller in our trailer has a four line LCD display that shows the battery voltage and current going to the batteries from the panels. Our Xantrex XW-MPPT60-150 charge controller in our boat has a one line display you can scroll through.

The Morningstar TriStar TS-60 solar charge controller doesn’t have an LCD display on it.
The most elaborate method is to install a dedicated battery monitor in the coach somewhere so you can see what’s going on without making too much effort. All of these are valid methods that get you an approximation of what’s going on with your batteries. If you really care about the exact status of the batteries, and you have wet cell batteries, monitor them with a battery hydrometer. We simply check the batteries in the morning before the solar panels start raising the voltage.
If they are really low in the morning and clouds are predicted, or if they don’t reach the Float stage for a few days in a row, then we think about using the generator to get them fully charged up again. We have used solar power in conjunction with both our generator and our boat’s engine 100 amp alternator, and in both cases, the two charging systems worked fine together and shared the load. On our boat, we used our clamp-on current meter to measure the current going from both the solar charge controller to the batteries and from the alternator to the batteries. Similarly, on our trailer we have seen the generator and solar panels trade off the load as heavy clouds came and went.. If you wait to use the generator until the end of the day, however, the batteries will already be fairly well charged from the panels working all day.
To make this clearer, say the ticket to getting the batteries fully charged on a given day is about 20 amp-hours. Solar Power and Shore Power COMBINED – What happens when both systems charge the batteries at one?
New rigs are being built with LED lighting, however in older rigs, it is helpful to swap out the most frequently used bulbs for modern, efficient ones.
Our 2007 Hitchhiker fifth wheel came with three very large fluorescent lights in our kitchen and living area, so we did not replace any incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs for the first six years we owned it. We did replace a few 120 volt AC sconce bulbs with LED bulbs early on, but the light was so dim and cold that we ended up never using those lights! The technology has come a very long way since then, however, and we recently swapped out those old LED sconce bulbs for new ones that cast a wonderful warm light. So, think about which lights you want to use and where it makes sense to spend money on LED bulbs.
There are a gazillion LED lightbulbs on the market, and it is dizzying to figure out what to buy. 120 volt AC bulbs have either a standard screw on base or a narrow one like you find in chandelier and sconce bulbs. So, for a given amount of brightness (lumens) how many watts does an LED bulb require versus an incandescent bulb? Manufacturers put widely varying claims on their packaging about incandescent bulb watts and their own LED bulb equivalent.
For overhead lighting, two 400+ lumen LED bulbs (or one 800 lumen bulb) works wellin this fixture.
We measured the amps used by both the DC and AC LED bulbs we have installed in our trailer. Perhaps the most important factor with LED bulbs is the color, or warmth, of the light they produce. This ramshackle house in Ramounat in The Pyrenees belongs to a German man called Peter who has lived there for the last 30 years.
They also had an off-grid, 600-square-foot beachfront cottage on family land overlooking the Northumberland Strait near Pugwash, where Mike worked.
Not prone to envy, Debbie was surprised at the intensity of emotion she experienced when considering the confines of the life she had built. Despite being half the size of their log home, a kilometre from a serviced highway, and requiring a major change in their lifestyle, the cottage won out. Solar panels mounted on a roof or on the ground feed into deep-cycle batteries that store the energy until it is needed. Batteries charged by solar panels and a small wind turbine give enough power to run a satellite TV, washing machine, refrigerator, deep freeze, water pump and small appliances in the house.Debbie makes coffee on the propane stove in the kitchen. This provides enough power to run a satellite TV, washing machine, refrigerator, deep freeze, water pump and various small appliances.
But MacKean has installed solar on everything from a one-room camp to a 3,000-square-foot home.
Now he sources all his electrical needs from solar panels and his heat from wood and propane. Overall, he estimates the solar panels and batteries would have cost about $10,000 to $15,000, which is equal to the original quote to bring utility power to his home. The homeowner generates and uses solar energy as required, but when extra electricity is needed, it is supplied through the grid. David, you will want to be located in an LSD or Local Service District and you property should be 150 meters from a provincial highway, these areas are where a lot of the codes do not apply. Before then I had heard people claim they were off-grid if they switched their cell phone off for a day or two. Our encounters with off-gridders young and old, far and near and rich and poor inspired us to reflect not only about off-grid life in itself, but also to question our collective, modern, on-grid way of life. They are also meant to shelter us from the outside and separate us from nature, with a guarantee that power, heat and water will flow unrestrained under all weather conditions.
The "voluntary" part refers to a deliberate act of choice: an awakening leading to a lifestyle conversion. But the first thing they will teach you is that simplicity does not mean living free of complications.
