Saturday, September 17, 2016

Off-Grid Chronicles

On September 16th, Sir Knight and I marked our 16th year of living in Little Shouse on the Prairie.   What we had intended to be a one year adventure living in a shop has become a sixteen year undertaking in off-grid ingenuity.  It has shaped our family and pushed us to our limits.  We have learned how to overcome and how to be content.  We have learned that "self-reliance" doesn't exist, only heightened dependence on one another versus dependence on the established infrastructure.  We have grown stronger and closer and more capable.  We have experienced life as few people in our generation have had the opportunity to experience.  And yet our daily life is still a challenge, replete with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

Our most recent off-grid hiccup has been generators (again).  Generators, along with our solar array are the foundation of our power supply.  We always keep two generators in our shed - one main generator and one back-up generator.  Both of our current gensets are older Onan generators, which have become our generators of choice.  Our main generator is a 6.5 KW and the back-up a 5 KW.  We have been relying solely on our main generator for the last year because our back-up generator had carburetor issues, along with a few other problems.  About two months ago we sent our back-up generator to my Dad's small engine mechanic so that we could have both generators up and running before winter.  After our back-up generator had been in the shop about two weeks, our main generator up and died.  What timing!  We limped along, relying on solar energy alone, while waiting for our back-up to be repaired.  In the meantime, we hauled our main generator in to Dad's small engine mechanic to add to his repair list, and waited, hopefully, for our back-up generator to be brought back to life.

Onan 5 KW (Needs a good scrubbing, doesn't it?!)
Yesterday my parents brought us a wonderful gift - our back-up generator repaired and ready for work!  After over a month of making do, we fired up our back-up generator and flipped the switch!  Oh, the relief!  The generator ran flawlessly, pumping our water and charging our batteries with ease.  We are back!!

Our main generator is still in the shop.  We are having the mechanic look at it before repairing it, then we'll decide if we're better off replacing or repairing - one step at a time. 

We have found that maintaining an off-grid lifestyle requires constant creativity and tenacity.  It requires ingenuity, perseverance and a hardy dose of rugged individualism.  Not to mention a liberal draught of blood, sweat and tears.

Oh, to live the off-grid life!

1 comment:

  1. We are fortunate that we have power from a utility company, although it could be more reliable. In an ideal world we would own a Honda EU7000iS inverter generator for backup power, but not having $4500 to spare looked for something at a better price. Talking to someone who rents generators to film crews, he mentioned that for years they rented the Honda ES6500K-1 generators that were the top of the line from Honda before they went inverter. He said they were the most rugged and reliable generators they rented. After looking for a year on Craigs List I found one for $700. It is made like a small car, but with a generator instead of wheels. It has two cylinders, a fan cooled radiator, two stage air filter, fuel filter, and a full size automotive style oil filter. As you probably know very few generators this size have oil filters. Having the oil filter and dual stage air filter (pleated paper, and oil filled foam) keep the dust and dirt out of the engine and make for long life. If you can find one, consider buying it. It is the best portable generator I have owned.