Going Off-Grid?

Thinking of building an eco-friendly self build house that’s completely off grid?

Well, here’s some help to identify the things you need to think about, and some possible pitfalls to avoid.

Water: unless you are lucky enough to have a potable stream through your plot, you’ll need to work out how to obtain fresh water. This can be a large storage tank with a pump and purification system, or a borehole. The drawbacks? A tank will require regular deliveries of fresh water to avoid running out at an inopportune moment (like mid-shower!). With a borehole you take the risk – and cost – of doing a test bore to find out if the water quality is sufficient. If it’s not, you’re back to the first option. In either case, you’ll need a filtration system which will require ongoing maintenance.

Electricity: To provide you with sufficient power to run all your appliances, you’ll definitely need solar panels and battery storage for nighttime and days when it isn’t very bright. You’ll also need to install a stand-by source of power in case it’s dull for several days in a row. That will usually be a generator which could be fuelled by bio-diesel for maximum sustainability. Drawbacks? Well, this system is probably unsuitable for very northerly locations where for a few weeks in winter there is very little daylight, and you may need substantially more battery capacity to store as much power as possible during the long summer days. Even then it’s unlikely to see you right through the winter and you’ll be fully reliant on the generator.

Heating: Fortunately there are smart electric heating systems available which can be coupled to solar panels and battery systems to provide you with space heating and hot water. The advantage of these systems is that they are relatively low capital cost to install and typically cost free in operation. Of course it’s worth mentioning at this point that a truly energy efficient house won’t actually need much heating. Drawbacks? As previously mentioned, daylight is important and capacity is limited by the size of the battery. This may not be suitable if several teenagers each spend ages in the shower or they all want a bath!

Sewage: This one is relatively simple and common to many existing houses connected to other mains services. Mains sewers are frequently not available in rural and village locations, and whilst older houses often have septic tanks, newer installations use a mini treatment plant which discharges clean water. They are relatively inexpensive and usually straightforward to install, needing only somewhere for the outflow to drain to, which could be a stream or a soakaway, and a low wattage power supply. What to look out for? These systems will cost a lot more to install if the soil is shallow and underlaid by hard bedrock.

Broadband: It’s most likely you’ll need a satellite broadband provider unless you are close to a cable connection.

If your dream is to live in close harmony with Nature, enjoying all the comforts that a 21st century log home can offer whilst making as small an impact on the environment as technology allows, please get in touch with us. We can help you build a log cabin or a tiny house that will be a real off-grid home for you and your family. Call 0845 299 6337 or email [email protected] to chat about your requirements.