Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cheap DIY projects

If you are considering a move off the grid but have little money to invest in a large system to power all your needs right from the start you need to find cheap-ass solutions to such basic necessities as heat, lighting, cooking, washing your laundry, etc.

The projects listed here are pretty easy and will provide simple solutions to some of these problems. Most anyone should be able to construct these with a minimum of time and effort. Oh yeah, did I mention that they are super dirt cheap!

This first project is pretty neat. It’s a wood stove made from an old barrel. There are kits you can buy to turn a barrel into a wood stove of course but they cost money and here at Cheap-ass-Living it’s all about doing things as cheaply as possible. This stove takes up less space than the ones you can build from a kit as well, which is a big plus if you are living in a small area. You can cook on this thing too, so it’s a dual purpose project. Check it out here- homemade wood cookstove

During the warmer months of the year you won’t be able use your home brew wood stove to cook with however so you should look into other options such as solar cookers. Use the sun to cook your food for free. Just saying that word (free) gets me all tingly inside. It’s my all-time favorite word in the English language and if it’s yours too then you should check out this dirt cheap solar box cooker that’s made out of cardboard. Check it out here-Solar cooker

Unfortunately your dirt cheap solar box cooker can only be used when the sun is shining. To cook your food on those days when the sun isn’t cooperating you can obviously just build a campfire and cookout “pioneer” style. Campfire cooking consumes a lot of wood however and if you live in an area where firewood is a bit scarce you need a solution that consumes a minimum of resources. Here is a link to a rocket stove made of of a metal bucket-Rocket stove

If you have no refrigeration just yet you can buy a couple of ice chest to keep food cool Or you can build a root cellar to  keep fruits and vegetable from spoiling too quickly. A conventional root cellar takes a lot of time and labor to construct but you can create one (or two) pretty easily by burying a trash can or other container in the ground. Here's a link of a pretty nifty little root cellar made just that way-trash can root cellar

Here's a link to show you how to make your own "olive oil" lamp. Olive oil is probably too expensive to use as a fuel source for your everyday lighting needs but I thought the idea was pretty interesting. You probably don't have to use olive oil however. You could use regular lamp oil or possibly even vegetable oil in an emergency. I'm not sure that the smell of a "veggie" oil lamp would be very pleasing but if you needed too  it would be an option. Check it out here-homemade olive oil candles

For everyday lighting needs LED's can't be beat. Their power consumption is minimal and the lights themselves will usually last a lifetime. LED lanterns can be purchased that use different sized batteries from AAA all the way up to D cells. Batteries cost money so rechargeables and a good solar battery charger are important to have. Solar powered "lawn lights" are pretty cheap so here's a link that will help you turn em into indoor lanterns. A dozen of these placed strategically around a room will probably light up the place pretty good. In the morning time gather em up in a box and set em out in the sun. Check it out here-cheap diy solar lantern

The last link I have for you here is a pretty neat idea for doing laundry completely off grid. You don't have to beat em against the rocks by a river either. You can build this manual cloths washer for less than ten bucks. Basically the idea is to get a plunger and a five gallon bucket and use the plunger to agitate the clothes. You can buy a plunger like device especially made for this but they are pretty expensive so go the Cheap-Ass rout and Build this instead. Here is the link-Hillbilly washing machine

That's it for now but hopefully these ideas will help you out a bit if you're looking for cheap-ass methods for going off the grid. 


  1. Nightshift here.....good post...or should I say collection of links. The stove was pretty cool and you don't have to buy a kit and less floor space since its vertical. Thanks

  2. LED tape, if it has gone down in price since a few years back when I bought it, has the advantage of being able to customize it length. In my case I was "making" under cabinet lighting with an even light distribution. DC operated LEDs are also relatively easy to dim compared to flourescent lights.

  3. in ancient time people use cheap lantern but now a days it convert in cheap solar lantern that is so amazing thing i our life.