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Computers for Off-Grid Use

Where electric supply is problematic, the computer itself becomes a key consideration . In many rural locations, computers must be powered by solar panels, which may cost up to several times as much as the common desktop computer they supply. Even where the grid is present, there is often erratic (or no) daytime service, so batteries, chargers, and inverters must be installed, also multiplying the real cost of electricity. Most rural projects have used laptop computers, but these have proved very difficult and expensive to maintain in a rural environment.

At this time, the best available solution we have found is to use a small, low-power, commercially available desktop computer, the VIA ITX (and clones like Jetway). A 1gHz ITX consumes 25 watts, and a flat-panel display an additional 25 watts. This is only a little more than the typical laptop. Since it is a generic desktop PC, the ITX runs Windows and Linux, uses common peripherals, and is easily repaired. Skills learned on the ITX transfer directly to the common PC.


ITX computer






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