Widespread Off Grid Dwelling Misconceptions


It’s been a full 12 months since I moved out of my house and into my tiny home, with that got here the shift to dwelling off grid.  Lots of you will have learn my tiny home photo voltaic posts which talks about all of the nitty gritty particulars of my photo voltaic panel system, if not, test it out as a result of I’ve gotten a whole lot of good suggestions on it.  Now that I’ve carried out this for some time it’s grow to be very clear what I obtained incorrect and what others non-off-griders (grid muggles?) about off grid dwelling.  I can now spot a grid muggle a mile away once they begin speaking about dwelling off the grid.  Listed below are a number of the misconceptions you find out about while you go off grid.

Harbor Freight photo voltaic kits is all I would like!

I hear this on a regular basis from people, “I’m going to get a type of Harbor Freight photo voltaic kits to energy my home”.  These kits are nice, when you solely want 45 watts, which actually is simply good for altering a laptop computer (30 watts) and mobile phone (5 watts), possibly some energy drill batteries; all of this stuff are insanely decrease energy consumption.  If you might want to run way more, these system will depart you very disillusioned, chilly, hungry, and at the hours of darkness.

Garments washing is simple… proper?

Time and time once more folks geek out over numerous contraptions for laundry your garments.  I’ve seen all of them, the plunger wanting issues, fancy peddle powered spinning ball gyros, and  hand crank counter high tumblers.  The reality is hand washing garments isn’t terribly troublesome; certain a standard washer is less complicated, however barring that, I’ve discovered a bathtub or massive sink actually works nice.  You may at all times spot the individuals who’ve by no means truly carried out it as a result of they discuss washing garments whereas true off gridders discuss drying garments.

Drying garments in an off grid setting in a tiny home is a royal ache.  It’s high-quality if the climate is sweet out, but when it’s actually humid, or freezing chilly, or worse, raining, you possibly can overlook about having dry garments.  What it actually means is for about half the 12 months you get dry garments, the remainder of the 12 months you’ll have largely dry garments that you simply’ll hand over and placed on as a result of every thing remains to be damp and you might want to depart the home.

Drying racks are nice if in case you have only a few issues to dry as a result of you possibly can rig one thing in your bathe.  However while you’re speaking a couple of full load, it means you need to setup your drying rack inside your tiny home, which takes up most of your dwelling house, then you might want to let it dry in a day or two.  This sometimes interprets into perpetually having your drying rack out, which makes the tiny home a lot much less livable.

The perfect choice can be to have a small outbuilding the place you would setup a garments line and have a wooden range within the nook.  You could possibly additionally do what I do, head to a laundry mat or pay a laundry service.  After doing laundry by hand for three months whereas dwelling in Croatia, I’ve since transitioned to doing my laundry in a standard washer and dryer.  Right here in Charlotte I can have my laundry washed, dried and folded for $2.50 a lb, which as somebody who loathes folding garments, is so value it.

Roof high mounted photo voltaic panels

The bizarre factor about photo voltaic is mounting on the panels on the roof is one the worst locations you would put them.  By their nature roofs are scorching, which warmth decreases the effectivity of photo voltaic panels.  They’re excessive up, so they’re exhausting to get to with a purpose to keep, brush off snow and clear grime that builds up over time. Lastly, on a tiny home the house you need to cope with could be very small, as a result of tiny homes have tiny roofs.

In case you’re going to be touring so much together with your tiny home, roof high could be very sensible, however you’re going to be exhausting pressed to do any kind of heating or cooling with that few panels.  The most suitable choice is floor mount when you can swing it.  You may entry it simply to wash off snow and dirt, you possibly can simply examine it and make things better for upkeep.

Not having backups… for every thing

When you find yourself your personal energy supply, there is no such thing as a energy firm to name when issues go incorrect.  Usually that’s a superb factor since you typically end up at their mercy and when you’re in a distant location, on the backside of the precedence checklist.

It additionally signifies that if one thing goes incorrect, say the morning you will have an necessary assembly to get to, you continue to have to make breakfast, take a bathe, and do what you might want to do.  To this finish I’ve backups for every of my primary techniques:

Pondering you possibly can stay off grid with no propane

I hate the truth that I would like to make use of propane, however its an absolute necessity.  In fact if in case you have $50,000 to spend in your photo voltaic system, you wouldn’t want propane, however most people don’t.  Even my system, which is round $20,000, couldn’t come near powering a scorching water heater or range/oven.  The one exception to this is perhaps if in case you have a very good hydro energy turbine, then possibly, however that’s depending on you having flowing water and a big drop, very troublesome to search out when shopping for land.

