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Thread: Life way off the grid.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Life way off the grid.

    A buddy of mine recently was talking about deer camp. His camp, and a few others are not only off the beaten path, they are off the grid all together. He pointed out some new science fiction show that talks about a whole world without electricity and how if that ever happened, it would be like living at camp.

    Last weekend my dad and I were painting the upper gables of our house and we were talking about how crazy it was that we were in a 50-foot electric boom lift, but the people who built the house 120 years ago did not have any electricity, and not only where they able to paint the upper parts of the house, they made the nails, cut the lumber, chiseled the details into the moldings, and even dug the foundation all without electricity.

    It got me thinking what if something happened and tomorrow all the power was not existent. Could you live? Water and natural gas would not work because there are no pumps; odds are there would be no heat or AC. No way to communicate unless you talked to someone or had homing pigeons. Everything in the refrigerator would go bad fairly quickly. Solar panels would make quite a bit of difference, but unless you are able to get to net zero, they might not be enough to run everything.

    I know personally, it would take quite a bit of adjustment. On the other hand, my in-laws live in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, and they would have an easier time getting by than we would. They loose power often (sometimes for days) but they have enough food and stocked up Now I know that the odds of a global black out are non-existent and there are backups of backups for everything these days. But what if?

    Could you adapt to a live without power or figure out a way to create your own electricity to power only what you have in your house? How would you get food, water, maintain shelter, and heat.

    Unless that happens tonight, tomorrow I am going to drive my suburban with a CD playing to the Verizon store to buy an iPhone 5.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I could do without a lot of stuff, and I could adapt to alternative ways of cooking and other stuff, and we have solar hot water so we're OK there, but there is no way in hell I could live in FL without air conditioning. We'd be hot-footing it to NC so fast...

  3. #3
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I could live off-grid. I got some buddies that live up in the hills. They have solar and generators though so its not like no electricity. I could do that but no electicity whatsoever would be difficult for me to adapt.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I would simply move to self producing power - alternative energy. I spent a summer hiking through the mountains about 10 years ago. Not having electricity didn't bother me too much then, but I hated having no hot water so much that I made a solar shower and lugged it around. These days, I like my creature comforts. It would be immediate installation of solar panels, wind turbines, and a geothermal unit - even if I had to build them myself. Then I would bask in all my warm glowing glory.
    Occupy Your Brain!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Sure I could live off the grid.

    I wouldn't enjoy it though.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Mskis, you must really be gearing up for NBC's new primetime drama "Revolution" - which as a side is mostly filmed here in Wilmington, NC and the surrounding area.
    @GigCityPlanner

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Mskis, you must really be gearing up for NBC's new primetime drama "Revolution" - which as a side is mostly filmed here in Wilmington, NC and the surrounding area.
    My wife and I watched the first episode and are hooked. The only problem was that it is supposed to take place 15 years after all the electricity disappeared. In those 15 years, not a single engineer or mechanic or even a mechanically inclined individual could figure out how to generate electricity again or how to get an engine running?
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  8. #8
    I'd be dead. Only questions: How long would it take me to die. How ugly would the death be?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    My wife and I watched the first episode and are hooked. The only problem was that it is supposed to take place 15 years after all the electricity disappeared. In those 15 years, not a single engineer or mechanic or even a mechanically inclined individual could figure out how to generate electricity again or how to get an engine running?
    I haven't seen it except the 2 minute long commercial, as a way to say thanks to the city for putting up with the filming crews here they put on an advance screening of the first episode with the director and some actors. I didn't get to go, but I heard they had so many people they actually did two screenings when only one was scheduled.

    Have you thought maybe electricity doesn't "exist" anymore and not just the ability to make it?
    @GigCityPlanner

  10. #10
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    My wife and I watched the first episode and are hooked. The only problem was that it is supposed to take place 15 years after all the electricity disappeared. In those 15 years, not a single engineer or mechanic or even a mechanically inclined individual could figure out how to generate electricity again or how to get an engine running?
    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    I haven't seen it except the 2 minute long commercial, as a way to say thanks to the city for putting up with the filming crews here they put on an advance screening of the first episode with the director and some actors. I didn't get to go, but I heard they had so many people they actually did two screenings when only one was scheduled.

    Have you thought maybe electricity doesn't "exist" anymore and not just the ability to make it?
    I watched most of the first episode after my wife went to bed.

    I thought it was kind of weird. Just because there's no electricity doesn't mean people stop learning how to make things. I was surprised so many people had swords and bow and arrows, and not more guns. You don't need electricity to make guns and bullets.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I wouldn't have much of an issue. Sure I would miss some things, but you soon forget them and adapt pretty quickly.

