Widespread Off Grid Living Misconceptions


It is been a complete year given that I moved out of my apartment and into my tiny residence, with that came the shift to living off grid.  Numerous of you have study my tiny residence solar posts which talks about all the nitty gritty facts of my solar panel method, if not, verify it out simply because I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on it.  Now that I’ve accomplished this for a although it is grow to be extremely clear what I got incorrect and what other individuals non-off-griders (grid muggles?) about off grid living.  I can now spot a grid muggle a mile away when they start out speaking about living off the grid.  Right here are some of the misconceptions you study about when you go off grid.

Harbor Freight solar kits is all I need to have!

I hear this all the time from people, “I’m going to get 1 of these Harbor Freight solar kits to energy my house”.  These kits are wonderful, if you only need to have 45 watts, which truly is only great for altering a laptop (30 watts) and cell telephone (five watts), possibly some energy drill batteries all of these factors are insanely decrease energy consumption.  If you need to have to run substantially a lot more, these method will leave you extremely disappointed, cold, hungry, and in the dark.

Clothing washing is easy… correct?

Time and time once more persons geek out more than different contraptions for washing your clothing.  I’ve noticed them all, the plunger seeking factors, fancy peddle powered spinning ball gyros, and  hand crank counter top rated tumblers.  The truth is hand washing clothing is not terribly tricky certain a typical washer is less difficult, but barring that, I’ve identified a tub or substantial sink truly performs wonderful.  You can often spot the persons who’ve in no way truly accomplished it simply because they speak about washing clothing although accurate off gridders speak about drying clothing.

Drying clothing in an off grid setting in a tiny residence is a royal discomfort.  It is fine if the climate is good out, but if it is truly humid, or freezing cold, or worse, raining, you can neglect about getting dry clothing.  What it truly implies is for about half the year you get dry clothing, the rest of the year you will have largely dry clothing that you will give up and place on simply because anything is nevertheless damp and you need to have to leave the residence.

Drying racks are wonderful if you have just a couple of factors to dry simply because you can rig some thing in your shower.  But when you are speaking about a complete load, it implies you have to setup your drying rack inside your tiny residence, which requires up most of your living space, then you need to have to let it dry in a day or two.  This ordinarily translates into perpetually getting your drying rack out, which tends to make the tiny residence substantially much less livable.

The perfect solution would be to have a tiny outbuilding exactly where you could setup a clothing line and have a wood stove in the corner.  You could also do what I do, head to a laundry mat or spend a laundry service.  Immediately after undertaking laundry by hand for three months although living in Croatia, I’ve given that transitioned to undertaking my laundry in a typical washer and dryer.  Right here in Charlotte I can have my laundry washed, dried and folded for $two.50 a lb, which as a person who loathes folding clothing, is so worth it.

Roof top rated mounted solar panels

The weird factor about solar is mounting on the panels on the roof is 1 the worst locations you could place them.  By their nature roofs are hot, which heat decreases the efficiency of solar panels.  They are higher up, so they are really hard to get to in order to retain, brush off snow and clean grime that builds up more than time. Lastly, on a tiny residence the space you have to deal with is extremely tiny, simply because tiny homes have tiny roofs.

If you are going to be traveling a lot with your tiny residence, roof top rated is extremely sensible, but you are going to be really hard pressed to do any sort of heating or cooling with that couple of panels.  The most effective solution is ground mount if you can swing it.  You can access it conveniently to clean off snow and grime, you can conveniently inspect it and repair factors for upkeep.

Not getting backups… for anything

When you are your personal energy supply, there is no energy enterprise to contact when factors go incorrect.  In most situations that is a great factor simply because you generally uncover oneself at their mercy and if you are in a remote place, at the bottom of the priority list.

It also implies that if some thing goes incorrect, say the morning you have an crucial meeting to get to, you nevertheless need to have to make breakfast, take a shower, and do what you need to have to do.  To this finish I have backups for every of my primary systems:

Considering you can reside off grid with no propane

I hate the truth that I need to have to use propane, but its an absolute necessity.  Of course if you have $50,000 to commit on your solar method, you wouldn’t need to have propane, but most people do not.  Even my method, which is about $20,000, couldn’t come close to powering a hot water heater or stove/oven.  The 1 exception to this may be if you have a truly great hydro energy turbine, then possibly, but that is dependent on you getting flowing water and a substantial drop, extremely tricky to uncover when acquiring land.