So, for some, living off-grid in a small lot in the middle of a city may work very well instead. Arctic towns and hamlets depend on diesel imported from the south to produce heat and power. After all, you might not be able to run the washing machine if the sun hasn't been shining or the wind hasn't been blowing. And what's more convenient than cooking it with the free solar energy that fuels a sun oven?
Generating your own power forces you to learn to understand electricity, to monitor consumption, to maintain systems.
Though, ironically, many off-gridders can be found at Ikea looking for energy-conserving lighting solutions, most of them build their own home or become deeply involved in their design. It is very difficult for two partners who work full-time outside the home to live off-grid.
Of the 100 homes we visited, 98 had Internet (very few, on the other hand, had cable or satellite television)!
Solar radiation maps of the country show that southeastern Ontario and southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan are ideal spots for getting the best out of photovoltaic panels (cold temperatures do not affect production). It makes more sense to pool and share resources whenever possible, and to all play a fair role in doing so.
It is in this sense that off-grid living can be understood: as an experiment, happening today, to solving the problems that we will all need to face tomorrow. If he is, as alleged, a chronic thief, the state should have to show proof of his multiple thefts, rather than make unsupported allegations. He was at the university every day wearing nothing but a pair of shorts sleeping in the sun. If the cops had enough time to arrest someone on stealing marshmallows, then the state troopers need to eliminate a few positions.
Other than the weeks we spent transitioning on and off of our sailboat during the years we sailed Mexico’s west coast, we have lived exclusively on solar power and self-contained plumbing in our trailers and sailboat since we started this crazy full-time traveling lifestyle in 2007.
A generator is okay if your stay is going to be just a few days or even a week or two once in a while.
Solar power is also very affordable, and for the same approximate cost as a similarly sized generator, you can put solar power on your rig. You don’t have to know anything about electricity or weird terms like these to conserve and live off the grid. In the Bulk state, the charge controller allows a maximum amount of current to flow into the batteries (from whatever source — from the solar panels, from shore power, from the motorhome engine). Rather than allowing a maximum amount of current to flow into the batteries, it allows just enough current to flow to keep the batteries at the Absorption voltage for a specified amount of time (usually 3 hours by factory default — again, sometimes programmable). At the cheap end, for a few dollars, you can get a simple car battery volt meter that plugs into a cigarette lighter in the coach.
As soon as we turned on the engine, the current from the solar charge controller dropped from 20 amps to 6, while the current from the alternator jumped from 0 amps to 14.
You can run the generator at any time, but if you are looking to run it as little as possible, running it in the morning is best.

Because first thing in the morning the sun is very low in the sky, greatly limiting the panels’ ability to produce power. When you turn on the generator, it will quickly switch from the Bulk stage to the Absorption stage and begin reducing the amount of current it puts into the batteries.
There’s no no need to drain your bank account replacing every bulb in your RV with LEDs! But all that really matters in an RV is how much light you get per amp of drain on the batteries. They put their cherished home up for sale, downsized their possessions and joined the ranks of folk who have adopted off-grid living. Solar should be considered as your primary source and then wind as a secondary, along with a generator. He began homesteading on the land seven years ago with a log cabin, one solar panel, one battery and two vehicle fog lights. He uses a propane stove and a hot-water heater and has in-floor heat using wood-fired hot water.
The power utility’s distribution system absorbs the surplus solar and applies a credit against the customer’s account.
Sometimes we followed them around as they fished, harvested, collected wood and built or fixed their homes.
The lessons we learned are about disconnection as much as they are about everything we all take for granted about the modern condition and its comforts, conveniences and connectivity.
They expect you to be aware of how they work and why they work, and sometimes why they don't. The awakening consists of gaining the critical awareness that global society has spun out of control. The sun shines in Calgary or Ottawa just like it does in rural Alberta or Ontario, and firewood can be found aplenty and gratis in the discard piles of construction sites. Contained in large "tank farms" located at the edge of town these massive holding tanks will remind you at first sight how much a comfortable domestic life can cost. Off-grid homes are vastly more efficient than yours or mine: better insulated, more-responsibly heated, more-intelligently-lit, and better designed to take advantage of passive solar energy. The truth is that a visit to an off-grid home will force you to re-think the very meanings of comfort and convenience.
And if we need the services of a trades professional, we just need to Google a phone number. Growing food requires you to not only understand how to plant and harvest, but also how to preserve. Or at least it can be very expensive to do so (as more money will need to be spent on a bigger and more reliable system, or on professionals with the time and skills to maintain and repair that home). Our rain runs down hills and mountains, making creeks and streams that can easily be turned into a source of micro hydro-electricity. And much of the East Coast is an ideal environment to reap the clean energy benefits of wind. Off-grid living can then teach us about learning that role, about what it means to do our part.
