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I am about to embark on a new journey with my 5 year old grandson and assorted critters, horses, chickens, dog and cats... I am sure we will add more as life allows.
I have made arrangements to move to a new home, 2150 sq feet stick built home on 1.3 acres that went into foreclosure and was sold to investors. I was not really looking for a new place, this just kind of fell into our path.
The charm of the new place is it is way out in the county, with awesome views all around, Solar and Haul water. It does not have a power generator as of yet, nor a wind generator but they are high on my list. Due to living in Sunny Arizona I know the Solar can power our house during the day, with the wind generator keeping a little charge at night. The power Generator will be in case of emergency, or if I wish to run the big central air unit on really hot humid days. The house is big light and is positioned so it has a wonderful breeze that cools the house. I know it is well insulated, it was in the 80's outside, 65 in the hall and the wall that gets the afternoon sun was cool to the touch.
Do I know about living on Solar? No Not really I did live in a cabin once before Billy and it was no big deal, single person does not use alot of electricity, so I know how to cut down.
I plan on collecting rain water for a garden next year, we have monsoons in the summer that I can catch a great amount of water. My neighbor will haul water for me, 750 gallons for $20 which means I can fill the tank for $60. I will be getting a trailer with a small tank on it to haul water for the horses.
Here is a picture of the house and I will be posting more and sharing links and information that I learn here..
Does the solar also provide heated water for your home?
For the heater, where is your firewood (?) source?
How much does firewood cost in your area?
Will you also have propane or natural gas access?
How does the water get pumped to the house?
How near are your neighbors?
Hope I don't cause "off the grid"lock!
Can you tell I can't wait for you to get moved in? How fun!
Congratulations on your endeavor. When are you supposed to move in? I have so many questions, if you don't mind my asking. We are trying to whittle down and also get set up for possible civic and economic problems in the near future. We currently have a 250 gal propane tank and a well (the pump runs on AC). We also get very hot here, although, after looking at weather.com, I am surprised to see we are actually hotter day and night except for nights for 3 months in the summer. Amazing. We average 2 more inches of rain a year. Our breeze comes from over the coastal range that divides us from Orange County (coastal).
We looked into putting in full solar for a house we built for sale in San Diego County back in 2003, but even with rebates it was very expensive. Here, I want to have MINIMUM of solar back up for the well, (http://mysolarbackup.com/) as that way we (6 people, 2 horses, 3 goats, 5 dogs, 2 cats and a bunny) at least have water. DH has been looking into a full house propane generator, but I figure solar is FREE and we have a lot of it and would have to buy propane commensurate with gas prices! Today it was 90 and as I prepare dinner, I am thinking about the solar oven I saw, thinking that could be used year around, not just for emergencies. I know they can be made also, but we are not very crafty, lol. There's even a Solar flashlight.
While you still have electricity to run your computer, here is great (now very long) story of a couple who bought empty property in the mtns of TN and built their small 'off the grid' house. Now, these 2 have been building houses, apparently, and have expertise. They built their place with very little help, while living in their motor home. They do have a lot of photos of their wind and solar set up (stayed with only solar) and all the battery backups need to run most efficiently. They do not have some of the big energy drainers like AC and microwave and they built the back side of the house into the hill, Anyway when they finished Lisa stopped posting, but I just went back and see it is still alive. It may be worth your while:
LOL Finished getting house ready to move tomorrow and then the animals later this week. Decided to go with auto waters to cut down on water loss from evaporating in the sun.. Thought the hot water was broke, my neighbor came over fiddled with it and got it going. The kitchen which is all the way across the house from it takes awhile for it to get hot so a decision is made to keep a bucket handy and when I need hot water fill up the bucket with the cold water and use it for dogs and chickens and plants.
Now to answer some questions if I can..
Does the solar also provide heated water for your home? no I have a propane tank, a small one 9 gallons and a 15 gallon one will get a few more. The hot water and the stove is all that will run on it.
For the heater, where is your firewood (?) source? I will get permits and go to the mountains about 40 miles away,. It is 5 dollars a cord and I am figuring 2 cords will get me thru. Also I am looking into the vent-less propane stoves, I used one in my old house and I only went thru 9 gal of propane for that and cooking every two weeks.
How much does firewood cost in your area? It is up to 200 a cord
Will you also have propane or natural gas access? Yes Propane
How does the water get pumped to the house? there is a 1\2 hp motor on a pressure tank. I am changing it out tomorrow to a 3\4 ho cause the 1\2 leaks and then I will get it fixed and have a backup..
How near are your neighbors? A few acres in the back and about a 12 mile in the front. There are some more a few miles away.
QuiltyGirl THANKS so much for some good reading.. Actually I was born and raised in Southern California, Orange County.. LOL I was a city girl.. I have lived in Arizona for around 16 years. Since we have alot of sunny days, alot of people are on solar here.
The main backup for the solar is wind, it is breezy here as well. I have a 13K Diesel gen coming next week when the electrician can come out and wire it in. I made a decision after talking with Neighbor Dave (Has been there since the house was built and knows all about it) that the gen will go outside the solar room. The next purchase is the wind gen.. I have a solar company coming out in May to check out my system, they are salesmen and will undoubtedly tell me I need so much more, but having a friend who is an electrical contractor and he specializes in solar, he has already told me what I needed. I did find out that diesel truck batteries are better than golf cart batteries, lucky for me I know a diesel mechanic who is checking with the battery salesman to get me prices on batteries that the shelf life has expired, they are still good and they will be 12 price. One diesel battery is like 2 reg batteries.
I need to find the link about making a solar oven with the windshield sunscreens and an old BBQ, it looked really easy.
Off to finish packing, everyone will be here tomorrow morning to move the house stuff, the animals on Tuesday.
