Living Off The Grid (OTG) is generally defined as living without being connected to public utilities, such as electricity, natural gas, water or sewage. In general, there are two groups of people who live off the grid… those that want to and those that have to.
Off the Grid by Choice
The first group are those that do it by choice. Their motivation is usually to either live with a zero carbon footprint, save money or both. They only use renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic, wind, and solar. The goal is a stand-alone system using no fossil based fuels. So, while LPG is a relatively low carbon energy source, it is nevertheless a fossil fuel and not included in this group’s agenda. While very different, survivalists would also have to be included in this first group, as they choose to prepare for the collapse of the economy or civilisation in general. Here’s a quick peek at different off-grid LPG use scenarios.
Off the Grid by Necessity
The second group are those that are off the grid out of necessity. They typically live in remote areas where there is no option to be on the grid or connecting to the grid would be prohibitively expensive. These people are willing to consider all possibilities, including both renewables and transportable fossil fuels, like LPG and diesel. For obvious reasons, this article is directed toward homeowners in this situation.
Why Not Just Go 100% Renewable?
Off the grid renewables are not inexpensive. For example, an off the grid photovoltaic (PV) or wind system must have battery storage capability, as there is no electricity grid to back it up. It also needs to be oversized, to allow for all situations, including periods of high load. All of this is expensive. Homeowners who cannot afford this type of investment or owners of holiday homes that are infrequently used would not find this option very attractive. However, there are alternatives. Here are some areas where LPG can make off the grid living easier and more comfortable:
1. Hot Water
There are LPG tankless hot water systems that do not require any electrical connection at all. They use either a small battery or have a water flow driven ignition system. Hot water is typically about 25% of a home’s energy consumption, so a gas hot water system greatly reduces the amount of electric generation required to run the home.
There are LPG cooktops and ovens that have piezoelectric ignition. This means that they also do not require any electrical connection. The cooking experience is exactly the same as natural gas.
LPG heaters come in many models with many different features. Once again, there are models that require no electrical connection. Even the models that require electricity only use it for the blower fan, so electrical consumption would be low. Combined Heat & Electricity Generation
There is new cogeneration technology, combining heat and power in a system sized for the average home. These systems are also known as micro-CHP (Combined Heat & Power). They use an LPG fuelled engine, which drives a generator and provides heat captured from the engine combustion process. These innovative systems are more than 90 percent energy efficient. Currently available in other countries, we should see this technology in Australia within the next few years.
Refrigerators are also substantial electricity users. Many people are not aware that you can get an LPG powered refrigerator, requiring no electricity at all. Some models are dual fuel and will run off of either LPG or 240V, whichever is available or more convenient.
Generators can be used alone or in combination with a renewable system, like PV panels. There are both LPG and diesel generators available. LPG has advantages over diesel in that produces less CO2 and has none of the carcinogenic fumes that are produced by diesel engines. Using LPG also means that you only need a single fuel source and storage. Finally, LPG last indefinitely so it’s perfect for an infrequently used holiday home.
LPG Fits Your Lifestyle
With LPG in your off the grid home, you don’t have to sacrifice your standard of living to reside in a remote location. LPG provides all of the comforts of home with a minimal investment. One of the side benefits of being off-grid is that there are no weather related power outages. Your LPG system is self-contained and unaffected by the elements. LPG can be supplied almost anywhere and large storage tanks are available to ensure an adequate supply. The LPG is delivered by a tanker truck that refills your LPG tank on-site. Alternatively, your LPG supplier may just exchange your cylinders, taking away the empties and replacing them with full ones. The end result is that you can be OTG and comfortable, no matter where you live.