You Don’t Have To Give Up Your Computer To Live Off The Grid


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Using Computers Off GridThe other day, someone replied to one of my Tweets (by the way, if you’re not following me on Twitter you really should. My Twitter is @BooneyLiving) by saying, “If you’re off the grid, how can you be on Twitter? Are you living in the Matrix lady?”

This got me thinking that a lot of people probably don’t realize that choosing to live off the grid doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up the miracles of modern technology. Living off grid means different things to different people but it doesn’t have to mean that you spend your days wandering around the woods barefoot with your hair knotted up in three foot long dreadlocks while surviving by eating nothing but twigs and bugs.

Most of us “off gridders” really enjoy using our modern electronic devices to keep in touch with other like minded individuals, learn about living off the grid, or in my case, write about it in my blog. We have learned that we don’t have to give these luxuries up in order to live a green lifestyle. We just choose to power them in a different way. Instead of buying our electricity from the local power company to charge them up, we choose to live a life of self-sustainability and generate our own electricity to run our electronic gadgets with.

Over the years, we’ve picked up a few tips for getting the most use from our electronic devices on the least amount of electricity and today I’d like to share a couple of tips for powering a computer in off the grid settings.

When You’re Living Off The Grid, Less Is More

I’ve said it before here at BooneyLiving.com and I’ll say it again today. One of the key principles of living a green lifestyle is learning to use less electricity. When it comes to electronic devices, there are several things that you can do to get by with less power.

Let’s talk about how those who chose to live off grid can continue using a computer. The first tip is to think smaller. What I mean by this is instead of using a high performance gaming desktop with a huge monitor that consumes a ton of electricity, consider using an energy efficient laptop such as a Macbook Pro that will run for a long time between charges. Making use of devices that use rechargeable batteries is one of the key principals of learning to live off the grid in style.

In addition to buying a laptop with amazing battery performance, you can also adjust various power management settings like the intensity of the screen’s backlight to get the best performance from your laptop’s battery. You can use your laptop while it’s charging and when the battery is fully charged, you can unplug the charger and run off of battery power. Doing this will consume less energy and place less of a demand on your alternative energy system.

Here’s a tip that I find to be quite handy. Whenever possible I like to take advantage of alternative opportunities to charge up my laptop battery. For example, if I’m sitting in the emergency room waiting for my accident prone husband to get stitched up, I’ll plug my laptop in and take advantage of the opportunity to let it charge up while I’m at the hospital.

As portable electronic devices become more and more popular, I’ve noticed that a lot of places offer courtesy charging stations. I highly suggest that you take full advantage of these opportunities to charge your laptop for free whenever possible. Once you get in the habit of looking for these opportunities, you’ll be amazed at how often you can charge your devices up while you are out and about. Doing this means that you can use them at home and they won’t consume any of the precious energy that your solar panels or wind turbines produce.

Another trick you can use is to buy a power inverter and install it in your vehicle. Then when you are commuting to your job or driving around town doing errands, your laptop or other portable electronic devices can be charging up.

Are you starting to get the point? The point that I’m trying to make in this article is that you don’t have to ditch your laptop for a hand carved abacus if you want to live off the grid. With a little creativity, you can minimize the amount of electricity that your portable electronic devices requires to run. Think of it as having your “green” cake and eating it too.

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If you did actually enjoy this article, you might enjoy reading some of my other articles. One that is really popular right now is How to Quiet a Generator. If you’re so inclined and you have the time, I highly suggest that you take a minute and check it out.


3 Responses to “You Don’t Have To Give Up Your Computer To Live Off The Grid”

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  1. Glenn says:

    This article makes me think that the whole “green movement”/off grid lifestyle is a pain in the ass. The few dollars saved here and there is actually placed into gas tank driving around finding somebody else’s electrical outlet to sponge off of and living a less than comfortable life due to unreliability of solar, wind, and generators. For entering into the twenty first century we are not rewarded with greater abundance but rather a cultural climate of “there’s not enough resources for everyone” force fed to us by those who just so happen to have abundance in wealth (i.e. Al Gore, Barry Hussein Obama, etc.).

    While I realize you are capitalizing on this very notion of less is more, the fact is that there is enough for all but the greedy will not share so deceiving people to use less only leaves them with that much more.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Glenn, I can appreciate your position but it’s important to understand that living “green” is a choice that we make. It’s not something that anyone forces us into doing. If you think that there will always be enough natural resources to go around, I think you’ll be surprised. Especially when the price of electricity and gasoline go through the roof in the coming years.

  2. Melissa says:

    I use my phone more than a computer and I don’t live off grid (we are working towards that though!) we take every opportunity to not use our home electric for things like charging phones and other electronic devices. We have a power inverter in our vehicle already and use it as much as we can. I plug in my phone every time i drive somewhere even on a short errand (this battery doesn’t seem do last any longer either way with a full or partial charge) we even use the inverter to charge things like our kids game systems. Anything we can we use rechargeable batteries with.

    We are planning to build our own off grid homestead within the next 5 years. We have a long way to go from our current modern lifestyle to off grid but we are doing our best to make changes slowly while we save for our future home. With 4 kids it would be an immediate culture shock met with tons of resistance if we just up and do it now. Between the kids and our finances it will take us a while but in the mean time we are working towards smoothing the transition and changing our way of life. Blogs like your inspire me to keep moving forward and stay on track! Thank you!!!

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