PS Scored 20 or so panels from my brothers ranch and what I have I dont need to put up a hot wire right now.. SWEET
Made it to the new house, enjoying a cup of instant coffee watching the sun come up. Last night hooked up the TV to the antenna, I have TV... Did not run lights, instead used candles to see. The move was interesting, 5 trucks, 2 horse trailers, one flat bed trailer, horses and chickens are not here yet... Ran into my Diamond Back Rattler, it is a baby but it still was a snake... I only had two snake shots missed with the first, dead with the second. The property has many weeds, got to get a tractor out to drag it. Roper (the Dog) is still here this morning that is a good thing, I did bring cats, dogs 2 roo's and one hen, put the chickens in the garage for the night... Got to see about getting some pens up for them. Learned that water heater on propane heats way faster and way hotter than electric, almost scalded my feet in the bath last night...
Did find out that my laptop runs 60 watts to charge, used my battery down last night researching it and letting people know I was ok. So this am it is charging while I write this.
Got pressure motor changed out to a 3\4 hp till I can get the 1\2 fixed.
Did not turn the lights on in the master bath, they are Spotlights so those have to be replaced ASAP...
Quiltygirl ~ I use a different type of solar flashlight. http://www.amazon.com/NEBO-Soleil-Solar-Powered-Flashlight/dp/B0036B3YC6
I also use a couple of solar battery chargers that charge D, C, AA and AAA batteries. I keep everything in the GH.
I also have a couple of small (10 LED) solar lights that work for night use in the GH but they are not really bright, only providing ambient lighting.
I just recently added a solar outdoor floodlight, powered by 60 LEDs. It is motion activated and I do like it. In warmer weather here, I need to see where I am putting my feet at night (snakes).
I mounted all the solar panels in the GH so they don't gather pollen or bird poop or receive storm damage. I hope to add another solar flood for a different location but must wait. It was a bit expensive.
We have also used the flowerbed type solar lights inside when the power goes out. They act like night lights to keep you from walking into walls. Easy to just put back outdoors in daylight to recharge.
MissJ ~ Put lights and more snake shot on your to do list! I hope you are able to get settled in quickly. Perhaps the temp setting on your gas water heater could be turned down. That might not be good for Mr Billy!
Podster THAT is an Awesome idea about the garden lights, I have some outside along the fence but never thought about using them in the house... The hall is long and dark, also that would make a great light in Billy's bathroom, in a basket to hold it up... Take them out in the AM and put them back at night...
Got bulbs and shot on the list... Sure wish I had the wind generator, it is really windy here today...
Forgot to mention that a good friend of mine made me a back door handle (It was broke) for the sliding glass door out of a unused horse bit... It is way cool and will allow me to pick up the front of the door (It is missing a wheel) until I can get it fixed...
In the late 1970's and early 1980's I was a passive solar designer/builder. Lots of things one can do cheaply, like putting up a solar batch collector for free hot water. If you just use the collector when it's above freezing, you don't need a non-freeze medium and heat exchanger, making it very cheap. I plan one here in SW Virginia, to use April/May-October/Nov depending on seasonal weather, and will drain it for the winter.
The Appropriate Technology in the 70's produced a number of innovative and inexpensive ideas, made and put into use by ordinary folks before the corporations figured out they could sell "systems" and make money.
The sliding glass door handle was broken and it is missing a wheel in the front so funds being what they are I cant replace the door right now and I wanted a unique handle for the door. So I asked a good friend that does horse shoe art if he could make me one out of horse shoes.. He didn't like the way they worked out, so he used an old horse bit that he had lying around. I will get some pictures of it when I can find the camera..
Cool! I love unusual hardware, and even have a box of vintage brass and bronze door hardware from the late 1800's-early 1900's. I've lugged that $%^&* box around for 40 years, always saying it will go on the last house I plan to live in... I'm still hoping!
Podster, we have never found any solar lights that are really reliable. We have two mounted out on our dock and a couple by pathways, but they always seem to die on us. Our yard light doesn't work well either. What kind do you use?
The batteries don't work indefinitely. A friend bought some of the decorater yard lights that take a set of AA rechargeable batteries. The problem is, the replacement rechargable batteries cost more than buying more of the cheap lights would cost. What a waste to toss them and buy more to add to the landfills.
I do not know brands but will look. The two smaller ones I use in the GH were purchased at a local builders supply and at the time on sale for $19.99. They are probably 4 or 5 years old now. These also take AA batteries but I've not had to replace them yet.
I have only used the outdoor floodlight for a month now. The paperwork indicated it has a replaceable 6 volt battery. It came thru Gardeners Supply http://www.gardeners.com/Solar-Motion-Light/20700,38-340,default,cp.html I'll have to see if it has a brand name on it. So far I am happy with it and intend to add another but will be aggravated if I don't get good service out of it.
pod, I bought 2 similar lights from Harbor Freight 2-3 years ago, intending to put them on my root cellar for light if I need to go out there in the dark. I thought I'd put one on the small gable over the door, and the other one inside, with both solar panels mounted on the roof. They are still sitting on the shelf inside the door, partly because I fixed the wiring that was already there!
I don't remember what I paid for mine, but not that much for both. I don't even remember what kind of bulbs are in them, nor what voltage... Probably much better lights available now.
I picked up the cheap ones at Walmart a few years ago and brought them over from the old house. They are still working great I need to check out and see what kind of batteries they use. I am so happy with that tip you will never know..
Plugged in the fridge today to see what will happen, it is a Whirpool Limited edition energy saver. It ran for about an half an hour and its cold. We will see what happens. Until I get a full battery bank, I will shut it off at night. So I know that the batteries in the am can handle the TV Computer and Fridge...
Might want to see a snake before you are close enough to step on one, lol. What kind of snakes do you deal with? Outside of friendly snakes, we have rattlers and I don't believe they are out at night.
I really like the outdoor solar lights for use indoors idea. I bought some of those cheap pathway solar lights at WallyWorld last year for $3 and larger ones for $5, I think. They are still working. I like them as they are not too bright, a neighbor had some new ones years ago that looked like they had a runway going. I do not like lights on outside at night, unless a task is being done. Our neighbors are not close, as in a development, but close enough that I find their porch lights annoying at night. We have 1.5 to 2.5 acre parcels.
