Lanterns used in a power outage

Off Grid Lighting – Your Options Don’t Have to Be Complicated

What is off grid lighting? More people today are choosing to move off grid and the tiny home industry is booming. With land in the Midwest being relatively cheap many people choose that area to set up their tiny home and begin their off-grid lifestyle. 

However, they often have concerns about how they are going to provide power and lighting many resort to options such as generators and solar panels. 

While these are viable options, the first step they could take is to reduce their reliance on electricity all together. 

By reducing the needs for electricity to power their off grid lighting they can spend their limited energy budget in other areas. That brings us to discussing off grid lighting options that you can use to minimize or eliminate your dependence on electricity.

Off Grid Lighting Systems – 3 Types

There are three main types of off grid lighting systems that you can employ. These include lights that are dependent on an external power source, lights that contain their own power source and other lighting options that do not require power. 

Off Grid Lighting That Requires an External Power Source

Wait a minute, I thought we were off grid – no electricity right? No, going off grid does not have to mean you do not use electricity at all. It simply means that you no longer rely on THE GRID for your power needs. There are several methods to generate your own power, however that is a different article. 

For our purposes here we are going to discuss lighting options that can reduce the amount of power you need to produce. The first decision you would need to make is if you were going to run your residence on a 12 volt system or the more common 110 volt system used in the majority of the US. 

Most solar systems produce power on a 12 volt system which is then converted to 110 power. If you opted for a 12volt system then you could remove this inverter and save some electricity that is lost during the voltage conversion.

In either method you want to make sure that you choose high efficiency options. Keep in mind most of the 12 volt options were originally developed for vehicle uses such as boats, rvs and automobiles. 

3 Options for 12 Volt LED Lights for Off Grid Living

  1. Royfacc 60 LED Car/Van Kit

This ROYFACC 60 LED kit consists of 60 leds attached to 20 modules. These modules can be left in one piece as they come shipped or the line can be cut allowing you to space them further apart. As shipped they are evenly spaced along a 160 inches of wiring, an additional 200 inches is included for convenience. 

They were originally designed to light up the inside of a work van and as long as you keep that in mind they can easily be used to light a similar sized space in your off grid home. They feature a super sticky adhesive on the backs and a screw hole in each module giving you several ways you can install them. You can check them out HERE on Amazon Ad along with a video of a set installed in a work van to give you an idea of brightness. 

  1. Mihaz 12v LED Light Bar for RVS

The Mihaz 12v LED Light features a pair of light bars consisting of 108 LEDs per bar. These operate on 12 volts and draw a total of 6 watts each. (One customer tested their draw and got 5.5 watts on two units. The kits come with two unites, 40 inches of wiring and all of the connectors and mounting hardware.

They do seem to have some complaints, the wiring diagram from the manufacturer doesn’t seem to work. However, multiple people have provided a workaround solution in the comments on Amazon. After making that change nearly every 1 has been pleased with their output.

As a reference point each bar puts out about the equivalent of a 75 watt incandescent bulb. You can check out some of the reviews and photos posted by other customers HERE on Amazon Ad.

  1. BeccaLighting 12V String Lights

These string lights by Becca Lighting feature 12 separate bulb sockets with 15 bulbs (3 spares) and a total length of 48 feet. (The first bulb is about 8 feet from the end and the rest are spaced just over 3 feet apart.)

The included kit contains a way to connect them to a 12 volt power source and also includes an adapter so that you can plug them into 110 if you choose to do so. Each bulb draws just over 1 watt meaning they wont drain your battery excessively, that also means they are not going to light it up like daytime. But they do provide a comfortable amount of light.

Check them out on Amazon Ad. Not only would they make great off grid lighting options but also used for camping and back yard patio areas. Many people wire them into their existing landscape lighting.

3 110V Lighting Options for Off Grid Living

  1. Dunzhitech 12 Watt Recessed LED Lighting

The Dinzhitech Recessed Lights are a great start to an off grid lighting system. Requiring only two inches of room to be installed, they can easily be fit into a shipping container tiny home or an existing stick built structure. 

These lights are powered by standard 110 volt inputs making them easy to add to an existing wiring system. 

