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  #1  
Old 12/25/08, 08:47 PM
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Lightbulb AZ homesteading

anyone homesteading off the grid in AZ ? what part ?
can you share an off-the-grid story of challenges you've had starting off low-budget ?
what are the bare essentials---how many solar panels for 2 people? running satellite, computer, phone charger.
what kind of generator ?
know anyone who can install woodburning stove in a travel trailer ? this is high-desert off-the-grid, near grand canyon.
anyone have any idea, ballpark, cost of fencing 1.3 acre plot ?
know anyone who can re-pipe travel trailer, to make water, shower, toilet functional (bought as fixer upper).
any stories of feelings right before you took off to live off-the-grid...i mean when you actually went for it and were done just thinking about it...


as i sit here listening to everyone in the family watching TV or just playing solitaire on the internet, i get more and more convinced i want to live more alive...

any advice for this next year of planning before i can jump in...

ug. mainstream, while it IS helpful in many ways, sucks.
thanks for your time and input!

whiskeyhorse

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  #2  
Old 12/26/08, 12:23 AM
 
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Location: I live in NW North Dakoa and have a small farm in eastern Montana.
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Good luck

Hi Whiskeyhorse...I must say you have more ambition than I do. I did look at some lots south of the Grand Canyon. Like most parts of Az..it is water. Not much rainfall, unless you get in the mountains near Flagstaff. I decided to get lots in the Dolan Springs area. More people have settled there and towns close by. I think I will take the easy way now and go with local power and heat with solar. Water is a problem there too. The water wells are around 250' to 300' so will use the community wells where I can get around 1000 gal for $3 or $4.
I must make it short....I hope you can make it...it is not easy. That is why there is not a lot of people doing it. Good Luck..

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  #3  
Old 12/26/08, 10:08 AM
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Big changes.

Be sure.

Plan on about $6,000 per kilowatt on the PV panels. I have seen where some make do on 2 kw systems but it requires a great deal of planning (daily) and sacrifice.

Fencing 1.3 acres with t-posts and barbed wire will be ~$2K. More with cross fencing.

Check local zoning. Up here in the "wilds" of Utah the county does not allow living in an RV on land. You must have a structure. You can live in the RV on the land if you have plans under review at the county and if you are building.

Water. If you need to go to 300' for a well, then expect a 1hp or greater well pump. Now you are looking at 2,500 watts just for the well start-up. It will be difficult to get a hand pump working at that depth although they say that a windmill will run that type of pump to 450' (but I doubt it).

It gets cold there on the south rim. On our side of the Grand Canyon (North Rim) the road does not even open until June due to snow. Heat?

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  #4  
Old 12/26/08, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mondakkid View Post
Not much rainfall, unless you get in the mountains near Flagstaff. ..
Still not much water there. We made our first off-grid attempt on land on the other side of the SF Peaks from Flagstaff called Snowbowl Estates 2. There was no question that we would be able to have a well...we had to haul water in which doesn't feel very independent.
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  #5  
Old 12/26/08, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by LisaInN.Idaho View Post
Still not much water there. We made our first off-grid attempt on land on the other side of the SF Peaks from Flagstaff called Snowbowl Estates 2. There was no question that we would be able to have a well...we had to haul water in which doesn't feel very independent.
Life is tough in Arizona. I know that state really well. There is quite a bit of diversity in climates throughout the state, but water always seems to be a problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 7.62mmFMJ
Plan on about $6,000 per kilowatt on the PV panels. I have seen where some make do on 2 kw systems but it requires a great deal of planning (daily) and sacrifice.
More like 1/2 KW, with lifestyle changes of course. You'll need to give-up your toaster & microwave, but a 400 to 500 watt system should give you enough power for what you really need it for. You'll also need to keep a generator around for power tools.

The idea is to use power for what you need power for, then do the rest with propane. Use power for lights (CF bulbs), TV, and computer (get a laptop). Use propane for heat, cooking, & hot water. The fridge is a gray area, where propane refrigerators are expensive, but getting an electric fridge it just trading the cost of a propane refrigerator for the cost of additional solar panels.

If you build your own panels you should be able to keep it down to under $2/watt. That's what I did.
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  #6  
Old 12/26/08, 12:33 PM
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Nevada, is there a website or a book that details how to build your own solar panels?

Kathleen

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  #7  
Old 12/26/08, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by BlueJuniperFarm View Post
Nevada, is there a website or a book that details how to build your own solar panels?