I have been reading a lot of solar and alternative ways of doing things at various sights and my mind is swimming.
MsJ - I am guessing you do not have a microwave, too much power, is the fridge electric? What about washing machine? I assume you will hang stuff out to dry. I was reading the Living Off The Grid (TN) couple's journal again and noticed they have a propane fridge and are limited on appliances they can run (like hairdryer, etc). I am thinking that the minimum I want to be able to run in case of emergency (short or long term) is 1. well, 2. one fridge, 3. one computer (laptops take less power, but we have the big iMACs), we could watch news, etc from the computer 4. then other short term appliances like phone chargers, etc.
It was a Diamond Back Rattle Snake and I now have a 12 count box of Snake shot and the gun is loaded. I deal with Rattlers and Mohave Green's I would love to see a Bull snake here, I would let that one live... I have to drag the property, and build up a little bit of the porch and get some snake away to put around the house and porch people swear by it. Also they say plug around the front porch with the rope that tie boats up with, I think it is hemp, in cracks cause snakes dont like to travel across it.
Nope no Microwave, the stove which is propane is not plugged in for the electric lite and timer, works fine. I dont use a hair dryer or a curling iron so thats a non issue.
I am going to try out the washing machine during the day on Saturday, if it does not work yet, I will get the generator going and try it again, although I understand that they dont use much electric. Its the timers on alot of appliances that are the hogs. I enjoyed a pot of Camp fire coffee this morning, Maxwell house filter packs put in the coffee pot full of water at night and in the morning turn it on till it is hot... I love that kind.
Propane fridge is not in my budget right now and getting that one that was promised to me is still there wanted to try the elect one first, as the freezer compartment is not very big on the propane. My neighbors all have elect fridges and turn them off at night when they go to bed.
I know at night without the fridge, I can run a computer, TV and lights. We will see tonight what the fridge does to it.
I enjoy your thread. It is most interesting to follow your experiments. I am always looking for new thoughts and ideas and only wish solar was in this budget. Being "green" is not for those of us that are financially challenged!
Snakes in east TX that I'd rather not step on are coral, copperhead, canebreak rattler and water moccasin. Course I'd rather not step on any of them, even the nonpoisonous! LOL
MissJ ~ did the one you encountered rattle? In the four years we lived in AZ we never saw one but here there are some big and beautiful rattlers. I have recently been told that (for whatever reason) rattlesnakes have quit rattling.
I can answer the reason the rattlesnakes quit rattling. The reason is because all those which did rattle where killed now only those which do not rattle live and breed. It is happening here in Florida also. The Coral snake is less likely to bite you as they are so small it is hard for them to get a hold of a person. The water moccasin is the one I am most worried about as they have a very bad attitude.
Yes Podster it did rattle, it was greenish and had I not been looking ahead of me I prolly would have stepped on it. When I hollered that is when it coiled up and started rattling his tail and hissing.
I had not heard of them loosing the rattle...
That is one of many reasons I had heard... another was that the wild hog population was drawn to that sound for food and another was it is too dry? Who knows...
I agree on the coral being the least likely to bite. The one I dislike is the copperhead. They have excellent camo, blending in with our red clay and red pinestraw. I know more folks that have been bitten by the copperhead than all the rest put together. May I never have the pleasure.
Greenhouse_gal ~ I looked but find no names on the solar lites I have. Guess they weren't proud enough of their merchandise to put their name on them. 8 )
Ok so I googled snakes in Arizona and this is what I found for Venomous http://www.snakesofarizona.com/venomous.htm
But the one for the western diamond back in Mohave County (the county I live in) DID NOT have the black band on the tail.
Eeewww is right. We have killed some rattle snakes on our property - when we first cleared and then a couple years later. One was killed by 14 yo DD and her friend. Her friend was all jazzed and told her dad when he picked her up that she must have learned how to do it on Survivor Man TV show. Our neighbor is between us and the Coastal mountains and he gets more 'critters over there. His dogs have a kennel (ours luxuriate indoors) and one dog has been bitten more than once. I have seen some grass snakes, mostly they startle you! I have never heard that some do not rattle anymore, that is disconcerting, as I listen for that sound in the garden! Snake shot, never heard of that, but I am not a gun person.
So, since generally you do not go out hunting for snakes, you would pretty much need to just carry the rifle/gun around, just in case?
We do not own any guns and neither of us has even touched one. I am starting to reconsider that and we both feel we should probably have at least one type of gun as protectection. We think things are going toward the 'going to get hairy' side. One of the reasons for the prepping. Guess we would have to go meatless as I'm not sure we could kill or skin a critter. We have a bunny and 3 goats, but they are pets. DD said she could shot one of the wild rabbits, but doesn't think she could skin it. Not very pioneery! That all being said, we might have to move to one of your states to actually buy and own AND buy ammunition as CA is so gun stupid. I did not hear the results of the vote last week for gun bills. One would make it ILLEGAL to OWN or BUY ammunition for handguns and rifles and the other would make it illegal to even carry an unloaded gun (so, no gun permits?).
I don't go hunting for snakes intentionally, just always aware of where I put my hands and feet. I've also learned over the years to ID them and let the good ones move on. I even use one of those long handled grabbers to pick up the nonpoisonous snakes and relocate them to the woods.
But no, carrying a gun full time would be a pain. I can always step in and get one fairly quickly.
I know CA has some more restrictive laws regarding ownership but do not know what they entail. AZ and most of TX are more open minded. A recommendation, if you are considering it would be to talk to a gun store business owner and get some hands on experience like with a friend or hunter education course, etc. Perhaps classes offered thru a local range. My choice for a first gun would be a long gun like a rifle and in 22 caliber. You could feed, entertain and defend yourself. All the while, it is more economical to purchase and well as less expensive ammunition. Just a thought.
