Renewable Energy for Everyone

Off-grid Systems for Remote Locations -- Smithers, BC Canada July 2014

July, 2014
Exact dates TBD
Smithers, British Columbia, Canada
Cost: CAD$5000

This is NOT the usual renewable energy training seminar!

If you are considering moving off the grid, or if you want to expand your electrical contracting or grid-tied solar business to include off-grid solar, wind and hydro power systems, this could be a dream workshop for you to attend! There is no other off-grid workshop like this offered anywhere in the world that we know of. It will give you crucial hands-on experience in renewable energy work for remote villages in developing countries, disaster aid, remote fishing and hunting lodges, repeater stations, off-shore oil platforms, and more. But even if your off-grid plans simply include a residence far from the nearest city, you can learn from the ground up from folks who have been there and done that...for decades now, and still counting.

When transport costs can exceed power system component costs in remote areas, the entire renewable enegy system design and installation process changes dramatically, and that is a big topic during this seminar. However, all off-grid basics are covered in depth. Your questions and system design concerns are as much a part of this workshop curriculum as what we have planned. It costs over US$25 per gallon to bring gasoline for generators to this remote location by float plane and helicopter. Winter survival of these systems (cold temperatures, snowpack, wildlife damage) is also a critical part of their design. You will be part of the solution to these problems.

This program is not for everyone. The cost is CAD$5000 from Smithers, British Columbia, and class size is limited to 2 students. A large portion of this cost is for chartering a float plane to get you into and out of this remote river basin--the nearest road and power line are 75 miles away, and your flight from Smithers is 135 miles each way. This is truly pristine wilderness. There also happens to be an exclusive destination fly-fishing lodge located here, the Damdochax River Lodge, and they are installing small renewable energy systems at two locations this year. You will be involved from the ground up (with very dirty hands) in designing, installing and monitoring both of these systems, with ample classroom time to cover every aspect of off-grid renewable energy. Because of the remote setting and low number of students, you will have the opportunity to be one-on-one with the instructor answering your questions for your entire 6 days in the wilderness.

You will need to be in decent (but by no means excellent) physical condition for this seminar, as access to the more remote system location is by foot only (4 miles). Balance of system components, PV modules, batteries, wire, and other heavy items will be moved to the site via helicopter sling load before your arrival, but you will need to carry your own (fairly heavy) backpack with sleeping bag, warm clothing, bad weather gear, electrical tools, camera, fly fishing gear, and so on. We will not have regular helicopter service during your stay, and a helicopter beer run (for forgotten gear, tools or electrical supplies) costs over $500 plus beer. You will carry bear spray (provided) on your belt 24/7, as this area is a seasonal grizzly bear migration corridor. Black bears, wolves and moose are also very common, but your safety is our top priority. Again -- this is not your usual renewable energy seminar.

Education AND incredible scenery go together well. Fishing, too.

Workshop Information



If you have experience in residential electrical wiring or renewable energy (either grid-tied or off-grid), so much the better. If not, you will learn it all in the classroom and on the jobsites.

Price: CAD$5000. 50% deposit required to confirm. Remaining 50% is due 30 days prior to trip start date, and deposit is non-refundable.

What's included:

Private vehicle transport within Smithers, including the airport, your hotel, and the float plane base. Private float plane charter transport from Smithers, BC, to and from the main jobsite. All lodging and three gourmet homecooked meals a day when on the jobsite. Classroom time and hands-on experience. Classroom course curriculum materials. Re-booking of your commercial airline flights back home from Smithers if bad weather forces a delay in your flight out of the jobsite. Wireless internet and phone service from the Lake Lodge.

What's NOT included:

Your travel to and from Smithers, BC, and your hotel and food costs the night before and the night after your float plane trips to and from the jobsite. Personal toiletries. Alcoholic beverages (bring your own). Fishing licenses and tackle if you plan to fish in your off time. Fishing licenses can be purchased by the day from the lodge. Note that fishing here is flyfishing only, single barbless hook, catch and release only. Also note that it is some of the best flyfishing for trout on Earth due to the remote location and low angler pressure!

Upon registration, you will receive detailed information regarding air transportation, hotels in Smithers, and items you will be required to bring with you. Ask us in advance if you have ANY questions, we are happy to help.

Classroom Topics:

  • Solar, wind, and hydro site assessment
    • hands on solar pathfinder practice
    • hands on wind and hydro assessment practice
    • site assessment computer software
  • System sizing
  • Off-grid System Basics
    • Loads
      • DC
      • AC
      • Intermittant
    • Input
      • Solar Electric
      • Wind
      • Hydro
      • Solar Hot Water
    • Power conversion
      • DC systems
      • AC systems
    • Storage
        Battery banks
    • Off-grid and Remote System Design
      • Off grid vs remote
      • System winter survival
      • Wildlife mitigation
      • Transport considerations
      • Other options for remote areas

    Instructor biography:

    Dan Fink has lived 11 miles off the grid since 1991. After eight years in the field designing and installing PV, wind and hydro power systems, he started into renewable energy education, consulting and journalism in 2000. Dan is co-author of the book "Homebrew Wind Power," and is a contributing author for such magazines as Home Power, Back Home, Lighting Today, The Energy Self Sufficiency Newsletter, and more. He is an "Ask the Experts" columnist for Home Power Magazine, and staff writer for and . He is an instructor and lecturer for renewable energy seminars and workshops around the US and world, including for the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Association, and The Evergreen Institute.


    For information regarding the renewable energy aspects of this seminar and the curriculum, contact instructor Dan Fink directly at:


    Phone: (970) 672-4342

    For information regarding how to sign up, travel, accomodations, flyfishing, and special dietary needs during your stay, contact lodge manager Hannah Belford directly at: