Living Off the Grid

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MadMasher
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Living Off the Grid

Post by MadMasher » Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:30 pm

I desire to live off the grid or at least be less dependent on it. My planned upgrades this year include garden, rain barrels, compost, wind turbine. The turbine will be hand made from a DC motor and purchased control module. Any one know any other tips for being less dependent or just up for discussion?
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by The KYChemist » Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:36 pm

http://m.instructables.com/id/How-to-Bu ... an-Heater/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

There are better ways to build one of these, but I plan on doing this at our next house. It would be great for a shed, in the spring or fall, to save some power. Don't know how well it would work, in the dead of winter, but only one way to find out!
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by bonehead » Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:51 pm

if you have room raise free range chickens for eggs and meat. install heads and tails lights to seve on electricity . sorry i couldn't resist about the lights.

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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Garand69 » Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:52 pm

Hello MadMasher,

Becoming less dependant on the grid starts with an honest assessment of what you are dependant on the most, and than building from there. For most it is obviously electricity. To replace the freezer, build a pantry/cellar and start canning meat and veggies.

What about water? do you have a source that doesn't involve electricity? They make some high quality hand pumps that will work in conjunction with your electric well pump, I cannot think of the brand off the top of my head but they are out there.

Water, Food and Shelter are your primary issues, look at your weak points and build upon that with calculated purchases going for the most bang for the buck.

I wrote a post elsewhere awile back about prepping on a budget, you can find it here... http://mscg.yuku.com/topic/6011/Prepare ... get-Part-1
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Truckinbutch » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:17 pm

I started out in a shake roofed log house with 3 paths ; one to the spring , one to the woodshed , one to the shithouse . Lots of quilts on the beds during the winter .Coal oil lights when the sun went down . I was 13 before I got to live in a house with central heat , running water , and an inside shitter . Reliable electric lights as well . Just how many amenities are you willing to sacrifice to go 'off the grid'?
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by MadMasher » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:27 pm

Nice solar heater, pretty innovative, I have extra fans laying around and can get an old window so maybe I'l try it.
i was hoping this thread would turn into tips like that.

As for completely off the grid, it isn't feasible for me at the moment. Just bought a new house in a subdivision :sigh: so the main things I want to achieve are creating electricity and saving on food costs. Water is the main caveat in food production as summers are fairly dry, rain barrels will help. I am not allow to have farm animals as per my HOA but there is a farm behind me on which I could acquire a small amount of land for say chickens. I happen to live in a place with a fair amount of wind, so a wind turbine could ease my electric bill.

If I didn't have a family I'm sure I could do without many things but this little pecker won't stay in his pants. So as far as sacrifice, I don't think they wanna give up much, if anything.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Prairiepiss » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:47 pm

We are also working towards being more self sufficient. We have found a 10 acer piece of land. It has a nice big barn with a leantoo off one side. A 2 car garage that needs new siding. Can you say new workshop? A 2 bedroom 1 bath singlewide with a separate nice fraidiehole. It's sectioned off in multiple fenced padocks. 4 are about 2 acres each one wooded one has the barn on it the other two are nice grazing pasture. Another small half acre or so pasture. A pond that's fenced off separate. Fences need some work. But they are there. The trailer is really nice on the inside. But the siding needs replace soon.

It's about 30 min outside of town. But the best part is. It's right around the corner from my aunts and uncles. I spent most of my childhood down in this area.

Wish it was a little bigger with more wooded land. But compared to all the other places we have looked at. This is by car much better suited for what we want to do. One was a lot cheaper with more acres. But it had a total of 5 trees and a short run of maybe 50 of fence. No out buildings. And not near anyone we know.

We met with the owner yesterday. And started the ball rolling. As long as everything works out right. We should be in it soon.

We have already started raising rabbits for meat fur and fertilizer.
We are shooting to add for this year.
Chickens for meat and eggs.
Goats for meat and milk.
Starting a Large garden.
Starting a small fruit tree orchard. Have a friend who runs a local community organic garden. He has saved us 10 one year old peach trees.
Rainwater catchment system.

