Off-Grid Newbies

We’ve learned a few things since we ditched traditional neighborhood living and went off-grid. (For our definition of off-grid, see “What Off-Grid Means to Us“).

Things like how to dispose of our poo and how many appliances it takes to trip a breaker.  Things that you can read about all day, but until you’ve actually dirtied your hands emptying your black tank(eww!), you just don’t fully understand.

Ken and Joshua using the Barker 42 Gallon Tote to empty the black tank.

After considering many options for temporary living quarters while we were looking for property and while we’re planning our future house and homestead, we decided to cram ourselves and everything we need to live into an RV.

Ken would be happy living hermit style in a dry cabin up in the forest somewhere, far, far away from everything and everyone. I prefer having facilities – like an actual toilet and shower. And maybe being within an hour of shops and entertainment. An RV seemed like a decent compromise. Toilet, shower, variable distance from civilization, running water – most of the time, hot water – sometimes.

Grand Design Imagine Bunkhouse

This RV may be our home for a year or two, so we decided to buy new. Ken may still do some IT contract work so a space for an office area is important. We went with a Grand Design Imagine Bunkhouse and it’s been doable, but not having any privacy, EVER has been interesting. (Try going to the bathroom with thin walls and a 12 year old boy within 10 feet of you. So fun. Much giggling. ) We haven’t kicked each other out yet, and no one has run away so I think we’re figuring it out. 

For the first couple months, we were parked in a friend’s field with access to power and water. It was cushy. A nice place to be while looking for land and getting used to RV living. I do have to say that it got HOT in the middle of the summer. We had the A/C going, but it wasn’t quite enough for this 45 year old on the edge of hot flashes. I guess that’s what lakes are for. 

We noticed ourselves doing a few things that were a little
out of character for our old city-dwelling selves.
These are 6 of many.

  • We started using public restrooms more when we were out so we could go longer before emptying the black tank.
  • We washed our individual dishes immediately after using them because it was easier than washing a pile of dishes in a tiny RV sink. 
  • We pretty much stopped using the microwave. (Now that we’re using only the generator for a/c power, that has stopped completely). 
  • We turn on the hot water heater about 10 minutes before we want to shower. The rest of the time we get to wash our hands in COLD water. 
  • We try to wear clothes multiple times if they are not dirty or smelly. For now we (OK, I) do laundry at a laundromat. 
  • We keep the thermostat set to go on at 55 degrees so we’re not burning propane all night. Warm blankets are a must. 

Overall, the changes are good. We feel like we pay attention to our resources more and are conscious of how much we use. Now that we’re on our property with no utilities (except cell service!) it’s even more important.

We bought 275 gallon IBC totes to haul water and a pump to get the water from the tote to the trailer. We can go about a month on one fill up. IF someone doesn’t take his sweet time in the shower(JOSHUA!). I guess we know who gets the job of filling up the tank. 

Ken and Joshua getting the IBC totes ready to haul water.

Power is limited to the 12 volt batteries of the RV unless we want to plug in the generator(we got the HONDA EU2200i – details coming  soon in another post) . We usually run the generator for a couple of hours at night to recharge the RV batteries and laptops and other devices. Josh squeals every time he hears to power come on. COMPUTER TIME! Ken and Josh have desktop computers, so generator time is precious. I work on a laptop and I just make sure it’s charged up so I can use it whenever I need to(I’m the smart one in the family).

We’ve had to find alternative solutions for a few other things. One thing we can’t do without is my CPAP. Ken calls it a marriage saver. Apparently I’m pretty disruptive without it. I purchased a battery made for medical devices. It’s not perfect. It takes up to 8 hours to charge and lasts two to three nights. Ken rigged it up to the 12 volt RV batteries so that it can charge all day if needed. We’re still looking for other options, but this keeps Ken from wanting to sleep outside with the coyotes. He says they’re quieter.

Some things we’ve given up on entirely. For me, it’s having a hairstyle that needs heat tools like a hair dryer and flat iron. No sense in running the generator for fashion if the birds and chipmunks are the only ones around. Good thing I look hot in hats and ponytails. 

Hats are my new friends.

So far, it’s been good to change our lifestyle.  We go to bed tired because we worked all day getting the basics covered instead of tired because we drove our kids all over town or commuted to and from work in annoying traffic.

It’s work, but it’s a good kind of work.  Stuff is getting done and the time is near that I will be able to use my Instant Pot to cook again. (Yay, solar!)

Missing regular use of the Instant Pot

Oh, Instant Pot, how I have missed using you every day.  Now, if we can just get everything set so we can NOT freeze to death this winter…

If you’re interested in tagging along on this adventure with us, like, subscribe, follow or sign up for email updates and we’ll let you know what we’re up to. 

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