How to build a low-tech, self-hosted, solar-powered website?

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Low-tech Magazine questions the belief in technological progress and highlights the potential of past knowledge and technologies when it comes to designing a sustainable society. Because a web redesign was long overdue, and because we try to practice what we preach, we are building a low-tech website that meets our principles.

The Internet promised to “dematerialise” society and decrease our use of energy resources, but it has itself become a large and rapidly growing consumer of energy. Our new web design addresses these issues.

To reduce energy use, we opted for a return to the basics of web design, using a static site instead of a database driven content management system. We further apply default typefaces, dithered images, off-line reading options, and other tricks to lower energy use far below that of the average website. In addition, the low resource requirements and open design help to keep the blog accessible for visitors with old computers and/or unreliable Internet connections.

Because it uses so little energy, this website can be run on a mini-computer which requires between 1 and 2.5 watts of power. The electricity is supplied by an off-the-grid solar PV system located at the balcony of the author’s home office. As in most other off-the-grid renewable power systems, energy storage is limited. This means that the website will go off-line during longer periods of cloudy weather.

The solar powered server is a work-in-progress that is documented on the About-page.

The solar powered server is a project by Kris De Decker, Roel Roscam Abbing and Marie Otsuka.

solar powered server


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