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Off The Grid

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

Starting with this post, I wanted to share with you my ideas on my off-grid house and homestead. I’ll begin with the general ideas on design and house construction, used materials, techniques, etc.

The very first draft of my house design is ready, but some details need to be corrected. It looks like typical small house Polish families build these days, one story high, with rooms in the attic, gable roof, nothing fancy. On the ground floor I want a large room, kitchen in the corner, bathroom and a small entrance hall. In the attic I want to have three bedrooms and a bathroom.

I want the house to be as close to passivhaus standards as possible, so the house will be facing south with three large windows. Two of those will be fixed, which will save me some money and some heat, as such windows have better insulation properties than ordinary ones. (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…)

Garbage warrior

This week I watched the “Garbage warrior”, a film about american architect, Mike Reynolds. This documentary shows several buildings and subdivisions built by Reynolds, starting with the Thumb House, and the Earthship, of course.

This film was highly motivating and inspiring for me. I am wondering if I could add some tires with rammed earth to my off-grid ideas (this could be a good idea for my greenhouse). I was a bit dissapointed that there was not much technical details, but it is still worth viewing. (more…)

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  • 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…)

    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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