Category Archives: concepts

cinder block foundation or concrete slab

Cinder Block Foundation or Concrete Slab

What is a Cinder Block?

Cinder Blocks also known as Cement Blocks, or concrete blocks are lightweight, formed blocks made out of a cement and sand mixture. They are usually hollow and rectangular. These building blocks are used heavily in the construction industry.

What is a Concrete Slab?

A concrete slab is a flat base formed with concrete and usually reinforced with rebar (a steel rod); which is embedded in the concrete before it dries. Most slabs are 4 inches to 20 inches thick, with respect to the structure being built on it.

Which is Better?

They are many factors to consider before you choose which foundation to use. Depending on what you’re building and where you’re building are huge reasons why one foundation may be better than another.

Here’s a List of Facts to Help you Determine Which Foundation is Best:

Your Budget – How far will the concrete mixer have to travel? Depending on your location it may be very costly to hire a concrete mixer. Although the distance is an obvious factor, access to the job site should also be considered. Are there trees, an incline, or even a road for the mixing truck? Your budget may be the deciding factor why the cheaper cinder block foundation is a better choice.

Your Contractor – Which foundation is your contractor familiar with? Some areas don’t have plenty of options when it comes to hiring a contractor; and it’s important that your contractor knows what they’re doing for the task to be successful. Some plumbing contractors prefer cinder block construction because it allows for easy access; for installation and future service calls.

Environmental Considerations – It has been said; concrete slab resist water better than cinder blocks. However, you can spend a little extra money on a waterproof membrane. What is the soil conditions like? Soil condition is another factor why one foundation may be used verses another. If you select a cinder block foundation it is essential that the footings can be firmly placed in the soil.

As always, there’s no right answer. There are many factors to consider before you select which foundation is best for your project. Weight all the odds and choose wisely.


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too critical

Critical Over My Life Changes… Why?

Why are people being so critical over terms when it’s the life change that really matters? Are you living off grid, or homesteading, or prepping? Does it really matter if you take practices from each that fits your life preferences best?

Does It Really Matter?

I’ve been slowly changing my lifestyle for some time now. And of course every huge life change deserves some time. Over the course of my journey I have run into people who are very critical over terms instead of the shift or overall progress.

Example 1: I wrote a blog post explaining how I was going to live in my travel trailer off grid until my new smaller off grid home was completed. This is one of the comments I got as a result… sorry you are living frugally. It was followed by… how do you obtain gas for your vehicle or obtain parts and supplies for your solar? The commentator also had a lot to say about internet usage as well.

I didn’t reply but I wanted to say – If the power grid goes out, who won’t be sitting in the dark.

Before I go too far into the dark side let me say this … I write many of my blog post for advice or help with one thing or another; also to share and document my journey… “A Diva’s Journey”.

Example 2: I wrote a blog post about Nevada’s new solar policies. This is one of the comments I got as a result … Previously, Nevada (taxpayers/power customers) subsidized solar power by selling power to solar power producers at a reduced cost. They also bought solar power from the producers at an artificially inflated price. Nevada didn’t pass any regulation to kill solar power; they are removing subsidies that keep it on life support. Unless you want to subsidize or be on the government teat, you should see this as a good thing.

I didn’t reply but I wanted to say – I plan to use batteries to store energy from my solar setup not an on grid system. This post was written to show how shift in policies can affect us all.

I have also gotten some feedback about being a woman and taking the journey alone… really!

Don’t get me wrong I have also had positive feedback and great advice too. And I want to thank those people for their words. Changing one’s entire life comes with doubt that I have been able to overcome thanks to inspiring words.

Everybody has a right to their own opinion; however some of the comments I read on my site and others are very critical over nothing. I want to inspire people to make any steps that they can to improve their lives. Whether you are off grid, homesteading, or prepping I hope all is well and encourage you to share your journey.

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Solar Battery Options

How Many Batteries Do You Have Running Your Solar System?

Wouldn’t it be great to run your entire house with one battery and a few solar panels? In the near future it may be possible to reduce the number of batteries it takes to run your solar setup. In this article I plan to explore the different battery options in the marketplace.

First things first … why do I need batteries? If you have solar panels you need a way to store daytime energy for nighttime use; hence batteries. In 2011 it was reported that the average US Home uses 940 kWh per month.

