Some people may not know what off-the-grid or off-grid means, so here it is --- The term off-the-grid or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-grid living is no longer a one room log cabin in the woods. It's energy independency. You don't have to rely on utility companies, you create your own power. Today, there are more than 180,000 off-grid homes in the US.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter...

7:42 am - 54 degrees - blue sky with a slight breeze...




All the snow finally melted away a few days ago and now we're having a week of wonderfully warm weather.  This is very unlike Easter last year {click here}, but we sure are enjoying the warm weather!

Happy Easter Everyone!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Has Spring Really Sprung...

4:20 pm - 37 degrees - snowing all day, sun is finally starting to come out...

We’re two days into Spring but looking outside, you wouldn’t know it.
 


 
It’s been snowing all day, now the sun is making a concerted effort and puffy white clouds are skidding across the sky. 
 
 
Please Spring, hurry up and get here!  I cannot wait for the warmer weather, blooming buds and sunshine!!!
 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Can You Please Make Me A Pond...

9:26 am - 38 degrees - overcast and windy...

...“Sure!” says the awesome hubby.

Even though we live on a mountain ridge we have a lot of water up here.  It just amazes me how much ground water and how many natural springs there are.  So to direct the flow of all this water, Tony has put several drainage ditches in.  Now where to direct all this drainage water...why into a pond of course!

Several months ago Tony started clearing a trail to the river {click here}.  The new trail skirts a rather large area that is wet and marshy year round - so this is going to be the location of our new pond.  So the clearing has started...
 
BEFORE

AFTER

The excavator is sitting where the pond is going to go.

Once the pond is done it will have many benefits like water for the wildlife, personal enjoyment, and a water source for wildfire suppression {click here}.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St Patrick's Day...

5:34 pm - 35 degrees - snowing on and off...

A group of friends and I spent St Patrick's Day as part of the 35,500+ participants who took the streets of Downtown Portland for the 35th Annual Adidas Shamrock Run.  It was a blast!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Off-Grid Power {Battery Bank}...

8:23 pm - 49 degrees - partly cloudy...

We have been living off-grid for almost three years now.  During that time, our only source of power has been our Honda EU 2000i generator.  We have been piecing together our off-grid power system one piece at a time, and our latest purchase was the battery bank. 

Our battery bank --- eight standard 6 volt deep cycle lead-acid batteries.
This will get us up and running but we really need a total of 16.

Solar and wind energy can be as fickle as the weather they depend upon.  Therefore, anyone hoping to escape from the grid by turning to these renewable forms of energy must have a good storage systems set up to supply all of their power needs when the sun has set and the winds have become still.

Battery banks are the best choice for renewable energy storage.  By using batteries to deliver energy captured from the sun and the wind in a consistent and reliable form, you will not be left dependent on the whims of nature as you attempt to leave the electrical grid behind them.

Putting in a system of batteries to harvest and store the output of the sun and the wind involves more than meets the eye.  Before installing a battery bank, much thought, care, and calculation will be necessary to ensure that the system chosen will fully meet the energy needs of the household in a cost-efficient way.

Deep cycle batteries are the best choice for home energy systems.  'Deep cycle' simly means that the batteries in question can handle being regularly dishcarged and recharged on a regular basis.  They have the ability to store large amounts of energy for when it is needed.  The sun, wind, hydro or generator keep the battery bank charged, which supplies DC current to the inverter, which then converts that energy into the AC current that is required to power household appliances.

Lead-acid batteries come in two styles, sealed or flooded, and while the latter is cheaper it also requires greater levels of maintenance.  Batteries for renewable energy storage usually cost between $80 and $200 each , and the lifespan of a lead-acid battery is usually somewhere between one and 15 years, depending on the quality of the battery chosen and on how well it is taken care of.

The battery technology is advancing so rapidly right now, that it wouldn’t be wise to invest a large amount of money in the battery system at this point, for us at least.  Within the next five years there will be large advances in off-grid home batteries; this is why we choose to get eight standard 6 volt deep cycle lead-acid batteries.  Once the eight batteries are wired together in a series, it will give us one 48 volt battery. 
 

OUR OFF-GRID POWER CHECK LIST:
(A basic off-grid system is made up of nine components.)
 
     Power Source --- Solar, Wind, Hydro, and Generator – whatever system will be creating your electricity.

