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"Off the Grid": The growing appeal of going off the grid

Post in 'The Green Room' started by BrotherBart, Aug 9, 2010.

  1. snosurfa7

    snosurfa7 Member

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    I think a lot of people are forgetting food (and water) is the most important part to being off-grid. You can have all the power you want but without food you are out of luck.

    Someone else did mention you need to hand plow but other than that you better have some seed and the ability to make that seed grow year in and year out. Plus lots of ammo (unless you make your own) and a good rifle/shotgun coupled with lots of deer running around and hopes that you have somewhere to keep that meat cold.

    It can be done, check out the story of Richard Proenneke in the video "Alone in the Wilderness" - what he did was amazing and definitely takes a certain type of person.

    Not to rain on the "off the grid" parade - I think it is still a great idea because if utility costs ever rise or a natural or man-made disaster ever happens you will be better off than most folks for at least awhile until some infrastructure is restored. I love the idea but dang I love my big old v8 pickup truck and even though I can fix it to an extent I still need an Advance Auto Parts store nearby to get a part and some source of fuel to get me there....

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  2. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

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    I think that "off the grid" is sometimes being automatically associated with self-reliance, while the "grid" many are referring to is the simply the electrical grid. Lots of folks are living "off grid" in the electrical sense and still plenty connected (and happy to be) to the conveniences of society. The only difference is that they're electric supply is "on site" and supplying their house alone. It would be pretty tough to imagine being completely "off the grid" in the self reliant sense. I see plenty Amish in my neck of the woods using pay phones and shopping at Walmart occasionally. Even Jeremiah Johnson had to buy his powder somewhere.
  3. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Growing your own food is not always about getting off the food grid. Some want to know what exactly is in their food that its not loaded with chemicals and anti bio tics and pesticides. Its just a healthier way of living.
  4. Hansson

    Hansson Feeling the Heat

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  5. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    I think that's right. There are some that make an attempt at living off-grid electricity-wise with little or no attempt to watch power consumption, or literally just pay attention to what they are doing. It potentially skews the statistics for the reliability of these systems.
  6. Mrs. Krabappel

    Mrs. Krabappel Minister of Fire

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    I have done this before. I did run a battery radio, and I did shower at a neighbor's house. I loved the oil lamps. I missed running water the most, tho' didn't mind the outhouse except in the winter.
  7. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Lots of water around ,shallow well nearby and mountain spring near but none in the cabin yet, ill figure something out. Wind powered pump maybe.
  8. billjustbill

    billjustbill Member

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    For that wind powered pump you spoke of, here is a thread about a windmill that uses a technique powered by a wind driven air pump. I knew of a couple that used one and because there were not sucker rods to pull, one man can install it.

    http://www.fieldlines.com/board/index.php/topic,136413.html

    Bill
  9. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I lived for years with outhouses - not so bad.
    Really, the worst part was a middle of the night crap when temps were under 20 or so (this was in TN).

    After years living that way, I remember taking a job roofing a nashville apartment complex - they gave our crew an apartment to stay in, and it had a little electric wall heater in the john right next to the toilet!

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh...........

    It's all relative. But the fact is that modern sewer and septic systems do a damn good job of getting rid of waste with little pollution.....and a water deal beats an air seal in most cases.

    Many of the public johns in AZ had composting toilets.....in state parks, etc.
    They had powerful fans, so no smell was evident.
  10. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    That's no big deal. I spend up to 1/3rd of my weekday waking hours on commercial construction sites.Can't remember the last time I was at any that didnt have Kybo's outside,even when it was just a remodel of existing occupied office building or highrise.Let alone any new construction.Whether its 100 above in July or 20 below zero with snow on the seat in February,doesn't matter.
  11. hotprinter