Currently, Tesla is the company that you think of when we talk about batteries perfect for use with our solar systems. Tesla has been developing the Powerwall that could change the way will store solar power. The battery is one huge lithium-ion battery that claims to last for 10 years. The current Powerwall model is 4x3x7, and designed to hang on the wall (interior or exterior) – hence the name “Powerwall”. Telsa offers a 7kWh and a 10kWh battery. Here are the stats: Peak output 3.3 KW, continuous output 2 KW.

Tesla Powerwall Home Battery

Did you know that other companies are designing batteries for use with your solar system?

Samsung 3.6kWh

Panasonic

LG Chem RESU6.4EX

Some people living off the grid are using forklift batteries. Forklift batteries provide higher solar storage capabilities.

Most people using batteries with their solar system use standard 12v automotive batteries, which are labeled as deep cycle marine or 6v golf cart batteries. I guess off grid people use these types of batteries because RV’s have used them forever and they do work. However, RVs were designed for short use (here and there); although people are full timing in RVs. The drawback with these types of batteries is the number you need to run a whole house.


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Emergency Evacuation Plans In An RV

Emergency Evacuation Plans

Well, the weather is changing. So that means storms, hurricanes, winter weather, snow blizzards and varies other weather conditions are on their way. Do you have an emergency evacuation plan in place?

Having an RV (Recreational Vehicle) allows me to make some alternative plans, just in case I have to leaves quick- fast- an in a hurry. I never want the high school gym floor to be my only alternative; which was the case when Hurricane Sandy hit our area.

Emergency Evacuation Tips:

Hit the road as soon as the advisory is announced
Have access to at least three days worth of water
Storage at least a week’s worth of can goods
Bring some clothes to change into
Have a first aid kit

What’s In the RV?

Because I plan to use the Aliner (RV) as my “get away” vehicle I always keep it stocked with my clothes, water, food, shoes, dishes, silverware, blankets, pillows, a generator, and backup batteries power. The Aliner has been equipped with solar panel and extra batteries for use when traditional AC power is not available. I’m currently working on some type of rain collection system.

Need more backup power? Look at how I used a portable jump started as a power source.

What’s your emergency evacuation plan? If I’ve missed anything or your have better solutions please listed them in the comments.


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Lower Auto Insurance

4 Easy Ways To Lower Auto Insurance

The best way to increase your income is to reduce how much you’re spending. Here are 4 easy ways to lowering your auto insurance premium.

Ways to Lower Auto Insurance

Increase Deductible
Waving Rental Car Option
Take the Defensive Driver Course
Have Multiple Policies

Increasing Your Auto Deductible

By increasing your auto deductible to a comfort level you could reduce your auto premium. Remember, increasing your deductible will put you on the hook to more money out of pocket if and when you have an accident. I choose to have a higher deductible because I do not drive to work every day which decrease my risk of an accident. So, you have to increase you deductible to a level you feel comfortable paying out.

Waving The Rental Car Option

If you own or have access to a second vehicle there’s no reason you should be paying your insurance company for the option. If one of your vehicles is damage, being repaired, or totaled – just use the other car.

Take the Defensive Driver Course

You can save up to 20% off your auto insurance policy just by taking a defensive drive class. I have been getting a defensive driver discount for 6 years, and have taken the course twice — (once every three years) totaling a savings of over $600.00 on my insurance cost. Classes can be taken online, or in person – via AARP. I have been taking the course with AARP for $20.00.

Having Multiple Policies

Instead of having multiple insurance companies — you could save more by have multiple assets under one company. The more assets you listed under the same insurance company, the bigger the savings. I have four assets listed with my insurance company: House, 2 Vehicles, and my RV.

The other auto discounts I receive are: Antilock Brakes, Passive Restraints, Premier Plus, and Accident Experience. Before your next auto insurance renewal date take the time to ensure you’re getting every discount possible. If you get additional discounts not listed in this article, please feel free to share by listing the discount below in the comment section.

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How Low Can I Get My Electric Bill?

As many of you know, I’m going off the grid as soon as I sell my existing home. Until then, I have been doing things to prepare myself for my new off grid life; like moving into my RV, installing solar, and downsizing. Well I’m taking the next step — energy efficiency by increasing my solar power. Check out the video below.

