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off-grid living from the ground up

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off-grid living from the ground up

Old 06-21-09, 06:25 AM
  #26  
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Considered a manual washing machine?

BTW looking good on the insulation, that will make a huge difference.

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Old 06-21-09, 07:08 AM
  #27  
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Machka, have you considered passive thermal solar for your hot water needs?

Something like this?

http://www.epsea.org/wtr.html
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Old 06-21-09, 07:20 AM
  #28  
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How about geothermal heating and cooling?
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Old 06-21-09, 11:55 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
This is a photo of our wash machine and the bucket of rinse water. The water in the large green bucket is half the water used in one wash by an average wash machine like ours ... it is just the rinse water. We siphon it off, and then use it for the washing part of the next load.
Too bad you don't have an old style wringer washer. These used no electricity, but still saved a lot of labor.


There were also electric wringer machines. We had one when I was a kid. I know you reused the wash water or rinse water somehow, but I can't remember exactly how this worked.

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Old 06-21-09, 12:10 PM
  #30  
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Hey Roody....



and I am not as old as you...yet. BTW my grandmother had one of those round ones, had two as a matter of fact, the original one had a Briggs and Stratton motor on it to drive the agitator, somewhere around the 1960's they got dependable power and she "upgraded" to the electrical version

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Old 06-21-09, 04:27 PM
  #31  
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When Rowan first told me he bought a wash machine, I envisioned the round style wringer washer which my great-grandmother had. I'm actually relieved that this isn't a wringer washer.

The thing is ... I had NO idea how much water wash machines used. I've always just loaded my stuff into them, hit the buttons, and walked away. I was floored when I saw that bucket full of water, and even more floored when Rowan told me that was only half the water used with each wash. You can get wash machines that are more efficient with the water .... and now I'd recommend them. And we're making ours more efficient by reusing the water.

In fact, we're considering ways to reuse a lot of our water.
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Old 06-22-09, 03:36 PM
  #32  
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The government incentive has just fallen through, and even the large "Home Depot" type places looked at us blankly when we asked about 12 Volt stuff.
If you don't mind the fairly small loss of efficiency, you can get an inverter that converts 12V DC (solar or battery) to 120V AC for appliances. That's what everybody with solar panels in Haiti seems to do, rather than look for 12V lightbulbs, 12V televisions, 12V laptops (from what I've seen, laptops pretty universally are made to be used with converters that give 19V DC power from AC wall outlets.)
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Old 06-22-09, 05:50 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by cerewa View Post
If you don't mind the fairly small loss of efficiency, you can get an inverter that converts 12V DC (solar or battery) to 120V AC for appliances. That's what everybody with solar panels in Haiti seems to do, rather than look for 12V lightbulbs, 12V televisions, 12V laptops (from what I've seen, laptops pretty universally are made to be used with converters that give 19V DC power from AC wall outlets.)
I believe we have an inverter because yesterday I was operating this computer off battery power charged by our solar panel. BTW - we're 240V over here, and I believe there are two difficulties with using 240V for everything ... one is that the government doesn't like people to be messing with electrical things themselves at that voltage. They'd prefer we hire professionals. They other is that it uses up more ... I'm going to say "power" for lack of a better term (I haven't studied electricity too much) ... than a 12V system. Right now it takes a day of sunshine to charge the battery, and a day of computer usage to drain it. Whereas we get a lot of days of 12V light usage off the battery.

We won't be going completely over to 12V, but the more the better.
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Old 06-22-09, 07:11 PM
  #34  
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Most of the smaller netbook type laptops are 12 volt so they don't need to be stepped up. Losses on inverters add up pretty quickly. IMHO a pure 12v system is the best way to go. You can also add windpower to the mix if you choose, it has the advantage of being available at night. Amount generated depends on the area, running water like a decent sized creek can generate power too.

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Old 06-22-09, 07:17 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Most of the smaller netbook type laptops are 12 volt so they don't need to be stepped up. Losses on inverters add up pretty quickly. IMHO a pure 12v system is the best way to go. You can also add windpower to the mix if you choose, it has the advantage of being available at night. Amount generated depends on the area, running water like a decent sized creek can generate power too.

Aaron
If we were going to go with wind power, we'd have to put something on top of the hill beside our place, I think. We're in a nice little valley surrounded on three sides by hills and bordered by trees in front. I can see the leaves moving out there right now, but only a very little bit.