If you have a local Jr. College with a ROTC program or a National Guard center you can sometimes ask to use their practice range for learning how to shoot.
I agree with Pod you should learn how to shoot and become familiar with your weapon before you keep a gun on your property. Sometimes the YMCA will have a shooting range. Or, the local sheriff's office. In Texas, maybe the Texas Rangers?
It is not a good idea to practice shoot out in your woods, or any local public land. Not only people but precious animals (like my collie dog) are too often shot by dumb people with guns.
HI Gloria125! I agree it is an interesting thread. I suppose the off the grid lifestyle fascinates those of us that live vicariously thru others good fortune.
A friend of ours here has built a cabin and lives totally off the grid with the exception of a cell phone. He heats and cooks with wood, harvests rainwater, raises chickens, hunts, fishes. Eats well and keeps a clean home and person.
I admire it but would still like access to the internet, a/c, water on demand (like indoor plumbing) and other conveniences which I am unwilling to give up.
I really must say I envy MissJ. She is living the off the grid dream and can still enjoy the niceties in life.
Had setback this am... Forgot to unplug the fridge, thought it was off... WRONG... Got up this morning, turned on the TV and put the coffee on to boil then the TV went off. Reset the system after the error and came in the house to hear the Fridge running... Before I could shut it off the power went off again. I do not have enough batteries as of yet to handle the Fridge, so back to the cooler and the freezer at work for awhile till I have the batteries and Generator.
Speaking of Generator, it should be here this weekend, and then the electrician will be out in roughly 2 weeks to wire it up, clean up the wires in the garage since I am putting it next to the solar room to tie into the solar, test batteries all for 100 bucks. I know I can handle a cooler for a few weeks until I can get the fridge. Still wondering about the Propane Fridge, need some strong men to lift it but it might be the way to go.
I have been shooting a gun since I was young, my daddy and I use to shoot skeet, I loved it. I agree with lessons before you go buy one, there is also a gun safety course you can take from most gun shops or they can point you in the right direction.. I was drawn for black powder deer last year, saw alot of does but no bucks. I hunt for the meat that I can eat, not for the sport, but I swear Rattlesnakes are fair game. Living where I live, if I called 911 for a bite, they would send a helicopter..
Thank you Gloria, I have gotten a few awesome tips since I started this thread and it is great to hear other peoples ideas... Podster... You are forever my hero...
Aw shucks, Ma'am. Twarn't nothin'. You would have discovered that trick one dark night when you saw them glowing outdoors. I have faith in you.
Hope you will soon get the bugs worked out on your solar system. Using a ice chest is o.k. when you can see the end in sight. I have seen the propane refrigerators in Lehmans' non electric catalogue. Have you priced them locally?
I cant find any unless I go to the camper store and then I am not sure they can be used in the house. I know they can start at a grand... Although I do have a lead on a 1970's one door little freezer about 30 miles from me, the problem is getting the man power to get it here, my understanding it weighs tons and would take a few strong men to move it and all the guys I know are busy for the next couple weeks it being Easter, 4H and Motocross and then Mothers day... Price... FREE.. It has a few kinks, like if it is cold in the house, it will freeze anything on the top shelf, thats when you lay a piece of cardboard and a towel on the top shelf and you get additional freezer space.. LOL
If I can get my battery bank up to par, then the elect fridge will work... So its a give and take, Free and the cost of propane to run it and the manpower to get it here, or wait and get batteries (still a few weeks away) and the wind generator (in the middle of June) and run the fridge... For now I will put stuff in the freezer at work and pull it out as needed..
Looking into a 12 volt water pump motor as well, less solar to use...
Still looking at the lights of town way away, and the stars and the quiet, I am thinking I would not trade this for the world..
Going to get a few more solar lights, the ones that have the round globe on the top seem to throw more light and Billy likes the way they shine on the walls.. That is a plus..
Quoting: Still looking at the lights of town way away, and the stars and the quiet, I am thinking I would not trade this for the world..
I will say I am envious. We used to feel that way here deep in the woods of east TX. But no longer. Our neighbors a couple hundred yards thru the woods have lit up their place with 5 security lights. There is constant road and equipment noise due to gas well drilling which is new in this area. I think there are few places to go that are remote any longer. You are truly blessed!
When you see this, you will be sure you get that free frig. http://www.lehmans.com/store/Appliances___Gas_Refrigerators_and_Freezers?Args=&view_all=&sort_by= plus shipping of course.
Yes, they weigh a ton but are worth their weight in gold. Years ago when we first married we had a small propane frig in our first apartment. It put out a lot of heat. In the summer, it made the tiny kitchen unbearable. Even in winter, I would accidently melt a plate of butter by setting it on top of the frig. We lived in MN and when the lights went out, we still had the frig. You might want to think about where you put it to keep your living quarters cooler in summer.
Something I was wondering about in terms of cooling and being off grid is what about getting one of those SunDanzer freezers (I know they are expensive, but they use little electric) and the using that not only for frozen stuff but to freeze ice to use in a small ice box for a fridge. My understanding is that freezers are way more energy efficient than fridges, too.
I know that the two neighbors I have use electric fridges but they have a full battery bank. I did look up sundanzer web site, that is reasonable for a fridge actually, less than a grand for a 5.b cu...
I had to go look up that freezer, then realized I had seen it before, just forgot the name. I've looked at Sun Frost refrigerators and freezers for years too. I think Sun Frost has been around since the 1970's interest in appropriate technology.
Over this past winter, I used coolers outside my door as additional freezer space and refrigerator space. I just had to be careful to monitor (and sometimes bring inside) the "fridge cooler" so produce didn't freeze. Were it not for local wildlife, I might have just had covered shelving for freezer space.
I've heard of home-built chest fridges before but haven't read in detail about one until now. Thanks for the link!
