Tag Archives: getting off the grid

What would we do without the Sun?

Sun ~ {The star that is the source of light and heat for the planets in the solar system}

The sun is a miracle from God. 🙂

It gives life and spreads its love across our globe. When I think of how much energy gets lost every day, without us harvesting it, I get a little sad.

We have tried our hand at some primal methods of harvesting the sun’s energy. In 2013 I tried some DIY methods to warm our water when our landlord at the time, refused to settle his municipal bill and the council cut our electricity supply. In hindsight, it was a learning curve.

Homemade shower

This was my homemade shower in 2013

We have a goal of building our container home totally off-grid and dependent on harvesting energy and water from nature. It has been said that:

“Enough sunlight reaches the Earth’s surface in one hour to satisfy the whole world’s energy demands for an entire year.”

The problem is, we are not capturing or harvesting it. So in our little corner of the world, we are working on some DIY solutions for our home.

We currently do not have access to an electric geyser, so we do not have warm water readily available. Although cold showers are somewhat refreshing some days, other days you really need warm water to soothe your soul and for washing hair! Ashley came up with this idea to build our own solar geyser…please note it is still under construction:

geyser

Home-made solar geyser pitched on roof

The idea is that the black painted barrel on top will warm the water and relay it to the 2nd hand geyser at the bottom, which we will clothe in a geyser blanket. The bottom geyser will keep it warm, ready for use as we need it. The process will begin again, by filling up with cold water on top and repeating. It should work well as we have sun almost 9 months of the year in Jozi.

Until then, this is my system:

Plastic geyser

Catching the last bit of sun for the day!

Warming our water in a water dispenser, and using it as a shower! It works quite well. I fill it halfway with water and I place it in a warm sunny place for most of the day. By 16h00 the water is quite warm, and ready for use!

make shift shower

Make-shift shower

The showers are calculated and quick! We use between 7-10 liters per use, which makes it super efficient! As I said before, going off-grid is not easy, but super rewarding!

sun warms heart

What have you done to go green? Please share!

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Building a shipping container home: Week 3

Although the last few weeks have been extremely busy, it has certainly been the most exciting time of our lives. My husband and I have build numerous homes for clients in the past, and finally we have the opportunity to build our own. A debt-free, off-the-grid house that will be home to ourselves and our children. Now although we have some experience with this kind of build, we still have a lot to learn. Our motto has become: “Trial and error…we learn as we go along.”

The build of a shipping container home should be fairly quick as it is a building block in itself. As a rule, we do not work on holidays and weekends, thus yesterday was our 10th actual day of working on the structure.

In this time we managed to get the house livable. We now have all of the following:

  • Running water (pulling from main house until we have a suitable off-grid solution)
  • Basic electricity (also pulling from main house until we have found the right solar solution)
  • 2 Bedrooms
  • A mini-kitchen
  • Painted walls and floor
Bedroom walls are up using the cut-out steel from the main walls

Bedroom walls are up using the cut-out steel from the main walls

Tinted floors and painted walls

Tinted floors and painted walls

Gas stove

Our big purchase this week was an entry -level gas stove

Solar lights

We bought a basic solar lighting system for our outside bathroom

Polystyrene

Polystyrene pieces we are buying for insulating the roof

My design philosophy has always been one of recycling and re-purposing. We are negotiating with the owner of these polystyrene pieces above which is currently unused. It was previously used as a refrigerator. We will be using it as insulation for our roof. During the coming week we are hoping to source major items such as insulation, exterior wood cladding among others.

Guys about to paint exterior feature

Guys about to paint exterior feature

Keeping in mind our inspiration:

Our inspiration house

Our inspiration house

We are happy to say we are moving in tomorrow! Whoop-whoop!

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House Madeline – a concept house

Concept:~ {An abstract or general idea inferred or derived from specific instances}

It is finally happening. At long last we are going to build our dream home! At times it seemed like our dream was just going to stay that…a whiff…a dream. But even when all the odds were against us, we managed to persevere and push through.

