Self-Sustaining Technology

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With my aim to make this a self-sufficient eco resort, I dedicate this page to the various methodologies I researched and implemented. Above all, how to provide cold beers to our customers!


That was first and foremost, requiring it for my online job and for web marketing, but also the easiest to implement, having already lived in a truck for five years while traveling around Europe.

solar-panelFirst the solar panel – 100W, which proved enough for my laptop, smartphone, a few LED lights and my minimal needs. Even with many guests charging their small devices or laptops over the day, as long as the sun is strong. Over night I use the battery, reserving that for myself. If I retire for the evening to watch a movie and drain my laptop battery by morning, I can squeeze some more juice out of the solar system battery to charge my computer. But once that is fully charged and the sun is in full force on the panel, I can charge the drained laptop batteries of my guests, since such recharges suck the most energy, especially if the batteries have been fully drained. The panel sells for $70 at CD-R King in Puerto Princesa with a 6 year warrantee, or a German model is available in a solar specialty shop for $220 with a ten year warrantee. But considering that I once forgot to take the panel off the beach before retiring, the high tide waves ripped it loose from the system and took me three hours the next morning to find it buried under a foot of sand since it was dragged down to low tide about 15m away, I am happy with the resilient quality of the cheaper Filipino model.

solar-electrical-system-batteryFor the battery I decided on a deep cycle, about 250AmH (the big ones used to start the big transport trucks), $155 from Motolite. Deep cycle is better because you can more quickly kill a regular car battery if draining it below 12V. The deep cycle option is more expensive, but should last longer to make it worthwhile, and is safer to drain more. Use the styrofoam packaging that comes with it to raise the battery up in order to insulate it from the ground, as any wires laying on the ground can cause parasitic drain and make your system less efficient.

Between these two you need a regulator, otherwise known as a solar controller. Its job is to decide how the energy flows. For $80 I got one at CD-R King which has a capacity for five more panels, if I ever want to expand. It has a nifty display which shows how many amperes (power) the sun is providing and how many amperes the various devices and appliances are drawing. For example, if at 9am I am charging a still half depleted laptop, it might draw 3amps while the sun provides 4. But if I plug in a guest’s fully depleted laptop, the consumption jumps to 7amps, meaning that 4 is only provided by the sun and 3 needs to be pulled from the battery. This further drains my battery and reduces its longevity, so I kindly ask my guest to wait an hour and a half until my computer has fully charged and the sun is out in full force. Then I might get 6 amps total and only draw 5 amps, meaning that 1 amp is left over to start charging up the big battery. No worries though, customers can be very forgiving, if they understand and appreciate your self-sustained living!


For lighting, I mostly use 12V energy saving bulbs, sometimes LED (although those little lamps tend to die faster in the salty air). Just make sure you are always very careful how you connect the polarities. You are dealing with a direct current system, not alternating current like with a regular wall socket. If you do not hook up the negatives and positives correctly, you will surely fry something.

For this you can use regular speaker cable, but the stronger the insulation the lesser the potential drain. You can separate the negative and positive wires to help prevent potential drain, but make sure you have a thick enough cable for the solar panel, especially if the cable is lying on the ground.

breaker-switchHook it up with light switches and you are ready to go. There should be a suitable (explain your 12V system to the hardware store) breaker switch at one of the leads of the battery, in case there is a system short, or if you want to completely shut it down, such as when you are away for a longer time or it is raining heavily.

Read the regulator instructions to help you connect it all, as there is an important order (battery first, then solar, then devices). The regulator draws on either the panel, the battery, or some combination of each to produce 12V, which you use for your system.

inverterTypically, you connect this 12V output to an inverter, either 110 (US) or 220 (Europe) volts. Check the adaptor of any device you plan to plug into the inverter, as most can handle either 110 or 220, but some only one of the two. The wrong voltage will fry your adaptor! Plug in one or two extension cords into your inverter and, voila, you have a full blown electrical system.

But going from the solar system’s 12V to 110 or 220V and back down to 16V (common for laptops) or 5V for common USB devices like smartphones and tablets, results in a roughly 30% loss of energy. For this reason it is better to keep as much as possible in 12V, like the lighting mentioned above, or use adaptors from 12V to 5V, for example. 12v-adaptorYou can easily find these online for cigarette lighters. Make sure to also get cigarette lighter splitters, so you can plug in many adaptors. You can snip the wire of the splitter to connect it directly to the 12V output.

You can also use something like a wire connector to make it easy to connect other 12V wires, such as for lighting, to your system. Simply use a good, hard wire to interconnect all the connection points on one side of the connector, using the empty slots on the other side to connect other parts of your 12V system.


cigarette lighter splitter


wire connectors

Note:  inverters are rated in watts. Watts = Volts x Amperes. Look at the output of your adaptor. For example, the typical power consumption of a laptop (which equates to the power output of the adaptor) is 16V at 1.5 Amps. 16×1.5= 24W. So a weak inverter of 300W should be typically sufficient for all your needs. Note also that, in salty air close to the beach, the inverters often break down first, so best to have at least one backup.

