Off grid living

Old Feb 22nd 2022, 9:32 am
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Default Off grid living

Hi
As a new member I would welcome any good advice and or experiences on the subject of " Off grid living"
Our intention is to install a solar sytem and battery back up for our top spec timber built traveling wagon to live in while creating a sustainable lifestyle for ourselves.
If anyone would like to add their experiences or knowledge of off grid living it would be great to hear from you.
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Old Feb 22nd 2022, 10:13 am
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Default Re: Off grid living

Have a look at the videos from these people, if you haven't seen them already, quite informative and entertaining: https://www.ecoandbeyond.co/
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Old Feb 22nd 2022, 2:33 pm
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Where are you? There are many, many people living off-grid away from the coast in the Alentejo Litoral..... I doubt they are represented in this forum because they mostly seem to be Dutch or Scandinavian. They also have a reputation for keeping themselves to themselves (you get the picture....) but there MUST be suppliers and installers in the area who serve them and may be able to help you.
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Old Feb 22nd 2022, 7:18 pm
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I know a few brits too, around Budens and Aljezur.
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Old Feb 22nd 2022, 11:08 pm
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The only off grid living we do is on a boat. 320W of solar and 450AH of batteries copes most of the year with 12v items such as TV, computer charging etc. Cooking is by gas and heating by Eberspacher diesel heater. All lights are led. Also have a Honda generator as a backup but rarely needed. Main point is to be able to move/tilt the panels towards the sun as far better output than mounted flat. I think you're more likely to obtain information on camper van or, dedicated off-grid forums.
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Old Feb 24th 2022, 12:33 pm
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Default Re: Off grid living

Thanks guys
I'll take it all on board, pardon the pun Graham F, that's sound advice as my intended living would be classed as non permanent or mobile as for the solar system, we intend to add to the mobile units through the developement of the land so have calculated this in. Ive watched the videos Alan PT and agree informative. Where are we Macliam ? On a family friends farm in Quelves, he has agreed to sell us a hectare of his land, I am now waiting to hear your advice on the issues that may arise with this arrangement.
Cheers people
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Old Feb 24th 2022, 2:36 pm
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Default Re: Off grid living

Originally Posted by Le Saints View Post
Thanks guys
I'll take it all on board, pardon the pun Graham F, that's sound advice as my intended living would be classed as non permanent or mobile as for the solar system, we intend to add to the mobile units through the developement of the land so have calculated this in. Ive watched the videos Alan PT and agree informative. Where are we Macliam ? On a family friends farm in Quelves, he has agreed to sell us a hectare of his land, I am now waiting to hear your advice on the issues that may arise with this arrangement.
Cheers people
I guess you mean Quelfes, near Olhão. It's a good place to be - easy access to things you'll need.

As with all things, what you can do depends on the depth of your pockets, what you want and where you are prepared to compromise. I can't give you advice on totally off-grid living, because although we have our own water and use bottled gas and have dropped the landline in favour of mobiles and mobile internet, we still have mains electricity.

IMO, solar water heating is a given, but overall heating is an issue - we have solid-fuel and bottled gas heating. I like the idea of heat pumps, but not the costs involved and the limitations imposed when it is a retro-fit, that was a great disappointment to me. However, I also haven't "invested" in photovoltaic panels because I really don't know enough but I know the storage and battery costs are a major factor. It's like having out own water..... yes I don't pay bills, but it means I have to pay the energy costs, etc. for pumping and filtration - and am left out on a limb when any component fails (and it has done) - plus our water, despite filtration, is still very ferrous and doesn't taste good., so it means buying bottled water for drinking, etc. or bringing it from the nearest fonte. I haven't done a full breakdown of bills, etc. let alone set any "savings" against compromises, but it certainly isn't a no-brainer.

Good luck.
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Old Feb 24th 2022, 3:01 pm
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Default Re: Off grid living

Thanks Macliam
Yes Quelfes, slip of a finger.
Because im building the living wagons myself, I considered underfloor heating from the LPG boiler installed with the same principals as if in a wooden floored dwelling then backed up with a small wood burning stove.
The solar system and battery backup is designed for a 4 bed house but as mentioned i would like to add additional units in the future and this I think would be ample.
Your thoughts please
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Old Feb 24th 2022, 3:22 pm
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Default Re: Off grid living

Originally Posted by Le Saints View Post
Thanks Macliam
Yes Quelfes, slip of a finger.
Because im building the living wagons myself, I considered underfloor heating from the LPG boiler installed with the same principals as if in a wooden floored dwelling then backed up with a small wood burning stove.
The solar system and battery backup is designed for a 4 bed house but as mentioned i would like to add additional units in the future and this I think would be ample.
Your thoughts please
Underfloor heating increases your options..... but beware that it doesn't give a psychological focus point. The wood-burner could help there, when needed. Since you are building from new, it is possible to overcome issues that are near show-stoppers with retrofit.

However, how will you resolve water/sewerage requirements without permanent structures? If you need them, would that not involve planning requirements? I can't comment on the solar power setup. I know it should work, I just don't know the costs and limitations. I really would suggest chatting your ideas through with a local architect/engineer.... or with the Camara (though you might not want to open that door, or they may not be willing to help). Ideally you need a chat down the pub with someone who knows more about it... or has previous experience.

