Basics of the self-sufficient house – part 1 of 2

It is the desire and even the dream of many people to be independent of the municipal network for all sorts of reasons, be they personal or situational. There are some who want to be autonomous in electricity and / or water. For some followers of self-sufficiency, being self-sufficient in food can also be interesting. Most potential customers seem to want to be autonomous (the term frequently used is “off grid”), without really knowing what it implies at the monetary level, ecological, as well as at the level of the compromises to be made daily.

In this article, we will explore together the various energy sources available to you. Our goal is to enlighten you so that you make the best choice, depending on your habits and where you live. We will present the various sources of energy, their operation, the advantages and disadvantages, depending on the context. We will talk about solar and wind energy, and talk about the propane system.

SOLAR ENERGY

First, solar energy is produced from the conversion of solar radiation into continuous electric power (DC), in addition to being a renewable energy … AT INFINITY AND / OR UNTIL THE SUN RESIGNS ! No, but seriously the sun is fantastic, but expect to have energy stored in batteries in winter when the days are shorter or just during cloudy weeks.

The operation of a photovoltaic solar energy system is quite simple … you just have to know about it! Solar panels produce on average 24 or 48 Volts of current, so they must be directly connected to a regulator that converts this current to 12 V before entering the batteries. The most commonly used voltage is 12 V, because the internal elements of an off-grid building (water pump, light, ventilation) generally operate on the 12 V. Once our energy is safe in our batteries, we send some of the power directly into a fuse box, which supplies the 12 V elements of the house. A second part of the energy from the batteries is sent to an inverter / charger, which transforms the 12 V DC into 120 V alternating current (AC). This type of power is found in traditional power outlets and is used to power the most energy-intensive elements, such as the refrigerator or a washing machine, for example. The number of batteries needed and the wattage of the inverter is determined based on the average daily electricity usage per occupant. There are different ranges of quality and price for solar energy systems, it is important to be well informed before buying anything. The future is solar energy, many companies are embarking on this field and are trying to break into this growing market.

In the vein of innovative companies, Tesla, is a company that inspired, inspires and will always inspire our team:

In which situation is solar energy the best choice?

It can happen that you move into a land far from the current offered by the city and you know that you will not be served for a long time. Also, in some places in Canada or states in the United States, the energy supplied is not called “clean”, such as nuclear energy or coal. In this case, the purchase of solar panels can result in an ecological need. When we look at the graph below, which represents the proportions of the types of energy produced and offered in the United States, we feel like producing our own energy!

The price of electricity is becoming more expensive, here is a table of price comparisons of the 21 largest cities of North America. You can see that in Quebec, it is still very affordable, almost 2 times cheaper than our neighbors in Ontario! Depending on the location of your house or cottage, choosing to produce your own electricity using the sun can become profitable fairly quickly! Here is a table that gives a comparative index of electricity prices:

http://www.hydroquebec.com/affaires/tarifs-et-facture/tarification/prix-de-lelectricite-ici-et-ailleurs/

You should know that if you choose solar, you will have to find alternative energy to provide the water heater, the heater and the stove. If you want to be “off grid” at 100%, the option of propane or natural gas is simply unavoidable. You can always opt to connect to the network offered by the city if possible and desired.

Above all, it is important to ask yourself about your needs. Here are the questions to ask yourself before choosing which type of electricity is best for you :

  • What kind of energy can I access?
  • How long do I have to wait before making the most of my investment?
  • Do I want to be environmentally friendly?
  • On average, how much energy do I consume per day?

It’s important to know that making compromises is also an integral part of the ‘off grid’ experience. It is in this perspective that it is necessary to know how much electricity you consume per day. By some calculations, at Minimaliste, we are able to help you to target your real needs in electricity.

WIND ENERGY

Another nice clean energy! And yes, we use the wind as energy to generate electricity. It is a renewable energy because its source is inexhaustible, but irregular; the wind does not always blow. It is therefore very important to have an alternative source of energy.

In which situation is wind energy the best choice?

At Minimaliste, we do not recommend wind energy as the only source of energy. We understand and respect the ecological benefits, but it is very rare that it is economical. For wind energy to be profitable, it must be located high up in a territory known to be windy and bare of trees. A quick description of where you live allows us to see if the purchase and maintenance of a wind turbine pays for itself by the energy it produces.

THE PROPANE

This article would not be complete if we did not talk about alternative energy, gas. Indeed, propane and natural gas make it possible to be hybrid in our autonomy in energy. Propane is a fuel, but do not be afraid! We explain to you!

Without gas, it is practically impossible to be energy independent if you have some very energy-intensive elements, such as a heating system, a water heater, in addition to the oven and rounds of cooking. These can work easily thanks to propane for example. Now we want to reassure you about propane, people are usually scared of it without knowing it is safe and very reliable. It is obvious that any house where a gas is used must be equipped with a propane detector, and as in all homes, a handy fire extinguisher and a smoke detector are essential.

To conclude, we have enlightened you on two types of renewable energies: solar and wind, as well as propane, a must in terms of heating and cooking. We hope that you will be able to make a good choice, understanding how each energy source works, their advantages and disadvantages. In short, know that we always encourage you in your steps towards autonomy. Always at your disposal, the Minimaliste team has the expertise to guide you in your process according to your needs and preferences.