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Old 04-04-2010, 09:40 PM   #15
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Working Toward Off-Grid

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Originally Posted by Bird's Nest View Post
If you don't mind me asking...are you planning to go off grid or a have a wild, extended, American, educational experience with your kids? Your style of living will dictate your up-fit amenities.
Home schooling?
I don't mind you asking. We would love to go off grid. However, we don't feel knowledgeable enough YET to accomplish that completely. My husband was raised without much do-it-yourself experience. While my family had a healthy do-it-yourself mentality, they were also high consumers and had next to zero knowledge of electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work. We're learning it all from scratch, and it feels like it is taking FOREVER.

Yes, we are hoping to have a wild, extended American educational experience with the kids. We have travel in our blood. We would love to show them America's history and then move onto world history. Yes, we do homeschool. The great side note is that we get to maintain friendships with friends from the past all over the US and other countries as well - face-to-face.
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Old 04-04-2010, 09:47 PM   #16
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The information on Nature's Head Composting Toilets - The Ideal Marine Toilet for Your Power Boat, Sailing Vessel, or Houseboat was very interesting. This seems to be the best commercial compost toilet I have seen yet. A dirt cheap version is to use a 5 gallon bucket with toilet seat attached. This can even be enclosed in a wooden casing for aesthetic reasons.

A close friend of ours used this economical version in their RV - not an Airstream - and it was SUCH an improvement over their nasty, chemical-laden RV toilet! It smelled much better. The only aroma was of fresh wood chips.

What I am very curious about, Flying Cloud, is how do you find a place to unload your compost without encasing it in non-biodegradable plastic bags? We really want to go this route, but I still have that lurking, unanswered question haunting me. This was not a problem for our friends, because they had their own piece of land with a separate compost pile for humanure. On the road, this will not be an option open to us.
we like that toilet too. If I remember correctly you can use the toilet about 80 times before the need to empty. I guess you would empty it in regular toilets when you get on the road again.
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Old 04-05-2010, 04:23 AM   #17
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We have a Nature's Head sitting in the garage (in the box). We can take pictures when we're ready to install it.
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Old 04-05-2010, 04:34 AM   #18
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Good point!

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Hi Mary, I have seen the denim batting idea, and I really like that. However, seeing how nasty, wet, and rat infested our old fiberglass insulation was, I was wondering about the aluminum "bubble wrap" insulation. What do you think? I saw one of the full-timers overwintered in Montana (?) for a couple of years and used 3 or 4 layers of that, staying toasty warm in 30 BELOW ZERO weather!

I do love the bamboo. I've been researching cork as well, and it seems to be "cushiony," which appeals to me. Flying Cloud, how has it been for you guys? Do you like it so far? Is there any downside? Where did you guys get your flooring?

I would really love to be able to use bamboo for the walls and/or countertops.
Yeah, an insulation that can withstand getting wet would be a better way to go, since these trailers are prone to leaking at times . The bubble foil idea sounds promising. I've never had experience with the new cork options. You might want to check into how easy it is to keep clean, and how it might hold up should it get wet, either from leaks or a burst pipe.

Mary
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Old 04-05-2010, 06:59 AM   #19
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We used the Icynene MDR 80 medium density foam. The product works with the LEED approach. From the website:

"Responsibly made using recycled material, MD-R-200’s climate friendly, HFC-free formulation allows a building to be insulated and air-sealed for superior energy conservation while minimizing environmental impact."

There's an excellent thread on spray foam insulation, if you want to consider the pros and cons.
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Old 04-05-2010, 07:09 AM   #20
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"While my family had a healthy do-it-yourself mentality, they were also high consumers and had next to zero knowledge of electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work. We're learning it all from scratch, and it feels like it is taking FOREVER."

As my grandfather would have said, "This ain't rocket science, folks." It may seem overwhelming at first, but there are far fewer moving parts in our '67 Airstream than in my '66 Dodge pickup.

A composting toilet neatly sidesteps the black tank/stinky slinky/plumbing issues. So, on the wastewater side you are down to gray tank(s)... not terribly complex. Plumbing isn't terribly complex, particularly if you use PEX. The most complicated system is the 110v/12v electrical system, but it really isn't that hard.

Most of the complex items come in a box, e.g., the refrigerator. There isn't usually any welding and minimal metal fabrication. If you go slow and think carefully... and ask questions here, you'll find it's not so much "hard" as simply time consuming. Good luck.
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Old 04-05-2010, 07:42 AM   #21
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Lots of good questions here!

The Natures Head Toilet has worked very well for us. There is no smell (chemical or otherwise), and we can usually go about 6 weeks before we need to change the peat moss. As for disposing it, this has been the biggest issue for us as we are on the road full time. There are several options. In several cases, we have been staying on property or boondocking where "humanure" is easily disposed of in existing compost piles, or in the woods where it will quickly finish composting and does not present a hazard. A couple of times we have had to put it down the pit toilet at a campground. This is not ideal, but it will not cause a problem in the toilet as once again it will quickly be integrated into the other waste. Remember, you are only emptying the toilet 8 times a year or so if you are full time, and way less than that if you are a weekend warrior. No matter what you do, it is way less work than hooking up the stinky slinky and emptying the black tank all the time! We also use the restrooms in the campgrounds where we stay to lessen the "load" if you will! There is however just the two of us. Two adults and three kids may be a bit much for the toilet. Talk with Larry at Natures Head before you proceed.

The cork flooring looks very nice, is naturally cushioning, and has worn pretty well considering we have had several thousand people tour our AS! However, it does not respond all that well to moisture, sand, and a few other things you encounter out there. I would probably not use it again and would go with marmoleum which we used on the counters instead.

