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Old 02-10-2013, 12:55 AM   #1
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Who is off grid in any way- as in propane tankless water heaters, solar, wind, water catch systems, etc. Please tell me your pros and cons of what you have or projects you are wanting to do.

We are looking to buy our land within a few months and begin to stock pile what we wil need over the summer including appliances and roofing etc. I've been researching but there are so many options and solar seems sooooooo expensive.

If you have water catch systems what do you use the water for?

I'm thinking a propane tankless water heater. And propane stove/range. But what about electricity for lights and whatnot?

We were going to do a green roof but it sounds like a metal roof would let us do a water catch system which I love.

Getting a little overwhelmed but super excited. Cob house here we come!

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Old 02-10-2013, 04:47 AM   #2
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Re: Off grid

We don't have anything that is completely off. We do have a water catch system used for no rain periods in our garden.We have a well for tap water but use electric to pump. We do have a hand pump for emergencies. For the catch we have these 265 gallon cheese bins. I have no idea what they are called. They are food grade and used to catch a by product of cheese making. The FDA only allows commercial companies to use them once in cheese making. DH got them off craig's list for $50. We have 2 and we're suppose to get another when the guy finishes with his last one. One is actually kept in our garage with purified tap water for emergencies. The other dh made the collection piping and put a sprocket on the bottom. We just hook a hose up and let gravity take over. You can't run a sprinkler on it, but it works really well with soaker hoses.

We have solar panels for a few things outside- electric fence and whether station being the main ones. We live in the woods so solar is a bit tricky. There are very few places we can use them. Dh rigged a solar panel to our enloop battery charger (you can buy one but he was an electrician and likes to tinker) so we never have to buy batteries again.

We have been looking at tank less Water heaters for years. But we recently decided that we want more property so we are holding off until we build our next house in a couple of years. Yay BUILD! Now that will be the mother load. We will have a cistern system- this is dh's area so no idea on the details. Also have planned a for real wood cooking stove with oven (of course we are still going to have our regular gas/electric). This is dh's area again so I don't know the specifics but he whole house intake? blower for fire place heat. He looked into it for our current house and to add what we need it would cost him about $500 then we could use our fireplace to heat- important because our township does not allow wood burners.

I want to go full out solar but dh is a shtf person and feels that solar (or wind- we could probably have 90% of our regular use covered by the 2) would make us a target. Wind ok, which would also be the most useful since we have more wind then sun, but solar- no one would know unless they came to our house.

Anyway, we want to be completely off grid and are making slow steps to get there.
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Old 02-10-2013, 05:27 AM   #3
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Re: Off grid

We have gas wells on our land and so as long as we maintain the line ourselves, we have free gas and don't get gas bills! We use ventless gas heaters in our rooms to heat our house.

DH wants to get 2 generators that run on natural gas (which we have for free) for the electric. We would run one for one month and then let it take a break/do repairs, then run the other one. Preferrably build a little shed by the house that houses them.

But that will cost money and right now we need a post driver so that comes first! Farm equipment always comes first... sigh. haha
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Old 02-10-2013, 12:25 PM   #4
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Re: Off grid

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Originally Posted by jbug_4 View Post
DH got them off craig's list for $50.
I laughed when I saw this, we used them too early in our 'homesteading venture' - then I really laughed when I looked where you are from. You are super close to us!