    The house we rented in Sri Lanka only had electricity for 1 hour in the morning and 2 hours at night but only because there was a generator. There was no piped water, it was trucked in and held in a storage tank on the roof so effectively we had a gravity fed system that didn't need a pump and we used it only for bathing and cooking and dishwashing. We washed clothes by hand with water from the lake and they were sun dried. We had propane for cooking but sometimes we ran out and just used wood instead.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  12. #12
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    It got me thinking what if something happened and tomorrow all the power was not existent. Could you live? Water and natural gas would not work because there are no pumps; odds are there would be no heat or AC. No way to communicate unless you talked to someone or had homing pigeons. Everything in the refrigerator would go bad fairly quickly. Solar panels would make quite a bit of difference, but unless you are able to get to net zero, they might not be enough to run everything.

    Unless that happens tonight, tomorrow I am going to drive my suburban with a CD playing to the Verizon store to buy an iPhone 5.
    Despite the assurances of naive preppers, it would be very, very hard. Especially in the first few weeks in a country bristling with guns. And if you don't cooperate, your solar panels will likely be shot out in such a scenario, so that's out too.

    Wrt voluntary off-grid, a few years ago I was making trips into the hinterlands with an old GF looking for land for an off-grid homestead. I have a horticulture degree and she grew up raising animals for food & had hort degree, so totally doable. But I'm glad we never closed on a deal - I can do that for a while, but as a lifestyle? No.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    Assuming I could get to the place "up north", yeah, I could get off the grid immediately. There's a water supply nearby (Lake Huron) and I can hunt.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I lived in Uganda for a year with minimal electricity. There was electricity, but so many people had illegally tapped the line that we all had tremendous brownouts. Lightbulbs were less bright than kerosene lamps. After a certain point, we didn’t even bother. We cooked over a small charcoal stove and did without any refrigeration. The initial adjustment was a little challenging but we got used to it pretty quickly. The biggest time consumers were cooking and cleaning (because prepping the stove and cleaning it out afterwards took a good deal of time) and washing clothes. THAT takes a LOT of time. It helps that they are on the equator, so there are no times of the year with very short days, nor was there a winter.

    The thing about where I was living in Uganda and the prospect of losing electricity here is that all the infrastructure is there creating the expectation that that’s how things should work. The house (and many of the houses I visited in Kampala) were all wired for electricity and plumbed, but most did not have those amenities functioning. They had in the past but after conflicts and civil war, much of it was still in disrepair.

    Now, we also go camping a lot and we own some land in the mountains that has solar power and a water catchment tank. There are two structures (an insulated metal building and a small 12X8 site built stick building with a wood stove) as well as an old camper used as the cookhouse. So, totally off the grid but not without water and electricity. But we really don’t use those things very much. We like to be low impact and sit out looking at the stars.

    There is of course a whole sub-community of end-of-civilization types waiting for society to collapse. Go online and google anything like “bug out bag” or “WTSHTF” and you’ll find forums about a world you might not know existed. I visit these sometimes looking for tips on ultra lightweight bikepacking DIY ideas (making a small alcohol stove from beer cans this weekend) but it’s a weird and fascinating group of folks.

    The thing that I find interesting about the survivalist ilk is that there seems to be this feeling that when the grid goes down, it will be pandemonium in the streets and every-person-for-themselves shootouts almost immediately (anyone remember Y2K?). Other parts of the world experience things like this from wars and natural disasters fairly frequently. More often than not, the response is cooperation. Networks for food distribution emerge, clinics crop up in vacant spaces, people work to send messages and information to family members, etc. I don’t see us each holed up in our hidey holes with loaded guns, personally. That would say something really frickin’ sad about our society…
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  15. #15
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    My wife and I watched the first episode and are hooked. The only problem was that it is supposed to take place 15 years after all the electricity disappeared. In those 15 years, not a single engineer or mechanic or even a mechanically inclined individual could figure out how to generate electricity again or how to get an engine running?
    I usually try not to analyze the plot of shows and movies too much, but it my first thought was why older vehicles without efi stopped working. Clearly they still have some guns so combustion still happens.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    For those of you wanting an off the grid experience there is a bed and breakfast way off the grid. This is located in Northern Michigan about 6 miles from my cabin. My cabin thankfully has electricity, the only thing off griddish about it is that the gas is in 100 lbs canisters.

    http://www.mlive.com/opinion/bay-cit...ing_off_t.html
    http://www.loghavenbb.com/
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    My wife and I watched the first episode and are hooked. The only problem was that it is supposed to take place 15 years after all the electricity disappeared. In those 15 years, not a single engineer or mechanic or even a mechanically inclined individual could figure out how to generate electricity again or how to get an engine running?
    It reminds of a trilogoy sci-fi books by S.M. Stirling, except everything went kaput-no electricity, guns, explosives, internal combustion engines, steam power. I saw the opening episode, and give it eh-ok. I agree with you that given 15 years, they should have been farther along.

