We are honored to welcome a serving member of the US Armed forces as our newest regular contributer.
Laurie Tamminen is currently in a theater of war that is featured in the media every day. Her dream over the next two years is to build herself a new home off the grid. Here is her first dispatch from the frontline of the off-grid learning curve:
Thinking about building your new home off the grid?
Anyone will tell you that the first time you try something new, it can be frustrating or a flat out failure. This doesn’t have to be the case when decided to build your new home off-grid. The first correct decision you made was deciding to build a home that is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. That should inspire you to continue your research into 0ff-grid living no matter how many obstacles you encounter; which will be numerous in the beginning.
Since deciding to build a log home in Idaho in the next few years, I thought I would begin my research now to ensure that I was well informed of the possibilities and limitations living off-grid presented. My first stop was the all powerful internet. I had decided that solar power with windmill power and generator back-up was the way to go. Plug in solar power in the search engine and wow, only 38 million sites to weed through and wind power an easy 83 million sites. Phew, apparently I would be working at this for a while. The first things to look for when entering a site is their biography and if they are accredited with any known agencies that govern this type of business.
It’s also helpful to see if they belong to any chamber of commerce in their area or the BBB. One site I found with a wealth of information was www.backwoodssolar.com. Although I did not find any affiliation with a regulatory body their business is located in the area that I am planning on building.
If you find a company that is local to where your new home will be built you can ask for references, and contact past customers to see if this company lives up to what they say they can and will do. As much as I hate to admit it, I use Wikipedia to reference subjects when I need information. It’s best to use the reference guide at the end of the article to go to official sites where the information from Wikipedia came from.
For example, when you go to the Wikipedia article on solar power at the bottom there are websites links to NASA, Solar Today Magazine, and others that will be reliable sources of information in your search for answers.
Bottom line on solar panels is this. If you are new to living off-grid you may not want to start off by only buying the minimum number of panels and promising yourself that you will turn the lights off and live by candlelight. Certainly buy what you can afford but you should try to budget for a few more than you think you may need. It takes discipline and commitment to change your lifestyle (I know as I joined the Army at 38 years old and being given orders by someone half my age gets some getting used to).
My other piece of advice is, don’t be in a rush. Read, read, and read some more. Everything I learned about solar panels and the amount of energy it takes to power all the appliances in our homes I read online. You will encounter conflicting opinions however generally the businesses that have been around for decades agree on the same technical data about solar power.
Check back for more on Newbie goes off-grid!
Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site
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