Electrical system off the grid

Home » Palawan » Pinterest » Electrical system off the grid


How to survive off the grid with a combination solar, wind and gas generator power. I lived off the grid for five years in Europe in my own home-made camper van. Then for more than two years on a remote paradise island in the Philippines. But now that I’m leaving that beautiful project I will be leaving all my electronics to some friends and have prepared the below instructions for them, modified afterwards for this website.

The system I use is based on 12V, direct current (DC), not the usual AC (alternating current) 220v you are used to from your wall socket. V represent “volts”.

You can get energy from the sun, or the wind. When it is cloudy, often it is windier. Also, often I find that it can get pretty windy around 2-3am, so it can charge or add energy to the battery when the sun is down.

You can combine it so you have solar and wind connected to the battery at the same time, you just need to be careful about the connection, because if it is not right you will break something.

Direct current (dc) is much more sensitive than ac (alternating current). With alternating current you can plug something into a socket and it does not matter which way, but with dc it is always very important you put the positive cable to the positive (+) port, and the negative to the negative (-), otherwise you will certainly break something.

What I usually do is I mark the end of my cables so I know which is which (positive or negative). I like to put a black electrical tape around the wire that is NEGATIVE. Every wire you buy should be marked (one of the wires). I like to consider that the wire (of two connected together) that has markings has something extra, so therefore POSITIVE. Otherwise black is usually considered negative while red or while positive.


Both the solar panel and the wind turbine require different regulators. The solar controller generally has a digital display showing the voltage of the battery and if it is getting a charge from the panel. Some controllers show exactly how much power or amps is being received from the panel.


Generally what you want to do is connect the solar controller first to the battery. It should show the voltage. Then connect to your devices, such as your inverter (converts 12v to 120v or 220v – better to make sure everything is off before connecting), then finally the solar panel.


The wind turbine controller is more sophisticated. First of all, I bought one from ebay and it turned out not to be entirely compatible with the turbine, so make sure you research this first before buying. Best to ask the turbine seller. The turbine produces ac power and has three wires. My controller has three green wires, which you connect to the three turbine wires. Since it is ac power it does not matter which wires you connect.

Then it has a black (negative) and a red (positive) output, the dc current which you should connect directly to the battery. For example, you can connect it to the battery connection of the solar controller because that wire connects directly to the battery.

If you allow the battery to drain too much, not only will it not be strong enough to power the inverter, but it may cause the solar controller to stop functioning properly. Perhaps the display will be going on and off. In this case simply disconnect and reconnect in order to reset it. First switch off the breaker switch so that no device or lights are drawing energy, then disconnect the solar panel (if there is light) and finally the battery, reconnecting it in the reverse order.

The connections

I connected one side together so that anything connected to the other side would all be either negative or positive.

To protect my electronics I connected the positive wire from the devices connection on the solar controller to a 10amp breaker switch. Then from that I connected the positive and negative wires each to a separate system to make it easy to connect other wires to, such as to a lightswitch connected to 12v LED lightbulbs.


One of the connections is to an inverter, which converts the 12v to either 120v or 220v (you would need a separate inverter for each if you want both). That would then connect to an extension cord into which I could then connect anything, such as my computer. Some extension cords or even solar controllers have 5v usb outputs, handy for charging phones.

However, the inverter consumes some energy, and then you might lose additional energy if for example using an adapter which converts the 220v back down to 19v, a common voltage for laptops. It is therefore always better to try to not use the inverter. For example, you could purchase an adapter for a vehicle’s lighter. This is always 12v, so you could cut the cable and attach the respective wires to positive and negative. The tip of the car lighter adapter is positive and the outside metal ring contact is negative. Before cutting the cable, if it is not apparent which one is which, you can cut one of them and then use a voltmeter to find out which one is which, then mark it for future reference.

From the wind turbine controller you should also have a breaker switch before connection to the battery, and which also makes it easy to turn off in case your battery is overcharged, to help preserve its longevity.


The nice thing about this connection is that when it is cloudy, it can often be windy, or once it gets dark the wind turbine can take over until morning. But sometimes both together are not enough and for this reason I bought a gas generator which I use in combination with a battery charger. The generator has a capacity of 1,500W, which is way more than is needed to power my laptop, but with the battery charger I could have the gas generator working for perhaps only an hour, which might be enough to charge the battery to last until morning. Simply plug the charger directly into the battery or the battery connection on the solar controller.

