Brilliant and Bizarre Off-the-Grid Green Designs and Technologies
Going off-grid doesn’t have to mean giving up luxuries like hot tubs, blended drinks, flat-screen televisions or electric razors. In fact, as proven by these 15 awesome (and sometimes a little weird) off-grid gadgets, clothing, homes, skyscrapers and even entire islands powered by solar, wind, wood and human movement, living the unplugged life can be relaxing, fashionable and cutting edge.
(images via: BikeBlender.com)
Who says living off-grid means you can’t make margaritas, smoothies and other frozen drinks? It might be a little goofy, but the Fender Blender and other bicycle-powered blender setups really work. It can be made from stationary bicycles for indoor use or regular working bicycles so you can whip up a treat while riding around town. Simple, low-tech and certainly sustainable.
Light Cap 200 – Solar Panels for Water Bottles
(image via: SolLight)
If you’re going to be carrying around a bottle of water all day anyway, why not put it to use and let it soak up some rays for use after dark? The ‘Light Cap 200’ attaches to standard 2”-mouth water bottles (like Nalgene and Camelbaks) and transforms it into a solar-powered lantern. The built-in light sensor automatically turns the light on whenever it gets dark, and off when there’s enough light for charging.
DIY Backyard Wind Turbine
(image via: mdpub)
When you’re living off the grid, you’ve gotta have a substantial source of renewable power – unless you’re really into living like it’s 1850. Wind power may seem out of reach for most residential spaces, but some intrepid DIY-ers have figured out how to create backyard wind turbines on the cheap. Michael Davis has detailed instructions, including where to find the parts.
Off-Grid Seattle Farm
(images via: Eco Geek)
Living off grid can be especially challenging in urban environments, given that there’s not much space to work with. This brilliant design for an off-grid urban farm in the middle of downtown Seattle, created by Mithun for the Living Building Challenge, is fully self-sufficient in both energy and water. It features 31,000-sq-ft rooftop rainwater collection, gray water recycling, over 34,000-sq-ft of solar panels, fields for growing food and 318 apartments.
(image via: Dutch Tub)
While it may look suspiciously like a storybook witch’s cauldron, the Dutch Tub is a portable hot tub that runs entirely on wood. Some may question the greenness of any hot tub, regardless of how it’s heated, but off-gridders who are determined not to give up life’s little luxuries will appreciate the ability to lounge and soak, without consuming fossil fuels.
(image via: Engadget)
Like the Light Cap, Ermenegildo Zegna’s ‘iSolarX’ jacket figures that if you’re going to be out in the sun, you may as well harvest some energy. Based on Interactive Wear AG’s iSolarX technology, this jacket features a number of solar modules around the neoprene collar that can either collect and store energy for use later or directly charge devices. The jacket can be switched from 5V to 6V depending on your needs and has a built-in LED so you can easily view the state of the charge.
Move Your Energy Rocking Chair
(images via: Core77)
Continuing the theme of multiple-use items is the ultra-modern ‘Move Your Energy’ chair, which harvests energy from your rocking motions as you sit in the chair. That energy then powers the built-in LED reading lamp. The lamp is connected to a kinematic mechanism similar to those used in steam engines, which works together with a lever that runs a fly-wheel disc as you rock.
(images via: Treehugger)
Living off-grid doesn’t mean giving up your connections to the outside world. Though a computer would normally be pretty taxing on any solar- or wind-powered home energy system, this cute little Aleutia setup uses just 20 watts of power all told. It was designed specifically for third world use by aid workers, meteorologists, field engineers and other people on the move but would fit right in to a well-functioning modern off-grid dwelling. The whole thing – which includes a processor, SDRAM, keyboard, mouse and 12” monitor – can run off a single small solar panel.
Off-Grid Modular Tree House
(images via: LandLiving)
British architectural and design practice, Sybarite, designed this modular tree house as a new, more sustainable approach to building in rural areas. The concept encourages a more organic way of living in the country with the design concentrating on views above the tree line. The ‘belly’ of the tree house accommodates undulating kinetic baffles that utilize wind power to generate electricity. The prefabricated tree house can be installed on site within just two weeks, is extremely lightweight and uses many recycled materials.
Pirahna Wind-Up Shaver
(image via: Ecotopia)
Contrary to the popular view of off-gridders as hairy mountain men, living on renewable power doesn’t mean you have to embrace the beard. This little gizmo by PowerPlus is an electric shaver powered by a built-in crank. You just wind it up and it’ll create enough energy for the internal battery to build up a charge.
Samso, the Off-Grid Danish Island
(images via: The Guardian)
Residents of the Danish island of Samso managed to completely eradicate its carbon footprint through the exclusive use of wind power. Every single person on the island owns a wind turbine, and the island generates enough electricity to sell power to the mainland. It’s the largest carbon-neutral settlement on the planet, and serves as an inspirational example of self-sufficiency for the rest of the world.
Philips TV Uses Less Power Than a 100-Watt Bulb
(image via: Groovy Green)
You, too, can own a large flat-panel television – even if your home is powered with solar panels. Philips’ 42-inch Eco TV is packed with power-saving features that allow it to run on just 75 watts of power. Among these features are the ability to dim the backlight by up to 5 times peak brightness in response to program material, and a traditional power-saving mode that caps the peak light output. Stand-by power uses less than 0.15 watts, the materials are all lead-free and it arrives in a recycled box.
Solar Mini-Clip Fan
(image via: Geek Alerts)
It would be hard not to look like a major geek with this solar-powered fan clipped to your baseball cap, but at least you’d be cooler and more comfortable than the people giving you funny looks. The Solar Mini-Clip Fan may have “mini” in its name, but from the photo it looks anything but.
Soladey Solar Toothbrush
(image via: Soladey)
High-tech toothbrushes aren’t exactly a must-have, especially for those seeking out the simple life. But the Soladey toothbrush, which uses light as an energy source, harnesses solar energy to break down plaque and kill germs without even needing any toothpaste. A titanium ionic conducting rod built in to the toothbrush converts light energy into ions that purportedly mix with your saliva to clean your teeth more effectively. It’s a kooky, unnecessary gadget for sure, but hey – at least it doesn’t run on fossil fuels.
(images via: Core 77)
What if you could get free solar energy in open areas, to charge gadgets like cell phones and laptops even while at the park or outside a bus station? Sun Stations, designed by Julene Aguirre-Bielschowsky of Germany, are pieces of public furniture made of concrete, wood and stainless steel that have solar panels built in. A display above the power socket indicates how much energy the gadget is using, and a green light below the solar panel provides soft local lighting and displays the energy available.