When we first became the proud owners of our home in the Highlands, we bought it knowing full well that it was not on the electricity grid.  To be honest, it was part of the attraction.  We looked at the cost of getting it connected to the mains, but even back then (1997) we were looking at a minimum bill of between £4000 and £5000.  Stevan had, for a long time, had an interest in alternative technology, and our Highland home was only meant to be a holiday home - initially.  At the time of buying the house we lived in Hampshire and the house was only likely to be used for a couple of weeks of each year - 3 if we were lucky.  We wondered if we'd manage without mains electricity for that period of time each year, and Stevan got to work on sourcing a wind turbine to provide us with power.  We didn't need much while on holiday - we wouldn't be watching TV, didn't need a washing machine, could even do without a fridge, and the water was heated by the back boiler behind the kitchen fire.

Once we moved here permanently 5 years ago, our needs changed.  Initially we had a small gas fridge, but unless we were going to shop every second day for fresh food (involving an expensive drive into the village and back - a round trip of 14 miles), we needed something a bit bigger.  And so we got our first fridge - which sadly never worked to my satisfaction.  You'd put a bag of frozen peas in the "freezer" section, and they'd defrost overnight!  So recently we did our homework about energy usage of the fridge/freezers on the market, and we found this little gem:


[caption id="attachment_6711" align="aligncenter" width="261"]Finnian, the Fridge Finnian, the Fridge[/caption]

A proper, grown up, fridge/freezer.  Now I'm sure that most of you reading this must think I'm completely daft getting so excited over a fridge - but this acquisition means we CAN have such luxuries such as frozen peas, and even ice cream!   And during the times that I am away at shows, leaving Stevan to fend for himself, he doesn't have to live on mashed potato and a fried egg - he can extend his repertoire to include frozen fish fingers.

But, even more than access to such luxuries, it is a small indication of how we (and when I say "we" read "Stevan") really have succeeded in managing to build up an energy system which allows us to have just about everything we need to live comfortably off grid.  Yes of course there are some things which are a chore,  but there are upsides - I can never iron anything as it uses too much power.   We don't have a huge wind turbine - it is rated as a 1 kilowatt machine although it is rare for it to produce that much power.   But combined with our 3 solar panels we have enough to live very comfortably.

And "enough" is the key word.   There are times when we need to run our back up generator to top up the battery bank:

[caption id="attachment_6712" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Stevan checking water levels in the battery bank Stevan checking water levels in the battery bank[/caption]

but if we're careful and thoughtful about how we use our power we have enough.   A rough calculation of our electricity use shows we use between 100 and 200Ahrs a day, at 24v, which makes it between 2.5 and 5 units of mains electricity.  That usage includes running our own IT systems with our own server which, of course, runs for 24 hours a day.

I'm not really sure why I'm telling you all this, but I often consider my blog to be a bit of a diary - it shows how our lives have changed over the years, marks change, and success.  And we have, and are, succeeding at living off grid and  I am very proud of that.  So I treasure our new fridge/freezer.  It may be a relatively standard piece of kitchen equipment, common to most kitchens in the western world, but for me it means so much more.