Where I am, in winter it is usually too cold to keep produce outside but not reliably cold enough for frozen foods. I have thought about putting together a root cellar in my basement steps area (there is no bulkhead there) but haven't found the need yet. I do keep my freezer in the basement, and it uses very little electric because the temps down there stay between 50-59F all year. Plenty of humidity because of leaking but I also get intermittent mold due to the same reason, so I haven't made much use of that area.
I wish I could put my 2 small freezers in the barn (no basement here) but it gets too cold, according to the manufacturer's operation manual. Same for the old spring house. Sigh. (However, I am considering an insulated room in the barn with a small heater to keep the temp above 40º or 45º... I forget the mfg's specs.
Darius ~ I had followed that thread and found it most interesting, thank you. I have a chest freezer like that and have been sorely tempted to alter it.
So I got up this morning "off the grid". Lights out due to a major power outage. I woke up with the battery powered alarm, turned on the led touch lights, reported the outage on the landline phone, boiled coffee on the gas range and went and sat in the GH till it got light enough to work outdoors before work. I did turn on the battery powered radio and when it didn't respond, I thought of EMPs ~ lol Went out to the vehicle and tried the radio there to make sure there was still civilization in existance. Thought of you MissJ. Tis always a challenge!
After looking at your link on how the gas refrigerator works, I thought of the first a/c unit we had installed in our business in 1978. It was an ArklaServel gas unit and worked efficiently and economically. It lasted many a year but when it retired, parts were hard to find and someone to work on it was harder to find.
LOL Podster Aint it grand?? I sat on the porch this am and drank coffee, watched the cows come around and the sun come up... As I sit here I can see the light down the hall it didn't cost me a dime. I think the best flower bed lights are the the Globe ones that Walmart are selling, they have the solar panel in the base not on the top so they put out alot of light..
The solar lights with the panels on the rounded tops are easy to just remove the tops to bring in and leave the stakes in the great outdoors. I hadn't paid attention to the ones your thinking of. Can you remove just the tops on them too?
I do o.k. without lights but miss some of the niceties of life like DG. I can't help but feel smug when I turn on a flashlight that is powered by batteries than are recharged by solar. As long as that sun keeps shining...
Yep you can they have the same shaft and fit into the same spikes as the other tops..
I am thinking I need some solar lights to mount outside in the back, not the flower garden type but it is pretty dark out there and the dog is barking tonight... maybe mount one or two on the water room and one on either side of the house..
We are looking at the off the grid life for emergency and civic/economic unrest. So, in addition to energy concerns we are doing food storage, etc. I just ordered some food storage and am now looking at where to store it, lol. It stores longer in cool storage which will be challenging in our hot summer months, especially if AC is not an option. We have a huge walk-in closet in MB, 13x6 ft, with one short end an outside wall facing hot west. I already have more 'stuff' than clothes in it, but plan to have file cabinet, fabric tubs, etc against that west wall with tp & paper packages on the shelf above that will work as additional insulation. I can then put shelving racks on the empty wall.
We spoke with a propane generator person yesterday. The system we spoke about would charge the whole house for 2 hours, running everything from the well to fridge, washing machine and computers. That generator would use 1.5 gal propane/day, so our tank would last 166 days without using it for anything else, like cooking. And it is $$$$$!!
Ms J, how many solar panels do you have? I am guessing one/some were there when you moved in and already wired in to the house. It looks like your solar/water tank bldg is a distance from the house. I have heard solar is limiting and expensive, but given the $8-10M estimate from the propane generator guy, I think we need to compare solar.
Today I will order my solar oven and flashlights. Thinking one of those lights that fit on a strap around your forehead (think miners' lights) that could be solar generated would be great for reading at night.
I really like dark at night. Meaning, I do not appreciate when people like to leave outside lights on all night. We are not far enough 'out' to be away from neighbor's lights, but not dense enough that we could not see the stars. One house next doors has new occupants who like to leave their porch light on all night and it is like a beacon shining from where I sit to watch TV. I am able to close the blinds against it, but it does give a lot of light into our MB bedroom and bath at night. Especially if windows are open. On the other side and a little further, neighbors have bright indoor/kitchen lights, with a lot of windows, that seem to be on all night. Add to that bright outdoor lights that seem to be on so much of the night. They have a lot of trees, but not between the lights and us. To me, a lot of those low voltage &/or solar yard lights are too much. My cheapo Walmart solar lights, widespread in the yard are enough to keep cars from running over my plants, but not enough to have an overall 'glow'.
quiltygirl, the neighbor's lights won't be a problem when there is no electricity available!
As for the forehead lights, mine isn't solar, but it saved my sanity recently when we were without power several days. Those 2 little AAA batteries provided several hours each night for reading, and were still going strong after almost a week. It's an older model with just a few LED lights. I bought it as a hands-free task light and it's great for navigating in the dark, too.
Darius nope it is just me and my boy, I do have friends in a pinch, but I an fiercely independent and like to do things on my own...
I just found out the Generator I thought was diesel is actually propane so I am researching this and am going to post some links on Propane. This might be of some help quiltygirl, I plan on getting a few 25 gal tanks and filling them up myself which is alot cheaper than going thru the propane company. Besides my generator is going close to the solar room and I would have to plumb in the pipes from the other side of the property to hook to the house propane. I use small tanks for the its just cooking and hot water heater which has ran on a half a tank for about a week now.
I have 9 solar panels that were here when I moved in, they are enough for power, its the batteries that you have to make sure you have enough. Since I will be adding 2 big rig batteries, I will be set for the batteries.
Folks here are going with the propane generators. I've heard they are quieter than diesel. In this area, the cost and convenience of a larger propane tank with propane purchased from the dealer is more economical. Also more convenient than carrying smaller tanks to be refilled.
Most propane companies here will provide you with the tank ( for a refundable security deposit of course) but you must buy the propane from their company. We own our own tank and pay a bit higher rate for propane but also have the privilege of shopping the different dealers for the best price.
