Going off-grid in the North

upnorthandpersonal

Administrator
I've had numerous requests over the past year or two asking for more details regarding my set-up, how I built my place, what the requirements are for off-grid living in a cold climate, building materials, etc. Several people asked me to start a YT channel... I don't really have the time for that, nor do I feel very comfortable in front of a camera. Instead, I decided to start gathering information I posted here and there on the net and put it together in a single blog in a coherent fashion with all the details. This is actually also an exercise for me to review all I've done over the past years to make this work, and to write it down for my two daughters who were born at the start of the project; maybe they'll read it once they're a bit older.

The goal is to post regularly and in chronological order, starting with the design, decisions made and why, etc. If you feel like following along:

 

svetz

Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
...Hopefully I will able to demonstrate that it is indeed feasible to be off grid in the north, with little to no sacrifices...
Woot! I was impressed with your earlier blog, can't wait to see what you do with this one. Very handy to link up with disbelievers.
 

upnorthandpersonal

Administrator
Thanks! The idea is to go over every bit of detail from land selection, to the design choices of the building, heating systems, etc. etc. - so not just the power system. This is also why I started a new blog site for that since it didn't really fit into anything I already write (I have another blog that's more tech oriented stuff/random).
I know people like videos these days, but I can't justify the time to build that up, and as I said, don't like to be in front of the camera :)
If it goes as planned, I would bundle it as a book perhaps... There are very few people that make off-grid work at these latitudes (I think @Steve_S might be one of the few of us), especially when we're not talking about typical cabin lifestyle (nothing wrong with that, but the things like e.g. Shawn James is doing isn't for everyone).
 

svetz

Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
...I know people like videos these days...
I much prefer text, easier to search later when you come back ;-)

...make off-grid work at these latitudes (I think @Steve_S might be one of the few of us)...
Steve's isn't exactly a "typical" cabin. Although I might have to recant a bit on the video... for example, a walk-through video of Steve's place with him as a tour guide discussing all the stuff he's done & why it matters would be amazing. So much to learn from you guys.
 

upnorthandpersonal

Administrator
for example, a walk-through video of Steve's place with him as a tour guide discussing all the stuff he's done & why it matters would be amazing.

Agreed - I'd love to compare some of the choices we all made and changes done over time. @Steve_S: want to give a tour? :)

I can perfectly understand why one wouldn't though. All images I post are always carefully chosen not to include people, or other aspects that can make it more identifiable or easier to find - to keep the privacy (even if that's pretty much a given here in Finland). It's one of the reasons I never posted a picture with the view I have from the house. In addition, I can count the people that know where the place is and have visited on two hands, and that includes family...

I do have a YT channel with some videos that I thought might have gotten an audience, but I've only got 154 subscribers :)
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Thanks for thinking of me but I don't do video's nor do I put my face out anywhere on the Web. I have written up everything from land purchase and clearing to building everything out to a point. I stopped posting it as some "stoopid" started to happen and I just wasn't going to deal with that.

My place is quite different in the sense that I did not build a huge 3000 square foot shack, it is in fact Right Sized for me & Maggie @ 500 Square Feet. It's a nice comfortable size and it is efficient. Built with the intention to be as efficient as possible and so it is with DIY SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) and Frost Protected Slab Foundation with Radiant Heat and leveraging methods like a Cool Roof System and Rain Screen Siding to utilize Thermal Breaks increasing efficiency in Summer & Winter.

Location is North close to Algonquin Park Ontario Canada. The Land of Real Snowfalls still (1 foot / 30cm dumps) and temps can swing from -35C/-31F to 40C/104F... As for efficiency, the Radiant Heating runs for 2 Hours within a 24 Hour period to maintain 25C/77F in Winter @ -25C outside. I Gave away my AC Unit, no point other than a pig of a Dehumidifier ! 40C/104F outside and the highest temp it reached inside was 28C/82F and still comfy. It was a very good surprise when the high temps hit and everything stayed cooler inside... Great when things work out as Hoped.

The Solar Stuff I pretty much covered in the "About my System" page (little outdated ATM).

I am assembling a set of guides and details related to my place as an Archive for the next owners. I built this as my Bucket List Thing as it is something I always wanted to do. Maggie did not like the alternative I had chosen when finally diagnosed Terminal in 2014 and given 5-7 years at best. I've hit Year 7 and I KNOW that at best I have 2 to go but more likely just 1 more year left. So now I am doing my best to finish things up and clear everything out but it has become very difficult to get things done as the Body just won't comply... Work 15 Minutes, rest 15 minutes, work 15 minutes, rest 15 more... it is very hard & discouraging... BUT I can still write easily, so that is what I tried to do here... helped a few folks at least gain a modicum of Freedom & Independence. I was once a Very Fit guy, I weighed in at 180 Lbs / 81kg, and SOLID, no flubb now still no flubb and down to 105 Lbs/47kg. Considering I am 5/10" / 175cm ... well you get the idea.

On the solar stuff, I've posted my info for those that want to replicate it with all the links possible. As for my Home Build and the process, a couple have asked but not much interest here... Just not the focus of this place. As this is also a Self-Designed & Self-Built Home (Only contractors used were to pour the concrete slab and to install the metal roof, I did everything else myself). AND when I say "Self-Built" I mean it, I had 4 people here for 1 hour to lift the wall modules into place and that and above is the help I ever got. I even made my own 6" Baseboards, Trims, Casings, Cabinetry and such... There is no Synthetics (MDF, OSB, ParticleBoard / Melamine etc) in my home at all ! Red, White Pine, Cedar & Spruce (just like the forest it is built within)
EXAMPLE: my kitchen cabinetry is made with 1" Thick Rough Cut Red-Pine and finished with clear urethane. Sanded & softened but the big circular saw marks left to show the genuineness - also same with the exposed beams, honestly thing and adds more character. Counter Tops are 12mm Thick 30cm x 60cm Vitreous Ceramic Tile.

I'm not sure if anyone in this Forum would be interested in the Build and the related stuff. Considering some of the reactions received when telling folks they can cut their heating & cooling by 30% with a Roof Modification they go whack-a-doodle because they don't get it and don't want to (it's different from what I know, so I won't listen or even look).

If you think I could add some value with regards to a home structure etc, let me know and I'll ponder it, but that is a side-trip for this forum.
Steve

EDIT: Now watching this thread, a rare thing for me these days.
 
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BuffaloTrace

Solar Enthusiast
This guy @Steve_S is an absolute value to this community. I've been following his posts for some time now.
The journey has totally inspired me to move forward with off grid system of my own, starting small and working my way up.
I can relate on building a small and efficient home. My dad and I built a 450sqft efficiency when I was in high school. Not off grid. But has everything one needs.
This forum provides a direction and pathway to move along depending on how far one wants to go in pursuit of self sufficiency and its main component, energy.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
Thanks guys but I'm just one little voice trying to help where I can.
 
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