Living Both On & Off Grid - Creating an Energy Efficient Eco Home - Part 1
(Grid Tied, Off Grid Hybid System with Battery Storage)
I’m not sure if many people realise but it is actually possible to live in a home which is both grid connected and ‘Off the Grid’ - Why you may ask would you want to do this? Well the answer is simple you get the best of both worlds, the security and unlimited power of being in a grid connected house with the knowledge that thanks to your off grid system you will never again have to suffer from a power cut!
Running an off grid system alongside a grid connected system means that you make the most out of any renewables you have installed and potentially when conditions allow even run your house completely for free both day and night! This is achieved by using a grid tied PV system to run the house during the day whilst at the same time running a separate off grid PV system which is charging batteries ready for night time use so they are fully charged and ready to switch to off grid mode on an evening and run your house for free using the sun’s energy even at night! (For winter months we use a back- up generator to keep the batteries topped up)
This may all sound a little complicated so in this case study we will run through the set up needed to run a successful on and off grid home. Rest assured this system has been put through its paces by us here at Remote Power UK as for 5 years now It has been installed on the house next door to the showroom and office that owner Graeme shares with his partner Kate. After 5 years of living with the system we can both honestly say it works fantastically well and has helped us make a warm and comfortable home with very low running costs.
So first things first here’s how we went about it - Moving into the property in 2011 we were faced with a badly insulated solid stone traditional built Welsh cottage fitted with only oil heating - about as far away from an energy efficient Eco home as it was possible to be! So the first thing we did was strip everything back to the bare bones, that meant plaster off and floors dug up! We then encased the house in 50mm Kingspan on the walls and 75mm Kingspan in the floor - even though this is a costly job the future pay backs are well worth it as you’ll find the finished house needs very little heat to keep it warm saving you money year on year.
One problem with eco homes is there air tightness to solve this problem its always advisable to install a warm air heat recovery system, this will ensure you always have a flow of clean fresh air circulating the house without having to lose those valuable kilowatts of heat!
The next big job was to put in underfloor heating throughout, underfloor works really well with renewable heating system and we planned to install an Air source Heat pump, Solar Thermal and Log burner with back boiler so underfloor was the best option for us especially as we had already dug the floors up to insulate.
At this stage we lived in a house reduced to near rubble and cooking on a camping stove - it was all worth it in the end though at the time it didn’t always feel like it!
In part 2 we will go through the heating system in more details.
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