Hacking my way through off-grid survival

Intro

Last August, after a full year of plumbing, wiring, digging, painting – our family of four has finally moved to our offgrid wooden house.

Off-grid was not the purpose, but given the location, it was not something we could avoid. I always had a personal desire for solar, so for me it was a great chance to materialize it. Our budget was extremely low, so we ended up choosing many parts of our solar system by price instead of quality/reliability. This was a great mistake.

Before moving, I spent many months doing research and using a watt-meter to calculate our average consumption. We had decided to avoid gas-powered equipment in our future house, so electric was the way to go in everything. Usually you’ll find the opposite. People that depend on solar as their only source of electric power, usually try to delegate some things to gas. Most common examples of this (at least in my country): gas water heaters and gas stove.

In our case, we opt to use an electric water heater and an induction cooktop. Everyone told me it was crazy, especially with such a small solar system. Continue reading

Switching to FastMail

I finally took the plunge and subscribed for a year of Fastmail’s email service. I’ve been looking for a new email provider for sometime. Trying more and more to slowly leave Google’s ecosystem towards something more open and less controlled by a huge corporation.

So why Fastmail? Well, many reasons:

  • its a small company, focused on email, and with a good record on it
  • its a company that seems to support (and improve!) standards instead of creating its own thing
  • it includes calendar, contacts, file storage and notes (these last two I don’t use so much, but its a nice to have)
  • the sync is made through well known and open protocols (webdav, caldav, carddav, ftp)
  • the price is great, the support is great (I tried it during the trial)
  • the features are great! (really, try the trial!)

For sync’ing the contacts and calendar with my android phone I am currently using OpenSync (which is opensource). There are other apps but not free. You also don’t need to use any apps to sync if all you need is email. But android doesn’t support carddav and caldav by default, so in my case I needed something to help in that. Continue reading