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Old 06-23-09, 12:22 AM
  #36  
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machka, it sounds like you need to get as acquainted as possible with grey water recycling... http://www.greywater.com/
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Old 06-23-09, 08:33 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by monsieuroctagon View Post
How close to main roads are you? Do you own a car? I think that eventually I will need to get another car just for utility, like a pickup truck or hatchback.
I'm right on paved main roads with a laundromat and grocery about a 1/2 mile down the road so my bike and trailer life is no big hardship.

I do have a car, van, motorcycle, snowmobile, and boat, but refuse to register any of them for political reasons...so I'm probably going to off them all.
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Old 06-25-09, 11:29 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by wernmax View Post
I do have a car, van, motorcycle, snowmobile, and boat, but refuse to register any of them for political reasons...so I'm probably going to off them all.
Good idea. If you got caught operating them, you might end up as a political prisoner.
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Old 06-29-09, 06:13 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
When Rowan first told me he bought a wash machine, I envisioned the round style wringer washer which my great-grandmother had. I'm actually relieved that this isn't a wringer washer.

The thing is ... I had NO idea how much water wash machines used. I've always just loaded my stuff into them, hit the buttons, and walked away. I was floored when I saw that bucket full of water, and even more floored when Rowan told me that was only half the water used with each wash.
Huh, different backgrounds I guess. To me a wringer washer would be *just* the ticket, particularly if I could pair it with one of the low power spin-cycle only devices. Why? Because when you're washing woolens, any kind of modern clothes washer is a serious crapshoot. So either I risk my precious woolies in a modern washer, I handwash (16 gallons for the sweaters, another 16 gallons for the two wool blankets), or I pay a dry cleaner to do it. A wringer washer is a lot less work than doing it in the bathtub.

And yeah, top-loading washing machines take a lot of water. Doing it by hand in a bathtub is *more* water efficient, because I can load a bathtub with a lot more cloth and let diffusion do most of the work. You can't agitate wet wool, even gentle squeezing or stirring can cause felting (handspun is harder to felt because I put in a lot of twist, but most of our things are commercially spun yarn... it takes a lot of time for me to get yarn spun and knit up!), so the more stuffed the tub is the less you'll be tempted to muck with it. Doing it by hand is a ferocious amount of work, and after helping with a load, my partner is about ready to *beg* me to take things to a dry cleaner.

(the other advantage of a wringer washer is it lets you process raw wool fairly easily... the lanolin contained in wool is a wonderful way to clog pipes and ruin septic systems, so anything that lets you manage your greywater from washing raw wool is a real boon)

The spin-cycle only machines are sold in the US as "swimsuit dryers". I'm not sure how they're sold in Aus. Another alternative is sometimes top-load washing machines can be cannibalized to be powered off of a bicycle... it works for "spin-drying" lettuces, so it might work for clothing. The diffusion trick works on any fabric, so at that point the main advantage of the washer is the spin cycle to speed drying... and oh does it speed drying! That might get the water contained in a load down low enough that the washer could drain directly into a smaller tub or bucket.
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Old 06-29-09, 08:44 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Good idea. If you got caught operating them, you might end up as a political prisoner.
In a way, we all already are political prisoners.
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Old 06-29-09, 06:12 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Torrilin View Post
Huh, different backgrounds I guess. To me a wringer washer would be *just* the ticket, particularly if I could pair it with one of the low power spin-cycle only devices. Why? Because when you're washing woolens, any kind of modern clothes washer is a serious crapshoot. So either I risk my precious woolies in a modern washer, I handwash (16 gallons for the sweaters, another 16 gallons for the two wool blankets), or I pay a dry cleaner to do it. A wringer washer is a lot less work than doing it in the bathtub.

And yeah, top-loading washing machines take a lot of water. Doing it by hand in a bathtub is *more* water efficient, because I can load a bathtub with a lot more cloth and let diffusion do most of the work. You can't agitate wet wool, even gentle squeezing or stirring can cause felting (handspun is harder to felt because I put in a lot of twist, but most of our things are commercially spun yarn... it takes a lot of time for me to get yarn spun and knit up!), so the more stuffed the tub is the less you'll be tempted to muck with it. Doing it by hand is a ferocious amount of work, and after helping with a load, my partner is about ready to *beg* me to take things to a dry cleaner.