However, each light has its own box converting the electrical power to the optimal input for the Super Bright LEDs included. The actual power use of each unit is 12 watts, with a light output equivalent to that of a 100 watt incandescent light bulb. They are available in three temperatures (3000k – Warm White) (400k – Cool Blue) and (5000k – Daylight) Amazon Ad Links included for your Convenience.

  1. Pocketman 110V 5W LED

The Pocketman LEDs are another low wattage option you can install at a budget price. With an estimated lifespan of 50,000 hours these are sure to las a while. Each light uses between 3 and 5 watts depending on the bulb you choose. (I suggest the 5w just for the output.)

These carry mixed reviews and I have not tried them myself. However, for the price they seem like a decent buy. You can check out the reviews for yourself on Amazon Ad.

  1. Lightever Undercabinent Lighting Kit

The Lightever Under Counter kit contains 6 separate led bars, a dimmer switch is included and all of the equipment needed to install them. The total draw from this kit is around 40watts and while not the brightest light available, the low total power draw makes this kit ideal in an off grid situation.

While designed as under cabinet lighting you can easily put these in other areas such as closets and around the sink area. With more than 3000 reviews on Amazon these are a very popular option for lots of projects. Check them out for yourself. Amazon Link Ad

Electric Off Grid Lighting That Does Not Need External Power

These options are going to include things such as battery powered lighting and self contained solar lights. Despite the fact that they need electricity, they are generally able to draw that power from batteries and replenish themselves in the day time if installed in ideal locations. 

Solar Powered Options for Your Off Grid Needs

  1. Kyson Solar Powered LED Shed Light
Kyson Solar Powered LED Shed Light

The Kyson Solar Powered Edison Shed Light is my go to if you want a stylish looking solar powered light. Designed to be completely self-sufficient this light features the light, pull cable, remote and a solar powered battery pack.

It can be installed in sheds, barnes and on porches as well as your off grid cabin. Making it even more versatile is the fact that the solar panel uses a standard 18650 rechargeable battery. These can be purchased in multiple places and mean that you won’t have an expensive repair to replace the battery in a few years. 

The main downside I discovered with this light is the cable length to the solar panel. It only comes with a 3 meter (just under 10 feet) lead cable. So you will have to keep that in mind when considering where to install it.  

The Kyson Solar Powered Light is very popular with customers on Amazon Ad receiving nearly 500 mostly positive reviews. 

  1. Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Vintage Edison String

It seems these days that the string lights in your garden or backyard are all the rage. These string lights by Brightech are another style of string lights. They feature a solar panel with built in battery and low wattage edison bulbs.

These lights come with a fairly long cord and you could use them as an inside light source for your off grid location, assuming you still mounted the solar panel outside.

They have a ton of reviews and are priced quite reasonably. You can check for your self on Amazon Ad.

  1. Baxia Solar Motion Sensor Lights

Coming in a 4 pack these are completely self contained units. They feature a solar panel, batter and led modules all in one unit. In addition to that they feature motion sensor activation.

If you are fine with them activating these would be ideal for installing just on the inside of your windows. That way when you enter a room they activate and turn off when they are no longer needed.

They are extremely popular on Amazon as well with over 13000 reviews. Why don’t you head over there and pick up a set for yourself.

Non-Powered off Grid Lighting Options

Some would say that after mankind living for thousands of years without electricity, going non-electric with lighting is probably one of the easiest parts of going off the grid. Some options of non electric light are listed below. 

  1. Natural Sunlight

Taking advantage of the sun was the reason why many old timers got up just before sunrise and went to bed at sunset. This allowed them to conserve other forms of lighting such as lamp oil and candles.  

When designing your off grid location make sure you include plenty of windows. If you choose well insulated windows for your off grid cabin or hideaway then you can take advantage of the lighting provided by the sunlight on a daily basis. 

So when you get up in the morning instead of flipping on a light switch, remember to open your curtains. This added exposure to the sun will not only save you lighting resources but also improve your overall mood and health. 

