Lights when Living off Grid

Reader Contribution by Aur Beck and Advanced Energy Solutions Group
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My name Aur means light or to enlighten in Hebrew and since I grew up without electricity but love to read late into the night I have always looked for ways to lighten up my life. 

Most of our lights were the yellow light of a fire, candle, kerosene lamp or flashlight.Growing up we tended to go to bed at dark and wake up at light although in the winter due to the very short days we ended up spending a decent amount of money on candles or kerosene for our lamps. 

As I got older (9 or 10) I got a job so I was able to start buying batteries for a flashlight or a headlamp  to read. I remember once getting so enthralled with a book as I read under the covers (it was a cold winter night) all night that when my dad got up at daylight at 5 or 5:30 I was still reading. He gave me a little lecture saying I would ruin my eyes. 

I was even able to once buy a hand cranked flashlight which was good for walking the dark paths but not good for reading as I had to continuously squeeze crank it for it to work. 

I really think I got into solar due to wanting light and not having an affordable readily available good source. In an upcoming post I will write about the evolution of my tiny off grid system. I worked all summer doing low paying (poorest county in Tennessee) menial jobs to save up to buy my first solar module to primarily power lights which were 12 volt halogen tail light bulbs run off of an old truck battery. I couldn’t run them very much as they used around 50 watts of power so I bought some 12 volt DC 13 watt CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) so I could run one bulb for around 4 hours to use the same energy as the halogen used in one hour. 

The first LED ( light emitting diode) bulb  I bought was $157 wholesale but it made it so I had plenty of power as this bulb only used 3 watts.  I went from using 50 watts to 3 watts an hour for running a lightbulb. 

We say for every $1 (dollar) spent on energy efficiency you can save $3-$8 on your solar system. Of course now that LEDs are much cheaper there are lots of solar and/or battery operated LED lights for great prices. 

May your life be well lit and may it be solar powered! 

Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter atThe Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict atOil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host atWDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on theLiving Off Grid, Really!?!?Facebook page, and read all of Aur’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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