Quiltygirl, I think that more important than buying a solar headlamp, make sure the flashlites or reading lights you buy use LEDs. That is what makes it a bright enough light to read by and yet uses virtually no power to operate for extended times as Darius said. If the unit doesn't have its' own solar panel, they make solar chargers for batteries.
I scored a free tank that holds 275 gallons of water that will fit in the back of the truck for free... Add the weed eater motor that someone converted to pump water in their tanks but take 15 minutes (Dont matter time for me) they dont want and I have the makings of hauling my own water source...YEA the ducks are coming home...
quiltygirl, I got two oil lamps at a yard sale for dirt cheap and the oil for them was 4 dollars so total in two lamps I have 10 dollars. If I have no elect, I have light and they look good as well..
I need a new solar charger, thanks for the link, pod. Mine only charges AA size. I have noticed the rechargeable RadioShack brand AA batteries are lower milliamps. They don't recharge well, nor operate many things when they are "charged". Expensive lesson to learn as I had quite a few of them.
Kerosene lamp - watch for Aladdin brand they are made with a catalytic converter type that puts out an enormous amount of light and heat. Went 3 days without power after an ice storm with an Aladdin and a transistor radio not even a hardship.
Aladdins are wonderful! Except for the heat they put out. I hate to light one in summertime but will gladly use them in winter. They are the brilliance of a 60 watt light bulb and excellent to read by but definitely use more lamp oil so stock up.
Darius ~ could you expand on this comment?
Quoting: the rechargeable RadioShack brand AA batteries are lower milliamps. They don't recharge well, nor operate many things when they are "charged".
What do I need to look for? I've noticed some do not perform as well as others.
MissJ ~ great news on the water tank and the pump! Where do you have to go to get the water?
pod, look on the tiny print on the battery... The green AA RadioShack batteries are 2000mAh; the AA rechargeable AA batteries I have made by Panasonic, and Energizer, are 2500mAh. I shouldn't say the RS batteries don't recharge well... my meter showed they charged 100%. But after charging, they wouldn't power things like a hand tape recorder that took 2 AA batteries. I don't remember what else they wouldn't power, off hand.
I can get water in town, when I need it I can drive the truck into town to go to work and on my way home get it filled. Or I can go in about 8 miles and there is a fill up system for 2 cents a gallon. Thats the plan...
MissJ - are you able to drill wells where you are? Or, is there no water table there? Just thinking that you would then not be as dependent on locations that could refuse to sell you water in dire times.
Darius ~ yes, that was what I was asking. Odd, but I have been looking at the rechargable batts and find the best ( as in longest lasting ) is a Rayovac which has fine print that is hard to read but say either 1,500 or 1,800 mAh. The worst I have is Kodak 2,500 mAh marked for use in a digital camera. They won't last till the water gets hot. Go figure. My solar charger doesn't have a meter so maybe... ?
MissJ ~ is the water potable or do you need to also bring in drinking water?
There is a water table but to drill a well is over 20K so I am thinking not in the future for a long time. As for the water it is potable which is a good thing.
Today was a busy day, friends came over, we put up 3 horse pens, weeded the front and the back of the house, and started the chicken coops by dropping two 10 foot telephone poles in the ground 18 inches for the corners of the coop to come out from the shed porch. The Generator was delivered and is sitting on a concrete block waiting for hookup. I have some awesome friends to give me that kind of help...
I learned in North Alabama (Franklin County) that the depth of the water table depends on tree cover at least in a forested area. Farmers for 100 years had dug healthy wells. When our crew moved in to work on a reservoir project, the area had been cleared. We put in a new well for our crew, because the original well on the property had gone dry. We had to go twice as deep as the original well which was only about 100 ft distant from it. The drilling crew explained that the water table is held by tree roots, and they had to go much deeper if the land has been cleared.
I still have a stash of walnut lumber salvaged from the TVA clear cut burn piles from that project.
We, inland SoCal are basically desert here. Our property had only a few what we call 'seed' trees that sprout during winter and can grow several feet the first year. We do have the Coastal range behind us that is covered in brush, not much you could call actual trees. We are on what was a flood plain (a lot of sandy soil) before the flood control channel behind us was put in before we moved here. When our well was drilled 7 years ago they had to go down, as I recall, 365 ft. ($15M), but it runs at 65 gallons per minute! Neighbors between us and the hillside have their well less deep, but only 30GPM. Several years ago (during another year of very little rain), we feared the underground source was getting dried up when the neighbor had no water. Turned out it was a pump problem and it took several days to fix. In the meantime we were able to supply them with water easily via a longgggggg hose.
I can't remember for sure, but I think the well they drilled for me in Boone (NC) up on a short mountain was over 600 feet deep. They broke their bit in the first hole at about 300 feet and couldn't retrieve it. The water was sweet and plentiful. The cost today would be about half what a house might cost, LOL.
Its been a busy week and I will update this weekend. Did score a good deal on the led solar lights tonight I will find out how much they light up the porch. Got two goats they were 4H pack projects and hopefully they will strt on the weeds.. Looking forward to dragging the property soon...
two friends died within the last month leaving a family of donkeys behind. I learned that donkeys are a great way to keep coyotes away from a flock of chickens. They will let you know! So far no one has come forth to adopt the donkeys.
Llamas as good for security against predator animals too. At an animal rescue there was a llama with all sorts of scratches, but he had killed the cougar that tried to get to the animals that were all in the same pen with him (sheep, pigs, goats, poultry, etc.).
I subscribe to the Off The Grid News and really enjoy it. Don't mind the politics so much as their trying to sell so much. I would get more advice on prepping, generally, as opposed to prepping with all the products they promote.
I guess dragging this time of year is not too bad as you will be getting your summer monsoons. Around here, where your rain seldom gets this far west, it would just mean so much more silt to blow with the wind. I want all the weeds (chest high some places) out, but know that means more blowing dirt. I have considered hanging clothes outside as opposed to using the dryer (blew my mind reading how much power even gas dryers take), but am wondering if they will end up dirtier with blowing dirt. Although they would probably be dry in a flash with the hot, dry weather!
