Fill heat tank with glycol in off-grid system?

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Since this is a new-build, I would focus really hard on passive solar design. This is a new concept of building, with different materials and practices - it's not a glue-on afterthought to a conventionally built house). This type of design is likely to be earth sheltered, heavily insulated, have huge thermal mass inside the insulation envelope, windows with southern exposure slurping up every bit of sunlight. Snow and drifting have to be thought about. This is hard, but extremely worth it, because the house literally heats itself.

Don't even try to use photovoltaic power (solar panels) to make electricity to make heat. That is a complete thermodynamic "net lose" - you can't make enough heat with PV electricity to make a difference. Go ahead and spec it out, and you will see. If there's any way you can get natural-gas or propane to the site, even in portable containers, that's the way to go for as-needed use such as cooking or drying.

Wind is not a great way to get...

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One question we often get about living off the grid is “what about water?” Lucky for us, we get all of our water from the lake behind our house with a one-of-a-kind off grid water system. We don’t have to worry about water delivery, water hauling, or water shortages. And of the many challenges we face as newbies to living off the grid, this is one area where we’ve totally lucked out! Here’s how our off grid water system works.

(Note: this post is about how we get our water. Stay tuned for our upcoming post on how we get rid of our wastewater – exciting stuff.)

So we have a better situation than a lot of our homesteading and off grid friends do – we live right on a lake. A big lake. While other homeowners and seasonal cabin owners also have properties along the water (and there’s even a large campground/park on it), there’s more than enough fresh lake water for all of us.

We know of other families living off the grid in the area who aren’t quite as lucky – they...

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Hello,

Newbie here so please be gentle!

My husband and I are currently renovating a 1950's 1 1/2 story 750 sq. ft. cabin in coastal BC for use on most weekends and holidays. It's off-grid, but has access to the community's diesel-powered 15 kW generator. The fuel bills for electricity are enormous and I doubt the generator will be around 10 years from now, so I'm trying to minimize electricity use when looking at what to do with the cabin.

At the moment, our hot water heater system consists of an indirect 20 gallon storage tank (in the bathroom), heated by a coil in the oil stove (in the kitchen next door) using thermosiphoning. The oil stove is a McClary Charm converted from wood to an oil pot-burner at the factory. We've got it going and are experimenting to see how much it burns - so far it's about 1/2 a jerry can (10L) per day. With stove oil at $1.47/L, not cheap, efficient or environmentally-friendly! And while we haven't got to use the shower yet,...

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UPDATED: 1/3/11 with expert opinions from Mark Sevier and Peter Yost

Chris Koehn will be building a 1,600-sq.-ft. home in British Columbia for owners who want to heat primarily with wood. They envision a wood-burning cookstove and a fireplace, and they'd also like to incorporate some solar capability.

Because of its island location, the house will be off the electricity grid.

Among their concerns is that some parts of their house, including the bathroom and an upstairs bedroom, may be too far from a heat source to be comfortable. Koehn is considering heating the tile floors in the bathroom, but he's concerned with how much electricity it would take to run the pumps.

There's also the question of what to use as a source of backup heat to keep the house from freezing in winter, as well as help it meet local building codes.

"I'm looking for potential solutions from folks who have faced similar challenges," he says in a Q&A post. The replies are the...

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