(the other advantage of a wringer washer is it lets you process raw wool fairly easily... the lanolin contained in wool is a wonderful way to clog pipes and ruin septic systems, so anything that lets you manage your greywater from washing raw wool is a real boon)

The spin-cycle only machines are sold in the US as "swimsuit dryers". I'm not sure how they're sold in Aus. Another alternative is sometimes top-load washing machines can be cannibalized to be powered off of a bicycle... it works for "spin-drying" lettuces, so it might work for clothing. The diffusion trick works on any fabric, so at that point the main advantage of the washer is the spin cycle to speed drying... and oh does it speed drying! That might get the water contained in a load down low enough that the washer could drain directly into a smaller tub or bucket.

Most of my wool is $5 thrift store acquisitions, so if it all falls apart or something, oh well, I'll go get another one. A wringer washer, if we could find such a thing these days, would probably be fine now, while I'm not working ... but once I start working the last thing I want to do is to come home and spend an entire evening or two wringing clothes.

We do drain the rinse water and reuse it, so that saves us some water.

And as for drying, I've got two loads drying in front of the fireplace right now. We bought a large $20 drying rack which seems to work quite well.


We're progressing on the cabin. We've got heavy curtains (which I made) up at the windows, and they seem to be keeping some of the cold at night out ... or warmth in.



http://www.flickr.com/photos/1430288...7619719051119/

And Rowan has installed the lighting now which makes it brighter in here in the evenings ... it's all 12 volt lighting.

We've got our own generator, and are holding off on solar panals for a little while ... partly because there isn't much point to them just now as we seem to have moved into monsoon season.
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Old 06-29-09, 06:56 PM
  #42  
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In Duluth, Minnesota, there is (so I have heard; I haven't personally seen it) a house that is heated by a solar collector on the roof that heats some sort of anti-freeze that circulates within it. The liquid circulates through tubing into a two-foot bed of sand on which the house is built. The sand is the "heat exchanger" and captures the heat, and it radiates up through the floor to heat the house.

Perhaps off topic a bit, I think it would be fun to go "off the grid" in the city. One might have to build one's own house from the ground up, but it seems like all those off-grid things--solar heating, solar water heating, solar panel electricity, garden and/or greenhouse--could be done in a city, and one would be a reasonable distance from a major metropolitan medical center as well.
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Old 06-29-09, 07:39 PM
  #43  
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Machka I am sorry about all the fire and damage but what you are doing with the cabin is amazing! I wish I could buy some land and live off the gird.
I am in the process of saving money for solar and reuse a lot of my water for toilet or whatever. My husband first scoffed at the idea of not keeping appliances plugged in and reusing bath water for things like the toilet, but when he saw our electricity bill was under $100 and our water bill, with garden, lawn, etc was under $18 per month, he signed right up.
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Old 06-29-09, 08:02 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by swwhite View Post
In Duluth, Minnesota, there is (so I have heard; I haven't personally seen it) a house that is heated by a solar collector on the roof that heats some sort of anti-freeze that circulates within it. The liquid circulates through tubing into a two-foot bed of sand on which the house is built. The sand is the "heat exchanger" and captures the heat, and it radiates up through the floor to heat the house.

Perhaps off topic a bit, I think it would be fun to go "off the grid" in the city. One might have to build one's own house from the ground up, but it seems like all those off-grid things--solar heating, solar water heating, solar panel electricity, garden and/or greenhouse--could be done in a city, and one would be a reasonable distance from a major metropolitan medical center as well.
I have built a couple of houses like that and they worked great. One was in the VA mountains the other in the coastal plains of NC. Off grid "might" work in the city if everything was oriented properly and you weren't in an HOA controlled area. FWIW my dad put solar panels on our house for water heating back in the early 70's, they were so effective we go notices from the gas company that it was against the law to screw with their meter.

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Old 06-30-09, 06:20 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Most of my wool is $5 thrift store acquisitions, so if it all falls apart or something, oh well, I'll go get another one.
Same here . But spinning and knitting are some of my hobbies, so if I can make things hold together I'll have time to replace the cheap machine knits with good handspun. A 50 year sweater is definitely worth the trouble to me compared to one that maybe lasts 3 years.