I put two retractable clothes lines in the greenhouse and hang clothes in there. The clothes don't get stained with bird poop or pollen. Still smell fresh and dry quickly. I like it too because if I drop something, the floor is concrete instead of dirt.
I'd love a drying rack (folding) near my woodstove. I did buy one 3-4 years ago, and it fell apart in 2 weeks. I'm thinking for summer two retractable clothes lines on our long covered porch to escape the cost of using the electric dryer.
We have an outside clothes line but it's where I hope to pen chickens or goats.
We have a wooden drying rack that comes out when DH has washed something heavy like a sweater in the winter time. They do dry a lot more quickly next to the wood stove. We also have two retractable clotheslines behind a fence for warmer weather.
Leslie, my woodstove has 4 short swivel drying arms attached to a cooling shelf on one side... great for wet hats or gloves, but not large enough for a sweater. I only have a couple of wool sweaters and they are a pain to dry.
I picked up a couple vintage wood drying racks in years past. One needed a repair, adding a new dowel rung. I use them in a corner in the bedroom. We use a ceiling fan at night and it drys jeans quickly as well as adding needed humidity to the bedroom. They are handy. I had seen a new metal one at a flea market last month for $10. I passed it up but if that vendor still has it next month, I may snag it.
Darius, your wood stove sounds really neat. What kind is it? We have a Hearthstone - it's made of soapstone and we love it because it doesn't require a fan to circulate the air the way our old metal stove did. But it doesn't have any handy little add-ons.
Podster, I like wooden drying racks because I don't have to worry about rust, although I would assume that the metal would be stainless.
Yes... it was stainless. I was thinking to leave it in the GH for socks, undies.
The wood racks aren't moldy but the blue dye from jeans has darkened the wood and I'm not comfortable hanging lighter clothes on them. I've read you can buy plastic clothes rod sleeves to put over them. I knew I shouldn't bleach the racks or wooden clothes pins. Wet clothing will be discolored from the bleach the wood absorbed.
An afterthought said the metal rack would serve a purpose. At the time, I just couldn't think of it... lol
My stove is a Vermont Casting 'Vigilant' which is an older model designed to burn coal or wood. I have no desire to burn coal! It's not quite what I want in a stove... their newer models are more efficient... but the price (used) was right.
The previous owner had painted a design around the doors, sort of a folk art vine. Here's the warming shelf and the drying bars... I love the dragon holding up the shelf!
Love the ideas and tips I am getting from this thread.. LOVE the stove and the bars attached to them. I got the goats, at the rate they eat it will be years before they eat all the weeds, but Billy loves them.
Trying to finish the chicken coop but hit a snag more like a rock shelf and it is tough going with a shovel but hope to get it done tomorrow. Found some solar lights at a big lots only bought one to test it it was 6 bucks. Glad I bought one, since it did not light up as well as the 4 dollar globes from Walmart. I am looking for a spot light that will light up the front porch where they say the snakes hang out.
Used about 750 gallons of water in 3 weeks not bad have the horses here for two of them weeks and alot of cleaning was done so I am thinking it is good. Getting a 225 gal water tank to put in the back of the pickup (Until I get a trailer) for horses and livestock.
And the crew... Also the Generator which is standing still in the box since I cant seem to get the Electrician out here It is a 15kw propane and I did some calculating on the propane use and actually if I get a 25 Gallon tank it will be good to do washing on Saturday and that will start it up to charge the battery and I will find a bigger propane tank before winter.
I put two drying racks in an upstairs bathroom. There are a few windows out up there that I haven't got around to fixing. A couple of weeks ago, I went up to collect clothes from the drying rack. I found a birds nest built in the hood of a sweat-shirt hoodie--which 6 eggs in it.
I wouldn't think of frustrating that momma bird after she did all that work. Yesterday, I checked and the hoodie nest is full of baby birds--all mouths!
The birds have pretty much taken over my drying space since I didn't want to disturb them or let the dogs get in there.
Gloria - pretty funny about the birds. You clothes must have been on the rack for a long time...
I am thinking a drying rack is good for only small amounts of clothes. I try to wait till I have a full load for the washing machine and by that time a rack sounds too small.
A big porch sounds like a great place to have a clothes line. I hadn't thought about bird poop, lol. Also the retractable line would keep it cleaner between use. On the porch you wouldn't haver to worry so much about fading either. We have a new little dog (darn it, do not need more of 'em) and unlike the other 3 he likes to spend more time outside. He has a new blue ribbed nylon collar that I see is really faded after only a week! I'm thinking that would be the case with colored clothes and towels.
MsJ-how long would that 25 gal tank last for just washing machine? Your horses are beautiful. Even though I am not a horse person, I used to love to watch our 3 when they would get going and run around our pasture (just dirt, like yours). Now, since the stupid step son has fenced off that 2/3 of the property for his motor home, our horses are cooped up in their 2 connected 24x24 corrals. DD surely is not interested in riding anymore. DH wants to let the run free in our yard, but they eat and destroy all the plants, then get naughty just knocking pots of tables and such. They were loose when we had weeks of rain this winter because their corrals flooded, but I won't stand for it now. All my 7 Queen palms had been eaten, roses, blackberries, broccoli, etc too.
Podster, pretty funny that you assume that clothes would not get dirty inside with windows open. Everything else does. Greenhouse would be a good kind of location, windows can be opened, right? Pretty hot in summer in GH, no?
The goats are neubins and were 4H projects they are 5 and 4 years old. I love my horses and watching them run is one of my favorite things. I love to snap pictures of them running.
Not sure how much propane it will take to run the washer but with just the two of us I can get away with doing laundry once a week and maybe 3 loads at the most. I will take blankets and sheets in to town to the laundry mat.
I looked at that last link you posted. Evaporative Coolers don't work here because it's too humid. We had one when I lived in Kansas, though.
