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In March of 2014 we (me, my wife, and our little dog) moved from San Diego to a little house in Yucca Valley, close to Joshua Tree National Park. We still have the luxury of the microwave, but I like to make fun by saying that our microwave is gas powered. Even though we do live in the desert, it is the high desert, and to my surprise, it rains a LOT out here. Once the battery voltage drops below acceptable range (42V for this bank), usually after at least 2 days without any direct sunlight, we hookup the generator, and set it into charge mode. But aside of its cheap price, my system has a few key benefits over the traditional heavy duty RV extension cord option. Aside from the occasional need to run the generator, which only happens once or twice a year, it might look at first glance that this system is very environmentally friendly.
You might write a check for your water service to the City of San Diego, or whatever your local municipality of water company is.
The speed of the satellite link isn’t bad at all, about 18-20 Mbit down and 5-10 Mbit up. I use Mosh to make it a little easier to get things done, but Mosh only works well directly in the shell prompt.
If we stay here for longer than the originally planned 2 years, I think we are going to investigate shooting a WiFi connection 8 miles or so from a landline connection in town. I hope you enjoyed reading some of my thoughts and rantings about living off the grid in the high desert of California. Building homes, shelters, and survival bunkers from recycled shipping containers is a very economical and efficient way to build your home. Shipping container homes are the PERFECT base to start building you off grid home or cabin. 1280 square foot ranch style home for less than $10,000 in materials. This design, like most others I’ve designed uses a minimalist approach to maximize livable floor space. The two containers off the each side form the outer walls, and contain the bedrooms and bathroom.
The rear of the house doesn’t have to be a glass wall, but I like it because it just looks nice, and will give the interior space a large feel opening onto the back patio. This is a more complex design than my first $10k 1280 Sqft Ranch Style Container Home using two shipping containers, however the cost of extra materials to complete the railing, upper decks, and extra structural materials needed to support the added weight should still have this shipping container home coming in under $40k including the solar panels.
The strawbale will be about $5 per bale and we’ll need about 200, so $1000 for the strawbales.
Not bad for a 3 story 3000 square foot house… This is cutting it close, and we can find tune these numbers, but this whole system is very doable for under $100k.
4 large helix wind turbines and a solar panel array with 48 solar panels generate a combined power of 44,000 watts. Here is a simple yet practical design I made that accents the simplicity of the shipping container, yet is paneled and sided such that it’s indistinguishable from a traditional contemporary home design. This unit is complete with Solar Power and a Atmospheric Water Generator to supply drinking water and power. This next design is a spin on the above design, but with a sun deck and sliding glass door atop the ground floor. We've updated our homestead plan to include details of our passive solar house and outdoor landscaping. The second version of our passive solar house plans incorporates four contruction phases and primarily utilizes local building materials. Plans for our passive solar greenhouse - the first structure that we are building on our land. We created this diagram when calculating the amount of concrete needed for the footers and foundation of our passive solar greenhouse. A rapidez na obra, a reducao de custos e a defesa da sustentabilidade do container sao tao reconhecidas mundo afora que era de se esperar que alguem pensasse em seu uso para moradias populares. O chamado Utah’s Sarah House Project e um programa de habitacao a precos acessiveis em Salt Lake City. O fim almejado por White e a construcao de comunidades inteiras de casas containers com precos acessiveis para as populacoes carentes, em substituicao aos famosos complexo de apartamentos montados com esse mesmo fim. Alem dos containers, as sao decoradas com compensado e revestidas com bambu sustentavel, alem de outros materiais verdes.
Aqui, so nos resta torcer para que seja uma ideia que venha a ser adotada tambem por nossos governantes, como um Meu Container, Minha Vida. Sobre a autoraNao e formada em arquitetura ou design de interiores, mas sempre foi interessada pelos temas. O blog surgiu a partir de um projeto pessoal - construcao de uma casa com containers -, mas hoje ultrapassa esses limites. Sixty-seven year old Australian David Glasheen has been living on Restoration Island, a deserted island off the coast of northwest Australia, for nineteen years. Subscribe to the Laughing Squid email list and receive a daily email with all of the blog posts published each day.