As for us, we have owned our 17 acres for a 4 years now I think? And we built this past spring/summer (we've been in since August).
Before we built, we had no power or water out here, but did have our animals (a few horses, chickens, LGDs, etc) and a 24x40 pole barn with a white metal roof. Our concerns were:
1. Water supply
2. Electric fence (our colt would walk right through it if not hot)
3. Water freezing in winter
To address these issues we:
1. We had a rainwater catch system off our barn roof for the animal's water (with a 12V water pump that worked off a battery charged by a solar panel).
2. We had the solar panel wired to a battery (charged by the solar panels) for the electric fencing.
3. Built a solar/insulated water tank cover for the horse's water in winter. Didn't work great, would try other things if we had to do it again. Once ice started in the tank it froze quite quickly.
In the spring/summer/fall it all worked just fine, although we learned that there is a big difference in water pump qualities. And we did run out of water from time to time (more in winter) (we used the same large 256 or whatever gallon cheese thing to catch the water, then pumped it to where we needed it to go).
We built a home this past year and focused on being more light on the land than not. Some things we have put into this house:
1. Passive solar design to harness the sun's heat in winter, and keep the house cooler in summer without AC ** it's awesome! ** (and cheap to design this way, rather than to fight the sun/nature when it's already built)
2. inside Woodstove
3. Open floor plan to allow the air to move through the house, warm it well
4. Radiant floor heat throughout
5. a special glazing on our south-facing windows to let more of the sun's heat in, but still keep the cold out (hard to find, but SO SO worth it!)
6. 2x6 construction with blown-in insulation...I'd push for double 2x4, or maybe even look at 2x8 or ICFs if I did it again. Even with the 2x6 the savings are pretty cool (although it totally depends on your climate!)
7. White metal roof. I love it. There are various opinions, but many people say either a green roof or a white metal roof is the greenest option for roofing.
We are on propane, because we couldn't justify Geothermal as it doesn't provide all of our heating needs and (per code) we'd need a "backup" of electricity or propane heat for when the heating load is too much for the Geo.
So far, in this house (which is 600' sq ft bigger than our prior house) the heating cost (propane, which also includes the indirect hot water heater and dryer) is the same or a little less than our other house - natural gas - and our electricity costs are half of the other house (and this is also including the barn). I attribute this to the design of the house.
Future:
This summer we're building a garage, and we are designing it to incorporate active solar. We'd like to also do a rainwater catch system off of our house. And maybe an external woodstove, which would do a better job of heating our whole house than the inside woodstove, which does a decent job of heating the upstairs.

Sorry if this was boring or not applicable to your situation, and sorry it's so long!!! it's a lot of trying different things to see what works best for you. Best of luck!
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Old 02-10-2013, 01:40 PM   #5
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Re: Off grid

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Originally Posted by jbug_4 View Post
We don't have anything that is completely off. We do have a water catch system used for no rain periods in our garden.We have a well for tap water but use electric to pump. We do have a hand pump for emergencies...
WOW, so much info & great ideas!

I was wondering what hand pump you have... we'd like a back-up JIC for our well run by electric. I am trying to win DH over to the alternative side... it's the money/cost involved that holds everything back... but I'd really like a hand pump sooner than later... last summer when it was well over a 100 degrees & I was very pregnant, we had no power for 2 days... felt like forever... we also had NO water... & it really made me want the hand pump even more.
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Old 02-10-2013, 01:45 PM   #6
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Re: Off grid

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Originally Posted by raisingcropsandbabies View Post
We have gas wells on our land and so as long as we maintain the line ourselves, we have free gas and don't get gas bills! We use ventless gas heaters in our rooms to heat our house...
NEVER heard of this before... how awesome!!
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Old 02-10-2013, 03:09 PM   #7
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Re: Off grid

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Originally Posted by daddyn4wisechix View Post
WOW, so much info & great ideas!

I was wondering what hand pump you have... we'd like a back-up JIC for our well run by electric. I am trying to win DH over to the alternative side... it's the money/cost involved that holds everything back... but I'd really like a hand pump sooner than later... last summer when it was well over a 100 degrees & I was very pregnant, we had no power for 2 days... felt like forever... we also had NO water... & it really made me want the hand pump even more.
Well, I asked DH and his response is its a hand pump. I asked him what kind and got the same answer. That is his domain. Maybe I can get him to tell me later. He's in a bad mood right now.
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:30 PM   #8
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Thank you soooo much ladies! I'm loving all this info!!!
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