40 Days Off Grid


Jack FernardSolar panels in the sun

It's been a little over six weeks since my family and I moved into our new off-grid home and I can honestly say that going from unlimited electricity to generating our own hasn't been as painless as I expected.

The were several factors that surprised me. Some of these things I should have foreseen and some I'll just write up as the learning curve. Here's a short list of what was learned.

Hot Water:

Having the ability to take a hot shower in the morning is truly a blessing. If you don't believe me, trying taking lukewarm showers for a week. I don't care how much of a treehugger you want to be, taking a cold shower in December in Michigan is pretty much a crime against nature (at least my nature). I don't even want to think about what life was like before people had hot water to bath in. A propane powered hot water heater was an option, one that might seem obvious for a off-grid home. But I wanted to get away from fossil fuels and 'walk the walk' when it came to living sustainably. For this reason an electric heat-pump water heater was installed.

Heat-pump water heaters are great! They use only a fraction of the electricity an all electric water heater would — 550 watts as compared to 8500 watts — the trade off being how long it takes to heat a full tank. In a normal 70 deg. environment, my water heater will generate about 8 gallons of hot water an hour. Unfortunately, my water heater isn't in a 70 deg. environment. Half the time it's not even 60 deg. Consequently, it can run a lot! So why not put a pellet or wood stove in the basement close to where the water heater is located? Apparently the floor trusses in my home are going the wrong direction. (Surprise# 1)

1/26/2016 11:48:32 AM

Jack, I do admire those folks like you that are strong and willing to take on off grid living. I myself like hot showers when I want, flush toilets inside the house, and store bought food when I need it. However, I do recycle, re purpose, and grow as much food as I can. It really aggravates me that things are made to throw away and not be repaired. It is a sad day that repairing costs more than new. I've tried to repair some things but the parts can't even be found to repair it. I'm not a buy it because I want it person. When what I have finally gives out and can't be repaired then I buy another. Technology is a wonderful thing and I worked in technology for 41 years. I watched it grow from it's infancy to the magic things of today's media world. Smart devices think faster and better than we can. I refuse to have any technology that tries to be smarter than me. ***** It's fascinating to me to read about those like yourself that choose to live off the grid. ***** Keep us all informed about how things go in the days ahead.

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