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October 11, 2010 at 12:00 am in reply to: new to off the grid…living in camper…water options #64762
Collecting rain water is a great way to get your water, you can get a black poly (plastic) water tank, no worries about green water with those… you can physically filter your drinking and cooking water with a Berkey Light water filter, it needs no power or water pressure and the cartridges are scrubbable. It’s gravity fed, can sit on your counter top and works great, it’s what we use.
The plastic tanks come in many sizes and configurations so you are sure to find one to fit your needs and space, you can even get one that fits in the back of a pickup truck, just make sure your pickup is sturdy enough to carry the weight when full.
You can add chlorine (plain bleach, not scented, Clorox is best) to your tank to keep it clean, you can also use food grade hydrogen peroxide, it works great and is not toxic to anyone as long as it is property diluted.
After I went through the computer and internet withdrawal, I believe I could live just fine without electricity and electrical appliances. We live closer to that reality than most other people, and we are perfectly happy.
Consider the source, remove everything past the .com and you will see they ARE the electric company! Of course they don’t want anyone to go to solar or wind generated power. I really dislike the ROI (return on investment) argument against going off grid, most people aren’t doing this for the ROI, they are doing it to become independent, and it is quite possible, with a bit of “outside the box” thinking to do it on the cheap.
WrethaDecember 17, 2009 at 12:00 am in reply to: Young Couple to move off-grid for first time.. Any Advice? #64385
My hubby and I have lived 100% off grid since Dec 07. We live on a mountain side, in the high desert of far west Texas. We have madrones and oaks as well as lots of junipers, several pine varieties and various other trees, I wonder if we live in the same area, email me privately about that(wretha(at)gmail.com).
The first thing that could be considered an issue was the fact that we brought way too much stuff, we gave away or threw away so much stuff before we moved out here, but there are still things I find to this day that I wonder what I was thinking when I carefully packed these things up and brought them out. Think carefully about what you are going to need and what you can live without.
The other thing that was and still is an issue for us is water, living in a desert climate, water is always on our mind. We have access to water out here, but you have to go get it, that means having a way to haul large quantities of water, a truck that can handle the load (or pulling a trailer with the water), having storage for the water, this includes being able to capture and store the water from the roof. We use a Berkey Water Purifier for our drinking and cooking water. This is good, it uses gravity, no electricity, it’s easy to clean, the filters can be cleaned and reused over and over. You dump the water in the top, the water trickles down through the filters and you get the cleaned water out the bottom. It’s worth the money spent. We use a 12 volt water pump, the type you find in an RV to pump the water from the outside tank to the sink inside. We also use a tankless, on demand propane fired water heater, that was another good investment for us.
Make sure you have GOOD clothes and footwear. This is especially true for winter. You said that you have lots of wood to burn, but if you can keep yourself warmer by clothing instead of burning all of your wood to keep your place warm, you are one step ahead. We only do wood fires on occasions, only when the temps are going to drop well below freezing. I don’t know what your temps are like, but for us in the desert, it gets cold at night, generally once the sun comes up, the temps warm up too. Having good insulation for your house helps tremendously. We use thick quilted coveralls to keep us warm, thermal underwear, silk long underwear, wool socks (usually paired with cotton socks), layer layer layer, get some good boots and make them a full size larger than you normally wear, that way you can wear extra socks and thicker socks, it really makes a difference.
A south facing slope is good for thermal heating and solar power. If you can you should consider getting a small solar panel set and a good, deep cycle battery or two, just enough to get you started. If money is real tight, you can go with a Harbor Freight set, either get the 45 watt kit OR just get the solar panels alone. If you go with the single panel (not the kit), you will need a charge controller, this keeps your batteries from getting overcharged. All of this is not necessary, but it sure makes life better if you can use a laptop, radio, lights and such.
Stock up on food if you can, I don’t know what your working situation will be after you move, if you have access to a Sam’s or Costco, buy up rice and beans, seasonings, flour, sugar, salt, oatmeal, get things you like and will eat. Hit dollar stores and stock up on food from there too, canned chicken, tuna, salmon, hams… again get things you like and will eat. I love making my own flour tortillas, it’s cheap, the mixes in the store work great, just add water, mix, roll out and cook in a hot skillet, I have even cooked them directly on my wood stove. We eat a lot of dehydrated refried beans, that is easy to store, quick to fix and goes good with the tortillas.
I don’t know how many neighbors you will have, we have a few but not very close. Get to know and network with your neighbors. Find out the local hangout for the locals and go there, go to church, volunteer. We have done this, we let our friends and neighbors know that we want anything potentially useful they might be throwing away, things like old metal water tanks, building materials from buildings they are tearing down, offer to help and haul off the good stuff for yourself. One neighbor was replacing all the windows in their house for double panes, we got all of their old windows. Of course we are still building on our place so stuff like this comes in handy for us. Offer to help people with anything they might need, be an extra hand, the favor will be returned.
Barter barter barter, figure out what skills you and your mate have to offer and trade out services or goods for the things you need.