Want to add eventualy.
A few pigs. Maybe? Love my Bacon.
Solar system. Already have a small one. And about $3000 worth of batteries.
Wind generation.
A nice root cellar.
Greenhouse.
A good water well. It's on rural water now.
And off grid completely.

We have been wanting to do this for a long time. And finally decided we aren't getting any younger. And if we wait any longer. We won't have any children around to help get it going. So we better get to it. We really wanted to move back down to Arkansas to do it. But I don't see that happening at this point in time.

Hopefully this spring we will be on our way to a more self sufficient lifestyle. And away from the nosy close neighbors. Not to mention step out the front door and piss off the porch. Or shoot my gun. Without the cops showing up.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by ga flatwoods » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:49 pm

Mm you are talking a full time job to be totally independent. Most daily activities would be devoted to necessities of life either for the minute or planning for tomorrow. Farming for food and animal stock, wood for fuel and shelter, etc. Not an easy life. Oh yea, distilling for barter would be necessary and rewarding as well. Would need such medicines!
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by rbread80 » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:51 pm

If the amenities must stay, obviously look for the most energy efficient appliances as you need them. Also, you might look at electric meters like the Kill A Watt (http://www.homedepot.com/p/P3-Internati ... /202196388" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow) and put it in each family member's main electrical connection (desk or tv/videogame connection) for a certain time period (say 4-6 weeks) so they see how little things can help reduce your energy dependency. I know I'll think of more things in a little while.

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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by pfshine » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:55 pm

Lots of things wood gasifier, use your ferment co2 to push the oxy out of grain barrels to keep them fresh. A parabolic mirror will make hot water all year round. A large parabolic mirror can make steam for various uses. Of course distilling water and alcohol for barter drink fuel and disinfection. Wind turbines require alot of maintenance and grease. A water wheel on the other hand doesnt and has many functions grain grinding water collection and can be geared to an alternator to make electricity. Posted while orhers posted.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Prairiepiss » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:00 pm

I don't see us ever being totally independent. But if we can cit our food bills by half or even 3/4. That's a lot of money. Plus the way we are doing the land. Our payment will be $100 less a month. And it will be paid of in 10 years. That will put US in a much better place.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by ga flatwoods » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:13 pm

I am learning to eat fiddler crabs and marsh coons. Both require eating a lot of grits also but no corn here. Tried acorn but too astrigent! Burn the leaves for sand gnats dissipation though. Could pickle fish and shrimp I guess.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by White_Lightning_Rod » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:34 pm

Prarie I envy your plan, I wish my wife was more on the same page as me when it comes to becoming more self sufficent. I grew up on a dairy farm until I was 14 the only heat we had was a wood stove and money was very tight to say the least so we learned to use what we had and do without what we didnt have to have. We raised chickens and pigs for meat and eggs, drank fresh milk from the farm, made our own butter and cheese. My brother and I learned early to hunt and fish and helped dad can and store trout, venison, and any vegtables we raised in the garden. Now that Im grown and married I have definately moved away from that life style. My wife and I work opposite shifts most days of the week so for the most part we only eat sit down meals at home maybe 2 times a week. Pay outrageous electric bills and I hate to even think about how unheathly and expensive ou food is, and feel lost if I dont have my cell phone on me all the time. To tell you the truth I HATE it. When you put in the work and dedication the food taste better and the end rewards are so much sweeter and life is just plain more enjoyable. Im working on a plan for my future to get back to a more self sufficent life and slowly showing and converting my wife to this better way of life. I am fairly young which is probaly a good thing cause its gonna take a while to get my wife on board completly. As of now I cant even get her to go camping withougt a camper and generator. I envy that you have a partner on your side as opposed to fighting against you.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by DAD300 » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:39 pm

I have a fair sized farm...chickens, ducks, cows, goats,... garden...enough timber to sell some once in a while.

