THE LAST DAY OFF GRID
At long last, overdue by several days, the last in the series of a day in the life off-grid at the Bison Compound. Our intrepid off-gridder has now arrived at nighttime, and it is time to describe the most feared aspect of living without the grid ( outside of that yucky human waste problem- hey, look at the bright side. You could have it much worse and be forced to crap on your crops in some malarial hellhole in the Third World ). Being forced to survive without a firehose blast of AC power, enough to heat up a pizza bagel, crank the stereo, watch a fifty-three inch TV and surf porn on broadband all at the same time. You poor, poor fool. How did the human race ever survive up to this point? Look, if you think off grid alternate energy is ever going to provide much more than lighting ( this assumes you are on a budget and can’t afford the Ol Remus power generation plan ) you are sadly deluded. I only started watching TV again when a buddy gave me a solar panel ( to double my wattage ) and I was able to afford a new appliance and a roof antennae ( you can now buy a seven inch travel TV for $50. When I got it, it was $150. The wife thinks I’m abusing her living out here. You heard me right- $150 so the wife wasn’t as bored. I’m a friggin saint ).
*NEW Bison Blog CD For Sale
I've got an actual professional to achieve and format all the old blog on a CD-ROM. It turned out really nice- much nicer to read than online. It does cost $10 plus shipping, figure another $4 or so, which might be a bit on the higher side. But I think I'm worth it. My cut will be about $5. That isn't too much to ask for over five years of work and nearly two million words of pure brilliance. Here is the link to order:
Shortly after I moved up here, the combination of only one solar panel and an energy pig auto bulb for light drained my set of batteries. We lived two weeks on weak LED flashlights ( and I’m talking very weak- several generations old already, they were outdated in about the year 2000 ) and candles. Candles suck the largest, hairiest mule member you can imagine. Which is why I stockpile a lot of LED lights for after permanent grid down. Candles blow for light. Nowadays, if you buy the newest LED’s ( they are just like computers, they get better and better ) and don’t get suckered into buying crap that was marked down because it is obsolete, you have very good light that draws almost no power. If you have a travel trailer, replace all your incandescent auto light bulbs with “bayonet blade” type white light LED auto bulbs. For instance, an Amazon search would be something like “1138 bayonet bulb LED” ( the 1138 is the auto bulb size ). Make sure it is white light. They draw about four watts and are brighter than the conventional auto bulb that draws 18. The old bulbs are fifty cents, the LED bulbs are $12. And well worth the money.
*Please support Bison by buying through the Amazon graphics above and to the right of each article. Or, visit
You can purchase anything, not just the linked item. Enter Amazon through my item link and then go to whatever other item you desire. As long as you don’t leave Amazon until after the order is placed, I get credit for your purchase. Thank you.
Things are just as easy if you don’t have a trailer with a 12v system. Just use the round ( about hockey puke size ) sticky back push on LED lights. They take three AA batteries and if you buy the newest ( avoid Wal-Mart. Their $5 LED lantern is still the same crappy low light design I bought six years ago ) design the light is bright enough to read a book by ( a loyal minion sent me two packages. They will be gracing the Pit shelter, they are that good ). Even if you only just want them for area lighting, you can buy a LED goose neck lamp for placing next to your easy chair for reading. The lamp costs about $8, and the push-on’s cost about half that ( they come two to a pack and cost $8-$12 typically ). If you want more than light, you don’t even have to wire up your battery to your shelter. Take a solar panel, hook it up to a battery ( through a regulator of course so it doesn’t drain back at night ) with clamps. After it is full, switch batteries and carry the charged one inside ( marine, not car batteries. Much better life ). Clamp a duel cigarette lighter socket to it and plug in whatever you want. TV, cell phone charger, inverter to run a DVD player or hair clippers. It is easy enough to wire up your dwelling for 12v, but the above will be enough to get you started. Now, a word on how much juice to use.
A rough and easy guide to available wattage is such. If your battery is 800 amps, you have about 800 watts to use before you have drained the battery down to half its capacity. If you run a light for four hours ( a four watt LED ) you’ve used 16 watts. If you run your twelve watt TV for four hours, add 48 watts. You’ve used 64 watts last night. You could do that for almost two weeks of clouds. Now, if you only have sixty watts of panels, it will take more than a day to recharge the battery. The rated wattage? Reduce it by 15% to get a real world rating, then reduce it again by about ten percent as a “charging cost”. So that 60 watts is really charging the battery about 45 watts an hour ( give or take ). If I were you, I’d have stopped watching TV at the end of the first week to save on the battery discharge. Anyway, as you can see, having off grid electric ain’t as expensive or complicated as it is made out to be. I’d wager most authors painting a different picture want to sell you something expensive. Just buy your Chinese panels now, with spares. They are abnormally low cost right now, so take advantage. The first oil or currency disruption and overseas trade is no longer affordable.
My books available at
By the by, all my writing is copyrighted. For the obtuse out there.