Most individual, container-based houses are located out of towns, in the countryside. After all, their main advantage is the possibility to build them in areas with difficult access, close to nature and as a result – far from civilization. Leaving behind the stressful, hectic, and let’s face it – unhealthy city lifestyle, has many well-known advantages and frankly, it is a popular trend these days. But there is a price to pay for peace and tranquility that Mother Nature can offer, for starry nights marked by the Milky Way, for clean air, for sounds of nature (and the list can go on and on…). The truth you have to be ready to face head-on in most remote locations is – no access to Municipal Grid as well as Water & Sewer Systems.
Thanks to the technological progress, systems harvesting sun and wind energy are quite affordable. Practically, the amounts of energy generated by typical household-type systems can easily support an off-grid life. Unfortunately, traditionally power-hungry heating and cooling systems and coming with them comfort are still difficult to achieve at off-grid locations. It does not mean however that we are powerless in front of these challenges. Well-designed ventilation schemes, nature (trees, breezes …), good insulation, protection from direct exposure to the sun, energy-efficient windows and so on can greatly lower the need for heating/cooling energy.
Below you will find pages dedicated to energy harvesting:
What does it take to live a comfortable life in a remote, off-grid environment? For sure you will face numerous challenges, but what is also certain, knowing most of them will allow you to make more educated decisions! From the Impact of family size and habits, energy-star rating (efficiency) of available appliances to the estimation of household’s energy needs…Read More
These days, thanks to the technological progress, harvesting energy from alternative (renewable) sources is a reality. In fact, the market offers a large selection of affordable systems designed for individual households at off-grid locations. See introduction to popular systems starting from Photo-Voltaic (PV) and Heat Absorbing Solar Panels, through small wind turbines, mini hydro-turbines to more conventional (and unfortunately not-renewable (fossil-based)) resources like LPG as well as more complex Hybrid Systems…Read More!
While LPG cannot be considered as eco-friendly, it’s still the cleanest fossil-fuel source of energy. It is relatively easy to store (even in larger tanks) and transport, so it can be considered as one of the options for off-grid houses…Read More!
Photo-Voltaic (PV) solar panels seem to be the most popular method of harvesting solar energy. It’s not only because they are affordable, but also are quite easy to install, do not alter the architectural integrity of the house and do not cause any legal problems (like wind or water turbines may). Another big advantage of PV solar panels comes from the fact that in the majority of cases they have their protected space for free – The Roof! See the impact of the roof (flat, shed or gable-type) as well as the pros and cons of fixed versus portable systems…Read More!
Roofs offer an ideal (and virtually free) space for the installation of solar panels. They almost do not change the architectural aesthetics of the house, they offer the closest-possible location for panels (next to the place of energy consumption) and as being elevated, they offer quite good protection from accidental damage. The most popular are Photo-Voltaic (PV) solar panels directly converting energy carried by sunlight into an easy to use electrical form. Less popular (although very practical) are also Heat Absorbing Solar Panels used for water and space heating. Learn about both solar systems, their pros, cons in off-grid applications…Read More!
In contrast to gigantic industrial-grade wind power generators, these, designed for individual households are much smaller, much less noisy and what is also important – visually less obtrusive.
Given the fact that (so far) wind is considered as a freely-available resource and typically available daily much longer than the sun required for solar panels, it may be the best choice for off-grid locations. Note that for aesthetic reasons, wind turbines may be not approved in an urban environment, but it could be expected that remote, off-grid location should not have at least “aesthetic” such barriers. Find more about practical aspects of wind-energy harvesting, legal issues …Read More!
Hydro-power is a very good source of renewable energy. Unlike solar and wind energy, hydro-energy is available on a 24/7 basis (exception may be caused by long-lasting drought). Unfortunately, most likely an adequate water source will be rarely available near your off-grid location. And even when Mother Nature offers you such gift, the local Administration may have different opinions as of legality of its use.
Nevertheless, it’s worth getting familiar with practical requirements for the water source, existing technical solutions and legal issues…Read More!
In contrast to solar power generated in houses connected to the grid, off-grid houses cannot send the excess of energy back to the grid and cannot get if from the grid when needed. That’s why, a reliable, high-capacity energy storage system is a vital part of any renewable off-grid energy system. Most of us a quite familiar with car batteries, unfortunately, these are designed as “startup” units, able to deliver high peak power for just a few seconds, without being significantly discharged. The energy storage batteries have quite different requirements. Their most important parameters are Nominal Voltage (preferably higher than 12V), Capacity (how much energy can store), Depth of Cycle & Round-Trip Efficiency (how much of stored energy will be available for a user), and Cycle Life (determining the battery lifespan). We will discuss the pros and cons of different types of batteries: Wet, Sealed (AGM and Gel) as well as Lithium- Ions ones…Read More!