Meet Red & Blackie. Bubbles went to the butcher last fall and there is a new cow to replace her this spring, Fiona. Blackie & Red will get breed this spring and boy cows will get butchered, girls will get saved to breed...the herd begins.
Red and Blackie.jpg
Daughter sells hundreds of chicken and duck eggs a week and makes a couple of hundred, but here husband still works in town.
She wants terribly to be self sufficient but has learned how hard farming is.

There are reasons the family farm has died. It actually takes a lot more acreage than most would think. You still need cash or a cash crop to sell for things you can't make any other way...property taxes, doctors, gasoline,...Obama Care...

When I was kid 50's and 60's all my uncles lived on farms and also worked at factories to provide the "cash crop", insurance, retirement,...etc.

It's possible to be totally off grid, if you have a cash source. Some endeavor that makes the cash to pay for the outside worldly necessities.

For me it's 80% a retirement from working in the world, subsidized 20% by the animal/farm products and wood to be sold at market.

To be totally off grid today, you have to be willing to live the 19th Century lifestyle and still need enough cash to pay the state and feds their due.

We have an inside toilet, but heat with wood and propane. When something breaks, we fix it. When we can't fix it we find a way around it or lay out the cash.

Going off grid, even slightly off grid, is a big change for most folks.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by MadMasher » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:51 pm

Wind turbines require alot of maintenance and grease. A water wheel on the other hand doesnt and has many functions grain grinding water collection and can be geared to an alternator to make electricity.
Seems pretty simple to make a windturbine, DC motor, controller, plug it in, grease isn't something I thought of, i was thinking of putting the post on a bearing.Wish I had a reliable stream...

Mr. Piss, have you look into aqua-ponics? My friend is doing it with very good results, raising tilapia and growing veggies with very good results. He is small scale but makes enough to sustain about 50% of his food intake during the growing months, he doesn't get enough to store for winter.
As of now I cant even get her to go camping without a camper and generator.
I know the feeling, I was used to going with a blanket, a lighter, some food, water, some "medicinal" herbs, a guitar and a fifth, now we get in the camper to go to a paved "campsite" lol
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Halfbaked » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:59 pm

ln a dream world I see my self in a concrete bunker under ground and the only side open is south facing for heat. I see a Solar hot water heater and a small wood stove for heat and hot water. If not wood stove a small outside hot water stove and water pipes running in the concrete floor for heated floors and hot drinking water.. I would like long metal culvert pipes running at least 3 feet but prefer 6 feet below ground for fresh free air conditioning. ln a dream world a large garden and and chickens and cows for meat and mild for drinking and cheeses and butter (I have made both). I would have to can meat and vegees with a cut in half 55 gal metal drum and firepit outside. A seperate stillin room and a seperate reloading room would be nice that has a hidden access that only I know about. It would also aid as a hiding place for me when the wife is pissed. I would still buy grains for stillin instead of growing them unless I canned the corn in gallon jars. This place has about 30 peach trees and 20 apple trees of different variety 1 of which has to be a winesap. The others would be drinking apples and eating apples The ideal place would be in the middle of around 50 acres so i have to see any ugly people and i can pee out my front porch. I would not like to be completely off grid. I am a little spoiled on hot water and lights and internet. It would be a very minimal electric bill because of effiency.

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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by pfshine » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:02 pm

My knowledge is second hand and his turbine is a manufactured one so i guess results may vary with that. All i know is i dont want the attention it would bring if shtf.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Prairiepiss » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:16 pm

I do have a good wife. Actually she is the one pushing this to the point its gona happen.
She was a bow hunter. And still would if she could still pull it back.

The rabbits, chickens, and goats are all her. I'm sure I will be doing a bunch. But that is her thing.

I am the gardener. I have the green thumb. I've planted a garden of some sorts at every place we have lived. Biggest so far was a 40x60. I ended up canning a whole bunch off that garden. I loved it. And I miss it. I get a lot of pleasure from working in the dirt of a garden. It ranks right up there with two wheel therapy. Ok not that high. But a close second.

