Last Minute Gifts to Unplug with

So, what’s in your off-grid Christmas gift kit? If you’re having some trouble choosing what to get for your off-grid someone, here are five suggestions to make your shopping easier.


goTenna Mesh

The goTenna Mesh is a great gift for the outdoor lover. This off-grid communication tool is lightweight as well as weatherproof and can be used with both iPhone and Android systems. If one loses their bearings, they will be able to send texts as well as share the GPS locations on detailed offline maps. They can also relay those messages through other goTenna Mesh devices nearby to extend the overall range which has the potential to be life-saving. It currently retails at £125 for a pair.


SR Utility Blanket

This is an all-purpose heavy-duty utility blanket. The denier nylon material is hand sewn and includes pack cloth front and back panels. The industrial threading ensures durability for outdoor performance. This blanket is a great gift to anyone planning to camp out, keep them warm and dry. It retails for £175.


Leatherman Rebar

The Rebar is new to Leatherman’s multi-tool collections. It contains 17 tools including a wire stripper, 420HC knife, 420HC serrated knife, regular pliers, a can opener, a bottle opener, a wood/metal file, an 8 in ruler, a saw, premium replaceable wire cutters, premium replaceable hard-wire cutters, an electrical crimper and Phillips screwdriver, a small screwdriver, a large screwdriver, an Awl w/Thread Loop and needlenose pliers. The Rebar pliers have been optimized for strength and feature replaceable wire/hard-wire cutters is a first for a four-inch tool from Leatherman. It retails for £56.


Pendleton Men’s Merino Jacquard Park Crew Socks

Your loved one can tell you that one of the most important things to pack when gearing up to go explore is a pair of good socks. The Pendleton Men’s Merino Jacquard Park Crew Socks is a great addition to any Christmas kit. It is made up of 89% Merino Wool, 9% Polyester and 2% Spandex. One fun fact is that this new line of wool park socks celebrates 100 years of national parks and exclusive Pendleton jacquard designs are combined with National Park Stripes. Also, not only is this fashionable, it is also functional. Designers have added just the right amount of spandex to prevent slippage and ensure a consistent fit throughout the day. A deep, welted top helps hold the sock in place and reduces pinch lines. With a fully cushioned sole for comfort and fit, this is a great gift retailing at £25.


Portable Charger

A portable charger is a great tool for people who are going off-grid and are unable to get to the usual power supplies. With the RAVPower 22000mAh Power Bank, those going off-grid can recharge their iPhone batteries up to 9 times, making sure that they are never out of touch with their loved ones. There …

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British supermarket takes one block off the grid



British supermarket, Sainsbury has taken it’s first store off-the-grid.

What took them so long?

The Cannock branch, West Midlands has unplugged from the National Grid, says the group chief office. Now it runs on power from anaerobic digestion (that’s wasted food to you and me).

Although only 10% of Sainsbury’s surplus or waste food goes to charitable causes, it is put to other uses. Some excess food that otherwise would be chucked away, is now delivered to a Biffa plant from Sainbury’s stores around the UK. Then it is turned into bio-methane gas which is then used to generate electricity that is directly supplied to the supermarket via a newly constructed 1.5km-long electricity cable.
Paul Crewe, head of sustainability at Sainsbury, said: “We send absolutely no waste to landfill and are always looking for new ways to reuse and recycle.”  He claimed to be the first business ever to make use of this linkup technology.

But that’s not all, Sainsbury’s already has a name for itself in the UK for being eco-conscious. It’s the UK’s largest retail user of anaerobic digestion, generating enough electricity to power 2,500 homes each year. Under its sustainability code, its wasted energy is down 9.4% year-on-year. It was the first grocery retailer to achieve zero operational waste to landfill in 2013, You can view Sainsbury’s code of ethics here if you’re interested in their stance on other issues.

While Sainsbury’s donate surplus food to good causes, including local food banks, but when items can’t be collected they’ll instead be used for other projects such as animal feed, or to generate energy by anaerobic digestion. Leftover bananas from its Prescot Road store in Liverpool go to Knowsley safari park to feed the monkeys.

This is the second time the supermarket has made a conscious effort to be more eco-friendly in its retail outlets. In 2013, a branch in Haslucks Green became Britain’s most environmentally friendly convenience store after opening. For now though, Cannock is one of a kind.

Paul Crewe, Head of Sustainability from Sainsbury’s also told us that: “We were the first retailer to be able to take a store completely off-grid, thanks to anaerobic digestion, and our store in Cannock continues to operate well. As a large organisation we consume lot of power, so it’s important that we explore new ways of sourcing this, including off-grid options which help alleviate our impact on the grid.”

