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what’s the latest in living off the grid?

On Apr 2, 2007

great photos…

we’ll order a 31 this summer..,.

what’s the latest in living off the grid?

have you discovered any great tech that i should know about.

water, waste, power, etc. ????




You are probably on top of this but I will gladly tell how I would do it if you want, but it’s a bit long winded:

Solar is for sure. Get an array with controller ( ) and 4 or more 6 volt gulf cart batteries that you wire up to make a 12 volt system (Local) and a 12 volt refrigerator (Sun Frost and West Marine offer them) You may want an inverter to get 120 volts AC for some of your electronics (

A wood or gas stove if you plan to use your dome in the winter.

I pulled this out of our Q & A section ( ) of our web site ( ) and you may well find more in there.

“General: Plumbing”

Have you had any experience or ideas about plumbing?

Plumbing is a long story. The simplest method, of course, is not to have any. You get more complicated from there…

Plumbing deals with two matters: water and sewage. Water is used for drinking, washing dishes and clothes, and bathing.

Disclaimer: the following information and ideas are provided in an attempt to be helpful to users of our domes, but we do not intend nor imply that you must or should implement any of these ideas. In addition, depending on where your dome is located, some of these ideas may be prohibited by local ordinances.

1) Carry water in jugs to your dome.

2) Connect a hose to a neighbor’s water line for pay. The water pipe carrying the water from your neighbor’s must be made of a material which won’t contaminate drinking water. Check with a plumbing or hardware store. Also, if there will be constant water pressure in the hose, check which fittings can handle the pressure. Storage containers come in various capacities. The large ones are available at plumbing supplies stores.

3) Collect rain water:
In a tarp–using Grip Clips tarp fasteners to suspend 4 corners of the tarp–one corner a bit lower and over a barrel.
Off the dome–by attaching and hanging a gutter, made from a long, 10″-wide strip or strips of plastic tarp, to the bottom of the overlapping 6″ skirt that hangs down and ends right below the horizontal pole. (Look at the first photo of the SolarDome page to understand more clearly where this is.) Fold the strip of tarp so it’s still the same length but only half as wide. Hold the 2 open edges of the gutter on either side of the bottom of the skirt and fasten the 3 layers (gutter-skirt-gutter) together with safety pins, placing pins about every 2′. (Safety pin holes in the skirt of an overlapping panel will not affect the watertightness of the dome.) Let one end of the gutter hang down and drain into a barrel.

You may want to filter the water for leaves, dirt, and insect particles, using a sand filter or straining it through a clean cloth. Depending upon the water’s purity, you may need to purify water to be used for drinking and washing dishes: 1) Boil it for 5 minutes. 2) Use chlorine tablets. 3) Use 2% USP iodine solution: 2 drops per quart if clear and 10 drops per quart if cloudy. Wait 30 minutes. 4) Use “household chlorine bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite solution). Do NOT use solutions in which there are active ingredients other than hypochlorite. Use the following proportions: Clear Water: 2 drops for one quart; 8 drops for one gallon ; 1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons. Cloudy Water: 4 drops for one quart; 16 drops for one gallon; 1 teaspoon for 5 gallons. Mix water and hypochlorite thoroughly by stirring or shaking in a container. Let stand for 30 minutes. A slight chlorine odor should be detectable. If not, repeat the dosage and let stand for an additional 15 minutes.” (1999 Pacific Bell Directory. For Palo Alto, Redwood City & Menlo Park. page B6). Contact a city or county agency to find out where to have your water tested.

4) Collect water from streams, creeks, ponds, lakes or springs. If a spring is uphill from the dome, pipe it directly to your dome or collect it in containers. Depending upon the water’s purity, you may need to purify water to be used for drinking and washing dishes.

5) Collect snow and melt it slowly indoors or over a fire. To protect your pot, put some water in the pot before you put the snow-filled pot over the fire. Depending upon your water’s purity, you may need to purify water to be used for drinking and washing dishes.

6) Drill a well.
Note: I have used all these methods, except for drilling a well.

Heating water:
1) Heat it on a stove in a pot.
2) Heat it in a solar water heater (such as hanging 3-gallon bag). Check solar energy companies’ websites.
3) Use a wood-fueled water heater, marketed online through solar energy companies.
4) Use a propane-fueled water heater.
5) Use a water heater which attaches to a wood-burning stove, marketed online through solar energy companies.

Washing dishes:
1) Use a pot or bowl and then toss the used wash water. Soapy water doesn’t hurt plants or animals. However, it will harm life in streams; soap is a nutrient for algae which will “bloom” and can eventually crowd out and kill fish.
2) Buy a sink with a drain, from a building supply or hardware store. Build a wooden box to hold the sink at desired height and after washing, direct the used water where you want it with a hose, flexible black plumbing pipe, or PVC.

Rigging up a shower:
You’ll need some water pressure. You can achieve this by either using a hanging solar bag or positioning a water storage tank uphill from shower, with a water heater in-between. Build an enclosure for privacy. You can let the water drain away.

Washing clothes:
1) Use a large container or a sink, as for dishwashing. Buy a wash board at a hardware store. Dry clothes on a clothes line or inside dome in wet weather.
2) Use a neighbor’s wash facilities for pay.
3) Go to a laundromat.
4) Buy a stainless steel, hand-powered washing machine. Wringer attachments are available.
5) Buy an efficient electric washing machine which can be powered with solar energy, marketed online through solar energy companies.

Outhouse function:
1) Use a neighbor’s facilities for pay.
2) Dig a one-use-only pit privy. Dig a 6″-deep hole with a shovel, use it, and then fill it with dirt. Each time. For rural use only.
3) Dig a hole, which is 3′ in diameter and 3-5′ deep, and cover it with a piece of plywood with 12″-diameter hole cut in it. Make a cover for the hole. Keep toilet paper stored nearby under a can. For privacy, build a fence or enclosure, with or without a roof. After using it, put a shovelful of dirt or lime in to minimize odor. When full, cover with about 1′ of dirt.
4) Buy a chemical toilet (used in airplanes, RVs and houseboats), which allows you to have an inside toilet. When the container is full, you have to take the container somewhere to be emptied. Purchase from RV supply or boating stores.

Be sure to take the necessary precautions to prevent the freezing and/or bursting of your plumbing. These could be insulting your plumbing, heating it, or burying it below the permafrost.

You may want to purchase a SolarDome 8′ to cover your outhouse.