Kathleen
Yes, I pretty much followed this web site as a guide.

http://www.mdpub.com/SolarPanel/index.html

I got my solar cells, tabbing ribbon, and diodes from eBay. Here are the cells I used.

http://cgi.ebay.com/36-3x4in-solar-c...mZ250346842739

Just search around eBay's solar panel category and you'll find tabbing ribbon (you'll need both the solar cell tabbing & bus tabbing) and 1 diode (6 amp or higher) for each panel. The diode acts like a one-way valve, so that your solar cells won't drain your batteries at night.

http://home.shop.ebay.com/items/Sola...QQ_sacatZ41981

There's a lot of soldering involved, particularly if you don't buy solar cells with tabbing already attached. You can get tabbing already attached to the solar cells, but it raises the price by about 50 cents per watt, so I got them without tabbing. That's up to you.

Here is what it looks like finished. It makes 63 watts.

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Last edited by Nevada; 12/26/08 at 01:08 PM.
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  #8  
Old 12/26/08, 01:27 PM
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Yep, water is a MAJOR issue here. If you check out just about every area in the state; look at photos and all; you'll see that we don't have a whole lot of green, lush areas. Our state has its own beauty, a certain starkness even where the rain falls more heavily, but water is definitely a problem. We have lots of cheap land in some of the more remote areas, but one reason the cost is so low is because of lack of adequate water.

It's rather funny in a way... we have regions here where apples and other fruits requiring a fair amount of chilling thrive, but when you look at photos of the raw land it's all flat and scrubby; quite desert-y looking. Irrigation is pretty much the only way one can grow anything but desert plants around here, as I've been able to tell. I suppose one might be able to do well, water-wise, located near a year-round running river like the Colorado (we don't have many year-round rivers either) but I'm wagering that land prices are going to be pretty high.

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  #9  
Old 12/26/08, 09:34 PM
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Nevada, thank you! I'd like to have some solar lights here -- we have oil lamps and enough kerosene to last a while (as long as we don't need our kerosene heater!), but I've lived with oil lamps before as our only light source, and they are hard to read or sew by.

Kathleen

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  #10  
Old 12/27/08, 12:31 AM
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Thumbs up Thank You

it is really so inspiring, as i maintain in suburbia for the time being, to get EIGHT responses in less than 24 hours to my question...
it is really inspiring to hear from people who are actually living the homestead life, it keeps me feeling connected even as i punch in and punch out and watch TV (reluctantly, it's just on here).
thank you everyone, for the 'numbers'....the fence cost ~2000...i got a guy who owns land near me who i'm sure will do it for the cost of supplies and a hefty sum for him and his lady, but maybe not up to 2000.
solar panels, wish i was as adept as others on this site who can BUILD THEIR OWN ! wow. so much respect for that ability, but not my forte...
but as far as solar energy goes, it is really quite shocking how simply i live in the first place, like someone said that i would have to give up my toaster and microwave...i use neither anyway. and if i did eat toast, my first thought would be to buy one of those cool metal toaster things that u hold over the fire...lol.

anyway, thank you all. as i sit and hold my dream close, i will appreciate the communication with y'all out there that are actually doing my dream. i'm close but planning is really important before i make the move.
and i appreciate what 'you' said about 'big changes , be sure.' it is true. i have often moved fast, but i am trying to make sure by giving it time, i cannot move to my land for 10 more months because i made a commitment to my job working with autistic adults. i will be sure by then.
thanks you all and stay in touch, what a great community of homesteaders on this site.
thank you for your responses and feel free to add anything more in the future. especially if you know other off the gridders in AZ.
thankyou.
whiskeyhorse

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  #11  
Old 12/28/08, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by whiskeyhorse View Post
know anyone who can install woodburning stove in a travel trailer ? this is high-desert off-the-grid, near grand canyon.
I'm sure that a wood stove can be installed in a travel trailer, but I can't say that I've ever seen it done myself. They manufacture smaller wood stoves for marine use (small pleasure craft), so one of those would be about right for a travel trailer. Unfortunately I don't think you'll like the price. I've look at those before and couldn't find new ones for less than about $2000 (not counting the chimney). You can buy an awful lot of propane for the cost of a marine wood stove.

You can search at Google for more information about small marine wood stoves.

http://www.google.com/search?q=wood+stove+marine

******
Edited to add:

Actually, upon additional searching I did find a page with some inexpensive suggestions for a small wood stove (see the tent stove and wilderness stove near the bottom of that page).

http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/000666.php
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Last edited by Nevada; 12/28/08 at 01:05 PM.
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  #12  
Old 12/30/08, 04:39 PM
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Thumbs up Thank You

thanks nevada,
i appreciate that information !!
anyone have any feedback on using indoor propane heater? what style you bought, how efficiently it heats, etc.

how about a sawdust compost toilet? i mean i know how to make one, but anyone's experiences using it? does it end up stinkin ? thinking of taking out my trailer toilet and putting in sawdust compost toilet...

food storage container for outside ? build one ? what kind of material ?

anyone build an earthbag shelter on their land ? thinking about trying that, just making a little place at first, to practice... (if you dont know what that is, you should check it out...easy to build, can stay warm and cool, can last thru earthquakes, etc...)