My big want is an aquaponics setup. And I will be working towards that. Raising catfish and plants together.

I was posting this as you guys were. So yes madmasher. I do want to do it. I have a lot of ideas on how I want to do it. But I want to get a good feel of how our land is going to work. So I can fit it in the best way I can.

I will have enough room in the new place. To setup my fish tanks. Or at least one of them. I have 3 75 gal tanks and many others from 55 down to 10 gals. I am going to start small with a herb garden above one of the 75 gal tanks. Probably just ciclids in it. Kinda small for meat fish. I'm working on making it solar powered.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Prairiepiss » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:40 pm

I also have an advantage. I have a company vehicle. They pay the gas. And even though I am moving 40 minutes further away from our shop. I am actually moving closer to my normal customers. So it works out.

There is no way I will be able to stop working. But I see my wife staying home in the next year or so.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Truckinbutch » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:50 pm

Well , my wife and I still live on the 235 acre family farm . So does my Dad and my sister and her family . It takes all of us contributing to the labor force to maintain it . Income from the 50 cow feeder calf operation pays taxes and a good part of the maintenance . We garden and can and don't get me wrong ; for the most part it is a good life . It isn't a free ride . It takes outside income to subsidize the style and level we would like to continue to be accustomed to . Everything is still in place to return to primitive living if we have to . Been there , done that , and I'd prefer not to return .
Oh , and I still piss in my own yard . People driving by have the option of not looking if they feel they might be offended . Folks looking for the off the grid dream should have been riding a tractor with me during the recent sub-zero global warming and chopping water holes with an axe and shovel every day for the benefit of the livestock . When the snot in your whiskers freezes across your face to the point that you can't even take a drink of whiskey lonesome becomes more than a state of mind .
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by The KYChemist » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:58 pm

Solar is expensive, but pays for itself. Most companies will finance your system. A lot of the time, your payment will be less than your electric bill. On top of that, tax credits. Plus, you're using little to no energy, from the electric company, if not returning it to the grid, as long as the power company in your area allows that. Some don't. Worth researching, for sure. As long as you don't live in Seattle, that is.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by cob » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:16 pm

less dependent works. having lived completely off grid, i'm to old to do it again.
water diversion has the potential to get federal scrutiny.
look into vertical axis wind turbines, less complex and at least as efficient. easier to build than propeller turbines.
in some states (all states?) if you generate more electricity than you use the power co. is required to pay wholesale for surplus power.
the fancy bladed swoopy ones are pretty, but a cut and bent steel 55 gallon drum on a post will charge a battery.
a big wind generator can be a cash crop. sealed bearings hold grease a long time.
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vents to the garage bottom and top, convection heated the garage, no power required. old sheets cut down overheat in summer.
black barrels in the green house held rain water, served as thermal mass, and had shelves on top for pots.
i have seen a gasifier run a truck and it worked well, but they smell and subdivision neighbors could be a problem.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Prairiepiss » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:48 pm

Solar can be as expensive as you let it. From what I have found in my research. It's just like many things. Those selling the stuff sell their customers things they really don't need. Or sub standard equipment. When it doesn't do what the customer really wants. They tell them they need more stuff. And more stuff and more stuff. Granted most of my research has been in RV solar systems. That use storage batteries and are added to a rolling house that is already setup to run off batteries. But I'm not interested in a grid tie system.

I have found I can source the stuff a lot cheaper myself. And a lot of the stuff isn't setup right. I wouldn't go with a package deal.

Things I have found disturbing.
The fact that they don't build solar charge controllers to charge batteries properly. The voltages they are setup with will never het the batteries fully charged. So you would never get full use from them. And they fail quicker. Few have battery temp monitoring. Which is a must for proper battery charging.

The fact that many of the dc to AC inverters set over voltage on the dc side. Is lower then the charge voltage recommended by most of the battery manufactures. So when you have full sun and full voltage going to the batteries. The inverter will shut down or not work. And the internal chargers on the inverters are even worse then the solar charge controllers.