I'd also suggest that you are very, very careful for your work not to be seen as an attempt to overcome local planning restrictions, etc., because the authorities can be very bloody-minded about such things! In my area, a local guy who did some work for me, built an "overnighter" based on a container and has, effectively, been blockaded. No access to services; No access to roads (structures built to stop unofficial access); Super nit-picky delays to later, unconnected, planning requests; loss of work for local or surrounding councils, etc., etc. He told me he now wished he'd not thought he could get one past them.........
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Old Feb 24th 2022, 4:28 pm
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Default Re: Off grid living

This is a great source for ideas and discussion Macliam, I will try and answer the questions in order. Water comes from a well but the farm also has mains, sewage will go into a bacteria friendly septic tank, which will soak away or be channeled to form a pond /wet area encouraging wild life, only doubt being can we get it emptied, is there a company who does it locally. Im travelling over on Sunday to see representatives of the Camara and put potential plans and intentions to them before a spade is put in the ground. Our friend has briefly outlined the idea and wasn't shot down, with the project being ecofriendly by nature they looked quite impressed but needed more detail, hense the visit.
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Old Feb 24th 2022, 4:39 pm
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Default Re: Off grid living

Originally Posted by Le Saints View Post
This is a great source for ideas and discussion Macliam, I will try and answer the questions in order. Water comes from a well but the farm also has mains, sewage will go into a bacteria friendly septic tank, which will soak away or be channeled to form a pond /wet area encouraging wild life, only doubt being can we get it emptied, is there a company who does it locally. Im travelling over on Sunday to see representatives of the Camara and put potential plans and intentions to them before a spade is put in the ground. Our friend has briefly outlined the idea and wasn't shot down, with the project being ecofriendly by nature they looked quite impressed but needed more detail, hense the visit.
That sounds like a plan - but be aware, they will probably want proof that your sewage system doesn not impact ground water ot the water-table, not just estimates or good intentions. As long as everything is above board, and they accept it, no problem. My comment about avoiding planning was due to your suggestion of extra units in future. If this is seen as a commercial or non-temporary installation, their attitude will change.
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Old Feb 24th 2022, 6:45 pm
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Default Re: Off grid living

Yeah I understand their attitude would change which is a shame because the intentions are genuine. If all these ecofriendly systems were put in place how can it be classed as non permanent ? It would be a costly exercise and then become detrimental to the environment if they were then removed. If this project was solely the farmers would it be viewed in a different light I wonder.
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Old Feb 24th 2022, 7:28 pm
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Default Re: Off grid living

Originally Posted by Le Saints View Post
Yeah I understand their attitude would change which is a shame because the intentions are genuine. If all these ecofriendly systems were put in place how can it be classed as non permanent ? It would be a costly exercise and then become detrimental to the environment if they were then removed. If this project was solely the farmers would it be viewed in a different light I wonder.
No, if I understand correctly you are living on land that is classified for agriculture, not for habitation or commerce. If you cross the line, you will be chased by the Camara because of unauthorised change of use, by the Conservatoria, becausethe land is incorrectly registered and you have the wrong documentation and by the taxman, because the tax due on residential or commercial land is different to that on agricultural land.

To make matters worse, if I recall, you are using land owned by a friend - so your friend would be the one liable to prosecution for any infraction as he is the registered owner!! You, on the other hand, will have no protection under law as you are not the recognized owner, so, if I remember correctly, the best you can have, without owning the land, individually or in common, is a right of "Usufruir" ... literally "to enjoy" the use of land or property that you do not own.... The Rural Lease Regime (Decree-Law 294/2009, of 13 October) applies to farmsteads, but is not designed for residential use and only recognises that a tenant has the right to use buildings that already exist on a piece of land, provided they are only used for a purpose associated with farming activity.... therefore no change of use, no habitation license - i.e. illegal if used for residence. Best get all this checked out before you start spending any significant money.....
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Old Feb 25th 2022, 9:42 am
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Default Re: Off grid living

Fantastic info Macliam.

Before a penny is spent or a spade put in the ground all will be clear.
I can imagine the red tape involved on a change of use, even if it does benefit the ecology of the land and benefit the local economy.
Traveling on Sunday to speak to the relevant people and may take a look at other plots where a project like this maybe more straight forward.

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Old Feb 25th 2022, 10:23 am
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If you are going for solar PV and be sustainable then instead of LPG heating/hot water there's "energy storage" units which can take in solar PV electrical energy and store it as heat then can supply hot water and heating on demand - as in the link below.
Also if you are going to have sewerage and possibly organic waste then anaerobic digesters (quite common on farms in Germany) which keep the methane produced instead of venting it to atmosphere, methane being a greenhouse gas 25(?) times more potent than carbon dioxide, which can be then used cooking/heating/power generation. That is efficient power generation by using methane in a solid oxide fuel cell which converts methane +air directly to electricity so maybe 85% efficient as opposed to internal combustion + generator maybe 20% efficient. I'm not allowed to tell you anymore about them.


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https://tepeo.com/thezeb

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