Another thing I suggest is that you document your progress, start a blog, write in a diary, do something like that. I am amazed when I look back at my blog, the early days and see just how far we have come. It has also turned into a little money for us, I didn’t start it out to be anything like this, it was originally for my family and friends we were leaving behind (some 500 miles away), it was so that they could see and read about our daily adventures. Within a few months, I was getting lots of hits from strangers (many of whom are now part of my cyber family), I was not promoting my site at all. It turns out that people like reading about other people living off grid. Other off grid and survival sites started linking to me. I put Google ads on my blog and a few other advertisers and now I make enough to be able to pay for my internet connection and a few other things. You will not get rich, but when you have few bills, every little bit helps.
Hope this helps, there are lots of other things, but without knowing your particular situation, location and such, it’s difficult to give more specifics.
I’m no expert, so don’t take my word for it, but I believe that the thickness has less to do with this, but if the glass has a UV coating on it, that might have an effect on things though. I would say to set up a small scale version of what you want to do, use one sheet of glass, build a frame, set it up where the sun can directly hit it, measure the temps inside and outside the unit. That’s probably the best way to see how it will work for you.
Let us know how it works.
This is great LaMar, I’ll be writing about this soon!
I would say that it depends on what you want to do, are you trying to power your whole house? Do you have a house already or are you going to build one? How much money do you have to spend on this? How much time do you have to devote to this? How much do you know about electrical wiring and such?
The more you can do yourself, the less expensive it will be. What I would suggest you do is try to find someone local that is doing this and visit their place, see what they are doing, try to find more than one, that way you can get an idea of what different people do with different systems. Don’t let someone “sell you a system” until you do your homework. We cobbled our system together, a few pieces at a time and it works for us, our system is small, very small, along the lines of what LaMar is doing, that makes it much less expensive, plus the fact that we did everything ourselves.
Maybe you could start out really small, power one room, get some experience and build from there.
I use the EccoTemp LPG L5, I can’t speak about the other one, I can say that I am very happy with my EccoTemp LPG L5. The only thing I didn’t like about it is the hand held shower nozzle, it leaks at the connector, and the on-off switch is very difficult to use, if your hands are wet or soapy, forget it, it’s nearly impossible to function.
The temperature of the water that comes out is very defendant on the temp of the water going in, so in the summer, we turn the heat down and in the winter, we turn it up. I also set the temp to be the hottest I would like it all by itself, I don’t try to turn on the hot and the cold water to blend them, if you do that, while you are adjusting the water temps, you are wasting water and gas, so set it to the temp you want when using only the hot water.
After reading about the other water heater, I would say this looks like it may be a better water heater, it requires no batteries or electric hookup, and it doesn’t need to be vented, it does cost more though, I would say that if you can afford it, get this one, if money is very tight, then get the one I have, it works and it works good.
I just watched the video for ExcelAmerica 1.6 gpm tankless gas water heater NG VentFree 10001P1, even though they say they don’t use batteries, it clearly shows a battery compartment with batteries in the unit, here is where I found this:
If this unit does require a battery, then the only better thing about it is the fact that is is ventless. You will have to decide if that is worth the extra $$$ or not.November 12, 2008 at 12:00 am in reply to: #64164
In your on grid as well as your off grid homes, you have to watch for phantom loads, assume that everything that is plugged in is drawing power whether or not it is turned on, including the power strips, I use lots of power strips in my off grid home, each one has an on and off switch so I can turn them off, therefore cutting all power from anything that may be plugged into the strip, BUT the strip itself had a tiny little light inside the switch, so even if nothing is plugged in, if the power strip is turned on, IT is consuming power.
Also be aware of any wall wart, those big, clunky transformers that usually take up 2 spaces on your power strip, even if you aren’t using the item that it is plugged to, the wall wart itself can be drawing power, feel them when you aren’t using it but while it is plugged in, is it warm? That means it’s consuming power. Every little bit helps.
My hubby and I are living off grid, this December will be one year. We started off small and inexpensively, the biggest cost was the land, and that was not too bad. We did everything ourselves, from building our cabin to hauling our water. We gave up our “traditional” 9-5 jobs, but we still work, everyday on our property, life is good!
I assume you are using solar panels, how about leaving them hooked up and leaving a couple of CFLs on all the time to help work the batteries? Maybe you could get some 12V lights (CFLs) so you do not have to use the inverter, just make sure you have a GOOD charge controller, I use 12 volt deep cycle batteries, I don’t know how you have your 6 volt batteries wired (12 volt, 24 volt???).
Is your neighbor out there is able to check on them on a regular basis, maybe once a month or so? I don’t know if it would be any more risky than unhooking your batteries and letting them sit. I’m not saying this IS the answer, you should consult with someone who KNOWS for sure about this sort of thing, this is just a suggestion, I live full time off grid, so we don’t have to worry about being gone for long periods of time. Good luck!
I think your other option would be to take your battery bank with you when you leave and keep a float charge on them, then take them with you when you return.
As far as things corroding, there are products that you can spray or wipe on the exposed terminals and such to keep the corrosion down to a minimum, even petroleum jelly would work in a pinch. You just need to keep the moisture and air away from the parts that can corrode.
read about my adventures living 100% off grid