Currently, my electric bill is around $50-65 dollars per/monthly. Check back to this post, next month to see how much I’ve saved by having 60 watts of solar.

Even if you are not planning to go off grid, by adding solar you too could reduced your electric bill.

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Shipping Container Homes

If you’re searching for a home that’s cost effective, green, and ready to install your appliances — then a shipping container may be just what you’re looking for; but be aware — you’ll be the talk of the neighbor.

Shipping container homes fit whether you’re searching for an intimate beachfront vacation spot, a tiny inner-city dwelling, on the grid home, off the grid homestead, or a larger mansion on the country-side. The size of the home depends on how many storage containers you can shack and fit together. These types of homes are now very trendy and affordable compared to traditional sticks and bricks home.

Types of Shipping Containers

Standard
High Cube
Hard Top
Ventilated

Fact: It’s estimated that over 1 million shipping container are sitting at ports around the world — unused.

Shipping Container Homes – The benefits

Re-purposing unused shipping container has to be green.

They are cost effective and reasonably priced ($1,000 to $2,000 each).

They are build to last. Most are made from galvanized steel, making them stronger than traditional wood framed homes.

They are easy to construct and have the ability to expand your home later at an affordable price.

They are easy to transported because that’s what they were design for.

The galvanized steel weather good and required almost no maintenance.

Shipping Container Homes Designs

To install utilities such as: solar, electric, gas, water — you should budget for $50 to $150 per hour depending on where you live. However, if you are a DIY person — you could save big bucks. Don’t forget to check with your local permit office to sure you can meet the local codes and regulations.

Where To Buy Shipping Containers

It may be hard to find a dealer to sell you a shipping container. Dealer often want to deal only with company and make bulk purchase deals. However, believe it or not, I have seen them for sale on eBay. However you could possibly find a bigger selection of container at the nearest port and negotiate a deal.

Best of Luck,
OffGridDiva

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Alternative Energy Sources – No More Utilities Bills

Alternative Energy

Do you know just how many ways you could produce your own energy? Below are four ways to generate your own power and get rid of your electric and gas bills. Just think, by creating your own energy you no longer have to rely on utilities companies. You can supply your own heat and electric.

Energy Fact : The average monthly electric bill varies from state to state. However Hawaii’s monthly rate is $203.15 and New Mexico’s monthly rate is $74.62. So, most of the US will fall in between those two rates.

Alternative Energy Sources

Tidal Power
Solar Power
Hydroelectric Power
Wind Power

Defining Alternative Energy Sources

To me alternative energy sources include any source of power you can generate on your own. That means you don’t play a continuing monthly bill. Therefore a generator could be added to this list even though it uses fossil fuel. I think no matter what alternative energy source you decide is best for your situations a generator is a good backup.

Tidal Power


Although oceans that produce tidal waves cover over 70 percent of the earth; many people don’t realized the energy potential. Using a tidal barrage, which is very similar to a damn, it collects water at high tide. Once the correct level is achieved the water is force through turbines which creates energy. Sure, as an individual this alternative energy source may not be possible; but as a country we are missing out.

Hydroelectric Power


Hydroelectric power was the great alternative energy source of the 20th century. And it’s still great today. Some people living off the grid have designed micro hydroelectric systems. Hydroelectric is clean and green.

Solar Power

I have written post on solar power before, so I will list the link below.
How Do Solar Panels Work?
Planning My Batter Bank
Benefits of Grid Solar Power

Wind Turbine Power

We have all seem a wind mill or two, but did you realize it was creating power? Until I started my off grid journey I didn’t have a clue. Wind turbines work when wind spins the turbine blaze thus creating energy. What the video for more information on Wind Turbines as an alternative energy source.

So, that alternative energy in a nutshell.

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WorkStation In My RV

Working On The Road While Rving

Working Off Grid and Remote

For the past 17 years, since 1997 I have worked remotely. Back in the day I didn’t go on vacation because I was afraid I would missed out on a project from one of my customers. But with the ever expansion of technology I’m able to do everything just as I would if I was in the office.