Now let’s hope other supermarkets across the globe follow in Sainsbury’s footsteps.

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To upgrade, or not to upgrade, that is the Windows question

Privacy, it’s something we all appreciate, those of us who live on the edge of society, ie living off-grid, we really look for ways to stay on the down low. At the same time, many of us want to us modern technology, ie computers, but using modern technology exposes us to the potential to be spied on, by the software companies and from the government.

You know what they say, it’s not being paranoid if they are actually after you, LOL… Who me? Paranoid? Naw… But with this new version of Windows, I was suspicious from the beginning, I’ve worked in the computer industry in the past, I’ve been “in” computers since the latter days of DOS and the beginnings of Windows, I promise you, they have never given this operating system away en masse before, you might get an upgrade to the next version, maybe, if everything was right and the planets all aligned at the right time.

Now suddenly, they want everyone to upgrade to the newest version of Windows, for free, just like that. I have resisted, for a couple of reasons, I know for a fact that I will lose my free version of Microsoft Office Starter and I use that suite on a weekly basis, I haven’t found anything that does exactly what I need it to do, yet… The other thing is I have an older version of Photohop and I don’t know if it will come through unscathed, the rest of my programs I believe will be OK or I’m not worried about losing them.

So back to the”free” upgrade, I have found over the years that free is never free, there are always strings, and in this case, one of those really big strings goes directly to your privacy, or rather lack of privacy. I’m sure that many of you have committed to the upgrade, and that’s fine, I hope you did some research before the upgrade and took measures to protect yourself.

Some folk do not care one way or the other. For me, I assume that everything I do online is being tracked by someone, or several someones, bottom line for me is I don’t do anything in the privacy of my browser that I wouldn’t want the world to see. I have to trust that my financial data is secure, I do my best to protect my finances, but there is always the risk.

The big issue is the fact that many of the software companies we trust may or may not have our best interests in mind, and that goes double (triple?) for the government. I did find a video explaining the security/privacy issues with Windows 10, and even better explains how to disable the spying parts of Windows that are turned on by default.

It’s a longer video, but well worth the time, watch it, bookmark it, …

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Cabin Porn – the official book

download (6)You loved the Cabin Porn web site – now Buy the book from Amazon US.

Its amazing how Tiny Homes in general and remote cabins in particular have caught the public imagination across the developed world.

People are yearning for escape, silence, peace, green spaces. Its what we all want, and the Cabin Porn web site, this Off-grid web site and others like it are fulfilling a need.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0316378216/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0316378216&linkCode=am2&tag=offgrid-20&linkId=XNB7GB2GLWTTA6ULCabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere

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I finally got it!


Actually got it last week, it was sent out a month ago from the UK, it arrived in Chicago and took a long rest, must have been very tired from flying over the ocean ;). I was starting to worry that it just vanished, more likely it fell on the floor behind some desk and someone found it later and sent it on its way.

So what is this? I’m very excited, it’s a Battery Extra battery desulfator, but not just any desulfator, this is designed specifically for off-grid users. This works on the larger battery banks that off-gridders typically have, many desulfators work best on single batteries, they aren’t designed to work on multiple batteries. Sakura Batteries UK company designed this 2nd generation desulfator to work on deep cycle lead acid batteries that are connected together in bank, the one I received is the “EX02 12-48-400“, this work for 12-48 volts up to 1500 Ah, there is one above this unit, it will handle up to 120 volts and 3000 Ah.

Here is what they have to say about this unit:

For the first time a single unit battery desulfator specifically designed to maintain, recover and keep large battery packs in top condition whilst still maintaining the ability to work on smaller battery packs. Generally battery packs in the 12 to 48 volt range, over 500Ah are found in fork lift trucks, medium size off-grid solar systems and power back up systems. Dual power settings allow you to set the Battery Extra EX02 for battery packs up to 500 Ah, or for packs from 500+Ah up to 1,500 Ah. A thermostatically controlled, built in, cooling fan helps dissipate the heat created, when used with 24 volt or higher voltages. The EX02 Battery desulfator also gives an indication of battery internal resistance.

Off-Grid solar system battery packs are particularly susceptible to battery sulfation. Lead acid batteries should always be fully charged before use and with solar batteries this not always possible.

