A very pertinent issue to a down-grid situation is lighting. Not only is lighting necessary to perform tasks at night, it is very important psychologically. After Hurricane Sandy, many people mentioned how frightening the dark night was. Things are always scarier when you can’t see them. Without proper lighting, you are effectively blind as soon as the sun goes down, relying on only your other sense to keep you safe and secure.
Many of us are guilty in this day and age of leaving lights on all over the house. We tend to use a great deal of power keeping things bright. There are many sources of off grid lighting. Some of them offer simple methods to reduce your current electric bills and can be used right away, while you might wish to reserve others for times that you don’t have the option of electricity.
Go solar. Even without an expensive solar set up, you can still use the power of the sun to light up your life. Invest in some of the following for light on demand.
- Garden stakes: You can buy these at the dollar store to build up your supply. Leave them outside to charge during the day and bring them in and stick them in vases at night. Note that there is nearly always an on/off switch inside the light to conserve collected power.
- Fairy lights: Hang these outdoors on your patio or front entry for a bit of extra security. You can also place them in a sunny window inside your house for a power-free night light.
- Camping Lanterns: Solar camping lanterns won’t run for as long on a charge as garden stakes but will provide a much brighter light, suitable for reading or detail work like sewing.
Battery power. Flashlights and headlamps are important items in your lighting arsenal. These allow you to take your light with you and easily switch it on and off. Headlamps offer hands-free lighting. Look into batteries that can be recharged with solar devices for more sustainability.
Crank Power. You can get flashlights and lanterns that are powered with a hand crank. These proved approximately 15 minutes of light for each minute spent winding the crank. You’d be surprised at how long a minute is when you’re cranking something – these are for short term usage, but definitely valuable to have.
Oil Lamps. Oil lamps are a wonderful, old-fashioned way of lighting a room. They have the added bonus of providing a small amount of heat. Highly flammable, great care must be taken with oil lamps, particularly with pets and small children around. They provide sufficiently lighting for detailed work and reading. The smell is slightly unpleasant, but in a pinch, used cooking oil can be used in oil lamps. Be sure to store extra oil and wicks if planning to use oil lamps as a light source.
Candles. Simple, old-fashioned, inexpensive and portable, candles are emergency lighting 101. Look for candles at yard sales and thrift stores. Dollar stores are also a good source of votive candles and tapers. Store your candles in a cool place – high temperatures can cause them to melt and warp. You can learn to make candles from simple household items HERE.