Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)

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GregKeeganonline today! GregKeegan

Moliagul, Victoria Australia

Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
Ok, I live off grid. I had hoped when I first got here that i would have a proper solar set up but the guy that was supposed to do it messed up and 6 months later backed out meaning I was left with half a solar system. Now I run a generator and am slowly working towards getting the full system up and running.
I have created this thread for others in a similar position and off grid and hopoe we can all share our discoveries that makes the hassles of not having the reliability of the grid, so much easier. Tips and tricks or your own inventions that you find has worked for making life more comfy and as cheaply as possible or for free.
To start with I'll throw in a new trick for insulating sheds, or other structures and I guess houses too that has very little cost. I am getting my local supermarkets and grocery stores to save all their old styrofoam containers for me. I am cutting them up into flat pieces and using silastic, gluing them to the underside of my roofing and walls where I am using iron for walling though it could be used in any cavity. When it is done it will work just like a refrigeration panel and both hold the heat in in cooler months as well as keep the heat out in warmer months.
I also run two solar panels to a 120 AH battery that has a choice of a 300 watt or 1000 watt inverter, so I can use for charging the laptop or phone, with the 300 watt or the 100 watt one for the tv and other slightly higher wattage needing appliances, when I don't have the geny running.
Any and all hints for making this type of living will be appreciated as I am sure that loads of you have and do things that the rest of us just haven't thought of and between us, we can all make each others lives that much easier and richer.
Thanks for your input. :)
ali110online now! ali110

karachi, Sindh Pakistan

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
GregKeegan: Ok, I live off grid. I had hoped when I first got here that i would have a proper solar set up but the guy that was supposed to do it messed up and 6 months later backed out meaning I was left with half a solar system. Now I run a generator and am slowly working towards getting the full system up and running.
I have created this thread for others in a similar position and off grid and hopoe we can all share our discoveries that makes the hassles of not having the reliability of the grid, so much easier. Tips and tricks or your own inventions that you find has worked for making life more comfy and as cheaply as possible or for free.
To start with I'll throw in a new trick for insulating sheds, or other structures and I guess houses too that has very little cost. I am getting my local supermarkets and grocery stores to save all their old styrofoam containers for me. I am cutting them up into flat pieces and using silastic, gluing them to the underside of my roofing and walls where I am using iron for walling though it could be used in any cavity. When it is done it will work just like a refrigeration panel and both hold the heat in in cooler months as well as keep the heat out in warmer months.
I also run two solar panels to a 120 AH battery that has a choice of a 300 watt or 1000 watt inverter, so I can use for charging the laptop or phone, with the 300 watt or the 100 watt one for the tv and other slightly higher wattage needing appliances, when I don't have the geny running.
Any and all hints for making this type of living will be appreciated as I am sure that loads of you have and do things that the rest of us just haven't thought of and between us, we can all make each others lives that much easier and richer.
Thanks for your input. :)
it is nice informative thread .
I have a solar system installed at home with 2 inverters of 500 watts each , solar is an awesome device handshake
epirbonline today! epirb