Our fascination with this build started 5 years ago. Read about it here and here.  We fell in love with a tin can…a shipping container…and knew this was part of God’s plan in sending us to Johannesburg. Container housing was still a fairly new concept in South Africa in 2010, although in certain countries it was already rife and accepted.  The whole concept of debt-free and off-the-grid living immediately struck a cord with us.

Earlier this year we secured a piece of land in Florida, Johannesburg, and if all goes according to plan…our first 2 containers will be delivered next week! I wish you can understand how excited and thrilled we really are.

The land in Florida

The land in Florida

At long last we can build a concept home that could be a solution to our country’s dire housing problem. Have you spared a thought to the destitute and homeless lately? I haven’t lived on the streets thus I cannot fully comprehend how bad it must be.

We are humbled. We feel blessed and grateful that God chose us for this work. Everyone has a work to do. Each one of us must fulfill our God-given purpose. I cannot wait to finally start on mine!

I have started a new blog for this specific purpose. It is new…I should upload a few pics shortly.

www.housemadeline.wordpress.com

Be sure to follow us!

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Getting off the grid!

Power Grid ~ {A system of high tension cables by which electrical power is distributed throughout a region}

Getting off the grid…sounds very easy and idyllic.  Grit your teeth…cause its not for sissies!

We have been without electricity for the last 2 months.  I partly feel elated…another part of me not.

Two months is a long time, especially when you were not prepared for it.  But it is not all doom and gloom…it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

I have been saying it for the longest time:”I want to get off the grid!”  Now I am…willingly or not. Once again a testimony that our words carry power!  So I am sure by now you want to know what happened?  In a nutshell, our landlord unfortunately passed on in May, leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills.  The electricity bill being one of them.  Now many people suggested we move out, and find alternative accommodation, but it is easier said than done.  We have settled and have no plans to move soon.

Anyhow…back to the details of “living green!”

It is actually great!  It has forced us to become creative in our living arrangement.  We cook on a little gas stove.

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Gas-stove

I have to boil water on the cooker for bathing purposes etc and that takes a little time.  On the other hand, it has made me more conscious of the amount of water I use.  So after a few weeks I grew tired of cowboy splashes and thus I developed a shower-system.

After doing some research on YouTube, I first started with a prototype.

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Juice bottle sealed with silicone

This worked well; it was just a mission to get the water in the bottle at the right temperature.  Also, it only holds 5 liters so doesn’t work well when you want to wash hair etc.  The idea I got on the internet would work well in summer as I could leave the bottle outside and the sun would heat the water.  Unfortunately it is now winter and although very mild temperatures, not enough to heat it sufficiently to shower.

Then I developed this system.

DSC06182

Ice bucket as shower system

It might not look so grand, but it works well.  You actually feel like you’re taking a shower.  I used the fitting of a hose pipe so I can close and open as I wish.  However, the steady, straight stream does not distribute the water as a conventional shower head would do.  I am still figuring out an alternative… but quite chuffed with this.

We have portable solar-panels that we use to charge batteries during the day to have light in the evening via an inverter.

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Portable solar-panels

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Inverter with light

Our next-door neighbour has been very generous and supplies us with enough electricity to power the fridge and charging our mobiles, etc.

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This helps quite a lot in the meantime while we source alternative solutions i.e. solar panels etc.

I am well aware that there are loads of renewal energy solutions on the market already, but many of them are very pricey.  Part of my mission (and has always been a desire of mine) is to find alternative power sources for the normal folk, and those less fortunate.  Millions of my fellow-countrymen are in a similar situation purely because of lack of resources or poverty.  So I believe this event, that some may view as a mischance, has happened on purpose.

I have learned from previous life lessons to embrace such events…they end up being turning points for the good.

I embrace, thus I am (em)powered!

Do you have any ideas for alternative power solutions?  I would love to hear from you!  Also remember to switch off…its the right thing to do!

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