I understand about the misdemeanor theft charge, but by what right does anyone force him to become part of any society if he does not wish to?
He could have declined the deal and served his full sentence for the trespassing, theft, etc, but he decided not to.
No reason for the rest of us to live under obama rule so he shouldn’t get out of that. Not saying it’s right to steal peanut butter and jeans but surely their time would be better spent putting murders and rapists behind bars. Fortunately, you are much more likely to be a victim of theft or breaking and entering than rape or murder.
However, I reference them a few times in this post, and I don’t want to lose you, so here are some quickie notes. When a big storm rolls in and darkens the skies for a few days, or in January when the days are short and the sun is low in the sky, you may decide to conserve a bit for a day or two.
Likewise, at night, when the TV is blaring, the computers are going and a bunch of lights are on, the voltage will be drawn down artificially low because of the temporary load from all these appliances. So a total of 20 amps was still going to the batteries, but the solar system backed off and let the alternator do the lion’s share of the work.
So, even though the charge controller puts the batteries in a Bulk charge state at dawn, the panels just can’t deliver. On the days the batteries reach full charge, you’ll see how much the solar panels delivered for the day. If it is an overhead light that only casts light downwards, then a flat panel with LED pads only on one side makes more sense. Where it gets confusing is that both incadescent bulbs and LED bulbs require a certain amount of watts (power) to run. Even though it’s close to the water, the house is easy to heat in the winter.Debbie’s gardens on the property are beautiful. They use a propane range and hot-water heater and also have a backup RV furnace and a gas-powered generator.
This is called “net metering.” With this arrangement, the homeowner has a steady and reliable supply of energy.
They need you to be patient with them, to wait for resources to become available and for technologies to be adapted to local conditions and sudden changes. Simplicity consists of voluntary choices, such as to buy less, consume sustainably and ethically, eat more local and natural foods, reduce clutter, recycle and re-use, practice creativity, take a more active role in self-education, use renewable energy resources, prefer smaller-scale forms of living, and develop skills based on the values of self-reliance. Besides, when you live off-grid in a city you don't need to have a truck to drive to work or to the grocery store -- a bus or a bike might even end up giving you the carbon footprint edge over environmentally-sensitive but car-dependent rural off-gridders. Conserving energy and water teaches you to dry clothes without a dryer or how to wash and clean more efficiently. Very small, very cheap waterwheels have a nearly insignificant impact on the local ecology and can be assembled and maintained by most people right in their (hilly) backyard. There is enough room for 6 people to sleep comfortably.Power system is 580 watts Solar electric and 400 Watts wind power which powers a 12 volt fridge, lights, water pump, TV's, laptop and many gadgets. They are also noisy, they require maintenance, and they insist that you stay home when you operate them.
Ours reads a consistent 0.1 volts low, compared to a better quality meter, so we just keep that in mind when we use it. After a little while, sun will be higher in the sky and the solar panels can take over and bring the batteries all the way through the Absorption stage to the Float stage by afternoon. Then you’ll be able to compare one day to the next as you use your favorite appliances more or less.
The difference is that incandescent bulbs require many more watts than LED bulbs for the same degree of brightness.
Overnight guests can stay in the bunkie, which was actually an old motorcycle shed the couple’s son had on his property in Truro, N.S. With wind turbines, there are multiple moving parts, so that would require some maintenance over time and use.
It was when I first visited British Columbia's Lasqueti Island and later the floating home community of Clayoquot Sound that I got a real taste of the off-grid life: life, that is, in a place disconnected from large natural gas and electricity networks. Overall we visited about 100 homes and interviewed about 200 off-grid Canadians, as well as many American and British expats living in Canada. We carry a Yamaha 2400i portable gas generator, but we use it only 5-10 times a year, if that. We managed to find off-gridders in every single province and territory, and through our book and forthcoming film we narrated our travels and chronicled the experiences, challenges, inventions, aspirations and ways of life of a few of them.
Then while incarcerated I would look into home gardening and survivalist info, and after time served on the misdemeanor theft charge, I would work on becoming even more self-sufficient. The cabin can be built from all new materials for under $2000 (not including windows and doors) and is designed for additions on 3 sides.
The printed version of this same Ebook sells for $24.95 from the publisher but you get the Ebook for only $7. The Ebook and Videos are Copyrighted and may not be shared or sold!The Ebook is a direct download and can be burned to a DVD or read right on your computer.

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