Monthly Archives:February 2005

Jamie Oliver to go off-grid

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Super-chef Jamie Oliver, whose new series about school dinners just launched on UK Channel 4, is preparing live off-grid for a few months. This is said to be his next project, but it is completely under wraps and his office have not confirmed the story. The detailed planning began some time ago. It is just one more example of the way the off-grid life is becoming mainstream.

After years of making TV series teaching other people how to cook, Jamie is now a national hero, as our picture shows. But he is frankly exhausted. So he has decided to take his family to Italy and tour the country in a camper van. He has set no time limit on this adventure.

Geodesic Quonset: Inexpensive, Easy DIY Shelter

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Many folks are familiar with the concept of a Geodesic Dome, and the great advantages of strength and minimal materials,

Geodesic Dome
Geodesic Dome

but most have not heard of a Geodesic Quonset, that also brings along many of the same advantages. It’s great for connecting domes, standalone as an emergency shelter, garage, or greenhouse. We built one recently, with a length of 60′, a width of 15′, and a pre-sidewall height of 7.5′. Less than 100 man hours to build, and a materials cost of less than $500 (plastic sheathing) , it’s extremely strong and functional. We built this structure using new 1″x6″ green lumber (1″x4″ was originally specified), but since all the pieces are less than 4′ in length, waste/scrap or recycled lumber would be ideal. All the pieces were screwed together using a power screwdriver and 3″ wood screws, 5 to a connection.

Wild Britain – book review

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On this day hunting foxes is banned in Britain, and the wildest places in this beautiful land are more available than ever to the hiker and explorer. No longer will ramblers be startled by a phalanx of hunters on horseback as they enjoy the secrets revealed in “Wild Britain”. And maybe the hunters themselves will now have the time to appreciate the landscape rather than careering after small animals.

Paradoxically, many of Britain’s wildest and most beautiful places remain unspoilt because they have been “hunting grounds, royal chase, grouse moor and deer forest of the landed aristocracy,” says author Douglas Botting. The book is both a personal travelogue and guide to wilderness through the country – from tiny places such as the bird rock of Handa – one mile long by half a mile wide — to the Cairngorms, which cover 160 square miles of Scottish wilderness.

Battery Maintenance

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PV panels only provide power when the sun is shining and wind generators only produce when there is sufficient wind, which can be less than 25% of the day. Typically we store power during times of generation in battery packs for use when no generation is possible. In order to keep those batteries at peak performance, and provide long service life, a regimen of maintenance must be observed.

The main things to remember when keeping your batteries in trim is cleanliness of the terminals, proper water levels, and not discharging below the recommended minimums, which in our case is 50%. Proper charging is also important. The best “manual” I have found describing the technologies and methods of care is Bill Darden’s Battery FAQ. There is a section on sulfation, a common battery killer in improperly maintained batteries. A recently purported cure for sulfation can be found at The inventor claims that by dissolving sulfate crystals, he can increase battery life and perfomance.


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Coleman’s Exponent Flex 5 solar energy pack – recharge your mobile phone and other small items on the move – at a better price than you will find anywhere else.

We have done a deal to get our readers the best possible price on a great little powerpack that will convert solar energy into trickle charge electricity….

The Exponent Flex 5 is a foldable solar charger, the size of a paperback book. It’ll charge your MP3 player, digital camera or GPS in a few hours, wherever you are. Ideal for outdoor lovers, campers and backpackers, it is practical, resistant and waterproof.

Normally retailing for £80, we are offering the Exponent Flex 5 for £65.75 INC post and packing within the UK. Please add £3.50 outside the UK.

Women for a Clean and Healthy America

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The Environment 2004 kickoff in LA drew a strong slate of celebrity environmental activists including Pierce Brosnan, Melissa Fitzgerald of “West Wing” , and Blythe Danner, star of “Meet the Fockers.” Brosnan’s wife Keely Shaye Smith spent the evening talking to Danner, mother of Gwyneth Paltrow and a new grandmother.

Keely Shaye Smith told the crowd that she had stopped Brosnan’s son from eating tuna fish sandwiches because it elevates mercury levels. It’s about our health and the health of our children.

More Info:

£250,000 green grants goes begging in UK

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A FUNDING body in the Lake District which helps businesses go off-grid, has £250,000 of grants to hand out before the summer.

The Energy for Enterprise grants scheme in the North-East is drawing to a close within the next few months, and any left-over money is returned to Brussels. Energy for Enterprise is aimed at installing renewable energy for rural and market town businesses .

Take your spare room off-grid!

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So, you want to go off-grid? Or maybe you want to find out what it’s like before taking the plunge? How about taking one room of your house off grid? It’s a less expensive way of learning the technology, before committing yourself.

We suggest starting with a bedroom. Look around your bedroom and see what devices you have that run on electric. As I look around my room, I see two lamps, TV, Stereo, satellite box, dvd, vcr, and XBox. I also have a battery powered clock, powered by rechargeables, so I’ll add the battery charger to our list. There is also a curling iron, hair dryer, and ceiling fan with lights, but we will leave those items off our list for now.

Mobile Homesteading

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Check out the Mobile Homestead. Michael & Millie have documented their mobile, school bus conversion so others can learn and duplicate their work. The 1991 GMC/Ward 66 Passenger School Bus is shown at the various stages of conversion, and all the steps taken to convert it into a rolling home are documented. They have other projects, like a travel trailer and talk about their composting toilet as well.

Other School Bus Live-ins:

“Bus Links”