    hotprinter Member

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    Here is "off the grid"! In 1967 my wifes dad who was 50, decided to pack up the family and move from New York to Alaska. It took them all summer but they finally made it. They were in time to get some of the last homestead land that was being allocated. They received 200 acres 50 miles out of town, and totally off the grid, totally. The only requirements was to "prove" the land (build a house, clear the trees, plant some crops) and live on it for 5 years. They did it! They built a log cabin, hauled water and wood, heated with a franklin fireplace which needed loading every few hours. Gas lights. Cooked on an antique woodstove. Raised chickens and ducks and goats for milk. The trans alaska pipeline was not even started at that time. The road they lived on (not much of a road at all) became the "haul road" where all of the big trucks would haul the pipe up north to be welded becoming the trans alaska pipeline. What stories they could tell. They grew hay in the summer to feed the horse. They hunted and gardened for food. It was a hard life, but they were of up to the challenge. Now THAT was LIVING OFF THE GRID!. I often wonder how their life would have been with some of the modern tools we have. An outside wood boiler would have been amazing! As would a modern generator. When I talk about getting off the grid, it is much more civilized than that, I am not tough enough to endure the trials they must have faced. My mother in law wrote a really nice book about it called HOME SWEET HOMESTEAD, by Joy Griffin. I was thrilled when she finished it and I got to be one of the first to read it, she was a gem! Anyway, we have "off the grid" much, much easier today...
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    That sounds like the makings for a nice book. Gather as many of those stories and days as possible and get them recorded now.
  13. Delta-T

    Delta-T Minister of Fire

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    i never had to live "off the grid", but the house I lived in, in Germany, was 550 yrs old (the main floor) and the bathroom was part of the detached garage built in the 50's. Had to go outside and walk 20 ft to get to it....kinda not so fun at night in the winter.
  14. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    We capture and store our rainwater for the toilet.

    I have never understood why so much effort is put into purifying rainwater into drinking water and piping it all over the place when it ends up being flushed down the toilet.

    Not sure if I would be mad about going without electricity.

    How would I be able to visit this forum and get my daily fix ;-)
  15. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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    Why would we want to be off grid. If you have a wind turbine generating 250kw and you can only use 30kw surely it makes sense to export the spare 220kw and get paid by the utility company for your power. Here in UK being connected to the grid is now becoming an easy way to earn money from wind and solar so much so that the government guarantees the income for every kw generated for the next 20 years.
  16. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Here you still pay certain usage fees, taxes, etc. That ends up being a fair bit of money. The grid can be used as a storage system of sorts for some folks, however.
  17. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    How are the toilets fed the rainwater? Have you had any issues with the float valve plugging due to debris?
  18. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    Gravity feed from a row of tanks which are under the roofline, but above the level of the cistern.
    The feed is taken from about an inch from the bottom of a tank which means debris settles below the feed.
    There is an inline filter which can be cleaned if needed.
    When I did the conversion, I switched the cistern from a high pressure mains valve to a low pressure valve (larger hole on the valve so cistern would fill quicker under low pressure).

    After 3 years, I reckon it has saved a mass of water.
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Interesting, we have some large new buildings that are set up this way in Seattle. How well do the toilet valves work under low pressure? How many stories is the house? Do you have any pictures of the setup.
  20. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    Just nipped out to take these piccies for you!!!!!!!

    First one is of the 2 tanks, one takes the water from the roof, and feeds into the second one, which has the feed indoors.
    The outlet at the bottom of the larger tank can be used for flushing any leaves and debris out of the tank if needed.

    Second picture shows the feed and the inline filter to keep the water clean

    The last picture shows the indoor bit of plumbing to get the water into the cistern.
    The cistern takes about 2 minutes to fill up, which isn't too bad.
    The rainwater is slightly acidic compared to our very hard tapwater, so no buildup of calcium anywhere, an added bonus.

    Attached Files:

  21. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    Sorry the pictures have only appeared as links, not sure why........ :)
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Cool, they show up on photobucket ok. You need to use the "Post Reply" button to see the picture posting options. It is not there with the Fast Reply. Or you can Edit a previous posting and that also will expose the picture options. http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewannounce/27_2/

    The setup looks pretty simple, is there an overflow for when you get a deluge? Our gutters are at the first floor ceiling level, so the only way for this to work for us via gravity feed would be to pump it up to a 2nd floor holding tank or put a toilet in the crawlspace.
  23. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    When we anticipate heavy rain, we can pipe water away from the house to a couple of ponds, we also have a couple of tanks down the garden which we can pipe water to for use on the plants.
    I've always found Roman aqueducts interesting, they perfected moving water great distances without any power at all!

    Pictures now sorted, many thanks!
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Indeed. And they had flush toilets, but then again, so did Minoan royalty. Have you read the novel Pompeii by Robert Harris? This is an historical fiction based on the life of a Roman water system engineer during the eruption of Vesuvius. It's a fascinating story that has lots of info about how they distributed water and what happens when the earth starts shaking up the system.
  25. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    Must get that from the library for a read.
    Good book for a rainy day ;-)

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