Category: Off Grid Projects

Do you need to disinfect a few batches of water to make them safe to drink? You can do this easily by setting a few bottles of clear water out in the sun for the duration of the day (or over two days if it’s 1/2 cloudy). This method, called SODIS (i.e. “SO-lar DIS-infection”), uses the sun’s UVA rays to effectively kill bacteria and viruses. One requirement is that the water in the bottle be clear enough to read through. If you’re starting with dirty water, you should strain it through a clean cloth and let it settle first.

(Note that this method won’t actually filter the water — it will simply kill pathogens. But there are easy ways to filter water, using a quick sand filter or, if you have a more permanent stationary installation, a biosand water filter.)

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Interested in making a cheap AC inverter out of parts you can often get for free? If you happen to have a broken UPS backup computer power system lying around, you could possibly turn it into a cheap power inverter for your camper.

Uninterruptible Power Systems are often thrown away when their battery goes bad. Once they do, you could simply replace the dead battery with your RV’s deep cycle battery and enjoy a high quality inverter that typically includes 5V USB power in addition to several standard AC outlets.

(Note: Non-sine-wave AC output by cheaper UPS inverters may not be suitable for all devices. For quickly charging your laptop and mobile electronics, it should do fine, but for continuous power, beware that it could cause problems, so be sure to read the UPS manual. If you’re concerned about this, check out his next series on how to make a sine-wave inverter. )

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Are you looking for a way to purify your own drinking water in an off-grid or long term boondocking situation? LDSPrepper reviews several popular filtering systems. Notably, most filtration systems require you start with pre-filtered tap water, so they’re near useless in a boondocking situation when all you have available is river or pond water. His summary includes a clear winner.

(Note: Since he is reviewing only expensive commercial filters, he does not include an inexpensive DIY bio-sand filter.)

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Getting Solar Panels? Don’t make these easy mistakes! You’ve probably seen at least one of these solar products recommended by DIY enthusiasts pretty much everywhere. But is it really a bargain? For LDSPrepper it was an “$800 mistake”. Not because it was necessarily low quality, but because in terms of minimizing space and dollar per watt, you can easily do much better by shopping around.

Do you want to know the best way to really save a lot on solar panels?

What about making your own DIY Solar Panels?

If you’re handy with a soldering iron (or you’re willing to learn), it’s possible to make panels for less that $1/watt. I recently added a 65W panel to my camper roof with a total cost of $50. My next one will cost even less.

I’ve just uploaded a few videos from my own DIY Solar Panel build onto my new YouTube channel. Here’s the playlist:

You should also check out my article on making your own DIY solar panels.

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If your phone is dead and you can’t find your plug in charger, BUT you have a cordless drill lying around, you can hack it to recharge your phone battery. Grant Thompson shows a clever way to hook up the drill to your phone so that with just a bit of hand cranking, you can be back in action — hopefully before your arms tire out!

I personally carry a hand crank emergency radio with a USB hookup for precisely this purpose. It’s definitely nice to have in a pinch. But the other “obvious” thing that occurred to me was that I could also just recharge my cordless drill by running it backwards — let’s say by pedaling a bike. Hmm…

I know some viewers are saying to themselves… “Why the heck would you be in a situation where you have a cordless drill, but NOT have access to a phone charger?”

If you’re asking this, then you’re totally missing the point. The “takeaway” from this is that IF YOU HAVE A DC ELECTRIC MOTOR, YOU CAN MAKE A BATTERY CHARGER. An electric drill is a particularly strong motor, but even something like a battery powered fan can be made to charge a battery. Provided you have a stash of “gear” or tools around, you probably have an electric motor you can repurpose. If you ask me, that’s a pretty powerful realization.

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Did you know you can make your own gasoline? Not much, mind you — and I wouldn’t advocate chopping down trees to do it! But as a teaching exercise, MrTeslonian shows you in this video series how one can inexpensively turn dead wood into refined gas that can run a car by capturing all the fuel gases in the form of crude oil and refining into whatever “fossil fuel” you like. Totally fascinating!

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Did you know that for about $30, you can make a great water filter that can remove up to 99% of contaminants? All you really need are a few 5-gallon buckets, some plastic pipe and fitments, and 3 grades of filtering media: fine sand, regular sand, and gravel.

This 3 part video will show you exactly how to construct not only the bio-sand filter, but upgrade it to incorporate a carbon filter to remove some of the few common contaminants that bio-sand filters miss.

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Never worry about starting a campfire again! You can easily prepare your own quick lighting emergency “char cloth” with just a tuna can, T-shirt, and a your barbecue grill.

Essentially the video describes making a quick and dirty DIY gasification stove — like the ones many backpacking survivalists use to cook food — but the focus of this project is simply to get at the valuable leftover charcoal without the (slight) added complexity of designing an efficient camp stove.

But if you already have a gasifying camp stove — like the SoloStove or another homemade version — you can now add versions of “char cloth” to your emergency kit. (I love the cotton balls idea!)

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Boondockers — Why take up space in your camper with a permanent shower stall that you use once a day!
Watch to learn how LoveRise has used a few parts from Home Depot to make an easily removable RV shower stall.

Besides the shower curtain, the key ingredient to this system is a water heater drain pan that you can buy for $12-15 and stow away when you’re not using it. The optional battery powered spray gun she uses is no longer available, but there are others available.

Of course to make this system work, you don’t necessarily need the water heater drain pan. Any shallow tub that’s wide enough to stand in would do the trick.

As for the hot water — the best tip I take from her video is that heating “shower water” doesn’t need to be any more complicated than boiling 1/2 cup of water on the stove and adding it to your container of cold shower water to warm it up.

For a “shower” — How about the Simple Shower…? It’s a specially-made shower head that screws onto the end of not only any 1-Liter or 2-Liter bottle, but also to a Platypus-style flexible drinking bottle.

The price for the simple shower is about $12 plus shipping. It’s still only available at a few retailers, so the most convenient way to get is to Buy the Simple Shower on Amazon


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Wanna save a ton of money on your solar energy system? By buying individual cells and soldering them together into a panel, you can make your own custom panels for just a fraction of what you’d pay retail. This is the first video in a series in which he takes you through every step to turn the cells into a working solar panel.

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