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  • in reply to: Off Grid, but keeping all mod cons??? #64719

    We have lived off-grid for 10 years, at first in an Airstream while building, and have been in the house 4 years, and we have all the mod cons we need — washer, dishwasher, electric kettle, toaster, hoover, large electric fridge etc. Our cooking and booster water heaters are fueled by propane, about 120 gallons a year. We don’t have TV, but use our laptops with wifi as TV, radio, movie player, music source etc.. My comment is primarily directed towards your wife, in case it is she who will be doing most of the household/children stuff. These comments are functional rather than technical, because if she’s like me she cares less about what makes it work than how it works day-to-day.

    Figure out what you need before you decide how much power to go for, but build in a fudge-factor, as you will surely get more stuff (kids need their own computer etc).

    We did a lot of research, and got very efficient appliances, you can’t just buy what’s cheap and easy in the stores. Washer (Asko, because water as well as power use is an issue where we live), Bosch dishwasher for the same reason, point-of-use propane hot water heater, although most of our hot water comes from the rooftop solar hot water heater (Solarhart from Australia) LG fridge/freezer etc. We are solely reliant on solar, passive siting for heating in the winter, solar hot water panels and solar panels to generate electricity.

    Be aware that you do things differently, even if you have all the domestic machinery. I only run the dishwasher and clothes washer in the day, never at night, and probably not at all for two or three days in a row when we have winter snowstorms come through that leave us cloudy for 4 or 5 days; we shower in the morning, in yesterdays solar heated water, so to speak, so the tank fills and heats for hot water use during the day. Remember that the thermal mass of a large body of water (your pool?) inside the house pulls down the ambient temperature in warm weather, but really pulls it down in cold weather. Friends have found it a net negative, and took out their indoor cistern. It’s common to have 10F weather up here in the mountains, so we have a woodburning stove that we light for 3 or 4 hours to boost the passive gain on those occasions. I use it to put porridge, stew or beans (in separate pots!) on after dinner, leave till the morning as the stove cools down overnight, when I can put them in the slow cooker or stove top. A good free pre-cook. If we have extensive snowy/cloudy weather we’ve rigged a switch so we can switch the fridge/freezer off at night to save 6-8 hours of battery use. It holds its temperature well so long as we don’t keep opening the door, so night is the best time for this.

    All mod cons doesn’t mean the same as it does in suburbia, but we live in great ease and comfort with un-onerous common sense adaptation, so good luck, it’s a great life.

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