Going off the grid with technology

Going off the grid with technology

Greetings readers!  This is Rob Junod, owner of Robert’s Consulting Service based in Rathdrum Idaho, the middle of nowhere. Well, that’s not quite true. Rathdrum is actually somewhere (can’t make this up, the truth is too good) locked away about 11 miles east of Spokane Washington and is sort of considered part of the Spokane Valley Washington commute zone. but enough about location. Although location does have a real affect on sustainability and having a sustainable lifestyle.

The environment that I live in is in the planning stages of being as “off the grid” as possible, but I do have a few hurdles to cross before getting there. In this post I will share some of the challenges and workarounds for going off the grid with your technology.

For instance, if I am required to be connected to the internet, how can I detach myself from being “wired”? This concept is key to becoming completely off grid. There’s a couple of solutions out there, but there are some drawbacks.  We have these “wireless companies” available, but (in my opinion) they require limiting the bandwidth to the point that one has to spend hundreds on a continual basis in order to  get the job done worry-free. We all have various devices that require connection, whether it be a cell phone, one of the multi-flavored tablets, a laptop or desktop computer.

Your cellphone (aka: your most personal computer device) is controlled by a carrier, and you pay the carrier to the tune of $80/mo for a 2 GB allotment for phone service + internet services. Of course, the rates vary and if you want more, then you have to pay and pay some more.

Your tablet (aka: potential work device) can be controlled by the same service provider as above, with a bandwidth requirement of 4GB – 6GB, but if you’re living on a budget like I am, you still don’t have the freedom to watch a movie for fear of going over your allotment. Let’s not even address the laptop and/or desktop computers and their internet demands!

But for the sake of wrapping it up, let’s just say …. there’s no reasonable answer for these devices (computers) except DSL/CABLE – un-metered bandwidth. So, you are left with a final choice and re-use what you probably already have. So, in order to really live that renewable, small footprint lifestyle, one needs to be frugal as well as smart and determined.  To go off the grid, you have to be able to stick to your guns and be highly dedicated to the cause.

OK, back to the final choice for wireless services. If you live, work and play within a 2-3 mile radius this solution will work for you like a charm. The initial cost is about $50-$150 (depending upon vendors). What you want to do is find a 15db omni-directional antenna and its related parts, an older LinkSys WiFi router, and a stable DSL/CABLE internet connection. If you have the antenna mounted high enough (on a chimney mount) then you will wind up with an amazing distance for connecting all of your devices. If you are able to go higher, near tree top levels then your distance is going to be that much greater with a potential 3-5 mile radius of transmission.

The reason I mention an older router, is the fact that you have the ability to screw in your antenna cable as opposed to the new routers that are available now, antenna’s are now all hard-wired and inaccessible to the average person. Hence the new need for mandatory repeaters and other gadgets (sales, the upgrade game…. is it really helping the consumer? title for another article in the future). Almost forgot to mention: protect your new mega-wifi network with a good password, unless you want everyone to discover what you have. Hiding the SSID is not a bad idea either.

Once you have something like this setup then finally you will be able to set your devices (cellphones, tablets, etc) to WIFI and have your personal data stream at the lowest cost possible. Save your “data” for when you are completely out of area.

Imagine something like this within a city like San Francisco, where the average building height is 3-5 stories. If just you readers of this article participated in this technology suggestion, imagine how much easier life would become. Your dependency on cellular provision would be at a real minimum, your level of worry would be brought to a near perfect level being “none”. Utopia would be within reach!

The flip side is that something like this would not work within larger cities like NYC (3 of 5 boroughs), Chicago, Detroit and other cities. The real reason is building access “the owners would not go along” and the ability to physically set everything up in a proper and real manner. Additionally there are concerns about signal stability due to the construction of the buildings. Oh well, utopia is not for everyone.

Nevertheless, while it is not always true that “one man can change the world,” I like to think that one man can impact and change the world, with cooperation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *