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Do any of you live totally without any kind of electricity, that includes solar, wind generation etc.? I have read about so many people who want to live off the grid but still want life as it was when they were on the grid. Solar & wind generation seem so expensive & alot of work on upkeep, I have often wondered if it is any savings by going this way? What appliance/gadget would you find very hard to live without? For me it would be my washing machine - my freezer - my fridge - and my computer.
 

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Well, I would think that if someone answers this and unless they are at someone else's house, a library, work, etc., that they are prolly not off-grid totally. Unless someone has come up with a wood-fueled computer :)
 

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I doubt if anyone on this board is living totally without electricity... otherwise they wouldn't be able to access this site. Unless they're visiting the local library to use their internet connections.

I lived off grid for the first 13 years at my current home. I used solar panels for my power generation.

Yes, it is expensive, but it was the only option. Hooking up to the power grid would have cost +80k, plus paying for two miles of R.O.W. through timberland, not likely affordable, at ~7$/foot for regular row's.

If a person wants some semblance of modern life, and live more than a couple miles from the grid, off grid alternatives are competitive. If a person has access to the grid, and chooses to go solar/wind/hydro, they know upfront they're going to pay a fortune. For a complete system, that would allow me to do whatever I wanted to do (normal American living), I'd've had to pay the equivalent of 20+ years worth of monthly electric bills... All At Once... plus replace batteries every so often (thousands of bucks).

You can go off grid, with electricity, and build up your capacity as you go along. I was living pretty comfortably on about 2K worth of panels, controllers, and batteries. Enough for a small color tv, stereo, lights... no resistive heating or microwaves though.
 

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RoseGarden said:
Well, I would think that if someone answers this and unless they are at someone else's house, a library, work, etc., that they are prolly not off-grid totally. Unless someone has come up with a wood-fueled computer :)
As a test a few years ago I powered my computer with 12 volt electricity and a voltage converter. The 12 volt supply was truck and tractor battery that were recharged as I used the vehicle and did field work with the tractor. Worked just fine. I drove the truck about 10 miles per day. It was equipped with just one battery which was oversized. I really should have had two batteries and an isolator.

Almost daily as well I ironed a shirt with a smaller wattage travel iron again using the inverter.

My current utility bill runs less than 200 KWH per month. If I did without a refrigerator I could probably go solar and wind combination, perhaps even just solar.

As for me I love the convenience of flipping a switch and illuminating a room. When I used to camp I always lit my tent with electricity. Much easier to read by, write postcards, study travel maps and brochures, etc.

Unless I married an Amish woman I doubt that I would ever opt for living totally without electricity of some kind.
 

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If I need a Shelter
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We lived here for two years with out any Electric.We did have Gas refridgerator,Gas Lights,and run Wringer washer with Gas Motor,drawed water with a Bucket.

What we missed most was Fan at night when it was Hot.But we would go down to the river just before dark cool off,it would keep us cool enough to where we could get to sleep.

If I was going to do it again I think I would do without the refridgerator and use a Spring House.

People would complain about us not having a phone.Figure if it was important enough they could come back here.

big rockpile
 

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Of course, having or not having a phone has nothing to do with having electricity either from the grid or generated yourself, as the phone is self-powered.

We found that in the long run, it was cheaper to buy an expensive SunFrost 12 volt electric refrigerator, and some PV panels to generate power to run it (and batteries, controller etc) than to continue to buy propane to power our Servel refrigerator (which was an inexpensive used unit). The cost of propane over the life of the refrigerator was more than the cost of the pv panels, etc., over the same period of time.
 

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Keeping the Dream Alive
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Jan Sears said:
Do any of you live totally without any kind of electricity, that includes solar, wind generation etc.? I have read about so many people who want to live off the grid but still want life as it was when they were on the grid. Solar & wind generation seem so expensive & alot of work on upkeep, I have often wondered if it is any savings by going this way? What appliance/gadget would you find very hard to live without? For me it would be my washing machine - my freezer - my fridge - and my computer.
Living 'off the grid' doesn't mean that you go without electricity altogether - just means that you are not hooked up to power supplied by a utilities company. Most people who do that around here use solar panels, deep cycle batteries and inverters, with a backup generator for emergencies or when extra power is needed. Fridges and freezers are made that use 24v., and washing machines can be converted by replacing the normal motor with a 24v. truck starter motor.

If you're going down that path, it's also better to use a solar hot water system as well. Preferably one with an instantaneous gas booster, though you could use a wood-chip water heater. Some combustion kitchen stoves also have an inbuilt hot water tank, which can be plumbed in to the system.

Here, the Govt is subsidising both solar electric and solar hot water systems, so both are becoming more popular. (They are also subsidising the installation of water tanks, though there's a few strings atached.)
 

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Semper Fidelis
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Well I help install solar systems and the associated electronics for my off the grid friends. . I have 240+ amp hours of battery backup with 45 watts of flexable solar panels for my ham radio gear here for emergencies also. Thinking of getting a wind turbine up here on the hilltop someday.

Oh, they build the Sunfrost brand 12 VDC fridges here in Arcata, California at the bottom of the hill I live on. I went to the factory to help a friend pickup a brand new one (neat place/ small business) and installed it on her solar panel / battery system back in Feburary. You can also do satellite internet now - as she is also the 1 person that I know who does it from solarpower, or using a generator being off of the grid.

Otherwise, when I was out in the field doing fisheries work, I used a small mini mag-light and a small am/fm radio with headphones both using AA batteries. Sometimes I would take some of my very low power (QRP) ham radios with a dry cell 12 volt lantern battery. We would be out in the field working for up to two weeks at a time in very remote areas. There weren't any PG&E power lines way back in the woods along the streams/ rivers. That is the closest that I ever came to using no electricity at all!!
 

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Goshen Farm
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I dont think our plan was to live very differently when we went off grid (no utilities available in our area). We do tend to be quite conservative with power usage though, have 4- 120 watt panels (would like 4 more) and use a generator for back up as well as a small wind generator. My life here on the mountain with solar is drastically different from my sisters life on the grid in tucson. Although I must admit paying up front for your power is costly in the beginning. I would do it no other way....though i would like to have a super efficient electric frige instead of propane. sis
 
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