Dannevirke, Hawkes Bay New Zealand

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
GregKeegan: Ok, I live off grid. I had hoped when I first got here that i would have a proper solar set up but the guy that was supposed to do it messed up and 6 months later backed out meaning I was left with half a solar system. Now I run a generator and am slowly working towards getting the full system up and running.
I have created this thread for others in a similar position and off grid and hopoe we can all share our discoveries that makes the hassles of not having the reliability of the grid, so much easier. Tips and tricks or your own inventions that you find has worked for making life more comfy and as cheaply as possible or for free.
To start with I'll throw in a new trick for insulating sheds, or other structures and I guess houses too that has very little cost. I am getting my local supermarkets and grocery stores to save all their old styrofoam containers for me. I am cutting them up into flat pieces and using silastic, gluing them to the underside of my roofing and walls where I am using iron for walling though it could be used in any cavity. When it is done it will work just like a refrigeration panel and both hold the heat in in cooler months as well as keep the heat out in warmer months.
I also run two solar panels to a 120 AH battery that has a choice of a 300 watt or 1000 watt inverter, so I can use for charging the laptop or phone, with the 300 watt or the 100 watt one for the tv and other slightly higher wattage needing appliances, when I don't have the geny running.
Any and all hints for making this type of living will be appreciated as I am sure that loads of you have and do things that the rest of us just haven't thought of and between us, we can all make each others lives that much easier and richer.
Thanks for your input. :)
I've been off grid since 2000 , built a hybrid solar/micro hydro . Runs my house including my satellite connection . If you are going to run a genny try using a charger inverter . I have one that's as hungry as hell on standby , there are good charger/inverters on the market . Mostly my Taiwanese built inverter runs the house , really good standby as well as a power save mode . Frankly I don't know why they built the power save into it as their standby is so good . The old styrofoam you are using is the base product for napalm . Soaked in petrol overnight the gue that's left is napalm . I use it to burn scrub , socked in fiberglass insulation batting nailed and wrapped with wire on a stick like a KKK torch that does not burn . Styrofoam burns just great on its own without the petrol .
GregKeeganonline today! GregKeegan

Moliagul, Victoria Australia

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
I am running a inverter geny. I get about 7.5 hours of power, in the house off 6 liters of fuel. I never run it on standby because it is also running the fridge and freezer and they say it isn't good for them to run on standby with compressors turning on and off all the time. I know about styrofoam and just how flammable it is having been a bit of a pyro in my younger days and having burnt it plenty of times but I only have to worry about that if the sheds go up in flames and I would hope that that never happens. It is the same stuff they use in refrigeration paneling so I am guessing it will work just as well in my application.
Can you tell me about your micro hydro system. I have had ideas about doing something like that, if I c an find a generator small enough or a number of them, by setting them up in my watering system for the property. Having the paddles for the turbine set in the piping system but I have no idea if it would work or not.I have also thought about using steam to drive a turbine for the same purpose. Using something like the magnifier off a old rear projection tv, set up on a sun tracker, I should be able to use the sun to direct the heat onto a container that the water is in and have a release valve for the steam. What I don't know is how to feed the water into it without causing to much back presure so that the steam vents where I want it too instead of pushing back up the water line. If I can figure that out, I don't think it would be that difficult to achieve and I should also be able to condense the steam back into water and capture it again for reuse in other things like watering, with a little thought. :)
So far I have gone through 2 genies and am onto my third. I would also like to figure out how to remove the generator part from the motor so I can use it for a turbine or wind generation because that part is still working fine, it is the motors that drive the geny that have died. The problem is that modern, small genies like the ones I use, are made as one unit with the motor and geny incorporated into the same housing and sepearatingthem is not easy. If I can figure it out, I know of a heap of old generators that friends have that I can do this with and have good functioning generators that just need a power source to drive them and that can open up all sorts of ideas and means with a little imagination. :)
serene56online now! serene56

Myplace, New South Wales Australia

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
I'd love to get involved with this but I know nothing about it sigh


Living off the grid is a wondrous thing if you can achieve it, especially in this country where the cost of living is shamefully skyhigh mumbling


I just live a frugal life, grow as much produce as i can and am happy to see my current quarterly electricity bill come in at 85 bucks for a 2 person household when someone I was speaking with recently said theirs was usually around 700 for 4 people uh oh
ali110online now! ali110

karachi, Sindh Pakistan

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
serene56: I'd love to get involved with this but I know nothing about it


Living off the grid is a wondrous thing if you can achieve it, especially in this country where the cost of living is shamefully skyhigh


I just live a frugal life, grow as much produce as i can and am happy to see my current quarterly electricity bill come in at 85 bucks for a 2 person household when someone I was speaking with recently said theirs was usually around 700 for 4 people
the solar system is best for remot areas wave
epirbonline today! epirb

