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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 the ‘heating, ventilation and air conditioning’ Category

Last week I wrote here how I plan my off-grid house to be built. Today I will explain in more details my ideas on how to supply heat to the house, how to ventillate it and how to make domestic hot water.

In my climate the most of the energy our houses use goes to heating, so a reliable off-grid supply of heat is a must.

As I already mentioned, I want the house to be built as close to passivhaus (passive house) standards as possible. Insulating the walls will not be difficult, but as the walls will be built with wooden frame, they won’t store much heat. This will make using all the passive heat sources (like waste heat generators — TV, computers, kitchen stove, etc.) a bit more difficult. (more…)

5 ways to harness solar thermal energy

Today I wanted to show you in brief 5 good ways to use solar energy to produce useful heat. Most people probably at this moment think about solar thermal collectors for domestic hot water, but there are many other possibilities.

Of course I will write about solar collectors, though it’s not a device I suggest to use or purchase.

I hope this article will be an inspiration for further research and reading for you.

1. Solar thermal collectors for hot water

This is the traditional way many people in modern Europe use solar energy. The solar irradiation heat the fluid circulating in flat plate or evacuated tube collectors. If frost is not a concern, this fluid is simply domestic water, while in colder climates some solution of glycol has to be used. In the latter case an additional heat exchanger must be used. (more…)

Off-grid heating, ventilation and cooling

Off-grid house should not get any energy input from outside. It should use only energy generated on-site. Because of that, in my opinion a house that’s powered by propane (for genset, cooking and heating) is not off the grid.

But in cool climates most of the energy is required for heating and domestic hot water. How can an autonomous house get large amounts of energy needed for those two uses?

In this article I will get you a short review of off-grid HVAC, or off-grid heating, ventillation and air conditioning. (more…)

Using propane is not off-grid!

Couple of days ago I heard that many people who want to live off-grid simply move away from the gas supply network and get their gas from another source. They substitute their natural gas (used in furnaces, hot water heaters and kitchen stoves) with propane or buthane (or LPG). That’s weird, ’cause if you use propane, you shouldn’t consider yourself as someone who lives off-grid.

Of course, you’re off the natural gas supply network. But you still get the most of the energy you use in your home (in the form of heat) from a supply network. You don’t get compressed natural gas from the pipeline, but you get compressed propane from a tank that’s shipped to you by a truck.

What’s the difference? (more…)

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Passive solar: interior thermal mass

Thermal mass on the interior of the building is able to store heat or cold, and then slowly release it back out to the surrounding air. Heat from a sunny winter day as well as the coolness of a summer night can be retained inside the insulated shell of the exterior walls if the building incorporates adequate thermal mass. Thermal mass is needed to prevent daytime overheating of the structure and to stabilize its ambient temperatures through nights and periods of cloudy weather.  The more mass is available, the more stable the interior temperature.  Also, the more directly the winter sun hits the mass, the higher the solar heat gain.

Floors can provide a good source of mass. Concrete, brick, flagstone, or other masonry materials work especially well.  Any of these can be layered over with cork — an organic material that insulates well, and has the advantage of creating a softer surface underfoot.  Earth floors can be used, but do not perform as well.  Insulating beneath the floor helps to return the heat gains to the interior of the building more quickly.  Interior walls and houses are often framed with wood, but if built out of masonry materials such as rock or adobe, these can provide excellent mass, especially those interior walls hit directly by the sun. Concrete poured between studs is a quick way to add mass. (more…)

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