Battery Capacity


A standard larger acid battery might have a capacity of something like 110 ah, or amp hours. So if you are drawing one amp at 12v, you might consider that your battery should last about 110 hours. I find that if during the day I manage to get the battery charged up to past 13v it will last until next morning running my laptop and my 12v fan. Generally I try not to drain the battery to less than 11.5v, otherwise you will reduce its life cycle.

Extending battery life

First of all you want to get a deep cycle battery specifically designed for solar systems (not a regular car battery, which is designed differently). The best is the gel ones for golf carts, but they can be expensive. Or you can go to a construction site or warehouse and look into buying a forklift battery which no longer works. It may not be strong enough to operate a forklift, but it will certainly have enough juice to run something like a laptop for a long time still.

If you get the regular acid battery, even if deep cycle, they have 6 compartments each producing 2v (x6 = 12v). The water inside each cell is sulphuric acid and if for some reason the water level drops to the point that the metal plates within the cells will become partially exposed to air, it will hurt the battery. So make sure to open them from time to time and check the water levels. If it is too low then simply top up with distilled or clean rain water.


Over time the sulfur in the water can collect on the plates. If this happens in one of the cells it will become inefficient and drain the other cells, weakening the entire battery. But you can get a desulfater which sends out some sort of regular pulse which breaks up the sulfur and returns it back to the water. After two years my battery was already getting quite weak, so I gave it to a local, but later also the desulfator to test it and we were surprised to find it actually works! He noticed that the water in one of the cells turned brown after a few days, presumably the sulfur breaking off the plates, and a few more days after that the water became clear again, presumably it being absorbed fully back into the water. The battery was strong again and the product advertises that it can triple the lifespan of the battery, hence from the average two years to six. You can rotate it among several batteries or just keep it plugged in permanently.

Final notes

Make sure to have a voltmeter to test things.
If you are in a remote area and especially if by the sea, best to get at least a duplicate of everything. The salty air tends to eat electronics and the inverter is often the first to go.
The solar panel is the strongest if it is clean of any dust and is exactly perpendicular to the sun.
The wind turbine should be in an open area, such as above the roof and not near any trees, to maximise airflow.
You can add a long string to the tail of the wind turbine to rotate it perpendicular to the wind if you want to stop it from spinning too hard, such as if the battery is already fully charged and it is too windy. If nothing is drawing any power from the turbine it can spin too fast and burn it out.
If you plug a wire from your computer into a sound system which is also plugged into the electricity, you may get some noise in the speakers, so best to use bluetooth.

Have fun living off the grid!