During the day a bank of 20 GE solar panels pump out 2.2kW of electricity (at peak efficiency) into a set of 8 huge 6 volt batteries, and at night the batteries power the entire house.

And there are also those days, especially in the winter time, when you don’t see the sun for days on end. On the generator side I installed a heavy duty 3 socket plug, wired directly to the main generator breaker. First, I now have 3 nice extension cords, which I can use for other purposes when I am not using them to recharge our house. Though I haven’t done the calculations yet, I am not so sure about the environmental benefits of living completely off the grid. The ones we have went up back in 2005, I believe, and I think they should be good for 18-20 years or so. Its ceramic and cast iron construction allows it to quickly build the temperature inside to extremely high levels. It’s not something I would recommend, if you have another viable alternative, take it. At the moment we are on a plan that gives us 15GB per month of any time traffic, and unlimited traffic between hours of midnight to 5 AM.
I have a small server at the house where I queue up all of the files, shows, You Tube videos, and NPR broadcasts I want to download, and at midnight a cron job starts the various download scripts and downloads everything for us. But the real killer is the latency, which makes it hell to do any kind of SSH work on remote servers I administer. As soon as you open any program, like vi for instance, all the advantages of Mosh disappear.
I already designed the antennas, just need to figure out good placement, and test them out. I know this was a rather quick overview, so if there is any aspect you find particularly interesting, feel free to let me know and ask questions.
Some people balk at the idea of living a a shipping container home, but if designed correctly, and smartly, you can design a home which is indistinguishable from traditional homes. From one extreme to the other, cheap and small, to extremely large and extravagant these are some of the most popular home design styles made from shipping containers. 1280 square feet is a good size to start out, and even if you were to splurge a little with more expensive materials you could double the cost to $20k and still have one very affordable, and very nice home. The bottom back glass wall faces west to catch the afternoon and evening sun, and the top deck is for viewing those beautiful desert sunsets over the mountaintops.
The first design is small 2 story, but the second is a 3 story, and the 3rd is a massive Container Castle at nearly 10,000 square feet with at least 8 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms.
4 Stories, consists of 18 40? shipping containers forming a ring around a central atrium like vertical space 32 feet tall by 40?40 (1600 sqft) wide in the center.
This contemporary unit has everything the first has, and the addition of and additional 160 square foot sun deck. Cinder blocks and sand will be used to quickly construct our core house, while our South facing greenhouse will be added next year. Mas aqui cada morador ganhar, ainda, uma licao de design sustentavel, mostrando que o verde pode ser acessivel. O isolamento e feito a partir de roupas recicladas e a pintura isolante permite manter a casa quente no inverno e fresca no verao, reduzindo os gastos com energia eletrica. On the rare occasions when we just HAVE to microwave something, we get the generator going. Our battery bank, when fully charged, is usually good for 1 1⁄2 to 2 days without sunlight.
Yeah, we could have purchased a stand alone unit, but the RV generator has 2 key advantages. But when you are pumping 30 AMPS of current through an extension cord, you can’t just use any extension cord, you have to use the heavy duty, 8 gauge, super thick type. Your average orange extension cord, the kind you find in Home Depot or Walmart, will carry 15 Amps of current for 50 feet, and should carry at least 10 Amps all the way to 100 feet. Second, the generator now has 3 standard size heavy-duty plugs, good enough to plug a welder or any other heavy duty electrical toy. He drives his overloaded 35,000 lb truck to our house and offloads 2,500 gallons of water into our storage tank every 6 weeks or so. At some point I actually looked into installing a foot activated solenoid, to make it easier to turn on and off the water as we use it quickly. Once it’s up to the operating temperature, we can close the oxygen inlet valve and activate the recirculator.