The 1 factor with all of this is how appreciative and grateful I have grow to be for fossil fuels, they are a accurate miracle.  They do not come devoid of their consequences, but the truth that I can spend $two.50 for a liquid, place it into my automobile and it requires me 50 miles in much less than an hour… have you ever had to stroll 50 miles?  I have gone on multi evening backpacking trips more than 50 miles, fossil fuels are a accurate tiny miracle.

You could potentially get away with no propane if you did wood heat and had a water heater exchange on it, but honestly the concept of waking up two hours ahead of I need to have to leave each and every day to make a fire, heat water to shower and cook on, is not in the cards.  Even if I had the time to do that, I wouldn’t, I do not want to commit me whole life chopping wood and stoking a fire, life is way also quick.

A wood stove is the dream

This is some thing that lots of off gridders have in their cabins, but I personally can not get into.  When I grew up, I had a wood stove, everybody did when I lived in NH in the 80’s.  I distinctly don’t forget going more than to my pal Jimmy’s residence and his mother telling us we necessary to go chop some wood so we had adequate for the evening.  Chopping wood, stacking wood, moving wood, constructing up the fire in the morning: it was just a component of life.

The component that no 1 talks about how substantially perform it all is. Here’s what each and every day would be like:

You wake up to a fairly cold residence each and every morning in the winter, dash out of bed to rekindle the fire and place a couple of logs on the fire.  About an hour later, you can ultimately take a shower devoid of freezing.  But oh wait, you forgot to totally close the stove and some smoke came back into the residence, your perform clothing smell like a camp fire.  You head off to perform and then come household to a cool household, time to add a lot more wood, but wait you are out of wood inside.  So you get dressed once more to go into the snow, you head to your wood pile and start out stacking wood into a wheel barrel.  Although you are loading up, you pull a log to uncover a snake producing it is move to bite your hand.  You take care of the snake and maintain stacking.  Wheel the wood to the door and start out carrying it in.  You ultimately get wood stacked and fire roaring, to turn about and see a trail of destruction exactly where you tracked in mud and dirt from the wood.  You commit the subsequent 15 minutes cleaning the floors.  

Evaluate that to me:  I stroll it, press 1 button and in 3 minutes my residence is super comfy.  I kick off my footwear, grab a drink and start out reading a great book.

Solar tracking is truly crucial

This is a different 1 that I can spot a solar newbie a mile away.  They speak about a pole mounted tracking method, which permits your panels to comply with the sun.  But here’s the dirty tiny secret:  You add 1 a lot more panel to your method and you will make a lot more energy and save a lot of revenue!

Generally solar trackers strengthen solar achieve by about 15-20%, so if your method had been to produce 1 KW fixed, it now may do 1.two KW.  But here’s exactly where it all falls apart.  A solar tracker generally is at least $1000 further dollars in gear and you need to have to pour a substantial concrete footing for a couple hundred bucks.  Let’s contact it $1500 for the complete factor if you do it all oneself.  But if we had been to just use a fixed method and purchase 1 or two a lot more panels ($250 a pop) we could improve our method to 1.five KW in a day.  So for 33% much less revenue I can get about 30% a lot more energy AND have no moving components to break.

DC appliances and propane fridges are worth the revenue

It is completely accurate that DC is substantially a lot more effective and inverting DC to AC requires up some energy, but it is not the only factor to take into consideration.  There is a important myth that is perpetuated from info that was when accurate, but is now no longer.  The dilemma is that there are a lot of web sites out there with old info.  With current advances in inverter technologies and decrease charges for panels, the gap has drastically decreased.  Although it is inefficient to alter from DC to AC, you can make up the distinction absolutely by the addition of 1 or two solar panels.

When you weigh the price of specialty produced DC appliances, for instance a Sun Danzer Fridge for $1100, against going typical AC fridge, mine was $130, plus an further panel, mine are $290 every, the math is easy.  I can add 1 a lot more panel and save hundreds.

The other component of the story is that a lot of electricians are hesitant to perform on DC systems, lots of will not.  In addition to that, the market place for DC appliances is tiny this implies much less alternatives for a greater value tag.  Going AC give you lots of alternatives, conveniently sourced electricians and all at a decrease value.

My recommendation is to go complete AC energy and then just add a panel or two to your array.


These are my thoughts on prevalent misconceptions about going off grid

Your Turn!

  • What factors have you believed about when going off grid?
  • What shocked you about this list?


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