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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hey all.
ok i just moved into a home that was built in the late 30's in a small town in minnesota.
i am on a rent to own with an awesome landlord who knows i want to go of the grid.
now this house has a huge basement and one large root cellar/canning storage room with shelves and all.
now i want to figure out my own power sources.
I bought an online manual for inexpensive solar panels and have permission to do this and have an electrician friend who will help me.
now this home is on a very large lot with a mature garden area, fruit trees and all that.
but still in the town so it is hooked up to city water.
how would one try to be more independent with water?
or am i stuck buying and bottling water?
also, in minnesota we are not always guaranteed good sunlight in winter and spring so would getting a generator be wise?
i am pretty self sufficient already with sewing family clothing, food and other things.
thanks for any input
 

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andy
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look into wind turbine if solar is in question
 

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The wanderer
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The big question is how LITTLE power/electricity can you and your family live with? We're just as far north as you are, maybe more so, in NW Montana almost in sight of Canada. We're off grid with solar panels.

In winter, if we get a cloudy spell along with those short daylight hours, we have to conserve electricity. We don't watch DVDs on the TV, and we cut our time on the computers. We already switched to lower watt items, such as trading our desk top computers for laptop computers, buying a low-watt TV and DVD player, and of course, low-watt LED and/or Flourescent lightbulbs.

We do have a generator for back-up if necessary, though we try not to use it. My husband uses it for his power tools, but he does most of that kind of work in the summer anyway, when solar charge is abundant.

Work toward the least amount of electrical need that you are able to, then figure out how big a system of solar panels you'll need, based on WINTER hours of charging. In the summer you'll have abundant electricity. We run fans and I even run my electric food dehydrator once the battery bank is fully charged, which is usually by mid-morning this time of year.

Nice find on your your house, by the way. A basement with a root cellar, that is wonderful! A mature garden and fruit trees! You are truly blessed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The big question is how LITTLE power/electricity can you and your family live with? We're just as far north as you are, maybe more so, in NW Montana almost in sight of Canada. We're off grid with solar panels.

In winter, if we get a cloudy spell along with those short daylight hours, we have to conserve electricity. We don't watch DVDs on the TV, and we cut our time on the computers. We already switched to lower watt items, such as trading our desk top computers for laptop computers, buying a low-watt TV and DVD player, and of course, low-watt LED and/or Flourescent lightbulbs.

We do have a generator for back-up if necessary, though we try not to use it. My husband uses it for his power tools, but he does most of that kind of work in the summer anyway, when solar charge is abundant.

Work toward the least amount of electrical need that you are able to, then figure out how big a system of solar panels you'll need, based on WINTER hours of charging. In the summer you'll have abundant electricity. We run fans and I even run my electric food dehydrator once the battery bank is fully charged, which is usually by mid-morning this time of year.

Nice find on your your house, by the way. A basement with a root cellar, that is wonderful! A mature garden and fruit trees! You are truly blessed!
thanks gypsysue...good advice.
i have my mom with me as well and she is 73. she tries to go along with everything but lol man she is having a hard time going simple living. lol
i am looking forward to hitting the farmers market this weekend to get some good food to can and dehydrate. I also have concord grapes growing all along the fence in the back yard and wow are they delicious!
I am already fermenting for wine and just picked more for jelly and grape juice.
and still have hardly made a dent in the harvest. lol
so i invited neighbors to help themselves. just way too many grapes. lol
cuz it is already end of august i am limited to what i can do so have to rely on farmers market.
 

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Going off grid is not a problem

Work out what you need for electricity.
As already stated, use low power lighting - new LED's can be great.
Use solar and wind turbine to charge heavy duty leisure batteries - 100Ah+
Cooking can be done on gas (gas cylinder) - I have even used a BBQ for months at a time.
Rain water can be saved in garden water butts and when you want to drink, boil the water and let it cool and you could even filter it using a bought or home made water filter (you can use the charcoal from the BBQ).
You could even make money by connecting the solar/wind turbine via the an electricity company installed meter.
Have also used solar thermal water heating systems - quite expensive but you have all year round hot water.
To save on heating bills install secondary glazing (you can use cling film (plastic wrap) to provide temporary double glazing)
Heat only the room you're in and where possible install insulation in walls and floors
Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
good stuff everyone.
emergencycomms i did purchase one of those take it with cookers. volcano cooker i think it is called. I do have a bbq grill and use it alot.
we have gas for heating and cooking so i know if the lights went out at least i could get heat from the oven and stove if absolutely necessary.
I am really leaning to solar heat however i hadn't thought of the thermal part so much.
gotta read some more....
 

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Rookie Prepper
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For water, as mentioned, I'd go with collecting rain water. A couple 400 gallon totes in the basement could make a nice reserve for indoor use.

You said you have gas. Natural gas or propane? For either, they make lanterns.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
For water, as mentioned, I'd go with collecting rain water. A couple 400 gallon totes in the basement could make a nice reserve for indoor use.

You said you have gas. Natural gas or propane? For either, they make lanterns.
in collecting rain water, should i buy those food grade cans or can i make due with regular garbage style cans and make a screen for the top?
i don't have alot of money to work with but i will go out of my way to buy something if it needs to be done right so i don't have issues later on.
we have natural gas. i have made some clay lamps like they used to have in ancient times and they work wonderfully with olive oil and a wick.
just wanted to have fun while going off grid and when the lights do go out it is kinda romantic. :p
i do have a couple large kerosene heaters but am thinking i will go with a good generator.
i am also toying with the idea of getting a wood or wood/corn stove but how to make the heat circulate is something i am not sure of.
so i am thinking of several ways to keep things going. solar which would help with heating water and other, i have alot of windows so I do get good passive heat from the south and west.
thinking wood/corn stove to heat the other part of the house.
hmmm... don't want to overdue it but it is a two story home with a full basement not finished but clean with a huge pantry root cellar.
thoughts?
 