One thing that does work well here is cooling tubes run underground 100-200 feet from the house. They use the solar chimney principle (heat rises); no energy is required to run them. Unfortunately, I cannot install them here. The only side of the house with enough flat-ish yard space also contains the septic tank and drain field although we don't know exactly where.
The goats are awesome friends for Billy he was out this afternoon playing with the dogs and the goats and the horses, they were all running around having fun... The chickens are home, the coop is awesome, cost me 2 dollars in nails the rest of the stuff was donated or gotten for free. The chickens are home now and I got three eggs today, tomorrow we are having french toast for supper, one of our favorites...
Are your goats free to roam? Do you have a pen for them at night then? Our 3 pygmies share space with our horses. We have added the wide mesh fencing to the inside of the pipe corrals to keep those wily goats in. We also added a side enclosure of the same wire that the horses cannot get into and built a little house for them to go into out of the weather. Our neighbors have dogloos for each of their larger goats.
Be glad your dogs get along with your goats, that is not always the case. When our first goat, Chewey was a baby in 2005, our neighbor's dogs had gotten out and came over. They had started to attack her, but, fortunately, not too aggressively, and, also fortunately, we heard it right away. There were 2 tooth marks that had not penetrated all the way. Flash forward to 2 years ago and DH's stupid son coming to live on the property with his 2 small dogs and 1 large American Bulldog, Zeus. Before the dividing fence went in Zeus came running over, dug a hole under the gate into the corrals and had one goat, Cena, by the neck. We got in there fast and mended her up and she was OK. Then, last November his dogs were put over here while they did some gravel work on that side (see the steam coming from my ears?) and under the gate he dug again. We were not so fast to hear the commotion, but then heard the girls crying out. I ran out screaming to bust my vocal chords and turned the hose on him. The first time he had been in there the horses had attacked him, but now he was full grown and they did not. Zeus released Chewey's shoulder and grabbed Cena's. We used antibiotics and bandaged them up, but there was an infection and the vet got involved for big $$. We segregated them into a dog kennel with mats to be sanitized daily, did antibiotic shots 2x daily and gave therapeutic epsom salt baths and physical therapy. All are fine now. Third goat, Muffin, must be the fastest runner. To think some people just EAT their goats.
I grew up in a schizophrenic household and this story made me feel right at home!
When I got my first (and only) goat her favorite thing to do was to harrass my border collie. She would tip over a barrel and ride it lickity split toward the collie--while the collie ran whining trying to find me for protection.
If goat caught up with dog, she would jump off the barrel and threaten the dog with her horns.
Yes dogs and goats have to be trained to get along.
Eat a goat. That sounds close to cannabalism to me--but then I am a vegetarian. Even a country mixed-breed goat has more personality than most humans.
One of my horses HATES the goats and tries to kick it every time it comes near her, but the same horse loves the geese... go figure... One dog came with the goats, its roper that likes to chase them but he is getting better, or my aim is getting better one or the other.
My husband and I are currently looking at buying a property in Kingman and were researching living off the grid, when we found your post. You have answered some of our questions and appreciate it. If I may ask, where in kingman are you located?
missjestr ~ as you don't have the right appliances for this I don't know how much use you will get from this. But you can take a big sack of chalk, a bottle of vinegar, and 99% poor bulk bottles of 99% rubbing alcohol and mix them together and it makes flame gel..
I might be wrong with actual numbers but this gel puts off about 9,000-10,000 btu's of heat for cost of pennies, It can be stored in mason jars with tight lids for later use, and a jar will generally burn for 4-5 hours. And its green and puts off no hazardous vapors and doesn't need to be vented except some co2 when your making it. Making it at home would save you those 40 mile trips in that bus that I see in the background if thats what your driving, the labor of chopping down trees, the licensing, and electricity or propane for cooking
Other green projects I would recommend is http://www.sustainedliving.org/content/articles/sustainedpdstor.html
Depending on where you are in AZ you get on average 1-2 inches of rainfall a month. Sink the bulk of the water storage deep in the ground and use a covering that covers the pond through 1/2 or more of the sun exposure daily and you wont have to worry about a lot of evaporation
Mrs. J., Im enjoying so much reading about your living my dream. I will never be able to be completely off the grid but I can certainly get as close as possible. I love all the ideas and solutions on this thread. Thanks everyone. YOur animals are gorgeous, especially the horses. And I never met a goat I did not like. I check in now and again and read and dream and Im now thinking seriously about converting a freezer to a frig. The article was perfect but AC power in the article was 240 and here it is 120. Im not knowledgeable enough to convert but I would really like to try that.
I need some help with a homework assignment for a business class. I'm usually over on the recipe/gardening/Parking Lot area. And I've talked with one of the DG admin people to make sure it is okay to request help.
The homework assignment is a product interest survey that is on a made-up product. The product is a stand-alone structure that houses solar panels and also can be used for shade or rain shelter.
I have a number of gardeners but need some demographics in the solar/alternative energy area. The survey takes less than 5 minutes and the classroom assignment is due this week. If you would be interested in helping me out would you let me know?
Wow - what an adventure! I hope this wasn't a cold-turkey off the grid cause so much can go wrong - no cold refrig to store food, no wood from the appearance of the place.
It might be a little late to say this but we converted our electric to a propane fired generator and we use the exhaust to heat water. We only run it on high during the day when we are about the house and work shop but it runs on low at night to keep the giant fish tanks running (pumps and aerators).
The nice part of going with propane electric (besides that it heats all the water we could use) is that one day we can convert the anumals droppings into methane to fuel it. Right now we couldn't fuel more than 50% of our use...if that much but as the live stock numbers grow, we could get 80 - 90% of all our power and 50% of our heat from the unit.
Having driven through Kingman, AZ 4 times last week, moving to our new AZ house, I have thought of her frequently. I wondered about the solar maintenance as we have said we want to do that, but at this stage in our lives if it is difficult to do maybe it is not in the cards.