Dannevirke, Hawkes Bay New Zealand

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
GregKeegan: I am running a inverter geny. I get about 7.5 hours of power, in the house off 6 liters of fuel. I never run it on standby because it is also running the fridge and freezer and they say it isn't good for them to run on standby with compressors turning on and off all the time. I know about styrofoam and just how flammable it is having been a bit of a pyro in my younger days and having burnt it plenty of times but I only have to worry about that if the sheds go up in flames and I would hope that that never happens. It is the same stuff they use in refrigeration paneling so I am guessing it will work just as well in my application.
Can you tell me about your micro hydro system. I have had ideas about doing something like that, if I c an find a generator small enough or a number of them, by setting them up in my watering system for the property. Having the paddles for the turbine set in the piping system but I have no idea if it would work or not.I have also thought about using steam to drive a turbine for the same purpose. Using something like the magnifier off a old rear projection tv, set up on a sun tracker, I should be able to use the sun to direct the heat onto a container that the water is in and have a release valve for the steam. What I don't know is how to feed the water into it without causing to much back presure so that the steam vents where I want it too instead of pushing back up the water line. If I can figure that out, I don't think it would be that difficult to achieve and I should also be able to condense the steam back into water and capture it again for reuse in other things like watering, with a little thought. :)
So far I have gone through 2 genies and am onto my third. I would also like to figure out how to remove the generator part from the motor so I can use it for a turbine or wind generation because that part is still working fine, it is the motors that drive the geny that have died. The problem is that modern, small genies like the ones I use, are made as one unit with the motor and geny incorporated into the same housing and sepearatingthem is not easy. If I can figure it out, I know of a heap of old generators that friends have that I can do this with and have good functioning generators that just need a power source to drive them and that can open up all sorts of ideas and means with a little imagination. :)
Repowering a genny not hard , Strip the motor of most of the parts leaving bare crankshaft in its place , place a pulley on the starter side shaft after removing the flywheel . Cover over the top of the crankshaft , don't forget some oil , even if its an ex 2 stroke . Gearing is important using one of these for wind as it going to need to spin about 3000 revs or more a minute . Wind won't spin blades that quick .
My hydro is a 3 phase open circuit alternator . Its in a housing no bigger than a small chilly bin sitting upside dowm on a plastic 200 liter drum . Supplied with a 2 inch plastic pipe . 5 cubic meters of water per hour @ a head of 40 meters gives me about 2 and a half kw a day , more than I use . Volume and head are important , so is the size of the pipe as my 2 inch is od rather than what should have been inside od . I lose 15 pounds pressure on that bit wasting a quarter of the head . mumbling Solar is cheap now and the best option by far . I think it was over $ 10 per watt now less than $ 1.5 , inverters , controllers have all come down to . Batteries have gone up , so has the quality and choice . Matching panels , controller and battery size is important and best worked out before rather than after a build .
stephenbadgeronline today! stephenbadger

Henderson, West Auckland New Zealand

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
ln Syrian rebel held areas enterprising types heat plastic waste in a kiln to make it revert back into diesel fuel to run their vehicles ...it definitely would work to operate a steam-boiler. frog
GregKeeganonline today! GregKeegan

Moliagul, Victoria Australia

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
stephenbadger: ln Syrian rebel held areas enterprising types heat plastic waste in a kiln to make it revert back into diesel fuel to run their vehicles ...it definitely would work to operate a steam-boiler.

I might have to try that, the heating of plastic waste as a recycling method, especially if I can utilise it in a productive way to power some kind of electrical generation. :)
Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
GregKeegan:
I also run two solar panels to a 120 AH battery that has a choice of a 300 watt or 1000 watt inverter, so I can use for charging the laptop or phone, with the 300 watt or the 100 watt one for the tv and other slightly higher wattage needing appliances, when I don't have the geny running.



I hooked a lighter jack up to my batteries, by splicing it onto an extension cord.

With the proper cord, you can run a laptop off of a lighter jack...

Phones and tvs work with a lighter jack too.

