An Off the Grid Primer

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This week the Saugeen Times featured Don Rogers who is off the grid.

The block diagram shown above is not exactly what Don has done, but it's close and we can't make things too busy on a chart.

What are the ingredients of Don's success?

  • He had a single vision and moved toward it.
  • He did a lot of planning
  • He used experts where he needed them
  • He selected his site carefully
  • He built the house to make moving off the grid possible without compromising sight lines and comfort.
  • He planted 12,000 trees to shelter the home from wind and cold, again without sacrificing the view.
  • He used multiple technologies in combination:
    • solar
    • wind
    • wood
    • propane
    • insulation
    • low energy use appliances
    • gravity aquifer water supply

One of the most  impressive things in Don's system is that he HAS NO BACKUP.  He is not on the grid and he does not have generators.  He does not use advanced technology like sun tracking solar panels.  He does not put excess power into the grid.  It goes into deep charge batteries.

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He also has a large solar array that circulates hot water that is run by a small and very quiet solar pump.  The hot water gets circulated to radiators.  He also uses wood for heat.

The most impressive thing is how cozy and warm the house is and how it does not appear to be Off the Grid at all.

Don is a great user and gatherer of equipment, so it's not fair to compute his investment.  This is not to say he does everything himself.  He is smart and knows that using an expert here and an expert there is the right thing to do to complete his vision.  He is not a tinkerer.

So what would be the cost, if you had to put something together including some bits and pieces like solar tracking that Don does not have?  We will not include the wood stove or the propane

Typical Cost Outline

  • 18 solar panels $7700
  • Azmuth Tracker $6000
  • Power System Inverter $2300
  • Charge Controller $700
  • AC and DC Breakers $1500
  • System Displays $300
  • 12 Batteries High Quality $3500
  • Turbine and Tower $2800
  • Solar Hot Water System $9000

Total $33,800