C++ programming pioneer hacks off-grid, DIY, smart home

On an off-grid property in Philo, California (Mendocino County), Loren Amelang built 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”.

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.

Since he built most of the home himself (the person he hired to do it decades ago, spent all the money and built half the house), Amelang has made it very custom. He avoided using aluminum and plastic (except for the insulation on the wiring) and he wired it for pure DC lighting (which makes sense with solar, but Amelang also likes how “peaceful” DC lighting feels).

Loren answers viewers’ questions in more depth:

Original story here:


40 thoughts on “C++ programming pioneer hacks off-grid, DIY, smart home”

  1. the guy is very smart and very handy i look up to him in that he lived his life with his own creations. hes a bit too much of a eco friendly guy for my liking and i would have done things in a different way for somethings but truly good work on his part. i wish the world was full of more people as capable and as motivated as him

  2. @1776bobsmith- Gr8 video thanks, and admirable and a dream come true, but if u r worried about AC electromagnetic pollution and fluorescent flicker light , u seem to then offset all these precautions with your wifi and cell phone running shf spectrum with more heating density absorption , kindly clarify ?

    The decision was made personally and empirically – I see flicker and hear the inverter humming, but I don't feel a thing from Wi-Fi or cellular, or from the Bluetooth access that is always also live. My suspicion is that CDMA and other modern modulation systems are so close to random RF noise they don't affect me. (If there was any obvious pattern to the signal there would be bandwidth being wasted.) A GSM or TDMA phone, on the other hand, is blatantly obvious even to the $50 "bug detector" boxes.

  3. Several comments ask about sewage. Utterly conventional, septic tank and leach field. You have to pick your battles, especially with Planning and Building, and I just didn't care enough to fight that one. I did separate greywater for awhile, but when fresh water is plentiful and free, the ongoing hassle of maintaining a greywater system seemed an inefficient use of my time.

  4. Looks awesome but there doesn't seem to be enough fresh air venting. Notice all of the dust particles inside his house floating.

  5. very cool ,I'm going to build a similar home someday when i wanna get off the road. Im a trucker and live in my truck but trying to retire and a home like this is amazing.

  6. anyone know the permits that are required to build a house in california. Me and my husband want to build and we know California is known for permits but I'm having a hard time finding them

  7. excellent video. this guy could teach us all a thing or two. I have just purchased land to start a homestead. I hope i can understand the solar power system and use it in my new log cabin. 

  8. This is amazing i love it, best part is dc light an not needing anything from community but how does it work with the toilet and can this system support a whole family?

  9. All he needs is wind power to go with his solar panels. He could have a Wind Turbine in each corner of his house.

  10. This lifestyle makes more sense than a so-called, "traditional" lifestyle. So much so, that, numerous states have criminalized off-the-grid living. They want us to be utterly dependent on corporate infrastructure.

  11. I'm so amazed at the automated system! Beginning of the video looks like a traditional house, then he started picking at the computer codes~~~

  12. I consider myself a "normal" person, and I just love that house and all those inventions. I think I'm going to build such tubes to drag hot air down.

  13. Yet another portrait of a wonderfull person with insight's on several levels.
    Thanks a lot, lady documentary world meister!

  14. Honey, I adore what you've done to that house and would love one for myself. Unfortunately, our society as it stands rejects efficiency and long proven techniques in favor of greed.

  15. C++ programmer!  Back in the day I did programming in C++.  Obviously he is intelligent and thoughtful.  Could not be otherwise!!

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