  X  DC Disconnect --- this is a breaker between the power source and the inverter.  This allows you to disconnect from the power source to troubleshoot errors.  (Housed in the Power Center – click here)

  X  Charge Controller --- this keeps the batteries from overcharging and from being discharged by the power source.  (Housed in the Power Center)

  X  Battery Bank --- stores excess electricity.

  X  System Meter --- this is like a small computer.  It describes how the various components in your system are behaving and allows you to program virtually every aspect of the system.  (Housed in the Power Center)

  X  Main DC Disconnect --- this is the breaker between the battery bank and the inverter.  (Housed in the Power Center)

  X  Pure Sine Wave Inverter ---this is the component that transforms the DC (direct current) electricity, which is yielded by the power source and stored in the battery bank, into the AC (alternating current) electricity that can be used on your appliances in the home.  (Housed in the Power Center)

  X  AC Breaker Panel --- this is the same breaker panel that is found in any home that is tied to the grid.

  X  Backup Generator --- an important source of backup power when the power system is insufficient for the demand.

     Hidden Expense --- all the wiring that is needed to connect everything together; conduit and fittings; small insulated shed aka ‘power house’ with two rooms, one room for the battery bank and one room for all the other electrical components.

Transplanting Trees...

4:57 pm - 59 degrees - scattered clouds...

When the kids and I got home this afternoon it was so nice out that we just had to be outside.  So while the kids played (and of course they somehow managed to get caked in dirt and mud from head to toe, but at least there were big smiles on their faces), I transplanted 25 Douglas Firs.  It felt so good to be outside working in the yard.  Cannot wait for spring to get here!

Caitlyn was very excited to see two lady bugs
on the first Douglas Fir that I transplanted.
 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mountain Wildlife...

8:14 pm - 42 degrees - raining...

My daughter and I saw 19 elk on the way into town this morning.  I love living in the mountains!


 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Making New Friends...

8:22 am - 45 degrees - overcast...

When the deer strolled on by this morning they encountered Patches.  I don't know if they have met before, this is the first time I've seen them together.  Patches was trying really hard to make new friends, but they just seemed to be very curious.  It was fun to watch their interaction.


{Sorry for the poor quality of the photos.  One camera was in my car, the other camera had dead batteries so I was using my cell phone to snap the pictures.}

Friday, March 1, 2013

Living Off The Land...

12:16 pm - 46 degrees - cloudy...

Part of living off the land is growing your own garden...another part of it is hunting.  Hunting wild animals for food used to be a part of everyday life – for some it still is.

Hunting may not be for everyone, but it’s a part of our lives.  Hunting is simply harvesting wild food, and we only harvest what our family will eat.  Tony hunts for deer and elk every year - one deer and one elk will put enough meat in the freezer to feed our family for a whole year and be able to share some with family and friends. 

Hunting for our own food also gives me peace of mind that the meat in our freezer has not been tainted by antibiotics, artificial hormones, pesticides, herbicides, or unnatural feeds that are not needed and are possibly harmful.

To hunt and butcher an animal is to recognize that meat is not some abstract form of protein that springs into existence at the grocery store tightly wrapped in cellophane and Styrofoam.  Meat is life.  It still astounds me how many people actually believe that the meat they buy at the grocery store...is just meat at the grocery store.  They forget or choose to forget where it really came from – a living breathing animal.  In order to appreciate that big slice of steak on your plate, I think you need to also know and appreciate where it came from.
 


 

It’s Cookie Time...

8:41 am - 46 degrees - still raining (3.46 inches of rain in the past 24 hours)...

Sorry for my lack of posts lately, I’ve been really busy and then I got sick (strep throat – yuck!).  No I haven’t been busy on the house; I’ve been busy dealing with Girl Scout Cookies. 

My dad was a Boy Scout, and then he was a Boy Scout leader while my brother was in Boy Scouts.  Now my brother is a Boy Scout leader while his sons are in Scouts.  So I figured what the heck, this is something fun that Caitlyn and I can do together - I can be a Girl Scout leader while Caitlyn is in Girl Scouts.  So I started my own troop with eleven girls from Caitlyn’s school.  So far we are all having a blast.  Although I must say that there is A LOT of work that goes into being a troop leader, especially around Girl Scout Cookie time!  So this is what Caitlyn and I have been busy doing...selling Girl Scout Cookies.
 
We had to bring two rigs to pick up all the Girl Scout Cookies.
Never knew I could fit 74 cases of cookies in my rig before!
The other rig had another 37 cases in it, that's a lot of cookies!
 

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