Back to Table of Contents

Home » Palawan » Pinterest » Electrical system off the grid

05:51 03 Apr 24
I give 5 stars because they actually helped me to arrange the tour to Balabac in last minute. However, because the money wired through the local bank in my country took time to be processed, so i missed the boat due to peak season as many people paid before my money was received by the tour guide.As most of people usually feel, once your money has been transferred out to someone you do not know, you probably frustrated that your money would not be able to be refunded.But not in my experience. I dont need to be worry, the owner refunded me the money he has received (minus the bank fees). He promised to refund me and he did it. It was around 18.700 Pesos.So, eventhough i didn't manage to go with the tour, but i am really satisfied with their legitimate and great business practice. Hopefully, people will try their services and not worry about their legit business!Thanks a lot!
Chloe BlanchardChloe Blanchard
13:38 27 Mar 24
The most wonderful experience from booking to beach! Karel and Mel were so fast and responsive to my very last minute trip over the holidays. We booked a private boat for two and could not have been happier with our four day trip! We didn’t think about anything other than snorkeling the entire time. Linda, our captain, cooked wonderful meals and took us to totally empty beautiful beaches. We loved staying the night in Pical especially! Wonderful to experience the Philippines this way! Will come back again and would recommend to anyone!
hotel luci del farohotel luci del faro
08:13 31 Jan 24
We booked the 3 day 2 night expedition, from Coron to Sibaltan.First of all the booking part was really simple. I organized this trip to the Philippines last minute for my family (my parents and my uncles) but Karel answered all my questions very quickly and really made everything easier for me. It was an incredible experience. Albert, our tour leader, is a wonderful guy, always smiling and ready to help us. They assisted us in everything and really took care of making everything go smoothly. The accommodation on the islands is as spartan as you expect but the location of each hut alone is worth the trip. The wonder of nature was then added to the goodness of cuisine. It's really difficult to argue how you can cook all that goodness on a boat.If you are looking for an authentic experience, in contact with nature, off the beaten track, this company's private expedition is certainly for you.
Kate BrownKate Brown
00:22 27 Oct 23
What an unforgettable experience! We did a two night (3 day) island hopping tour from Sibaltan to Coron. Everything was so well organized and the boat crew were amazing and really made sure we had a great time. The accommodation was rustic, but added to the authentic experience of the Philippines. Karel always responded to any queries we had promptly. Our boatman, Albert, was the most amazing chef and we enjoyed every meal. The crew taught the kids how to fish with a line which was their highlight of the trip. They took us to the most unbelievable snorkelling spots along the way. Would highly recommend this trip.
Ian PascualIan Pascual
02:43 10 Aug 23
One of the most amazing, unforgettable things you can do in your life
Lou PrataliLou Pratali
11:04 25 Jul 23
This is a must to do!!Super ultimate tour is the best with Kayangan and barracuda lake, twin lagoons (my favorite), coral garden (blue fabulous coral) were the best. It’s really worth it to pay for private tour (3500 to 4000 PHP). You will also have to pay for entrance fees (150 to 200PHP by location) and eventually shopping at the market - must do (count 300 for 2 for fish, pork, fruits and vegetables, water).
16:11 07 Feb 23
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the stunning Bacuit Gulf.Based on the comments, I contacted Mel.Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization.The on-board staff were very friendly and very helpful.And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel.In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I cannot recommend Mel and his team highly enough.A big thank-you.
Alyse TarbottonAlyse Tarbotton
23:48 30 Aug 22
This tour went well above all our expectations! I couldn't recommend this enough! The boat crew, captain and tour guide were nothing but amazing, everyone was so kind, helpful and friendly. The crew knew the best spots to visit that weren't overcrowded with tourists, 3 times we were lucky enough to have whole islands to ourselves! It was my partner's birthday while away and everything went above and beyond, bonfire, cake, birthday card, singing and celebrating with us.If you love camping this is definitely a tout you should do, it has been the highlight of our trip!!
Danish KayaniDanish Kayani
10:24 31 Oct 19
Coron is the best place i have ever seen.. picturesque. Beautiful. Peaceful
We booked a 4 days/3 nights private boat trip from Coron to Sibaltan. The organization went very well from the beginning, the owner answered to all my questions, and we were able to choose which islands to visit and where to sleep. The first night we slept in a bungalow in Banana Island, the second we camped in Araw beach and the last we slept in a seafront bungalow builded on a tree in Pical on Iloc Island.The islands in that area are the most beautiful islands I have ever seen, with clear water, lots of coral reef and fishes to see, white sand and almost deserted. The crew was very friendly and polite and they organize every single meal and for camping they give you a tent which was just perfect! This was our highlight in our 2 weeks in the Philippines and I wish I had booked a longer trip. A private trip gives you the freedom to decide where and when to go.
Gérard Benoit
Gérard Benoit
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the beautiful bay of Bacuit. Seeing the comments, I contacted Mel. Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization. The crew were very friendly and very helpful. And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel. In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I can recommend Mel and his team highly enough. A big thank-you.
André Mardoñal
André Mardoñal