The one factor with all of that is how appreciative and grateful I’ve grow to be for fossil fuels, they’re a real miracle.  They don’t come with out their penalties, however the truth that I will pay $2.50 for a liquid, put it into my automobile and it takes me 50 miles in lower than an hour… have you ever ever needed to stroll 50 miles?  I’ve gone on multi evening backpacking journeys over 50 miles, fossil fuels are a real small miracle.

You could possibly doubtlessly get away with no propane when you did wooden warmth and had a water heater trade on it, however truthfully the thought of waking up 2 hours earlier than I would like to go away day-after-day to make a hearth, warmth water to bathe and cook dinner on, isn’t within the playing cards.  Even when I had the time to try this, I wouldn’t, I don’t wish to spend me complete life chopping wooden and stoking a hearth, life is means too brief.

A wooden range is the dream

That is one thing that many off gridders have of their cabins, however I personally can’t get into.  Once I grew up, I had a wooden range, everybody did after I lived in NH within the 80’s.  I distinctly bear in mind going over to my pal Jimmy’s home and his mom telling us we wanted to go chop some wooden so we had sufficient for the evening.  Chopping wooden, stacking wooden, shifting wooden, build up the fireplace within the morning: it was simply part of life.

The half that nobody talks about how a lot work all of it is. Right here’s what day-after-day can be like:

You get up to a reasonably chilly home each morning within the winter, sprint away from bed to rekindle the fireplace and put a number of logs on the fireplace.  About an hour later, you possibly can lastly take a bathe with out freezing.  However oh wait, you forgot to completely shut the range and a few smoke got here again into the home, your work garments odor like a camp hearth.  You head off to work after which come house to a cool house, time so as to add extra wooden, however wait you’re out of wooden inside.  So that you dress once more to enter the snow, you head to your wooden pile and begin stacking wooden right into a wheel barrel.  When you’re loading up, you pull a log to discover a snake making it’s transfer to chunk your hand.  You deal with the snake and hold stacking.  Wheel the wooden to the door and begin carrying it in.  You lastly get wooden stacked and hearth roaring, to show round and see a path of destruction the place you tracked in mud and grime from the wooden.  You spend the subsequent 15 minutes cleansing the flooring.  

Evaluate that to me:  I stroll it, press one button and in three minutes my home is tremendous cozy.  I kick off my footwear, seize a drink and begin studying a superb e-book.

Photo voltaic monitoring is actually necessary

That is one other one which I can spot a photo voltaic beginner a mile away.  They discuss a pole mounted monitoring system, which permits your panels to observe the solar.  However right here’s the soiled little secret:  You add yet one more panel to your system and also you’ll make extra energy and save some huge cash!

Usually photo voltaic trackers enhance photo voltaic acquire by about 15-20%, so in case your system had been to generate 1 KW fastened, it now may do 1.2 KW.  However right here’s the place all of it falls aside.  A photo voltaic tracker normally is at the very least $1000 further {dollars} in tools and you might want to pour a big concrete footing for a pair hundred bucks.  Let’s name it $1500 for the entire thing when you do all of it your self.  But when we had been to only use a set system and purchase one or two extra panels ($250 a pop) we may improve our system to 1.5 KW in a day.  So for 33% much less cash I can get round 30% extra energy AND haven’t any shifting components to interrupt.

DC home equipment and propane fridges are definitely worth the cash

It’s completely true that DC is way more environment friendly and inverting DC to AC takes up some energy, however it’s not the one factor to contemplate.  There’s a main fantasy that’s perpetuated from info that was as soon as true, however is now now not.  The issue is that there are a whole lot of web sites on the market with outdated info.  With latest advances in inverter know-how and decrease prices for panels, the hole has dramatically decreased.  Whereas it’s inefficient to vary from DC to AC, you may make up the distinction fully by the addition of 1 or two photo voltaic panels.

Whenever you weigh the price of specialty made DC home equipment, for instance a Solar Danzer Fridge for $1100, towards going common AC fridge, mine was $130, plus an additional panel, mine are $290 every, the mathematics is straightforward.  I can add yet one more panel and save a whole lot.

The opposite a part of the story is that a whole lot of electricians are hesitant to work on DC techniques, many received’t.  Along with that, the marketplace for DC home equipment is small; this implies much less choices for a better price ticket.  Going AC offer you a number of choices, simply sourced electricians and all at a cheaper price.

My advice is to go full AC energy after which simply add a panel or two to your array.


These are my ideas on widespread misconceptions about going off grid

Your Flip!

  • What issues have you considered when going off grid?
  • What shocked you about this checklist?


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