The Parks Cottage is an oak frame, very well insulated house built in 2015/2016, on the site of a derelict cottage. It is also off-grid with respect to electricity, gas, water, and drainage. The owner's property next door is also off-grid, and it is this system that provides for the cottage, acting as "grid" for it.
Electrical power is generated by wind (Proven 2.5 kW wind turbine) and sun (1.5kW photo-voltaic panels - PV). Energy is stored in lead-acid batteries, and there is an LPG generator (SDMO 12 kVA) as a backup for those still, cloudy days. In summer (March-September) the generator seldom, if ever runs. In winter, it runs maybe one to two times/month, to recharge the batteries. The generator is located such that it is in inaudible in either house.
The cottage has additional PVs (2.0kW) on the south-facing roof, and these feed into the "grid", just as they do on a truly grid-connected property. Under floor heating is fuelled by LPG, as is the cooking stove.
Hot water is heated by excess electricity from the PVs, once the main house’s "grid" is fully charged. The LPG boiler maintains the hot water when required.
Water comes from a source above the main house, and is filtered and UV sterilised. Just occasionally, the source dries up during a prolonged dry period, and then water is obtained from a 100m deep borehole.
The whole system is designed to make living off-grid transparent, requiring the minimum of compromises while carrying on a normal life. The key to achieving this successfully is to minimise electricity consumption, and to this end all electrical devices are low energy consumption, especially the lights (LED).
The greatest enemy of off-grid living is the clothes tumble-dryer, so there isn't one! Nor is there an electric kettle or microwave. Did you know that a hair-dryer is around 1.5hp, the same as a small motor mower?
Turning off lights that are not being used is an essential and excellent discipline.
The dishwasher and washing machine are heavy energy users, so we tend to use the lowest temperature and shortest cycle possible; generally 50°C for dishes and 40°C for clothes does the job adequately. Where possible sunny and/or windy days are chosen for using these machines.
Living off grid teaches one a great deal about saving energy, and how easy it is to waste energy. Visitors to The Parks Cottage are welcome to discover more about the system.