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Alternative Fuels An energy source alternative to using fossil fuels. Materials or substances that can be used as a fuel, other than conventional fuels. Waste oils, vegetable oils or animal fats, which can be used alone, or blended with fossil fuels.

Alternative Fuels

Can you really live off grid?


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Old 02-20-2012, 09:11:59 PM
Avery22x36 Avery22x36 is offline
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Default Can you really live off grid?

OK, let me rephrase that, I am single, yes, I could live off grid but assuming someday I find some gal that can put up with my, er, collections, is it really possible to live in normal house offgrid? The location I am building my house is a mile from the powerline, its going to cost me about $20,000 to get a line put in plus its going to ruin the looks of the turn of the century farm, I am building on part of my family's original homestead and there was never any roads put in so now power yet. I have moving in an 95 year old barn and am building the house and other outbuildings to look old.

I have read a lot about windpower but to set up the inverters and replace the batteries every 5 years or so I will be in the red if I could put up the windcharged for nothing. I have even looked at gas or carbide lighting and that might be neat in an outbuilding but the fire hazard bothers me and the fire dept is the better part of an hour away. Any thoughts on this or should I just call the power company and let them charge me for a line that in the end really doesn't even belong to me (that is what buggs me most)? Thanks
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:11:49 PM
Andrew Mackey Andrew Mackey is offline
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Exclamation Re: Can you really live off grid?

Wind power (if the town allows you to put up a tower), Solar cell and heating, Geothermal heating and cooling. Wood heat and stove, the list goes on! Stand by gen not a bad idea either, diesel preferred. If you plan propane heat or cooking gas, fuel source for gen as well. If you have to go on grid, you can have underground service, so you won't see the poles and wires exposed. You can rent a ditch witch, and have an electrician install the wires to the road.

Andrew
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:13:41 PM
Ronald E. McClellan Ronald E. McClellan is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

No problem! Propane for heat frig. and range. LED lights don't need much power. Then find yourself a nice Amish girl. Ron
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Old 02-20-2012, 10:37:01 PM
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FWurth FWurth is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

Your doing what I had always dreamed of doing. It will cost a good bit to set up for off line but the amish do it all the time. But the difficult part will be getting used to the non convience of modern appliances, never ran across any LP powered computers, just can't get by without the Stak. F.J.W.
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Old 02-20-2012, 11:06:27 PM
Kevin O. Pulver Kevin O. Pulver is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

My understanding is yes it can be done, but no, you're not gonna be living like you're living now. You don't just fire up a 15 amp Skil Saw, and several KW of electric water heater and clothes dryer off a few PV solar panels. It is also expensive as you noted with the batteries. A few years ago, our central Nebraska town lost our power lines for 30 DAYS (!) due to a ice storm of historic proportions. Folks realized that running generators was very expensive compared to normal utility rates.
Having said all that, all jokes aside, an Amish or Mennonite girl would not have any trouble at all living without what we think are necessities. In fact ALL our relatives in the not too distant past lived pretty much like the Amish live now.
We have some good friends to moved to an Old Order Mennonite Community for 6 years. Horse and buggy, no indoor plumbing or electricity, etc...
The whole notion kinda appeals to me, but then again, I'm pretty used to that refrigerator and air conditioner. I can tell you that as far as solar goes, you'll get about 5 times more bang for the buck with solar thermal collectors/panels than with solar electric collectors/panels. You can do your space heating and domestic hot water with it. Also the technology is there to run steam turbines and produce electricity with solar thermal, (HUGE fields of that near Vegas) but you can't afford it for home use. Your huge Kansas windmills can power about 16 electric houses each as I remember, but you can't afford one of those either. (unless you're Bill Gates, in which case you'd have better investments with much quicker payback than a personal wind generator of the scale that would run 100% of what houses usually have.)
I don't want to discourage you, just want you to go into this with both eyes wide open. I think Kansas is God's Country, and you're a blessed individual to have this opportunity. Enjoy it. Kevin
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:12:32 AM
ehpower2 ehpower2 is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

if you really wanted to be accurate to the home stead may i recommend a few delco light plants in the basement.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:33:59 AM
pjjms pjjms is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

My father in law went off the grid when he built for the same reason, cost of connecting. He had some solar panels that failed (frost damage), a wind turbine that also failed, a diesel generator that wore out. In the end he would run a petrol generator every day for a couple of hours to charge the batteries that were also past their best (and they start at $500 each x 24). He did this for 19 years until he passed away. He did spend a lot setting up with the goal of not having a power bill but just had a lot of running costs that came in big lumps. Without doubt he spent many times the cost of connecting and also had to put up with a noisey generator and the limitations of a limited power supply. From what I saw the whole setup was a pain in the butt.

I have gone to what I think is a better alternative. I run a wood burning stove which also has 17Kw of water heating, and a gas stove. This takes the heating elements off the grid reducing the power bill to a fraction of what it would be if fully connected. The savings from this offset the connection costs in under 10 years. I have access to all the power I need for high load short run time items like a washing machine, vacuum cleaner and microwave.

Peter
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Old 02-21-2012, 02:39:23 AM
dalmatiangirl61 dalmatiangirl61 is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

You don't need an Amish girl, you just need a bigger generator, a bigger wind turbine, more PV panels, and more batteries

I've been planning my off-grid home for years, first off you have to design the home for ultimate efficiency, from what I've seen strawbale or papercrete are the ways to go. Next, every appliance needs to be the most efficient available, of course none of those are cheap. Lighting needs to be LED, maybe a few CFL's. A combination of solar and wind is essential, hydro is a plus. And finally a good diesel or propane generator to take up the slack, like when I decide to fire up the compressor, welder, and lathe at the same time, maybe the AC too
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Old 02-21-2012, 02:40:17 AM
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CaseyJoeS. CaseyJoeS. is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ehpower2 View Post
if you really wanted to be accurate to the home stead may i recommend a few delco light plants in the basement.
By far the best option!!
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Old 02-21-2012, 02:42:30 AM
Power Power is offline
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Default Re: Can you really live off grid?

Any thoughts on this or should I just call the power company and let them charge me for a line that in the end really doesn't even belong to me (that is what buggs me most)? Thanks
Who says? I knew a farmer in Missouri who ran over 2000 feet of wire & poles himself. He already had tractors and auger. Set poles and strung them. Util hooked pole transformer to his wires.As previously mentioned, you can trench and run UF.
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