the sum total of my off grid energy sucking devices

11 Sep

Over the last few weeks I’ve talked about off grid power and technology (which uses power). One of the ways to reduce the need for electricity is to reduce the devices that consume power and to buy energy smart devices.

I have very few items that use electricity but actually think I have too many of them. Speaking of thinking, I had to think about what devices I wanted and make a conscious decision when buying them.

I asked basic questions. Do I need this? What devices will maximize my productivity and reduce my power consumption?

I needed to be expedient, since my budget defined what I could purchase but as I progress, time will slowly create the perfect balance in my setup. I will also generate more clean energy with an off grid power system, likely a portable solar and fixed solar / wind combination.

reduce the need to plug in

If you don’t need to use electricity for your device, it’s much easier to use your device. You won’t need to rely on a sunny day or generator to charge a battery. In essence, you will have a reserve of power for lighting, personal or technology use.

batteries and rechargeable items

Here’s my current list and note that most of them are rechargeable devices that need power but use battery technology.

  1. HP Laptop for work and entertainment (this item has a 9 cell lithium battery) – 5 to 7 hours plus about 90+ minutes on the regular battery
  2. Tablet for videos, music, email, quick web surfing and phone calls with Skype – 6+ hours
  3. Archos Jukebox used mostly for music and 250GB of storage (soon to be sold) – 4 to 5 hours
  4. Battery Charger – need to charge batteries about once a month
  5. Digital Camera for basic point and shoot , uses 2 AA rechargeable batteries – weeks
  6. Flip Video USB charged when I’m using my laptop – weekly or monthly
  7. LED rechargeable lantern with spotlight and multiple light – every few days
  8. LED Headlight with 2 AAA rechargeable batteries – few times a year
  9. Mag Light with 2 AA batteries – couple times a year
  10. Cordless Tool Set with circular saw, drill, reciprocating saw (soon to be replaced with corded tools since cordless don’t do the job well) – weekly +
  11. Beard Trimmer with 2 AA batteries (will replace with a cordless razor / beard trimmer) – monthly
  12. Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush (to be replaced with battery operated) – bi-weekly
  13. Guitar Tuner with 2 AA batteries – couple times a year
  14. Quartz Watch for alarm and stopwatch – hardly ever

devices for plugs or power

Some of the devices above use AC power or a DC car inverter to recharge, some use USB and some use batteries. There are a few items that need AC or DC power to charge.

  1. Hand Sander for woodworking and building projects
  2. Air pump with DC car outlet
  3. DC lights for the RV
  4. USB powered 500Gb eternal hard disk drive

Please note that I will be getting some more power tools (skill saw, orbital sander, jig saw, drill, dremel, router)  to help with woodworking and construction projects. This is a must to get things done. A mini portable mill would also be useful.

A fridge, heating and cooking are best with propane until you have a full capacity solar system to run devices on AC power.

I’m always looking for ways to condense my gadgets. For instance the Jukebox, Camera and Video player should be replaced in the next year when the MP3 players start coming down in price and have everything including good quality camera’s and video. Once they have easy storage and are under $100 I’ll find a used one for less. I’m also looking for USB speakers for music.

Next year, I’ll add a couple different types of rechargeable lanterns, one with compact fluorescent (CFL) and another with a solar & hand charger plus radio. It really sucks when your lights run our in the middle of the night and you want to go to the bathroom or finish reading. Ambiance is also nice.

I’m also going to grab a battery powered toothbrush to make the travel portion of my year easier.

So, it’s obvious we depend on power. I have about 20 items that use it in some form or another. Eventually, I’ll drill these down to a handful and will be charging them all with a solar system. In the meantime, I’m pretty sure most people have well over 50 items that need power, so I’m on my way to being self reliant (or at least limiting that reliance).

We can always do a little bit more, right?

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