I found myself watching different reality shows this weekend all based somewhat on an off grid living theme. Weather it was the new couple just starting out their lives, full of adventure, deciding to build an off-grid cabin somewhere deep in the Alaskan bush; or the retired city dweller who wants to get away from the rat race and build an off-grid bungalow somewhere on an island, they all had lots of decisions to make. Either way it seemed that in all the shows the off-grid dwellers had to figure out what off gird appliances was best for their particular situation.
In most cases the builder of the structure did add some sort of solar panel set up providing some sort of power option within the area. However, what kind of solar system, how much power was being provided, and how it was affected by the location of the build really varied from story to story. When it came to refrigeration, cooking, and lighting I find that the individuals have two basic options, gas or solar, or a combination of both. If your particular solar system is very extensive and your location lends itself to many bright sunny days you might be able to get away with an all solar home. However, if sun power is something that needs to be used conservatively the gas-powered appliances today are incredibly efficient and require little work to install. Propane stoves, similar to the peerless premier off grid brand, offers a great off grid option with battery spark ignition and propane or natural gas option. Generally, I find consumers who purchase gas stoves and ovens have them converted to propane allowing for their cooking to be powered solely with gas. This way the traditional glow bar inside the oven becomes obsolete requiring zero electricity. Using an electric oven on solar power can be incredibly taxing on your batteries leaving you “in the dark” if using the oven to much. Maybe your backup generator is enough to aid in this, but off grid propane stoves really are a great way to save power and keep the lights on.
Solar refrigerators have become super-efficient as well. However, you must take a look at your setup and surroundings. Remember, once the power is gone the fridge will stop and so will the lights. A great option to keep this from happening is the propane refrigerator. These types of refrigerators today only use about 1 1/2 gallons per week. A simple 5-gallon BBQ propane tank is enough to run the propane refrigerator for almost a month. The most efficient way to fuel the refrigerator would be to add large propane tanks that can either be accessed by a propane truck or small enough that they can be taken to town once in a while to be filled. Choosing to go with a propane refrigerator or stove can allow for extremely low power usage. That means more tv, lights, and hairdryer time if needed.
Gas lamps are also a great option should solar or other means of power be absent. Gas lamps can run very efficient with propane or natural gas. Falks gas lamps come in a variety of options. From single wall mounts to chandeliers these lamps can be a great way to save power when needing to light up your off-grid home. Solar is a wonderful option for all off grid living and I strongly encourage it. However, the power that is generated must be used conservatively. Conservative usage for everyday items like refrigerators and stoves will allow the user to enjoy battery life for all the other electronics he or she wishes to enjoy while living off grid.