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ The island world of Linapacan between Coron and El Nido with the clearest waters in the world is truly a dream for itself! Without a boat you won't be able to see it! But what this boat trips makes so amazing is the crew! Once you come on board they might be shy in the beginning but will make you feel welcome and home from the first moment. Not only that they are looking that you sit comfortable all the time, they will prepare fresh and delicious food what the buy from local markets. They know the best spots and most beautiful islands and will bring you to places where you get this "Robinson Cruisoe feeling". Every day you visit 3 to 5 spots for snorkeling, enjoying a beach or exploring a little island. The accommodation we had was good and simple. We slept in bungalows and tents right at the beach. Sheets and towels were always provided and sometimes towels. After a while you feel like a family on board. We loved living the boat life didn't wanna leave! If you doubt take a longer than shorter trip! For any questions please message me.
Sarah Uhan
Sarah Uhan
All in all it was a really great experience. It's a once in a lifetime thing to do and you won't get more authentic and basic Philippino experiences anywhere else. We were not so lucky with the wind and waves so we couldn't do all the stops we wanted to unfortunately. So be aware that especially the months from January to May can be very rough on water. But we still saw some great places Benji took us. Benji and his family was very nice and they did everything they could. The food was amazing - always freshly made in authentic Philippino style and way too much for the 2 of us. Make sure to bring enough cash - many of the islands cost extra (entrance fee) and be aware that any kind of accommodation and food (200php per meal) is not included in the boat fee. Also the deposit and commission fee for the agency are a little over the top, especially since the crew does not get any of it. The costs all in all are rather high for phillipino circumstances especially given the basicness of it all. However if you think about that all 5 boat people (in our case) live off of the boat fee alone, you spent the money willingly. Be aware though that accommodation and sanataries are very basic if even existant. So you gotta have the right mindset. Bring tissue, sanatiszer and earplugs to get some better sleep. Another feedback I have concerning the size of the boat. I don't think it is sufficient for more than 4 people. If the weather is like it was these days, you always have to sit on top and it was already a little squeezy with us 2 and 5 boat people. So I guess 4 guests can be fine but more than that won't have the space. There is different boat sizes but make sure to talk about that with Karel in advance. Other than that it was really worth it and we got to see so many great beaches and reefs which we could have never been able to visit without the tour.
Eric Liu
Eric Liu
It was scary to book a 5 day trip with no places to stay confirmed or a strong itinerary. And in the Philippines, communication is difficult. But that is part of changing mindsets to a rural island mindset. In the end, everything worked out. We had some tough moments with bugs. But we also had some amazingly beautiful secluded beaches, the best snorkeling in the world, relaxing on the beach, and freshly made food on the boat while docked at beautiful places (better than being on land). Note, we went with Benji. Recommendations: - you must get a local SIM when you arrive to make sure pickup and everything works out - some islands have bugs - use bug spray! Pros: - a fraction of the cost - away from the crowds - can customize what you want - just ask! - a truly local experience - saw a REAL rural town Cons: - locals aren't really polished tour guides - if you don't ask for it, you won't get it, need to be pretty proactive - pretty simple "activities" - no frills like bathrooms or kayaks etc.
Ángela Deand
Ángela Deand
We can't be more grateful to have had the opportunity of experience the peace in Patoyo Kitesurfing Camping! Spending two weeks in Dimancal Island, gave us the chance to experiment the rural and traditional way of life, in touch with the nature and people. We have learnt how to cook with fire, how to open a coconut and how to survive in an environment where for a time we forget about unnecessary needs, just to focus on enjoy the small details and pleasures of life. Mentioning too the amazing snorkeling and beautiful islands around this place, which make it unique​ and special. It is a lovely option if you are running away from tourists and overcrowded places in the Philippines. You will find yourself in the middle of virgin beaches and nature, surrounding​ by charming people. We will definitely come back!
Caroline Danielle
Caroline Danielle
We haven't done a Tao tour, but I would suspect that this is a cheaper version of the same thing. Our boat operator (Benji) and the entire crew were were fun, friendly and made an effort to ensure we had a good time. If you get a large group of people together it can be a really inexpensive alternative to other Coron-El Nino and vice versa island hopping tours. The food was good, but more expensive than as advertised by Karl. The price quote we got was 100 php a meal, but the boat charged us 200. Since the food was good we didn't mind the extra expense, but it is important to keep in mind if you're on a budget. Definitely plan for some incidental spending. Our boat did have some mechanical issues and as a result we ended up being stuck in the same place for longer than we wanted to be. That being said, little could have been done about it and the trip was fun nonetheless.
Hauk Are Fjeld
Hauk Are Fjeld
If you believe that doing the touristic tours in El Nido and going to "The hidden beach" takes you off the beaten path, you are wrong. There are lots of beautiful places in Palawan, but few of these places are without any other tourists. If you want to spend some extra effort on getting away from the tourist places, and don't mind a little "primitive" living, Island Hopping in the Philippines is definitely something you should check out
Arnold Cabiguen
Arnold Cabiguen
The snorkeling in this area is phenomenal. Clearest waters in the world. I guess it's because there is relatively such lower tourist traffic through here, and the locals really protect the reefs!
Karel Kosman
Karel Kosman
Love it so much, just had to say it twice!

We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the country, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all.

Leave a Comment