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Hook up solar panels to the grid, Grid connect solar: energy matters

Rosie Frost. Ramshackle buildings without running water are the image that the media often presents of the thousands of people across Europe living without the assistance of public utility services. Dominic Bradbury wants to dispel this myth of off-grid homes being architecturally unappealing. His book Off the Grid - Houses for Escape, takes a look a some of the most beautifully designed self-sufficient homes to prove that it is possible to live a low-impact lifestyle without compromising your aesthetics.

$10,000 Off-The-Grid Tiny House With HUGE Solar System

Dominic spoke to Euronews Living about how these elegant designs and their inhabitants are treading lightly on environments that frame them and redefining what it means to live responsibly. We have found some amazing examples of off the grid houses from around the world and in some wonderful locations.

They are houses of beauty, modesty and great sensitivity, which use a whole collection of solutions to preserve and generate energy while maintaining their own self-sufficiency. Any kind of building has some kind of impact, if we are honest, but the houses in this book have been designed and built with particular sensitivity to the landscape while incorporating a whole portfolio of ideas and solutions, which means that both their carbon footprint and their overall impact on the land is as minimal and respectful as possible.

The houses themselves - together with their owners and architects - were the true point of inspiration. We wanted to dispel the myth that going off grid means compromising on the idea of architectural beauty.

Your top 12 off-the-grid destinations across South Africa

The houses in the book are, to my mind, beautifully designed and responsible, while sitting quietly in some extraordinary settings of very different kinds. Some are by the coast, some in the wilderness and some in the mountains and hills, but they all respect and honour their surroundings. Read More A wildlife photographer shows us the personality and plight of animals.

Everyone would love to generate their own electricity for their own consumption to avoid power outages and constant price increases! Here are a couple of things to consider before taking the plunge as it is far cheaper to convert the power hungry items in your home or business than try run them off solar.

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Going off the grid can be costly, but if you're prepared to make the necessary changes this price can be brought down hugely. You don't need to make all the changes at once but it's good to know where to start. If you're using old incandescent light bulbs, you're literally burning money.

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Even the new light bulbs have their limitations for energy saving when you have many of them. Replace all your light bulbs with LED light bulbs. This will significantly reduce your current electricity usage and reduce the size of the solar system you require.

Converting your cooking and hot water heaters to alternative power is the next big change. Electric stoves, ovens, geysers, heat pumps and heaters all use excessive amounts of power when considering a solar system. Where possible replace these with their solar alternative and if that isn't an option replace them with gas.

Change when you're using your power. If you can change when you're using your power to position most of it during peak sunlight hours then you'll reduce the load on the batteries during the evening. This might not seem like a big deal but the less discharge you have on your batteries the longer they last.

As mentioned in point 3, batteries have a lifespan. This lifespan is greatly reduced if you're batteries are discharged too far on a regular basis.

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  • In order to avoid having to replace your batteries often, you'll need lots of them. We're talking 20 to 30 large batteries! A full off the grid system requires a lot of space.

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    The 20 - 30 batteries required to have a functional off grid system need to be housed in a cool dry area. The lifespan of the batteries is also affected by the ambient temperature that they're kept. If you're going off-grid, there is generally no backup Unless you have a generator as a last resort so in order for the system to function correctly even if you have a couple of days with bad sunshine, you need to have enough battery storage to keep you running.

    Solar systems generally do not require a lot of maintenance.