Hi, well here we are again with another little reminisce about how we started our journey towards  self sufficiency and eco living. The first part was all about getting the outer shell of the building up and weather proofing.

Once this was done, it was time to try and make it into a house before it could become a home. Basically first we needed running water instead of using buckets, and once there was a proper roof, it made things a lot easier to collect rain water that ran off and into a 1000 litre tank that was placed on blocks underneath the guttering. This gave us enough pressure to fill the toilet cistern and caravan sinks.


We used this system all through the winter of that year but soon found that during the summer months the water turned yellow very quickly, which of course wasn’t good, also there wasn’t nearly enough water for both us and the poly tunnels. So, the next move was for us to actually look for another water supply, of which I found at the top of our land, and this was a natural spring. After digging and laying down some polythene we ended up with a decent sized well.


Using normal garden hose and running it down the hill, all the way to the house and poly tunnels, we had lovely clean, natural spring running water. We then put 3 x 1000 litre containers on top of each other, this wasn’t easy with just the 2 of us, it looked like we were trying to reconstruct the pyramids!


At the base I had to dig a cubic square metre hole, fill it with concrete and let it dry for a week. This was to withstand all of the weight involved with storing such a large amount of water. Fence posts were placed in between each tank to add stability and to increase the height as pressure is increased through height not volume, ( this is Boyle’s theory).

This created enough pressure to power a shower and all of the other water needs for the house. Although the water is perfectly clear, we do boil it for drinking just to be sure. So from one small barrel of water that we had to bucket into the house, to now being able to have showers was a luxury.

The next major job was to get electricity into the house, We really didn’t want to get connected to the main grid and have bills all of the time, and I think that this was one of the moments that changed the course of our journey. We found out that where we could buy an off grid system from and luckily it was only about 30 miles away from us. Now, we only have a small system and it didn’t cost a huge amount, but bigger systems do cost a lot more.


This brings me to the questions that we are asked on a regular basis, ” What can you run off this system?” It’s one of the hardest questions to answer but I have a very simple formula…. You can run what ever you want! It all depends on the size of your system and how much you wish to spend on it.

The amount of power that can be used in the home all depends on the size of your inverter. The inverter converts 24V DC to 240V AC ( our inverter is 2500 watts). The amount of time that you can use your power all depends on your storage e.g. how many batteries you have, we have 2 x 250 amh batteries.


The battery storage depends on the power going into them e.g. how many PV’s you have, size of turbine etc. We have 2 x 180 watt PV’s and a 350 watt turbine. It can be difficult during winter with such a small system but we don’t watch TV and as it’s so cold we use an outdoor fridge.


We watch DVD’s during winter on a secondary backup system should the main power be low, and it took a little time to get used to it but now we’re completely at home with it. You can see more about this on’ It’s electrifying’ and ‘ Water water everywhere’.


This is the solar water heater that is ready to be placed on the roof for our hot water during summer months.

Next time we’ll talk about self sufficiency and where we are now.

Hope you enjoy.






2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. charlieeasterfield
    Sep 20, 2014 @ 18:15:37

    A great read! I’m on a rainwater supply, but I do run out if we get prolonged dry spells…not too often in Ireland! I’m also really glad that my neighbour has created a bathroom in an old transit van; the water is gravity fed, to a water cylinder standing on a woodstove…not an instant bath, but bliss with the back doors open to the great outdoors!
    My only concern is that I was told that if you use clear tanks like yours, you need to paint them with specialist paint…summat to do with light, heat and algae? or reactions of sunlight on plastic?…can’t remember the details now but worth reading up on, perhaps? x


  2. Willowarchway
    Sep 21, 2014 @ 11:12:14

    Yes it’s true that the water does turn yellow more so when it’s hot and sunny, but we’re not going to bother with special paint. Only this morning I cleaned the well and tank out and if I do this about once a month it seems to prevent this problem. Brilliant idea about the tranny van bathroom, people are very inventive! Thanks for the lovely comment. 🙂


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