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Grid down home preparation (design)

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by hot diggity, Jun 25, 2018.

  1. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I grew up in Michigan, and lived in homes that were gas heated with wood back-up and no air conditioning. We had cool basements to escape the daytime summer heat, or we went to the lake.

    Living in the Southeast for almost 40 years now I've found a whole different set of home design features that help keep things comfortable without air conditioning. Older homes had functional (opening) dormer or cupola windows to let the heat out. More modern designs utilize ridge vents, but this only vents hot air from the attic. You'll also see these older home with functional shutters, heavy draperies, large extended porches... and shade trees!

    Visiting these older Southern homes inspired me to redesign much of my homes exterior, and interior ventilation to take advantage of the natural daily heating and cooling cycles in this region. I can't match all of the older homes tricks, but I've added long shade porches, lots of shade trees with grape vine coverage helping to really block out the summer sun. Evenings on the porches to keep cool, going to bed when it gets dark, and rising with the sun feel more natural without power. Closing up all the open windows in the morning to hold the cool air in the house as the day warms outside was all part of the normal cycle of life here before air conditioning.

    Big stout porches have many advantages, and some of the ones I enjoy most are the ability to hang things everywhere (lanterns, plants, water jugs, etc.) and being able to climb up on top of the porch roof and use it as a sun deck/solar dryer. Clothes lines can be strung on the poles, and as a last resort, it can be wrapped with razor wire or enclosed for additional bunk space.

    What other changes/adaptations have you done in your area to prepare your home to be comfortable without power?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2018
  2. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

    I still do that as long as the nights are below 75. Cupola for house breathing and with designed in low windows that open outward at the ground floor level and are horizontal casement allow free flow with security from varmints.
    Seepalaces and Gator 45/70 like this.
  3. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    Including two legged varmints.
  4. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    In the old days we just slept on the porch....
  5. ochit

    ochit Monkey+

    I remember sleeping on the water in a boat away from the bank and the insect swarms. We would fish all night come in at daylight and filet all the fish, take a bath and head off for school. Mid 80's temps and a light breeze was good stuff compared to sleeping with a attic fan and all the windows open keep turning the pillow to the cool side, HELL there was no cool side it was damn hot. We used solar back then called wash lines we had wind power water pump I recall eating as much wild fish & game vegetables out of the garden as store bought food seldom eat store bought eggs we traded a neighbor for butter and fresh buttermilk my dad liked it. we used to laugh my dad would eat a hog head cheese sammich and a cold glass of buttermilk UGGG disgusting he used to laugh at me when I made faces. I miss that guy
  6. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    in SoAz (hot with little humidity) these type designs are coming into the market place more and more. A small solar panel to run the pump, and cool air is easy to produce....
  7. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I like the design, and wish it would work better around here. I just jump into the surf to cool off, with the added benefit of drowning any chiggers that are trying to eat me.

    I stayed in a home (California?) that that had a giant swamp cooler like that along an entire wall of the outside porch. Ruined the view, but it sure made it feel cooler on a hot day when the enormous whole house (attic) fan would kick on and exchange all the air in the house. :)
    Seepalaces, Gator 45/70 and HK_User like this.
  8. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    The U of A (Go Wildcats) has been in the forefront of solar and cooling for a very long time. Given it's location in Tucson, it isn't surprising.


    These can be built into anew buildings

    13 page
    lots of graphs and illustrations

    There are existing buildings that incorporate several low/no energy technologies for HVAC & lighting
    This is the Visitors center at Zion's Park, Utah.

    These are successful only in limited areas - this would never work in Alaska or any northern tier US States. Much of the Antebellum South would find only parts of value. So-called heat chimneys (Trombe walls) are often found in older homes as a way to help in moving air on hot days.
  9. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    PT-4 Game Warden. This is WWII cooling technology that worked very well. Windows in the cupola open outward and natural (humid) air circulation is continuous. I worked in warehouses with similar vent designs and they made their own breeze as the cool air entered and hot air was forced out the cupola. Modern buildings are miserable ovens without power.
  10. ochit

    ochit Monkey+

    they do not work with high humidity back when I lived in a desert climate we had a swamp cooler worked like a champ.
    as long as I have electricity I don't worry about water my AC makes 5 to 10 gallons a day.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  11. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I plan on having some power for a long time when the utility power goes out. Not enough to heat and cool a house. Run tools, pump some water, lights at night as long as batteries last.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
    BenP, hot diggity, Seepalaces and 2 others like this.
  12. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    I have no illusions of reliable power after a disaster, from a utility or that I can produce. My parents planned an alternative lifestyle that was set at around 1880. I grew up this way, so I just naturally plan to live a non-electrified life as happily as possible.
  13. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Battery is the governor of the system , even a bunch of old car batterys that can power squat , will make the solar come alive
    when the sun comes out , harvest & use it then , storage is gone for this setup !!
  14. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    Oh, now you've got me thinking about battery life. My observations are that most car batteries are done at 60 months. I have proven that I can store gasoline beyond 72 months. As generators become available (because nobody has fuel) I may be able to generate power, and have no battery bank to charge....unless I store dry batteries and separate containers of battery acid. ;-)

    Exactly how we did long term battery storage in the Marine Corps. Fill and charge only as needed. Overall, Coleman lighting is much easier and more reliable, and I can store lots more mantles and lantern generators than batteries and acid.
  15. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Completely rebuilding the house isn't practical so we've replaced single pane windows with triple pane gas filled single hung ones, increased attic insulation to 18 inches, put in a catalytic wood stove, hooked up well, ac, and various other circuits to solar/wind system. Trees are set up to provide a wind break from about 12 to 30 feet. This provides a measure of protection from hurricane winds while still allowing low level wind to reach the house. Dead fall goes towards winter heat, or if need be cooking. Septic needs no power, well has a hand pump if necessary...switch two valves and it's ready.
    Cruisin Sloth and duane like this.
  16. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    they still use this method for large commercial buildings as well, it's cheaper than AC units
  17. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Not a security plus, but grand dad always had porches on both sides of the house and a rope ladder stored under the window that opened out unto the roofs. Was afraid of fire and being trapped in second story bedroom. When the fire department isn't going to come or might take a half hour, it could save your life. Porches were where you stored fire wood, kept snow away from doors, place for the dog to sleep, place to leave "barn clothes", wet clothes to keep the house clean and neat, place to keep Maytag washer and tubs in summer, place to sit in the shade and talk, place to process garden food, summer kitchen to keep stove heat out of house, place to get kids out from under foot, place for teens to "talk" without enough privacy to go to far, place for the elderly to be out of the way but still involved in the every day events. Old farmer's porch with screens for the summer and panels to close it in for the winter are mighty handy for a lot of things beyond cooling the house and a place to sleep. Now most people consider them "decorations", used to be a very important part of the house, summer and winter. Old houses were not 3,000 sq ft palaces, but were warm in winter, cool in summer, well designed for a large multi generational family that made their own food and lived with out electricity.
    Alf60 and ghrit like this.
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