How to use technology to live off-the-grid


Would it not be great to live a life without any kind of dependency on governments or large corporations for water, food, products, internet or even healthcare? To live truly off-the-grid? Even if you are not a billionaire?
More and more, technology is making it possible to live self-sufficiently. A new autarky so to say. The Innovation Station has selected some great examples. Check them out!

Just hook it up!

Probably the best thing to start with is energy. Despite investments in large power plants, both renewable as traditional, it is already possible to produce the energy one needs by one’s self. In rich countries, solar panels or solar roof tiles are a good option, but there are also great options for people that do not have much money at all. Like GravityLight, that only needs gravity to create power.

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Energy on the run

Another great solution is WakaWaka. What better example than a refugee camp to demonstrate both the need for and the application of affordable mobile power. Like in this camp for Syrian refugees.

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Affordable and available

PV Pure is an MIT project that uses solar power to create clean water. It is built with low cost and commercially available components and can be operated and maintained by a local community.

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Even salt water

Most of the water in the world is salt water and therefore not fit to drink for us human beings. So what it would be possible to turn salt water into fresh water? The process of desalination is an old technique that is used in many places but usually on an industrial scale and at a rather high price. Start-up Desolenator has made a solution that can turn any kind of polluted and even salt water into fresh water using solar energy.

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Local, local, local!

Once water and energy are in place, it is time for food. Why transport ingredients for a meal (or the meal itself) over hundreds of kilometers when it is possible to produce it around the corner. Like they do at GrowUp Urban Farms. They produce sustainable fresh fish, salads and herbs in cities using a combination of aquaponics and vertical growing technologies.

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Build it from the scrap

Producing food, water or energy requires equipment and that usually means maintenance and broken parts. Luckily, 3D printing is here. There are many 3D printers for sale or one can use services like 3DHubs to find one to use in one’s vicinity but it is also to possible to build one one’s selves. Like this one that was built completely from scrap.

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Fill me up

A 3D printer, however, needs filament to operate. Again, instead of importing this, a way better solution is to turn plastic waste into filament and use this to produce all kinds of new products. Exactly what Reflow Filament does.

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Customised and on demand

FabRx Printlets look like candy and that is no surprise. The company turned a  Magic Candy Factory 3D printer into a machine for pill production. This is a first step towards on demand and personalized medication. Soon one will be able to print pills in the shape one likes with the doses and ingredients tailored to one’s specific needs.

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Internet without internet

Most of the off-the-grid technologies require communications. Internet. One needs to find recipes, information, blueprints. But what if the internet is down? Or if the internet is controlled by the government or limited in other ways. In that case, a mesh network could be a solution.

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