For those of us who dream of living "off the grid" we imagine a roof full of solar panels, a 1500 kw wind generator, and a dozen deep cycle batteries to store all the energy produced. We dream of having a huge diesel generator for back up and 1000 gallons of fuel in reserve for emergencies, or for those times when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing.
I know that is my dream but the reality is that I just don't have the money that a set-up like that would cost. I plan on building a small system sometime in the future to power my basic needs as time and money permits, but what do I do now to meet my needs?
Since I am only there a couple days of the week and not living at camp 420 full time just yet I manage fine with a few basic items. I have a couple of ice chest to store food and drinks. A battery powered radio provides music and I have a small fan to cool me off at night when I sleep. It too runs off of batteries.
As for my lighting needs I have a couple of options that I use. About six months ago I started buying 30 packs of those small tea light candles. They are only a couple of bucks each so every week I buy a pack or two from the dollar store. They only burn for about 3 or 4 hours but several placed in different locations around the room will provide enough light so that I am not stumbling around in the dark. These are really great to have in an emergency and because they are so cheap you can afford to buy lots of em.
Most of the time however I use an LED lantern I bought at wall mart. After buying the lantern and the 4 D cell batteries to go with it I spent more than $40. At first I thought this was too much but this thing is built pretty solid and I have not yet had to change the batteries. Coleman claims that battery life is 144 hours on low setting. I usually have it on high and it's still going even though I've used it quite a bit. I'm pleased with it and plan to buy another one just like in the near future.
I also have a couple of LED flashlights. One is a cheapy model I picked up for about 15 bucks along with the AA batteries for it. The other one is a mag light that was given to me as a Christmas present. I absolutely love the mag light because this thing is super bright! I can stand it on end where the light is shining on the sealing and it lights up the room better that the Coleman lantern. I don't think it the batteries would last that long if used in that manner.
How about you are you off grid or plan to be off grid in the future? what Ideas do you have for cheap off grid lighting?