A little bit of creativity, paneling, flooring, and siding and from the street you’d never be able to tell that a container home is made from large steel modular boxes. If you build a traditional home or cabin, and ever have to move, you can’t take your home with you, which forces you to sell it and start from scratch. When you turn a used shipping container into a home, you’re helping contribute to the betterment of the world. Technically, I could add another 8 feet to the width and increase the common area floor space by 33% to 960 square feet, but that would increase costs by $3000-$5000 more in materials. Adding more windows to the south facing side of the home will also capture more of the Sun’s energy.

The four stories total a square footage of 5120 sqft not counting the 4 40? towers at each corner of the castle. The primary idea of course being affordability and simplicity, plus the added benefit of a good sized 3 bedroom home design.
This 2720 square foot workshop could be built for about $25,000 including foundation, roof, and electrical. The pricing presented here are for BARE BONES materials, does not include freight, moving, crane rental, or any amenities. Anyone is welcome to use this design under an Open Source Creative Commons Share and Share Alike License, with credit given to this page.
Idealizado por uma organizacao sem fins lucrativos, e liderado pelo agente imobiliario Jeffrey White, que quer trazer opcoes verdes tambem para o mercado de habitacao a precos acessiveis. I know, it’s not the most ecologically friendly option, but when you have to microwave, you have to microwave. At least with an RV you can never become homeless, or at least that was my justification when I convinced my wife we needed to buy one.
It has an electric start, and it sips gas from the same huge fuel tank the RV’s main motor gulps the stuff down from. The total cost for the system was roughly $45, $12 x 3 for the extension cords, and $9 for the plug tripler. We do have the option of building a well, but local wells are drying up nowadays, and drilling 200 feet plus, about how deep we would need to go to get to the water, costs a lot of money. Unfortunately, this house was designed and built by a true artist, someone who clearly never expected that someone one day might need to change any of the fixtures.
The recirculator valve keeps the extremely hot smoke in the burning chamber for longer, allowing for a more complete combustion, and much more heat generation.
You can usually get someone from Exede on the phone in less than 5 min, and it’s usually a US-based operator with ok technical knowledge, and authority to right away solve most problems. By base latency I mean latency from my house to outer space, around 22,000 miles, and then back down to earth. Another very powerful incentive for creating your home from shipping containers is strength. I’m not sure is this is a good thing in the desert, but, it’s probably good in colder climates. This means you can probably place these in the desert anywhere in the world and still stay cool in 100-120 degree heat. If you shop around you can buy an acre or more of land for about $30k-$40k here in southern California. Each tower level has a floor space of 64 sqft, for a total of 1024 square feet within all 4 towers. Restoration Island, incidentally, was named by Captain Bligh in 1789, after Bligh and his men briefly visited the island after the mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty. For instance, your average coffee maker will easily pull 1.2kW and a 50 inch flat screen LCD TV will happily consume 250 watts or more. And it can charge the battery bank at that rate while splitting off what necessary power to run the rest of the house.
That’s compared to $150 for the heavy duty extension cord and another $20 on each end for the specialty plugs you have to use with those types of cords. I am not talking about the financial cost, which is substantial, around $12k nowadays if you do the install yourself, probably closer to $18k or more with labor. The lead in the batteries does get recycled, but the acid and the other chemicals, I am not so certain. From there, you have to add in whatever latency you get from normal internet communication. There is a 10 foot round dome skylight on the roof which lets in plenty of sunlight to grow many species of plants and even trees INSIDE the castle.
Glasheen lives off of foraged food as well as fish that he acquires in exchange for his homebrewed beer. The kitchen and water heater run on propane, which we purchase roughly once a year, and it’s also delivered on a truck. Before moving to an off the grid house, I never bothered to read those little tags on the back of electronics, the ones that tell you how many watts and amps the device in question will pull.
But those who know me well, know that I am a cheap bastard, and I wasn’t about to spend $150 on what amounts to a bunch of wire. For instance, I administer a server in Amsterdam, and roundtrip latency to that server is around 800ms. His island retreat may not last much longer—this summer an Australian court ruled he must leave the island after failing to adhere to the terms of his lease. Much stronger than stick built homes, and in some cases, stronger than brick or stone homes.

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