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Below is a picture of what I was thinking of.

EDIT TO ADD: These are available all over the place. Most plants/factories have and use them. They're all over the board on pricing. If you have a food processing plant or chemical plant or something nearby, they might have some to give away or sell. Sometimes, you can get new ones (because they stacked them high and the wind blew them over causing damage to the frame which renders them unusable by them but they're still OK for non-commercial use). Pricing ranges from free if you can find them to about $400 for a brand new pretty one.

These can be used for anything from gas to chemicals to water. There's a valve and bung on the bottom that makes it easy to draw the contents. On the top, there's a 6" twist-off lid.

If you're collecting rain water or doing anything other than storing direct potable water, I don't see a need for food grade. I would just boil or filter before using. Actually, I'm wondering if they're all food-grade (when new). I'm pretty sure all the ones I get are food grade but I'm not 100% sure.

If I was going to use one of these for drinking water, I'd fill it now from the faucet and add a touch of bleach. If you loose your faucet water (city or well), I'd have a means of collecting/directing the gutter downspouts into the top of these tanks.

Oh, one other thought... How big of an opening do you have to get something like one of these down there?
Dimensions (I got these off a web site as it's too dark to go out and measure one).
275gal = 48" x 40" base, 46" height
320gal = 48" x 40" base, 53" height

 

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The wanderer
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We know someone who salvaged 50-gallon water heaters from the dump, moved them to his basement, and filled them all with water. He can store 400 gallons in those now.
 

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Please always use food grade containers. There is a big difference in the containers and the chemicals in non food grade can be deadly. Since you don't know what you will be using the water for I would store it all as though you are going to drink or cook with it. Where you are living during the winter months you may be able to use your basement as an ice house to keep foods fresh in case of power shortage. It worked for grandpa!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Below is a picture of what I was thinking of.

EDIT TO ADD: These are available all over the place. Most plants/factories have and use them. They're all over the board on pricing. If you have a food processing plant or chemical plant or something nearby, they might have some to give away or sell. Sometimes, you can get new ones (because they stacked them high and the wind blew them over causing damage to the frame which renders them unusable by them but they're still OK for non-commercial use). Pricing ranges from free if you can find them to about $400 for a brand new pretty one.

These can be used for anything from gas to chemicals to water. There's a valve and bung on the bottom that makes it easy to draw the contents. On the top, there's a 6" twist-off lid.

If you're collecting rain water or doing anything other than storing direct potable water, I don't see a need for food grade. I would just boil or filter before using. Actually, I'm wondering if they're all food-grade (when new). I'm pretty sure all the ones I get are food grade but I'm not 100% sure.

If I was going to use one of these for drinking water, I'd fill it now from the faucet and add a touch of bleach. If you loose your faucet water (city or well), I'd have a means of collecting/directing the gutter downspouts into the top of these tanks.

Oh, one other thought... How big of an opening do you have to get something like one of these down there?
Dimensions (I got these off a web site as it's too dark to go out and measure one).
275gal = 48" x 40" base, 46" height
320gal = 48" x 40" base, 53" height

oooh we have a Seneca aka green giant food plant in my town.
will check that out.
also i have four downspots around the house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
We know someone who salvaged 50-gallon water heaters from the dump, moved them to his basement, and filled them all with water. He can store 400 gallons in those now.
now that is a great idea. gosh you all are good. :congrat:
 

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i am also toying with the idea of getting a wood or wood/corn stove but how to make the heat circulate is something i am not sure of.
We have a wood furnace with an electric blower in our cellar. It doesn't happen often but when we have a power failure we open a window in each of the 2nd floor rooms. They only need to be open a couple inches and convection will take care of distributing the heat. Not exactly efficient :rolleyes: but it works. :)
 

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We have a wood furnace with an electric blower in our cellar. It doesn't happen often but when we have a power failure we open a window in each of the 2nd floor rooms. They only need to be open a couple inches and convection will take care of distributing the heat. Not exactly efficient :rolleyes: but it works. :)
When you get a woodstove, learn how it acts if the blower isn't running, especially when it's at operating temperature. I would normally do what UncleJoe does but the woodstove I have now acts completely different. It has a catalytic converter that gets screaming hot and overheats if you don't handle it. If the fan shuts off and you don't start changing the settings, the whole woodstove will get hot enough to glow red. I keep a 12v battery with inverter nearby to provide emergency power to the fan until I can get the generator fired up.
 

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performing monkey
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many houses of that vintage were made with what the called 'balloon construction' which has the wall studs run from the sill plate to the eave line, (with no firestops) making for natural chimneys throughout the house :dunno: (not really a good thing), ESPECIALLY if the walls aren't insulated (unless modernized/remodeled) :gaah:

would have to know more particulars, such as architectural style

big project, kudos to you for undertaking such an endeavor
 

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many houses of that vintage were made with what the called 'balloon construction' which has the wall studs run from the sill plate to the eave
Yep. That's us. Fortunately the flue goes through a 3 foot wide stone foundation and then into the chimney.
As far as overheating without the blower; yes, I could see that as a potential problem and some manual damping would be in order, but since ours is all manual, we're used to that.
 
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