We get asked this question a lot. Even back in April when we were living in a tent with very few conveniences, I always answered “yes.” We did. We had a flashlight, a battery-powered lantern hanging in the tent, our flip phones (charged at cafes) and the car battery. That sounds like electricity to me.
But when I would explain the situation to people they often responded by musing quietly, almost to themselves, “so you don’t have electricity.”
By midsummer we had the small portable solar panels pictured above and a small battery/charging-port. The panels are great. The battery leaves a lot to be desired. No chance of running power tools. And even a laptop is too much for it to handle for more than fifteen minutes.
Recently we got a generator. Neither Leo nor I is thrilled about it but we want to be able to stay in the RV even when the nights drop below freezing. I’m not considering trying the propane heater until we get a carbon monoxide detector and have ample time to test it during daylight, so for now, we’re plugging the RV into the generator when the sun goes down and running a small electric heater for the few hours before we get into bed. It uses about a gallon of gas a day, but we’ve only used is 4 days so far, so…
For real we could just tie into the grid. Electric lines border our land on two sides. It would be so much simpler. And we still may. But for now there’s something very freeing in being unattached.
Of course, it means our well is unusable. We have researched hand pumps, and that would probably work until we figure out a solar setup powerful enough. But we haven’t had time to actually implement that yet.
I’m also very interested in a design I found for a wind turbine made out of a bicycle wheel and some soda bottles. Maybe eventually we’ll gather supplies and have a day when people can come out and help us build them. But for now, although we don’t have much electricity, we have plant power and people power, and that’s getting us pretty dang far.