I don't use my inverter very much. It takes more energy to change your 12 volts into 110, then back down to the 5 volts your phone needs, than just pulling 5 volts off of your lighter jack.



For lights: I'm using 12 volt led truck running lights, which I got at Wal-Mart for $30.

They put off enough light, that I'm able to use two of them as grow lights; and they keep my medical marijuana growing through the winter.


I had a few inverters die and leave me in the dark without a phone, until I switched my house to 12 volts using lighter jacks...

12 volt led lights work in 110 lamps, with extension cords and power strips that are made for household appliances too.
stephenbadgeronline today! stephenbadger

Henderson, West Auckland New Zealand

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
Apricot Trees would do well in a cold winter climate ...they need lots of frost hours to fruit ...plant 2 or 3 self-pollinators that blossom at the same time, so that they cross-pollinate.

Scatter with a desert-spoon 5 or 10 kilos of norwegian "Sensation" RED GLOVER SEED or similar, in the late autumn or very early spring ...by the middle of the 2nd summer after sowing all the rabbits, deer & moose in the district will live at your place.

Clear all the debris out of any creeks around the place, get a pond going & introduce a gaggle or 2 of geese ...geese go wild, breed like rabbits, are grass eaters & fresh goose eggs make great omelets ...roast goose, yum yum !!
bunny reindeer frog
stephenbadgeronline today! stephenbadger

Henderson, West Auckland New Zealand

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
Don't forget to introduce a few moose. reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer reindeer crazy crazy crazy
pat8lanipsonline today! pat8lanips

babinda, Queensland Australia

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
serene56: I'd love to get involved with this but I know nothing about it


Living off the grid is a wondrous thing if you can achieve it, especially in this country where the cost of living is shamefully skyhigh


I just live a frugal life, grow as much produce as i can and am happy to see my current quarterly electricity bill come in at 85 bucks for a 2 person household when someone I was speaking with recently said theirs was usually around 700 for 4 people


Hmm, I pay about 300 per quarter for a 1 person household... And sheesh, I see some serious environmental vandalism in some of the suggestions offered so far. My opinion, even in a colder climate you should be able to get a reasonable crop in each year (up to 3 in the tropics). Hit it hard for a year or two and get the power on.
stephenbadgeronline today! stephenbadger

Henderson, West Auckland New Zealand

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
Lots of wild giant freshwater crayfish in your neck of the woods ...introduce tiny ones in a bucket of creek water to your pond, bon appetit. easter egg nerd wow frog
mollybabyonline now! mollybaby

Cork City, Cork Ireland

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
pat8lanips: Hmm, I pay about 300 per quarter for a 1 person household... And sheesh, I see some serious environmental vandalism in some of the suggestions offered so far. My opinion, even in a colder climate you should be able to get a reasonable crop in each year (up to 3 in the tropics). Hit it hard for a year or two and get the power on.


I keep my electricity bills pretty low.
I couldn't live off-grid as I live in the city, but i do try to live as environmentally-friendly as possible.
I grow a little, I buy from farmers markets, I compost food waste, I use very few chemicals, etc.
We can all do our bit no matter our circumstances.
Miwagionline now! Miwagi

Oakland, Kentucky USA

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
GregKeegan: I might have to try that, the heating of plastic waste as a recycling method, especially if I can utilise it in a productive way to power some kind of electrical generation. :)

I was under the impression plastics are full of dangerous chemicals that get released when burned. I wouldn't breath in any of the smoke if I were you.
Miwagionline now! Miwagi

Oakland, Kentucky USA

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
pat8lanips: Hmm, I pay about 300 per quarter for a 1 person household... And sheesh, I see some serious environmental vandalism in some of the suggestions offered so far. My opinion, even in a colder climate you should be able to get a reasonable crop in each year (up to 3 in the tropics). Hit it hard for a year or two and get the power on.