– Quad voltage 12, 24, 36 and 48 volt
– Automatic voltage detection
– Dual power settings 200 and 400 mA
– Battery voltage indicator
– No mains power required
– Works during both charge and discharge cycle
– Aluminum case
– Settable low voltage cut off
– Internal cooling fan
– Short circuit protection built in
– EMC tested to EU standards
– CE compliance tested
– Works on all types of lead acid batteries
– Easy installation via ring connectors.

Noticeable results may be seen after the first use, but in most cases the full benefits of using the Battery Extra will take longer, which is why we offer a 60 day risk free trial. If within 60 days, you are not impressed with the results, we’ll refund your money in full – no questions asked. Try the Battery Extra today.


Our prices

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How about a shed for a cabin?


There is a big movement, well maybe it’s a “small” movement :) using sheds for cabins or even your full on home, it’s a good way to have a ready made structure without having to build it yourself from scratch.

LaMar Alexander takes us on a tour of various sized sheds, he explains the pros and cons of each type, and how to improve these simple structures to convert them into something you can live in.

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Phantom loads


Sounds like something that should be discussed during October, it is scary, but not in a paranormal way…. a phantom load is simply electricity that is being used when an electrical appliance is turned off but still plugged in. These are thieves, they use up or steal electricity but don’t give anything in return. Much like vampires, they may look cool but don’t do anything good for us in the long run.

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New golf cart batteries


Today was the first full day on the new batteries, we had everything hooked up to them, including the new chest freezer to refrigerator conversion, about a month (or so) ago our old one smoked on us, fortunately it happened during the day and I was there to catch it, it might not have gone any further, but as far as I’m concerned, when you see smoke, fire usually comes next. I’ll do another writeup on the new fridge very soon, until then you can read about how I DIY’d the conversion here and here.

Our previous batteries were marine type deep cycle batteries, I’ve been told on more than one occasion that those types of batteries aren’t true deep cycle batteries, in fact the newer ones being sold have cold cranking ratings on them instead of amp hours, and that has little (or nothing) to do with being deep cycle, that has to do with starting motors and such. Those are a hybrid of regular and deep cycle batteries, more robust than a standard car or truck battery but not as heavy duty as a true deep cycle battery.

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Not prepped at all….

During this last major cold snap, I heard a story on NPR (National Public Radio), it’s the only radio station we can pick up out here, it’s quite a bit left leaning for our tastes, but we take that into consideration when we listen, especially to the news stories.

So this story was about (yet another) major cold snap that was about to hit major parts of the USA, there were going to be states of emergency declared because of the snow, ice and very low temps. There were going to be school and business closings.

The thing that really caught my attention, the thing that surprised me (but probably shouldn’t have) is the talk about “runs on the stores”, they were preparing for, get this, being potentially shut in for,

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Stock up on LED lights now!


Christmas is over and the after Christmas sales have started, one thing to grab up now before they all vanish is LED light strings, yes the ones that are sold for Christmas lighting, they are being marked down right now, stores have to make room for the next big holiday, meaning that you can get some major bargains right now.

All month long, I have been looking at my local Alco store (it’s like a small Target/dollar store with less stuff), I have been eyeballing the LED Christmas light strings, but have been biding my time knowing the price would drop dramatically after Christmas. Sure enough, a few days ago when I dropped in, I made a beeline to the back of the store for their Christmas section, I saw the sign, ALL CHRISTMAS DECORATION 50% OFF, that’s all I needed.

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Fleece jackets for the cold snap

They may not be the statement jacket of the season, yet a fleece pullover or jacket is a great investment for your winter wardrobe. It could save you up to a hundred bucks in the first year of use alone – the extra layer can cut your heating bill when you are home as well as keep you warm when running out to meet friends.

There are many great fleece jackets out there, and the prices vary widely – the main differences are in the level of warmth they provide and how good they look.

One of the lowest priced on the market does both – looking good and having a high warmth level – at under $20 plus delivery, Dickies Men’s Polar Fleece, Dark Gray, Medium offers value.

Its not super-stylish, but its not ugly either.

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The Christmas rush has begun…


Unless you are blind and deaf or live under a very large rock, you are probably being bombarded with Christmas ads on TV, radio, internet, in the stores and such, it’s been a commercialized thing for a long time. You don’t have to fall into the money trap of this holiday, there are many things we can do to celebrate without having to go into a financial black (Friday) hole.

One of the things I am doing is I am making my own Christmas cards to give out, I am going to be using my newly acquired skills in Zentangle and doodling, I have made Christmas cards before, using scrapbook methods, this year they are going to be easier and quicker to make.

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