    I'm agree with Gotta-I wouldn't last long. It's been too long since my hiking, canoeing, hunting, fishing days.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    My wife and I watched the first episode and are hooked. The only problem was that it is supposed to take place 15 years after all the electricity disappeared. In those 15 years, not a single engineer or mechanic or even a mechanically inclined individual could figure out how to generate electricity again or how to get an engine running?
    This is why I decided I wouldn't bother watching the show: the fundamental premise is too stupid.

    We already have the technology to be independent of any national or international electrical grid if we choose to do so by using wind turbines, water turbines, and solar to generate electricity. Much of the world's population still lives without electricity.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  19. #19
    A little OT:

    I saw a PBS program this summer about sunspots, or CMEs. One segment of the show dealt with a major CME in the 1850s (or so) that struck the earth with such force it fried the only electric grid of the time: telegraph service. (Apparently a bunch of telegraph operators got an unpleasant zap as a side effect.) Thus, CMEs can cause a great deal of damage. Their point was that the energy needed to produce replacement super-mega-watt generators is so energy-intensive that we'd be sans electric for a long time indeed.

    Back on topic:
    Butter me up because I'd be toast.
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    What is today, September 21st? We have perhaps 90 days until the collapse of civilization as we know it. We will all soon find out if we can live without electricity, oil, natural gas, and all the things they power - from our furnaces and air conditioning to our cars and our lights and our washing machines, etc.

    Water would be the most immediate challenge for most people, although those living in non-arid parts of the country would have access to some, even if it came from the local polluted stream. Next, I think, we would need to deal with the predators who would try to survive by preying on others. Food becomes a problem later as people use up the stock of what they have on hand or looted from the Walmart Supercenter. Disease would follow, as our health care system would stop functioning without electricity, drugs would become scarce, and our sanitation systems would fail. Most people would succumb to violence ,starvation, or disease in the first year. Those who made it, though, might have a good chance for long term success.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Post-apocalyptic War Zone?

    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    Most people would succumb to violence ,starvation, or disease in the first year. Those who made it, though, might have a good chance for long term success.
    Man, you don't have much faith in mankind, do you? (though I'm 90 percent sure you are being sarcastic) But it points out what I mentioned about the doomsdayer mentality. That's its going to be all Mad Max the day after the grid goes out. As noted, a great deal of the world lives without secure water access, heating, cooling or electricity right now. I seriously can't see "most" people dying in the first year of no electricity. Human beings are very resilient and tenacious. Last year I read The Worst Hard Time about folks surviving the Dust Bowl. The conditions were mind-boggling. I was surprised at one couple that survived almost exclusively on pickled tumbleweed for an entire year. Many of the people featured in the book who grew up in this time are still alive or lived into their 90s. There were many such stories in the book. And, you guessed it, they had no electricity either (or sewers or water delivery systems).

    From the northern reaches of the world to the intense heat and dryness of the Kalahari, humans have managed to eek out an existence in virtually every corner of the world. I'm not saying these extreme conditions make for the best quality of life, but I also don't think not having electricity will spell disaster for the majority of us.

    I'll also point out that it is possible to generate electricity in a variety of ways on more local scales. Steam turbines, for example, which existed long before solar or wind-generated electricity. Or hydro-power. I see electricity emerging again locally in not too long if our grid went down. Humans are smart.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  22. #22
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I think the causes leading to the availability of electric power would figure importantly in people's response. I mean if the reason power got knocked out was because of, say, a civil war then yeah, Mad Max is probably in order. But the power going off due to some disaster or other physical cause, would probably not result in mayhem. Looking back at the 2003 east coast blackout and we see there was little violence, looting, and such.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  23. #23
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    CMEs can cause a great deal of damage. Their point was that the energy needed to produce replacement super-mega-watt generators is so energy-intensive that we'd be sans electric for a long time indeed.
    Thus one reason why renewable energy folk would like to see distributed energy in smaller scales to avoid the weaknesses inherent in N America's larger grid.

    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    Man, you don't have much faith in mankind, do you?
    I'll also point out that it is possible to generate electricity in a variety of ways on more local scales. Steam turbines, for example, which existed long before solar or wind-generated electricity. Or hydro-power. I see electricity emerging again locally in not too long if our grid went down. Humans are smart.
    I've enjoyed your perspective and I'd just say that there are very, very few people in the neighborhood where I live that can keep their grass alive, let alone grow a garden or fix something if needed. In many places in this country cheap energy and trinkets and machines have replaced knowledge and ability. I haven't been to Africa but have several friends who did/are doing Peace Corps, and I get what you are saying. But when panic sets in for the USA, bristling with guns, not that many who are used to the level of cooperation elsewhere. And I agree we won't wipe ourselves out.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Mskis, you must really be gearing up for NBC's new primetime drama "Revolution" - which as a side is mostly filmed here in Wilmington, NC and the surrounding area.
    I have not seen it yet but that is the show my camp buddy watched. I think I might have to see if it is on Hulu or something.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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