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Off The Grid

I'm going to live off-grid. Read my blog and learn how to do it yourself!

Archive for January, 2011

How To Build An Autonomous House – Episode 1

Today I finally got the first part of the subtitles I ordered for my series about my autonomous house. I recorded and published 10 episodes last year, started somewhere in january or february 2010. I couldn’t share them with you as they were recorded in polish, but since I got the subtitles, I translated it for the first episode which I publish below.

In this episode I show you the land lot I will use to build my off-grid house on, with all the things I tried to do there earlier.

The video was recorded in high definition (1080p), but I guess you would have to visit the YouTube instead of using this embedded player, to watch it in HD. (more…)

Living off the grid is a challenging effort, but the success of the lifestyle is worth the effort. Living off the grid essentially means using nothing more but renewable energy sources, like wind or sun for power supply. Maybe to have the entire home power supplied with a renewable energy might be a little difficult at the beginning. To gain some experience, you can easily start living off-grid with the renewable energy household items.

Solar energy is the most common type of off-grid energy source currently in use, and solar energy driven household items are fast gaining grounds for those who want to break the mould and take control of the home electric supply. We all probably have or had in our lifes some solar-powered calculators, one of the most popular devices that use solar power to work (though we didn’t use them in the daylight, but rather under a desk lamp). (more…)

My story about renewable energy sources begins in 2006 when I bought my Volkswagen RV/camper. At the end of summer that year I bought my first renewable energy source — the first solar panel. I wanted it to be a off-grid energy source for my first camping holidays, but only found out that such panels have many disadvantages.

The panel I bought was rated at 10 W and 12 V. I connected it to an unused old car battery to store the solar energy, using a charge controller. While we were driving, the battery was charged from a lighter socket, and on the campsites I used the lighter plug to connect the controller to the solar panel. That’s right — the panel has a lighter socket that allows it to be used directly, without any battery.

Here’s a photo I took when working on my first photovoltaic system. (more…)

  • Filed under: electricity
  • My original idea and goal was to build an autonomous house (or to be more precise — an autonomous homestead) on the property we bought in 2007. But for the last year my wife and I we visited several buildings for sale, and even once or twice wanted to buy the house we saw. Every time I am wondering if it’s better to build your own autonomous house from the scratch, or to build a typical house and to upgrade it and retrofit to the autonomous house standard.

    And I am still confused.

    In the terms of energy efficiency, it’s much better to build a new house. The buildings we saw for sale this year were mostly built in 1970s, during the time when Poland was a communist country and it was very difficult to get cement, concrete, bricks, windows and roofing materials. Back then people built their houses with what they could get their hands on, and since the coal was very cheap and plentiful, noone cared to insulate walls or install airtight windows. People simply used a lot of energy to keep their houses warm. They didn’t care about getting maximum amount of sunlight for passive solar heating, nor they did care about having efficient ventillation systems. (more…)

    In terms of energy independence, or energy autonomy, it is very difficult (and probably not possible at all) to make a single house fully autonomous.

    While it’s easy to produce your own electrical energy, it’s much more difficult to provide your house with enough energy to heat and cool it. Wikipedia says, that typical US household energy use is divided between the following:

    • 32% goes for space heating,
    • 13% for water heating,
    • 12% for lighting,
    • 11% for air conditioning,
    • 8% for refrigeration,
    • 5% for electronics,
    • 5% for wet-cleaning (most for clothes driers). (more…)
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