Power Saving Best Practices

Note: (updated Feb 11, 2018) Our solar power grid is currently down so we are sharing an extension cord run from a generous neighbor, from which we monitor & pay for our usage. We are seeking members able to collaborate to help get us indepedently off-grid again. Even without solar power, many of these power-saving practices still apply to members, although the rules about nighttime usage are temporarily no longer critical to our operatoins.

We strive to generate our own electricity here, completely off-grid. Using less power in general is extremely important, but because of our solar setup, try to design your life so you are using the most power on sunny days, and the least power after sundown.

We have an emergency backup generator that runs on gasoline, but we luckily almost never have to rely on it! In the past month, we've only had to switch to the generator at night once, and it was due to a (since-repaired) malfunction that left a piece of equipment running. We're hoping to publish stats 

Using less electricity

Lights
LEDs only. Incandescent bulbs are absolutely not allowed. Compact fluorescents are not recommended.

Kitchen
We don't have a lot of fancy electric kitchen gizmos. Our fridge is an extremely efficient 24-volt fridge, the Whynter FM85g 85-Quart Portable Refrigerator, that runs off its own dedicated solar panel charging the kitchen bus battery, so it is not effected by the rest of our power grid. We have an efficient propane stovetop. All our other gadgets are manual. We make coffee with a french press. We chop everything by hand. We don't have a blender, no food processor, no espresso machine, no ridiculous coffee pods, etc. We don't have an oven, but we have a small stovetop/BBQ/firepit Coleman camping oven we can use to bake as long as we're not doing anything too precise. We have one little 10"x10" pan that fits inside. This doesn't stop up from preparing epic meals! Buspatch pays for all our groceries, and we are encouraged to cook communal meals as part of our weekly quota of maintenance tasks.

Entertainment
None of us have TVs. We have a fit pit we can all sit around and burn safe things like cardboard that would otherwise be waste. We do have a low-draw outdoor stereo system for playing music, and we have used it after dark without creating too much fo ra power draw. If you want to play music on your own after dark, use a battery-powered portable speaker that you can charge up during daylight and drain at night. Same with movies, if you're going to watch TV after dark, do so from your computer, running on battery - charge your laptop during daylight! Entertain yourself with pastimes that don't use as much electricity. Read a book. Ride a bicycle. Take up yoga. Sit by the fire. Talk to people in person and make eye contact. Go out with friends. Having fewer lights on at night also means you're more likely to go to bed early and wake up early, which regulates your circadian rhythms and makes your sleep healthier. 

Cell Phones
Charge your phone all day, let it drain at night. If that doesn't work for your lifestyle, get a USB battery pack or two and charge them up during the day and then charge your phone from that at night. If you won't be around during the transition from daylight to night, then get a timer to kill power to your batteries around sunset.

And Other Stuff Too
We can't write it all down, but we need you to really think about your power consumption as a member here. Engage. Look up ways to save on power. Learn how to figure out the draw of the electronics you use. Learn how to choose electronics based on their draw. Take a leadership role in educating others.


Absolutely not allowed at night

There are exceptions to every rule, but you have to ask first before plugging any of the following into Buspatch's power at night, or on a cloudy day.

  • Electric space heaters
  • Air conditioning units
  • Movie projectors (LED projectors could be ok)
  • High powered speakers
  • Electric kitchen appliances
  • Incandescent lights
  • Big power tools

Lots of things will drain our battery capacity, fast. This is just a small sample. Ask first before using a lot of power at night.