We've got our own generator, and are holding off on solar panals for a little while ... partly because there isn't much point to them just now as we seem to have moved into monsoon season.
YAY! Hopefully the rains will be slow soaking ones.
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Old 07-07-09, 04:51 PM
  #46  
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I was off grid for a few years up north of here along the Susitna River (Alaska). The summers were incredibly fun and easy. Tons of daylight, great fishing, boiled laundry, outdoor baths and an open air kitchen. Winter was another matter. Temps dropped to -40 f. and below, the snow and ice remained 7 months of the year, and just getting around was difficult. We got caught off guard with the first winter and still had troubles after that. Heating fuel was very expensive. EVERYTHING broke in those conditions. Winter in Alaska simply destroys everything. Every tool, every heater, every piece of modern technology. Laptops froze solid, LED displays in the cars went nuts, the cars themselves wouldn't start, and everything took longer. Kerosene still functioned, but it also poisons you slowly. Propane worked less and less well as the temps dropped.

I'd like to do it again, but only if I had $30 grand or more to get the cabin set up properly. And even then I'd probably do like a lot of folks and make it seasonal only.
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Old 07-07-09, 06:20 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Cosmoline View Post
I was off grid for a few years up north of here along the Susitna River (Alaska). The summers were incredibly fun and easy. Tons of daylight, great fishing, boiled laundry, outdoor baths and an open air kitchen. Winter was another matter. Temps dropped to -40 f. and below, the snow and ice remained 7 months of the year, and just getting around was difficult. We got caught off guard with the first winter and still had troubles after that. Heating fuel was very expensive. EVERYTHING broke in those conditions. Winter in Alaska simply destroys everything. Every tool, every heater, every piece of modern technology. Laptops froze solid, LED displays in the cars went nuts, the cars themselves wouldn't start, and everything took longer. Kerosene still functioned, but it also poisons you slowly. Propane worked less and less well as the temps dropped.

I'd like to do it again, but only if I had $30 grand or more to get the cabin set up properly. And even then I'd probably do like a lot of folks and make it seasonal only.

Despite the fact that we're into winter now, fortunately winters here don't get that bad. We're going down to just below freezing at nights now. But yes, that's something to consider if you live in a cold area. Even living at -40C/F with all the houses and offices set up to withstand that kind of cold can be uncomfortable and difficult.

We're almost finished insulating our ceiling now, and I think it makes a difference.
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Old 07-07-09, 06:42 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Despite the fact that we're into winter now, fortunately winters here don't get that bad. We're going down to just below freezing at nights now. But yes, that's something to consider if you live in a cold area. Even living at -40C/F with all the houses and offices set up to withstand that kind of cold can be uncomfortable and difficult.

We're almost finished insulating our ceiling now, and I think it makes a difference.
Absolutely! Basic thermal dynamics heat rises That is one reason why the heated floors work as well as they do, you have the contact warmth for your feet and then the heat rises past you.

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Old 07-07-09, 06:57 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Absolutely! Basic thermal dynamics heat rises That is one reason why the heated floors work as well as they do, you have the contact warmth for your feet and then the heat rises past you.

Aaron
Yeah ... the floors are a bit of an issue. We won't be able to do anything with them in time for this winter, but if we stay here, and are here next winter, we've got some ideas.

The floors in this cabin are simply cement sidewalk pavers on dirt ... just like how you'd lay down a sidewalk. I'm guessing there might be weedmat or something underneath because we don't seem to have any plant life growing up between the pavers.

But this means the floor is COLD. And we also discovered, toward the end of a week of rain last week, that eventually the ground gets wet enough and the water comes up between the pavers. Rowan was out digging trenches late one night to divert the water. We put down mats beside the bed and that made a noticable difference over there ... at least we're not stepping out of bed in the morning onto a floor that's around the freezing point!!
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Old 07-07-09, 08:11 PM
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Machka,
I don't know what is available where you are but the extruded styrofoam insulation board is the way to go for your floor insulation. For your application just about any version of it would work. Also if you don't have it, consider a vapor barrier like a 6 mil plastic under your pavers too. I did a house years ago where the floor in the main living area was brick pavers set in a sand bed. We put down gravel for drainage, landscape cloth, then the poly, 6" of sand with polybutylene tubing for the solar/wood fired hot water heat system set in it, then the brick pavers. Worked great...gave the building inspector fits though

Aaron
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