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Living with Off-Grid Solar Power

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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 quite disappointed.

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 energy resources.

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 generator.

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.




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Last update: 15APR2003

Created by Lochsa Design