If you do plan to go solar with a battery storage system. Do yourself a favor and read through this website. Very informative. He rants a little.
http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by MadMasher » Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:31 am

I hadn't planned to use any batteries in my system. I was thinking a grid tie would be less complicated and cheaper. I have limited knowledge of electrical systems though, that electric engineering class I took in college has worn off. I have also contemplated hooking a dc motor to a bicycle, good incentive to work out. It would have to be a large motor to make it worthwhile and probably be more of a novelty than anything useful however.
For some reason it never occurred to me that there would be used solar equipment for sale (palm to forehead).

PP 3 75 gallon tanks are a good start. My friend just dug a hole and put in a liner, this was beneficial in that is created more space to grow and also kept a cooler and more consistent water temperature. His was quite more elaborate than the floating decks but also a lot more work. It was basically a pump to the highest point then pipes with various plants in cut outs, buckets with larger plants in the system. It was quite interesting.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by MadMasher » Sat Feb 01, 2014 8:42 am

Found some info on what DC motors are ideal for making a turbine...http://www.windynation.com/articles/win ... ight-motor
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by MadMasher » Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:26 pm

Has anyone made a solar water heater for the roof? Thinking of one for the summer months as a primer to my water heater
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by DAD300 » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:02 pm

I haven't made one, but I've lived two places where it was the primary water heater.

In the Caribbean, it was the only hot water heater. Which means we had 100+ degree water from 10am to 10pm and 75 deg F in the early am. A 75 deg F shower gets your morning started briskly!

In Kuwait, they had a better insulated storage system and we had hot water 24 hours a day.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by woodshed » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:28 pm

My hunting buddies and I frequently use a hunting cabin on a private ranch owned by one of my wife's clients. She doesn't hunt and bought the ranch as a trophy when she divorced. We call it Elk trap.
5 years ago we installed a 250 gal. water tank on a platform 8 ft. tall. Painted it flat black. The last week of August (we are all bowhunters and season starts the end of the month) we haul water out there and fill it with a 12 volt pump. Tank is plumbed to a shower head outside and into a sink in the cabin. When we return to hunt we bring another 250 gals with us to use for cooking and drinking.
Never checked the temp but always feels great after a day of chasin timber ghosts or turkey in the spring.

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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by MadMasher » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:07 pm

I was thinking of maybe 30 gallons or so, some pvc pipe painted black then arranged in a zig zag pattern down to my heater so warm or hot water is going into it instead of cold. Not sure I'm smart enough to get it to switch back and forth so I could bypass my heater. Right now wouldn't do much good, its below freezing here.
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Re: Living Off the Grid

Post by Prairiepiss » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:08 pm

I haven't done a solar water heater yet. I have plans for one of four.

Where we camp they have a solar water heater setup for the shower house. If you get there later in the day. And before all the other campers. It's pretty nice. If its full it has a hard time keeping up. But I could see it working well for a normal family.

I want to build an outside shower/tub. For fair weather use. And I want to build it with a solar heater. I have this idea of building a water tower. Like an old wooden one. Using a plastic 55 gal drum. Insulating really good. Then wrapping wood around it. Like a barrel. On a wooden stand. With a old farm windmill on top. The wind mill will be updated to generate electricity. Around the bottom will be a roofed patio area. With solar heat collectors on the south side. Using natural convection to heat the water tank. And on the patio have a big soaking tub of some sort? Haven't decided on that yet. And above it a huge shower/rain head. Gravity fed from the tank. Maybe have a nice outdoor fireplace. That would have a water heating coil in it. For the days that weren't so sunny. And added warmth to the shower area. Maybe build it into the base of the water tower. Shower/tub being on the south side of the tower. An outdoor kitchen on the north side. A eating/sitting area on the east side. And a sauna on the west side. Heated by the fireplace.

As you can tell. I have a very active imagination.

I also want to build an aquaponics greenhouse. That uses solar water heating for the fish tanks. And heating the greenhouse. I've just learned about walipini's. And want to incorporate that into this also.
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