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As a follow up to Sean’s post on Micro Hydro Essentials, I thought I would share an overview of my system, which has powered my home for over 13 years. 17 years ago, my alternative power system consisted of one solar panel, one golf cart battery, one DC light, and one DC car stereo. We run a turgo wheel coupled to a three phase induction motor that produces 220 volt, unregulated, “wild” AC power, which is sent long distance (1500 feet) from the creek to our power shed. Once the “wild” electricity reaches our power shed, it is transformed and rectified to DC battery voltage and stored in our batteries like a typical alternative energy system. Solar panels offgrid gridtie real goods, Cart search account login menu solar & renewable energy. Renewable energy resources solar power alternative, Power is the backbone of any economy in today’s world.
When people think about the essential homestead tools for off grid living some of the first things that come to mind are products like chainsaws and generators. One of our off grid living goals is to always be prepared, meaning we need to be able to access essential tools when we need them. Our goal is to always have headlamps within an arm’s reach because we just never know when we might need one… like this time we had a huge windstorm at night on our property and had massive clean-up to do! Though we are no means headlamp experts, we think our ample experience with them give us the credibility to talk about some features with you. There are lots of features in headlamps that are important to understand in order to make a smart buying decision.
Headlamp batteries come in a few main types and are the biggest factor for how big your lamp will be. Though double A batteries make for big, sturdy headlamps that last a long time, they can be cumbersome to wear on your head. When choosing between double A and triple A headlamps it is important to remember that double As are a better value because they will last longer for the price.
In contrast, our Vitchelo V800 Plus is extremely bright- so bright that it makes it safe enough for Jesse to use a chainsaw at night. Most headlamps have brightness settings between these two extremes, and many allow you to adjust the brightness level to fit your situation. A tip: use the lowest brightness setting you can get away with in order to save the battery. Besides brightness, there are many different forms of light that most headlamps can give off. Spotlight: This setting is very bright and focused and will surely blind anyone that looks at you.
Floodlight: A broader, dimmer setting that is better for taking in the whole scene, indoor work, and for reading.
Head straps are pretty standard from one form of head lamp to another, but some include a strap that goes over top the head.
The whole point of a headlamp is that it gives you light when you need it, and often in a pinch.

The overwhelming positive of batteries being readily accessible whenever we need them makes battery-powered headlamps a lot more practical for us than any rechargeable model out there. Aside back breaking labor, maintaining this blog seems to be another challenge for you guys. When it comes to head lanterns, I strongly recommend you to choose 18650 rechargeable battery powered products, which are vastly available on the internet. Normally, 18650 batteries have more capacity than Alkaline batteries, which can guarantee longer running time, better luminance and they are rechargeable about 1,000 times in theory.
We are fortunate to live on rural mountain property in Northern California with a creek that is not seasonal, although the volume of water does drop significantly during the arid months of summer. Today, I live in a modern off-the-grid home complete with many large energy-using electrical appliances, such as a washing machine, air conditioner, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, and baseboard heaters.
This power cannot be used directly in appliances because it is unregulated, but it can be used for baseboard heaters and diversion loads, such as a hot water heating element. We then invert the power back to regulated alternating current through an inverter to use in our home. We live a little like squirrels, stashing headlamps in every nook and cranny of our house and property: from the bed to the water system and even in our truck.
In any case, it just makes sense to keep light sources handy because odds are that when you need to find one it will already be pitch black outside.
Different headlamps can serve different purposes, but each headlamp has some special features that might make it the right choice for any given situation.
Use these tips as a guide for finding the best headlamps for your situation- or be like us and have a few of each type, just in case. Triple As make for smaller lamps, still last a long time, and are easier to replace than watch batteries. Twelve packs of double As and triple As are usually the same price, but you will get more battery hours out of a double A pack. But this brightness comes at a cost to battery life and we run through batteries pretty quickly with it. Your best option would be to find a headlamp that implements two or more of these features in one design.
This is pretty unnecessary unless your lamp is really big or you will be using it for hours at a time. Yes, we know how bad batteries are for the environment, but using rechargeable batteries is a far better choice than having a lamp that needs to be recharged constantly. Rechargeable headlamps are impractical because you never know when you might need to use it and it’s hard to plan ahead with charging. But again, your situation will be different so this is a call you need to make for yourself. Hopefully this article has given you a good starting place for finding the models that will work best for you!
In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future.

I agree with your view on the battery conundrum and may not have thought about that when I go to buy one. Most of the damn things are made by the one main company and sold under various brand names .
We are Jesse and Alyssa and we recently purchased 5 acres of land where we will be developing our off-grid homestead, 100% from scratch, debt-free!
Using these appliances off-the-grid is only possible by limiting their usage to one at a time, with the exception of the refrigerator (which remains on 24 hours a day).
Excess power when the batteries are full is diverted to baseboard heaters in the house in winter and heat sink in the power shed in summer. This makes for a small lamp, but they can be a pain to replace because watch batteries aren’t as easy to come by as double A or triple A batteries.
For our needs, this dimness isn’t a bad thing because it allows us to use this lamp in indoor spaces without blinding each other.
The Vitchelo V800 Plus is extremely diverse, although the battery life isn’t as long as other headlamps.
From our experience headlamps usually die in the dark, and a lot of off grid charging methods (like solar power) aren’t going to work then.
Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. You can get 18650 batteries from dead laptop battery packs as well even though it requires some kind of low-tech DIY. We are documenting our entire journey in hopes of helping others who wish to do something similar.
The drawbacks are having to maintain the system by cleaning the intake and dealing with varying creek flows. Unlike grid-connected homes, where it is common to see multiple large loads running simultaneously, most people living-off-the grid cannot run their washing machine while vacuuming, their heaters while washing dishes, etc. You don’t have to wait for the power company to rescue you, but this often means you are standing waste deep in freezing water during a storm. Our back to nature lifestyle means that we don’t have light switches anymore, so when the sun goes away we are completely reliant on our head gear.
This headlamp is pretty good (closest to the one we use – the model we have is like 10 years old!) if you want one with a headstrap. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about. This whole micro-hydro system costs approximately $11,000, including pipe, wire, inverter, batteries, etc., but we haven’t paid a bill to a a power company in over 17 years!

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