14 more months to plan...then the move....
1.33 acres


thanks everyone !
whiskeyhorse

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  #13  
Old 02/26/13, 06:12 AM
 
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Hey there Whiskeyhorse, I'm wondering if you ever made it to your land? From what you described, we may be neighbours. I live in the Valle area, about 30 miles south of the Grand Canyon. I've been living off grid part time since about 2000, (commuting back and forth between Phoenix) and permanently moved here in 2007. If you want to talk about doing it on the cheap, my first year I lived in a tent, (I really dont recommend that to anyone) Then had a 6' X12' trailer with a 360 watt PV for several years, Then a 25' trailer with a with a 1 KW
PV system for several more yeats, then finally got a site built home that manages to do well
with a 750 watt system. If you have any questions feel free to email me.

Kirk

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  #14  
Old 02/26/13, 06:27 PM
 
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I'm in SC. About 1970 wife and I made a trip to the Grand Canyon, among other places. Drove from Flagstaff through the open range country(do they still have open range?) on hwy 180 to the intersection with hwy 64, which comes from Williams. There was a real estate office at the intersection with a few roads carved out in the brush. Real estate agent was enthusiastic, talked about all the Grand Canyon visitors that went buy, said land would grow anything, just needed a little water. After we had a couple of kids and they were old enough in the mid 80s we went back. Came to same intersection, real estate office was now occupied by a nice older lady selling Indian soveuneirs. Older couple was asking for directions to place they had bought 10 years earlier and had never seen, they were told the office was in Phoenix. After some discussion it turned out there was no water there, a couple of people had drilled 5000? feet and come up dry. Water was trucked in at $.03 a gallon. Nice scenic area, cold in winter they said, there were cattle ranches between there and Williams. Oh the area hadn't grown much since 1970. There was a motel, a campground, and a service station where the guy tried to sell me $140 worth of rear air shocks, warning me of bad shocks which would put extra strain on the driveshaft and break the U joints. Car still had the original shocks when I sold it 100,000 miles later.

Fence: You should use steel T posts, 6 feet long, spaced 10 feet apart. Get a T post driver and expect trouble driving them in rocky soil. Check prices for posts locally. If you plan to keep dogs in you need 5 foot dog pen wire, in which case you will need longer posts, 7 feet should be enough. Figure the cost of whatever wire you get, per foot, add the cost of posts and corner braces, plus gates.

Good luck,

COWS

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  #15  
Old 02/28/13, 03:58 AM
 
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where hwy 64 & 180 come together is Valle. It has grown since you were there. The garage is now run by some very honest local boys, Most people use rain water catchment for water and buy whatever extra they need from the local wells. I've personally been averaging about $50.00 per year for water. Solar and wind work great up here, pasture is dry, but there's lots of it if you want to raise cattle or goats. Soil doesn't need a lot of amending to produce, and property taxes are low. After living in Phoenix, this is heaven on earth!!!

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  #16  
Old 02/28/13, 08:01 AM
 
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Kirkk,
Thanks for reply. You are doing what I thought would have to be done to live there. Since I have always had cattle, I was thinking along the lines of someone getting enough lad to have cows there, but I couldn't help but notice that there were very few cows in evidence there! Glad to hear about the area, maybe we'll go back to the GC for another visit sometime.

COWS

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  #17  
Old 02/28/13, 11:06 AM
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I lived not far from Valle. Can't remember the forest service rd. number but if you turned off 180 in Kendrick Park near the old store and chapel of the holy dove and went about 7 miles back, we lived back in there on the back side of the peaks. It was called Snowbowl Estates II.

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  #18  
Old 06/11/13, 06:40 PM
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no, not yet. still holding on to it. i have a travel trailer there that i wish someone could use though, it's sitting there rotting. do you know the Adams couple? an older couple that has horses and lives off the grid in the Grand Canyon Estates?... or do you know anyone who could use a trailer, the trailer i was talking about in my original post. needs lots of work to be liveable. i'm living in NC at the moment and don't know when i'll be able to do what i was originally talking about Had some company write me wanting to buy my land for a thousand bucks. i bought it for 4000. i love it and hope i can do what i wanted to do, but between last post and this i got me a husband who is not fond of the desert (more of a mountainman), and we had a kid lol. soooo.... traveling a different road at the moment . what do you do in the grand canyon? i worked there in 2008 before i moved to NC. Thanks for checking in, i still keep my dream alive of living off the grid out there on my land.

whiskeyhorse

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  #19  
Old 06/11/13, 08:29 PM
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Kirk, is it feasible to get a cement truck out to the Grand Canyon Estates plots? meaning, are there cement companies nearby?... and how do you get internet out at your place?

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Old 06/12/13, 01:10 PM
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Hi, I am in Tucson and looking at land in Cochise county because they have lower land taxes and more shallow water table.

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