Off-grid living

Off the grid

This is a very organic gathering of my notes and research on living off-grid, either in a home or in a vehicule (like a boat or a van). I have a dream of building a timber framed house in the woods at some points and to have a van or a boat setup for short-term living so these notes act as preparation, planning and inspiration for those projects.

Power

The house and vehicule have quite different power needs, but in a perfect world they would both be powered by renewable energy. I’ll detail here the system I started designing for a van.

Van power needs total: 1784 Wh

Specs of the system
180Ah / 2160Wh 12v lithium battery
200W of solar panels (monocrystalline, in parallel)
2000W pure sine inverter
40A charge controller

links and resources:
Solar calculator
Electrical system design
Another electrical system Another electrical system 12v plugs

Water

Weekly water needs with shower and a sink: 25L

links and resources:
Water system design
DIY sink

Fuel

I currently plan to use propane as fuel for a small stove in the van because of it’s price and availability. Propane tanks should always be stored outside or in a ventilated compartment for safety.

links and resources:
Propane system design

Internet

Accessing the internet in a moving vehicule can be tricky, for the van I plan on minimizing our internet needs, using public and businesses wifi and data from our phones.

Heating

Small wood stoves are really good at heating vans and boats, take into account storage space for wood, matches and fire extinguisher if getting a wood stove. Otherwise propane heaters are the cheapest and most efficient solution.

links and resources:
How to insulate a van

Lighting

I would ideally use warm LED lights for most lighting needs, ideally with dimmers to accomodate our preferences at different moments in the day. In the van I would use 12v bulbs and lights so they are easier to integrate with the electrical system.

Links and resources:
Dimmers
12v bulbs

computers

For work, making music, and editing photos we use Mac laptops which would use up a good chunk of our power resources. In order to mitigate that I’m currently planning to build a small portable computer based on the RaspberyPi to use for simpler tasks, navigating the web, watching movies and listening to music.

Shower

My plan for the van project is to have a shower in a cabinet. When closed it could be used as a work/cooking surface and when open a shower head and curtains could be put in place to transform it into a working shower. Showering in an off-grid vehicule is a luxury and uses a lot of water so I plan on using public showers if available, like in camping grounds and install a shower head that reduces the amount of water passing through it.

Toilet

I’m thinking of getting or making a composting toilet for the van project, they almost doesn’t smell and with a urine diverter the compostable waste can be disposed of anywhere. In a small vehicule my plan is to combine the shower and toilet space to save space.

porcelain urine separator

Insurance

Insuring a van

Safety

  • Locks for all doors
  • Curtains for the windows
  • CO2 and propane detectors
  • access to all storage spaces from inside if needed
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Hidden compartment for valuables

Hundred rabbits on living off-grid
Tips on van conversion

Last modified on 2021-11-29, published on 2020-10-31