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admin | Category: Ed Treatment For Migraine | 03.11.2015
Alistair and Rose Hughes and their Wairarapa home, which is powered by eight solar panels on the roof. A year has passed since we moved into our newly built off-grid home at the foothills of the Tararua Ranges, west of Greytown. Our electricity comes to us via eight solar panels mounted on the roof and our hot water from a neighbouring array of solar tubes. Our reason for choosing a power system that didn't rely on the national grid was purely economic: the cost of paying for a new transformer and then connecting to this distant glorified power socket simply wasn't worth it. Our solar panels produce 1760 watts and 12 deep-cycle batteries each store 893 amp hours, meeting our "power budget" of approximately 4.5 kilowatts per day.
A couple of wall-mounted displays give us at-a-glance readings, creating an obsessive compulsion for checking that might one day threaten to become a disorder. Not being signed up with a power company also means that responsibility falls to us for our system's maintenance.
Our system was predictably challenged during the winter and if the power reading fell below a certain level, then we needed to run the generator to top the batteries up. This took a couple of hours, and meant we had to refrain from using any electrical appliances while it chugged away in the shed.


We do miss our electric blankets at times, but that is definitely one luxury this lifestyle has banished to the past. Our water system is also solar-heated, alternatively warmed at night by our wood burner's wetback system in the colder months.
Wood consumption is high, but we should be well supplied this year: there are plenty of fallen branches on our property. Living in an off-grid home isn't so much about doing without but about being constantly aware of the pulse and respiration of your power system and living within its scope.
The energy rating on any new appliance has to be considered ahead of cost, and a hopeful gap still remains for a dishwasher (most of these heat their own water - an extra demand on power). Designing a home from scratch allowed us to plan for and integrate the technology needed for an off-grid lifestyle with the minimum of difficulty. Not unusually for the country, our water-access and waste-disposal systems are also entirely independent.
Many make the assumption that we are "grid- tied" - able to sell excess power back to the grid or draw on energy company's wares when we really need it - but the only energy supplier we are linked to is the Sun.
The batteries are checked monthly and we periodically inspect our solar panel's bolts and wiring connections.


It was a mild inconvenience and a negligible amount of petrol, but the process did make us even more boring about monitoring the weather forecast. The gentle gushing sound as the fire reaches the temperature required to send hot water to the radiators in the hallway and bathroom is a source of great satisfaction (and no longer frightens the cats). And although it took a minute to get used to the added chores and challenges, it is an absolutely wonderful way to live. We are a sovereign state of two, or possibly a very small colony of societal outcasts, depending on your point of view.
The only drawback in the height of summer is that we can't always use all our power - even though, on sunny days, any rechargeable tools and batteries are usually plugged into every available socket. With double glazing and thorough insulation has come the realisation that we've never lived in a properly heat- proofed house before. My partner Eric built this yurt 2 and a half years ago on the San Juan Ridge about 23 miles from Nevada City, California.



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