Off Grid Build Podcast

Off Grid Build Podcast

It's Podcast Time!

I was recently a guest on the podcast Off Grid Build with hosts Paul and Dan, who are super interesting and funny guys. They've built their own off grid "earthships" in Taos, New Mexico. Now they're building an off grid house in upstate New York and sharing their progress on YouTube. They are extremely hands-on, and we had a great (and long) conversation about solar, micro grids, lithium batteries, and the pros/cons with off grid systems. Watch the podcast on YouTube below.

Battery Showdown: Lead-Acid vs. Lithium-Ion

Battery Showdown: Lead-Acid vs. Lithium-Ion

Which is the best battery for an off grid energy system?

I believe right now we are at a clear crossroads when it comes to choosing a battery type for energy storage for off grid energy systems. We are at the transition between lead-acid batteries, the tried-and-true technology used for decades, and lithium-ion’s promise of higher density, improved resiliency, and longer cycle life.

Ditching the Grid for Solar

Ditching the Grid for Solar

Off Grid solar is the ideal form of self-reliance. With solar and energy storage you don’t need to pay bills to a utility or buy an endless supply of fuel for your generator, you can harvest energy from the sky. By avoiding dirty fossil fuels, you’re also not contributing to climate change. We’ve been waiting for a silver bullet and it’s here.

Understanding Micro Grids

Understanding Micro Grids

The jury is out on the definition of a microgrid

The definition of a microgrid changes depending on the project constraints in which it is used. The term gets thrown around with different context and a new definition almost every time I hear it. I’ve seen the differing points of view and it is about time for a consensus. We all need to be on the same page using the same terminology.

SolarCity, Tesla, and Virunga

SolarCity, Tesla, and Virunga

Building Solar Micro Grids for the guardians of Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse National Park

It’s a hazy afternoon and I’m sitting in an open-air jeep driving fast down a bumpy road full of boulders and muddy puddles. Our driver is honking, trying to pass a line of trucks so overloaded with people and goods that I think they might burst. Leaving later than expected, we’re rushing to get to the next site before dark. The rangers warned us that the threat of being kidnapped heightens after nightfall. So when we suddenly slow to a stop with cars and trucks blocking both directions, I become anxious. In the front of our caravan, several rangers with loaded machine guns hop out of the jeep to investigate the scene ahead.

Communication Breakdown for Utilities

Communication Breakdown for Utilities

Our utility grid’s communication protocol functions like the post office but will function more like the Internet in the near future.

The utility grid communication protocol currently functions the way the US Post Office delivers mail. Like the central post office, a few central power plants distributing electricity door to door. If I were to mail a letter to my neighbor using the US mail system, the letter would travel a long distance just to get to my neighbor’s house. First it would go in my mailbox waiting to get picked up, then it would get delivered to the central post office, and eventually get delivered back to my street in my neighbor’s mailbox. This is similar to how our current utility grid communicates, even though the electrons flow to the shortest path.