Lochsa Design's Guidelines
for the Off-grid Lifestyle
Generally, the guidelines below can be summarized as:
Attempting to live
the typical American lifestyle in an off-grid home will be expensive,
will consume quite a lot of generator fuel, and you will ulitmately be
Clearly, energy conservation is paramount. Beyond that however, one needs to
reevaluate how energy is used for every task. Investing in energy efficient
appliances is but a first step. Accept the fact that by choosing to live
off-grid, you will be inconvenienced in the sense that you will have to
alter your activities to take advantage of, or to conserve, the available
Rule 1: If it uses electricity to make heat, get rid of it.
Clearly there are exceptions to this rule, such as soldering irons and, if
used sparingly, toasters. By and large it is a poor choice to convert high grade energy
(your expensive solar generated electricity) into low grade energy (heat).
Rule 2: Anything that runs a motor for a long period of time
needs to be very carefully evaluated.
Any appliance or tool that runs for a long period of time will use a lot
more energy than you will at first expect. Low power appliances, such as
air circulation fans, are practical if one pays close attention to power
consumption and uses them when adequate power is available.
Rule 3: Every dollar spent on energy consevation pays for itself
many times over.
Energy efficient appliances, compact fluorescent light bulbs, etc. cost
more than their bargain basement counterparts. But, their markedly reduced
energy consumption allows you to both downsize your Solar Electric System
and minimize generator run-time.
Rule 4: You will need a generator
Even a conservatively designed off-grid power system will sometimes
exceed the energy available from the sun. Also, large occasional loads
(e.g. large power tools) are usually best handled by a fossil fuel
Rule 5: Turn off the idiot box
A reading lamp takes a lot lot less power than watching TV. Similarly,
playing board or word games with your family, or discussing life's events,
takes a lot less energy than sitting in the glow of the one-eyed monster.
It is better for your mind anyway.