C++ programming pioneer hacks off-grid, DIY, smart homeApril 12, 2012
When Loren Amelang bought land outside of Philo, California in 1973, it was a place to “live like hippies on the weekend”. Years later, his Silicon Valley employer put in florescent lighting and wouldn’t let employees bring in their own lights so Amelang decided to move full-time to his off-grid property and to create a space where he would have total control over his environment.
At first he lived in a tiny cabin he had built in the old sheep barn, but deciding he needed more room for his solar panels, he began building a home that would help him generate “free hot water, free power and a decent chunk of free heat”.
The entire south side of his home is covered in solar capture devices: 1600 watts of photovoltaic power, solar hot water panels, a sunroom/greenhouse and a solar hot air collector.
“The sunroom/greenhouse provides most of the free heat,” explains Amelang, “the ‘solar flue’ moderates it in warmer weather or circulates some of it into the house when needed, and the concrete walls stabilize the temperature over time”.
Putting his technical skills to use (he’s a pioneer in C++ programming), Amelang wrote over 10,000 lines of code so that his home’s water and electric systems could be operated more efficiently and automatically. An added benefit is the ability to control everything remotely, by even just a smartphone.
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