Note:  the above 12 to 5V adaptor shows 3.1Amps for the iPhone or iPod, but this can be used for any device that can be plugged into a usb socket (5V – same power as that coming out of the USB socket on your computer or laptop). Amperes is just the speed of flow of electrons and more amperes will simply charge your device faster and not damage your battery life like some websites claim (I read many websites on this matter).

Drinking Water

We get water carted in from a natural water well of another island, since our own well is not suitable for drinking water. But bringing in water in this depends on when guests come or go, the gasoline consumption for the boat does not make it very environmental, and it is nice not to be dependent like that in general. I have noticed a lot of dew in the morning, rendering useless any matchboxes left outside over the evening, and often causing shorts and complications with electrical devices such as smartphones. Therefore…

waterconeI found a wealth of information on dew and fog catchers, a brief report below, and will update this page once I make my own attempt.

A watercone, which enables anyone, in a most simple fashion, an independent, cheap and mobile solar Potable Water generation from sea or brackish water on the basis of condensation by solar still.

This site shows many other options:


Knapen’s Airwell mimicking an ancient system which you can make from natural materials:


(AWG) Atmospheric Water Generator using solar energy:


This Dew-Harvesting Greenhouse waters itself—and makes clean drinking water:


Simple dew traps in the ground:


Once collected, it may be good to sterilize the water with UV for optimum results, lifestraw being another option.


Now to the ever most important task of producing cold beers! Preserving fresh fish bought from the locals is another appealing option. One German physician passing through put a big, thick black sock over his beer, soaked it in fresh water and let it sit in the sun for about a half an hour before he popped it open. He claimed it reduced the temperature by around 10C (the local temperature was about 30C or 85F).

After reading many websites, some of which have been mentioned below, I think my easiest option is to get a wind turbine for $400 and a 12V -13C freezer for $600. With that I can produce ice over the evening and throw that into any number of cooler boxes during the day. The wind turbine has a capacity of 1,700W, 17 times the strength of my solar panel, but almost double the capacity of my regulator. This would require either getting a stronger or second regulator, or weaker turbine, but regulators are not that expensive and the higher output is always an appealing option. It does though entail a dependence on wind, not so bad at our kitesurfing camp, or a bit of energy during a sunny day (unless I buy more panels), but a good block of ice can last a few days in a cooler, so all is not lost.

An ancient system using a smaller clay pot inside a larger one, with soil in between. Water the soil and put a damp cloth over top of the opening. As the water evaporates, it cools the interior. refrigerator-in-clay-potsAlternatively, the clay (or possibly other material) pot can be buried in the sand and that watered with the same results.

An ancient device to be certain, with different variations, but this Nigerian managed to convince Rolex watches he was the inventor and scooped up $100,000 in prize money. Good for him!

Then there is the ISAAC Solar Icemaker which operates in two modes. During the day, solar energy is used to generate liquid ammonia refrigerant. During the night, the generator is cooled by a thermosyphon and ice is formed in the evaporator compartment as ammonia is reabsorbed to the generator.

The ISAAC Solar Icemaker is an Intermittent Solar Ammonia-water Absorption Cycle. The ISAAC uses a parabolic trough solar collector and a compact and efficient design to produce ice with no fuel or electrical input, and with no moving parts.


This site explains the three types of solar ice makers, where this one has a lot of useful comments.

This eco site explains how to set up a solar adsorption-desorption refrigerator:


Download the PDF instructions for this solar thermal icemaker:


Development of a simple intermittent absorption solar refrigeration system:


Whew, after all that, think it’s time for a cold brewskie!

Vegetable Garden

Because of the corals here in these clearest waters in the world, there is ample fish, as well as fishermen. From them we can also buy their freely roaming roosters and chicken. Makes the place more quiet in the morning as well. But vegetables are not so easy to get, not being a big part of the local culture.

We manage to get more exotic stuff brought in from the larger towns via our arriving guests, but eventually we’d like to start our own garden. Some guests explained that the beach sand, sprinkled with broken grains of seashells over the years, is full of nutrients and can be mixed with the clay at the back of the property and the compost we have begun to build.

Some fascinating reading is permaculture by Jim Mollison. He discovered it some thirty years ago when he was traveling through Kashmir in northern India. Because of the extreme remote nature of this region, the locals have devised a system over thousands of years whereby they combine plants to maximise yields. Instead of the traditional farming approach of turning the soil over every year and planting in rows, permaculture organises certain plants that work well together, building a three-dimensional, forest-like structure yielding at least four times more crops than does traditional farming. Over the years an eco system is built up, with highways for worms in between the roots, and where tilling is no longer required. Jim has traveled extensively around the world and devised different methods for the various climates and conditions. Looking forward to implementing some of his ideas here.



Back to progress of our development.

Home » Palawan » v » Self-Sustaining Technology

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.

0 thoughts on “Self-Sustaining Technology”

  1. I think it’s really neat how many self-sustaining technologies are available to us now days. I find the atmospheric water generators you pointed out to be really interesting. They actually draw water from the humidity in the air, which I imagine is very effective in the Philippines.


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