The solar system from AM Solar has been flawless. We use it for all our electrical needs including lighting, computers, etc. We have never run out of power under any circumstance as of yet. We are of course very conservative (no TV, no AC, no microwave, etc.) and have all LED lighting. Solar panels should last 20 years or more if properly maintained. We run the fridge on propane as it uses very little, and have a catalytic heater which is also very frugal on gas. Running full time we can go at about a month on one 30# tank depending on how cold it is.

Hope this helps!

FLYNCLD
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:46 PM   #22
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Toxicity

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Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
We used the Icynene MDR 80 medium density foam. The product works with the LEED approach. . . .

There's an excellent thread on spray foam insulation, . . .
My concerns with foam are the toxicity, VOCs, etc. Getting green gets confusing sometimes, because even though it may be "green" to recycle, with some things you have to weigh the pros and cons of having a toxic environment.
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:51 PM   #23
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Here's an interesting review in the NYT on a book called Green Gone Bad.
Off the Shelf - ‘Green Gone Wrong’ - Can Capitalism Save the Planet? - Review - NYTimes.com

Quite frankly, I'm more concerned about what we'll tow our AS with after 2016 when the EPA calls for trucks that meet a 25 MPG average rule. At this point in time, I'm looking for a TV made before 1995 that can be registered as a classic. That's not to say that the Feds and the EPA won't change the rules mid stream and eliminate the "classic designation" and emissions exemptions.
Well heck, that only applies to new trucks. You won't have to scrap your vehicle just onnacounta it will still only get 10 MPG... The real question will be can you still afford gas for a 10MPG truck in 2016?
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:52 PM   #24
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Thumbs up Power with Nature

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Originally Posted by hampstead38 View Post
. . .So, on the wastewater side you are down to gray tank(s)... The most complicated system is the 110v/12v electrical system, but it really isn't that hard.

Most of the complex items come in a box, e.g., the refrigerator. There isn't usually any welding and minimal metal fabrication. If you go slow and think carefully... and ask questions here, you'll find it's not so much "hard" as simply time consuming. Good luck.
This is at the same time encouraging and grounding. You inspired us to start looking into electrical, and today I brought home from the library the book, Power with Nature. I really like it so far. Your comment was grounding in that it reminded us again that it is taking a really long time. Oh well, it's worth it.

We hadn't even thought of the fact that we'll be able to get rid of the black tank. Yeah!
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Old 04-06-2010, 09:57 PM   #25
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Question Engine Q

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Well heck, that only applies to new trucks. You won't have to scrap your vehicle just onnacounta it still only get 10 MPG... The real question will be can you still afford gas for a 10MPG truck in 2016?
Well, that's great news!

So, I was wondering? Keep in mind here, I know just about nothing about mechanics, so please don't laugh if my question is foolish . . . Can you just take out the gasoline engine and put in some new kind of alternative fuel engine - biodiesel, hydrogen, water, electric, or whatever else is out there? Or are there a bunch of other parts that won't work together with the new engine unless they are switched out too? - Natasha (just so no one would think my husband was asking such a goofy question) :-)
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:04 PM   #26
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Natasha,

I personally don't consider questions like that to be funny. Yes, what you suggest could be done, but there's a question or two you will ask yourself:

1. Will the mix of new technology engine and old tech body still pull my trailer to my satisfaction?
2. How much will it cost, i.e. is there a more efficient (cheaper) solution?

I think personally that the electric replacement kits have the most promise. I don't think they are there yet to satisfy either of the questions above, but I bet they will be soon...
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:09 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLYNCLD View Post
The Natures Head Toilet . . . we can usually go about 6 weeks before we need to change the peat moss. As for disposing it, this has been the biggest issue for us as we are on the road full time. There are several options. In several cases, we have been staying on property or boondocking where "humanure" is easily disposed of in existing compost piles, or in the woods where it will quickly finish composting and does not present a hazard. . . .

The cork flooring looks very nice, is naturally cushioning, and has worn pretty well considering we have had several thousand people tour our AS! However, it does not respond all that well to moisture, sand, and a few other things you encounter out there. I would probably not use it again and would go with marmoleum which we used on the counters instead.

The solar system from AM Solar has been flawless. We use it for all our electrical needs including lighting, computers, etc. We have never run out of power under any circumstance as of yet. We are of course very conservative (no TV, no AC, no microwave, etc.) and have all LED lighting. Solar panels should last 20 years or more if properly maintained. We run the fridge on propane as it uses very little, and have a catalytic heater which is also very frugal on gas.
. . .
FLYNCLD
I was hoping you'd say that about the compost disposal. That's good.

As for the cork, do you think if we always took our shoes off at the door that we would be okay. The getting wet issue, is that only a problem in the bathroom? Could we use a different flooring in there? We were considering doing a wet bath anyway.

The solar, do you know anyone who has made their own panels and been successful with them? After reading Power with Nature I'm even more convinced that it would be really cool to have a small windmill for nighttime or stormy days. We don't need the TV antennae either, so that would make a little more room. We won't be using a microwave either. How do you get by without AC though? Do you not travel anywhere super-hot like Texas, or is there another way you get around that? Do you use Fantastic Fans?

Does propane leak carbon monoxide?

What is a catalytic heater?

Thanks for all your feedback! This is fun
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Old 04-06-2010, 10:13 PM   #28
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Natasha,

1. Will the mix of new technology engine and old tech body still pull my trailer to my satisfaction?
2. How much will it cost, i.e. is there a more efficient (cheaper) solution?

I think personally that the electric replacement kits have the most promise. I don't think they are there yet to satisfy either of the questions above, but I bet they will be soon...
Good. That means by 2016 when gas is insane, I should have saved up enough money, and the price should be decent enough on alternative technology that I can actually do something about the problem.
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