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Home Forums General Discussion Help…Designing off grid home in Michigan UP

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    Systems are designed with maximum power usage and minimum winter solar, and number of days of clouds that can be expected. The Solar Living Sourcebook has the worksheets for system design. These maps can assist someone wanting to go off grid;

    Over 2/3 of the US is good for solar(yellow or red);

    and about 1/4 is good for wind power;

    Places where it is easy and places where it is hard to build with alternative energy and building materials;


    This is for growing your own food outside reference;

    this is from pafarms post on the future climate to consider in location;


    I second Dustoffer’s suggestion to get the Solar Living Source book, its one of the books I recommend on my article at titled “Green?”

    I have never built a selfsustaining, green, offgrid home. But I have studied a lot about it. Self-sustaining is a nice thought, something to strive for. Net zero energy is a nice thought too, what many don’t mention is the energy and carbon emissions(not that I care about carbon emissions too much, I’m not a greeny per say) in manufacturing associated with some of these homes.

    What you can do if you plan carefully however is to have a home that is far more energy efficient, cheaper to operate and maintain and somewhat self sufficient. The degree will probably depend on the individual and the situation.

    I think basement type situation is always good anywhere, even if the basement is not below grade and the earth is bermed around it. Even if the whole house is a basement with a roof on top of it.

    Radiant heat is a good idea but it is active and not passive and will consume some power and possibly have some maintenance issues and cost(true of all active systems). If you use passive solar right radiant heat won’t be necessary and I think would be a bit overkill.

    Your wood heating system can heat water and pump that hot water to a heat exchanger in the home where it will then heat air that is blown into the home through central heating ducts. My brother designed and built his own wood heating system just like this. You may also buy them. Some run on chord wood and others pellets. Coal might be an option as well if you can find a supplier. Its a super idea and I don’t even talk about that in my blog article on wood burning stoves ovens and fireplaces. There are other ideas in that article that you will want to review.

    You should use the sun to heat with in winter, direct heating of objects or mass and air with the sun is the best way to earn $$ from solar. This is part of the Passive Solar concepts and design as I explain in my article on the green.

    Heating water with solar is a great way to go, and i’d back it up with on demand gas tankless hot water heater.

    What you have just begun to think about I’ve spent several years thinking about. Any other questions? I might have answers.

    P.S. none of this comes without cost.


    Thank you thank you….finally I’m talking and getting advise from folks with knowledge and passion. Please please keep the thoughts coming. I am grateful. I am studying everything you give me!



    I need advise from people who know these things. My family and I are designing a home to live year round, off grid in Northern Michigan. We are thinking of a 1 story main house about 1400sf over a basement. An addition off it for family to come stay in when they come visit. And a pole barn. My first question is that I think I should start to design house around my heating system. I am thinking of a wood furnace and installing pex in the floor for heat. Separate zones to heat addition when people are there and another zone for small section of pole barn, Wood furnace also provide hot water in winter. Thinking of solar heat for water in summer. Thats my thought. I have read on a couple of websites that said that just a wood stove may be enough and that a wood furnace may be overkill and that the electrical usage for the wood furnace pumps running water to pex may just be to much energy usage for solar panels and/or wind gen. Talk to me my friends. Steer me the right way. Thank you


    Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to experiment with both radiant wall and floor heat and geothermal. I’m not convinced right now that active systems like that are worth it yet. One thing I would like to study sometime is pumps and compressors. There are quit a few different types and designs. It would make another great article to add to my blog.

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