I have owned and operated ysdata.com since 1997. Ysdata offers remote data processing services. Over the years I have completed many tasks remotely. Some projects included DBA, Data Creation, and Manual Data Entry. This is my main source of income.

Another way I earn money while on the road is by blogging. I don’t blog about work. I blog about things I like to do. One of my latest life interest is living off the grid. I purchased an Aliner Travel Trailer back in July of 2013 and I just love it. I set up a little work station in the Aliner that allows me to work on the road just as if I was home. I usually blog about products I have purchased and use in the travel trailer, How I plan to get off the grid, and about products that I see others using in their RVs and homesteads.

Here a short video about the modifications and upgrades I made to the Aliner.

When I want to blog about something that is off topic for my blog, I blog on Hubpages. I have been a writer on Hubpages for over 6 years and my articles have received over 100,000 views. Hubpages is an online publishing platform that allows you to write articles and be paid from your traffic. Hubpages is free to join and offers built-in SEO. So you don’t have to worry about setting up a WordPress blog or driving traffic to the site.

 

 

Here is a snap shot of the traffic I get from Hubpages (click to enlarge)

My Hub Statistics

 

Here is a snap shot of revenue generated from Hubpages (click to enlarge)

Hub Balance History

Use the following link to find out more about Hubpages.

I have also written and self published an eBook. The book was published back in 2012 and is still from sale on Amazon. It’s a 39 page fiction eBook. I had fun writing it and I hope you have fun reading it. To see a description of the book or make a purchase use the image below.

 

Finally, the last way I earn income while on the road is by using oDesk. oDesk is an online freelance platform that allows me to bid on projects around the world. Once my bid is accepted I complete the task and the client pays me. It’s that simple.

Here is a snap shot of my past project completed on oDesk (click to enlarge)

oDesk Projects Completed

 

My computer (laptop, tablet and TV as an extra monitor) all run on my 12 volt batteries. I installed a solar system shortly after I purchased my 2006 Aliner RV. I also purchased an additional battery to expand the amount of energy I can store for later use. My solar set up includes: 1 solar panel which I will add to in the future, (2) 12 volt batteries which I have parallel connected, 1 solar charge controller, and , (1) 700 watt power inverter.

If you have another ways to earn income while on the road, please add them to the comment section below.

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Benefits Of Off Grid Solar Power

Going Off The Grid

There are many benefits for using solar. Here we will discussion some of the top benefits of off grid solar power and why they are important.

First let’s get the answer to some questions:

Did you choose your power company? Chances are no

Do you have a say in how they charge you? Absolutely, No

Do they discuss rate increases with you? Certain not

Can you decided to power your home another way? Good news, the answer to this question is YES.

The biggest benefit without question is the freedom it provides. Generating your own power grants freedom from the utility companies and their monthly bills. It also means you are creating power that is renewable. Therefore you are no relying on a third party for your daily power needs. That equals independence.

 

 

 

The second benefit is the money you save by creating your own power. If the electric company decides to increase its rates that will not directly impact you. Your budget can remain the same no matter what the electric company decides to do. Now that is a great feeling. Now you have cash to do other things.

Another important benefit is when the lights go out it won’t impact you. When a blackout affects over 3 million people you won’t be one of them. When you generate your own power you are not subject to electric company problems. Your grid will remain up as long as you have the necessary systems in place.

 

After you have installed an off grid solar system you are helping the environment. You are not one of the billions that are polluting the atmosphere. Now that is another benefit that should make you feel good.

Top Benefits for Going Off The Grid

Freedom
Independence
Savings
Lose Of Service Protection

Here are some cost associated with setting up an off grid solar power system

Solar Panels  - Determine how much power you need to generate and purchase the correct number of solar panels for your system.

Solar Charge Controller – Determine how many amps your solar panels are producing and purchase the correct number of charge controllers for your system.

Batteries – Go to your local auto part distributor and purchase the required number of batteries for your system. The more batteries you purchase the large your battery bank. (Required means the number of days you wish to run in back-up mode, that’s for rainy days and days when there is no sun).  The best batteries to buy are deep cycle batteries.  They normally cost around $100 dollars each.

Inverter – The larger the inverter the better. You can run more and larger appliance with an inverter that offers more watts.

Generating your own power offers many benefits.

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