  1. Oil and Kerosene Lanterns

If you are going to use liquid burning lanterns then these are the way to go. Oil lamps have been used for centuries and used to be fueled by whale oil, in 1846 Kerosene lamps arrived reducing the use of whale oil and similar oils. However, the days of the lamps are gone and most burn scented oils for decorative purposes.

You can still purchase both kerosene and oil lamps as well as fuels for them. Obviously if you want to become completely independent of civilization you need a way to source the oil or kerosene. Unless you have an oil well and refinery in your backyard that might be difficult. 

However, it is possible to burn other types of oil some of which are discussed in this simple guide. Additionally you can make your own vegetable oil lamp using the steps outlined here.

  1. Candles Scented and Unscented

Candles are a lighting option that most people rarely even consider in today’s modern age. For most people they are relegated to being burned for specific scents or to light a pumpkin on halloween.

However, candles were used for centuries as the main source of light. When choosing a candle for lighting purposes not all candles are created equally. Different shapes and materials change how they provide light and burn. 

Keep in mind it is rare that a single candle will provide a large amount of light. They are generally best for limited activities when you’re caught up after dark or just can’t sleep.

Tealights are great for temporary use as they do not leave any wax behind. A single tea light will normally burn for about 2 to 5 hours providing a moderate amount of light. This burn time is dependent on the type of wax they are made from. Tealight candles also tend to be relatively inexpensive for the unscented ones. These Stone Briar Tea Candles feature long burning wax and claim a 6 hour burn time. You can pick up 100 of these for around $10. Check the current price on Amazon Ad.

Taper candles tend to burn a little longer than tealights. However, I do not use these often as the melting wax bothers me. If you choose to use taper style candles then make sure to couple them with a candle holder that can capture the melting wax.

Jar candles and Pillar candles tend to be the worst for providing light. This is due to the fact that with jar candles the glas can quickly smoke up. Additionally with both types the wax is normally far thicker than it needs to be for the given wick size. This results in the flame burning down below the level of the wax. This in turn means that a majority of the light produced is obscured by the wax walls around the flame. 

However jar and pillar candles are the most common types of scented candles and that in itself can provide some benefits. By choosing soothing scents you can encourage sleepiness quicker on those sleepless nights. Just remember to put the candle out before going to sleep. 

You can even learn to make your own candles with this kit from Amazon Ad

  1. Lighting That Is Not Recommended to Use in Your off Grid Home

Propane lanterns – While they are great sources of light when outdoors and camping they are less than ideal inside of a structure. First is the danger or potential carbon monoxide issues, second is access to and disposal of the propane canisters. 

Now there are special indoor propane lights (Amazon Ad) that can be purchased and used indoors. However, they require propane lines to be run to the mounting location. With that being said they could be an option if sunlight in your area is not sufficient for solar power. 

Tiki Torches – While you may be tempted to carry your tiki torches from the back yard inside, please do not do so. First is the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning and second comes the issues of the potential fires.

Accept Your Body’s Normal Rhythm

Human beings as well as nearly every other living thing on the planet function on a circadian rhythm. This is a naturally recurring pattern every 24 hours. For humans this pattern normally coincides with light and dark.

This is why it may be difficult for you to wake up before sunrise but much easier to awaken once the sun is up. The same holds true once it begins to get dark. Your body starts to naturally produce melatonin which makes you sleepy once it is no longer exposed to light. 

By introducing artificial light such as from electric lights and lamps you reduce the production of this chemical. This results in it taking longer to become tired.

If instead of relying on artificial light. Chose to allow your body to naturally wake up and go to sleep you would quickly find yourself waking up just after sunrise (when the production of melatonin stops) and becoming sleepy just after sunset (when the production of melatonin starts). This effect is often demonstrated by using blackout curtains to improve your sleep in daylight hours. 

Your Options for off Grid Lighting Can Fit Any Lifestyle

With all of the options discussed here I am sure by now that it is obvious there is an option for anyway you choose to live. However, since you are taking advantage of off grid living I suggest you also take advantage of natural lighting. 

Allow it to slow you down and get the things you need to do done in the daylight. Save the night time for resting or chilling beside the low soothing light of a warm fire. 

Do you have any suggestions for off grid lighting that you prefer? Comment below and let’s get a discussion started for possibilities that I missed. 

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