Friday, September 16, 2011

Background on Our Beginning to Live Off-the-Grid

     We moved here from a small recreational area in Indiana.  Where we lived in a subdivision.  Our home there was about half the size of the one we are building here and was total electric.  We had about 1 1/2 acres and a pole barn that we built from a kit.  We acquired our first horse while we were still there.  During the ten years or so that we lived there, we at different times raised a garden, chickens, rabbits, a guinea, and some pheasants that we hatched from eggs.
     We began to look for acreage when the subdivision became crowded with close neighbors.  We wanted more acreage.  I wanted waterfront for fishing.  We couldn't find acreage in Indiana in our price range.  So, we expanded our search and with God's leading bought 116+ acres with 2 ponds in December, 2004 here in Kentucky.  We continued to live in Indiana for about 2 more years and began preparing to move onto our land.  In October, 2006 we moved our 5th wheel camper on the property where we had previously had a septic system installed as well as the foundation and basement walls of our home.  We are building our home ourselves with the help of some family, friends and local hired help.  We are building without a mortgage, so it has been a bit slow going.  I'm happy to say we have made a lot of progress and will be able to move out of the basement soon.
     We had bought a generator for our previous home for when we had power outages.   We moved it here with us and used it to power the camper for a bit.  It wasn't long until we realized we needed more than the generator as it could only be ran for 12 hours at a time and it used gasoline.  We began to build up a battery bank that could be charged during the hours the generator was running.  We started with two 12 volt deep cycle marine batteries that we took out of our boat and a Black and Decker invertor from Walmart for less than $80.  Shortly there after we added two used D8 bulldozer batteries Wayne got from a friend.  We then added a set of solar panels that we bought from Harbor Freight on sale for about $199.  (I've seen them recently from there for $149.)  The solar panels helped keep our batteries charged during the day and lowered the amount of time we needed to run the generator most days.   
     We moved from the camper into the basement of the house in June, 2008 when we sold the camper.  As time has passed we have added more batteries, a larger invertor we bought from Harbor Freight for about $149 and we now have 3 sets of the solar panels from Harbor Freight.  We currently have a battery bank of sixteen 12 Volt deep cycle marine batteries.  We buy our batteries from Walmart.  We have also bought a 45 amp charger from East Kentucky RV Sales for about $300 that allows us to charge the batteries in less time.  (However, at this time we don't have the solar panels hooked up so we can do some grade work.)  We have bought a larger electric start generator from Harbor Freight for $500 and Wayne has converted it from gasoline to natural gas.  Our old generator is now a backup for emergencies or other uses around the homestead.  (We are blessed to own our own natural gas well.  So, we get free gas.)  On the generator and the invertor we have bought the extended warranties and have found them to be most useful when problems arise with the equipment. 
     We can still only run the generator for 12 hours at a time as it is not a water cooled generator.  As money permits, we will purchase a larger water cooled generator.  When we are operating off of the batteries, we do have to be mindful but not obsessive of our power usage.  So, we run the generator during the part of the day that we seem to use the most power.  This really isn't a hard thing to do, once you get used to it.
     Some of you may wonder why on earth we decided to live off-the-grid and generate our own power.  Well, we did have the engineer up from the electric company.  He said they would be glad to run power to us for about $14,000.  That was a no brainer for us.  We said, no and went to work on doing it for ourselves.  The engineer then promptly told us we wouldn't be able to generate enough power to live off of.  Was he ever wrong!  We do have some electric expense, we don't have an electric bill.  What electric expense we do have is minimal most months and we control when we make larger purchases like batteries or upgrading equipment eliminating surprises.
     I have mentioned only the main things we have purchased.  There are other items that are needed such as wire, connectors, etc. when one is setting up a system or upgrading it.  I have tried to mention stores where we have purchased our equipment and basic prices when we made our purchase to show you that you can start small and not completely break the bank.  It doesn't really take long to build an efficient system if you work at it consistently.
     In my next post, I'll try to tell you about how we conserve power and the kinds of things we have that are electric.  You may be surprised!
     Until we meet here again, may you be inspired and at peace.  God's love to you and yours.

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