I thought you were replying to myking's pot crop. And yeah I was thinking Pat's right.........you ought to be able to grow enough in 6 months to get you through the rest of the year.
pat8lanipsonline today! pat8lanips

babinda, Queensland Australia

Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
Yeah, that is pretty low... on our bills they have the average amount others use, mine is always less than the average one person house. What our Government did, sell off the electricity network to let the power company run a monopoly. It would be collusive business practice/ running a monopoly in any other sector, and be highly illegal. But I think they do it by operating a state-run corporation, selling it off incrementally so nobody notices. We accept privatisation, because they tell us it will lead to lower electricity bills via competition, but of course there is none. Ergon energy is dead against renewables being fed into the system.

But yeah, the OP story, hippies move out to the boonies where its cheap. Then try to work around the reasons why (no power). Claim to be at one with nature, at the same time as damming the creek to run a pelton wheel, introducing invasive species, accumulate rubbish and car wrecks, clear native vegetation for whatever crazy idea they get then lose interest and let the lantana take over. And on and on it goes.

So I say just grow a bit of dope for a few seasons (before you're on their radar, and folks get jealous because you're on the dole and drive a brand new landcruiser), and get the power connected. It will make your life so much easier, and your block out in the boonies will be worth something at last.
Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
Miwagi: I thought you were replying to myking's pot crop. And yeah I was thinking Pat's right.........you ought to be able to grow enough in 6 months to get you through the rest of the year.



I'm still smoking last years crop; and my solar lights have an 18" plant going on a shelf over my bed. I'm about to put it out in the sun again for the day...

I bought the solar panels and batteries in 2013. My electric bill fRom 2014 until now.... $0.
Re: Off grid living, tips, tricks and cheats to make life easier. :)
pat8lanips: Yeah, that is pretty low... on our bills they have the average amount others use, mine is always less than the average one person house. What our Government did, sell off the electricity network to let the power company run a monopoly. It would be collusive business practice/ running a monopoly in any other sector, and be highly illegal. But I think they do it by operating a state-run corporation, selling it off incrementally so nobody notices. We accept privatisation, because they tell us it will lead to lower electricity bills via competition, but of course there is none. Ergon energy is dead against renewables being fed into the system.

But yeah, the OP story, hippies move out to the boonies where its cheap. Then try to work around the reasons why (no power). Claim to be at one with nature, at the same time as damming the creek to run a pelton wheel, introducing invasive species, accumulate rubbish and car wrecks, clear native vegetation for whatever crazy idea they get then lose interest and let the lantana take over. And on and on it goes.

So I say just grow a bit of dope for a few seasons (before you're on their radar, and folks get jealous because you're on the dole and drive a brand new landcruiser), and get the power connected. It will make your life so much easier, and your block out in the boonies will be worth something at last.



I moved out to the boonies... You got that part.

I haven't cut one endemic tree from my land. I cut down the invasive species, and go on nature hikes looking for hapu'u ferns, wild orchids, bamboo, etc. that I plant on my land. Over half of my land is natural forest. I got an endangered hibiscus tree given to me last arbor day. I'm dividing it with air layering, and I plan on putting the clones along the front border, by the road: so everyone can take cuttings off of it, and hopefully help keep it from going extinct. I'm looking for other endangered species that will grow where I live; so I can do the same thing with them.

For water, I have catchment tanks; and my water bill for the last 6 years was $400, the cost of the catchment tanks.

I don't drive a car, and never had a license to drive one in my life. I ride a bicycle; and every dime I put in my tank turns into muscle. I pack my trash 5 miles to the dump with a bike trailer.
I do have an old parts bike under the house.

I plant enough pot to get me through the year. I never sell it; because I grow mine organically with expensive fertilizer and soil... but, if I run out and have to buy it, I'd have to buy herb that was grown for profit, using the cheapest soil and fertilizer available.

After living over 4 1/2 years without using any money at all (like Jesus commanded us...) I can do just about anything, with nothing.
Money isn't very important to me.

Living a simple life in tune with nature, is worth more than money to me.

Malama aina! Aloha aina!
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