‘What can be used and when?’ These are probably the most asked questions to us,,well, I don’t really know how to answer that to be completely honest! All I can do is explain how we made it work for us.Something so simple as having a fridge which we use sparingly. During summer when there are long days and sunshine ( well, occasionally, this is Ireland!), it is on constantly except during the night, but the swap has to be made later in the year when we use a cold locker outside, (we never have food going off thats all I can say).We also have a washing machine but this has to be run off a generater but then 2 half hour washes a week can’t be too bad. The house is wired up for 240v as this side of the house is still the caravan, and this can be one of the problems with solar power, when you need it the most for lighting, the days are short and therefore you will have less charging power, and so we have oil lanterns for our lights.

Of course these have to be regularly filled with oil but we have found that commercial diesel works just fine and is probably the cheapest thing to use. We have five lanterns and 1 gallon of diesel will last us about a month if we are careful, eg not having them all lit at the same time. We find that it costs us about 4 euro a month. Using candles and lanterns is like having a romantic dinner every night!

Other lights we use are 2  mechanic’s lead lamps for an instant bright light and these are plugged into a small secondary battery system that is independant of the main system.

By having an independant system it means that in the mid winter when we have had the main power ‘go down’ because there is just no battery charge, we still have power because our TV and satellite are both 12v. The small black 4 into 1 connecter ( car cigarette lighter) that they plug into gives an 8 hour usage time. When we go out in our jeep we take this battery with us to charge it whilst driving (utilization)

Our radio is also 12v, to run off the same system, but we plug independent speakers into it for a better sound, yes,we use alot of batteries, but they are all rechargeable and we have had the same ones for about 5 years! Even right now we have good music playing but the inverter (main power) is switched off. Of course when there is plenty of power we plug in our ‘big’ speakers ( computer speakers) that give a good bass sound!

We also have a small generater that can be used as a last resort. If this has to go on we have full power and everything gets charged up at the same time.

I check the power everyday using a volt meter.

To help us with the lighting situation we have head torches to walk around in and find things,we look like miners! These are invaluable to us. Summer time is easy but the winter can be very hard and takes thought, not as much now, but believe me, when you are first finding all this out by trial and error it is hard. It all depends on your perspectives.

Your only limitation is your imagination.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Briony
    Oct 30, 2011 @ 15:01:42

    All sounds very Heath Robinson but if works thats what matters, I am sure I would blow myself up. will you always be off the grid no plans for link up in future.


  2. ceciliag
    Oct 31, 2011 @ 01:23:06

    So lucky that you can use the cold in the winter to keep food good, we are just too cold everything freezes solid, however at this time of year we leave all the drinks (beer) and stuff to stay cold out there, watching out for sudden drops though. I love what you are doing. We just conserve really i don’t use a clothes dryer, and I think it is easy to wash clothes TOO often. I am still deperate for solar water heating and an outdoor bathroom in the summer, it is getting closer, but my mandate is to use available recycled resources for these projects, so we are gradually collecting what we need.. Heat by fire of course, found wood. But I am rambling.. I really enjoyed this post.. your life is so different from most peoples, there is so much me-power in it! c


  3. Willowarchway
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 12:28:41

    Thankyou so much for your kind words.We have thought about placing old radiators,sprayed black,and placed on the roof to heat the water in summer so we dont have to light the fire.


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