My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Anything off grid. Energy, waste management, water supply, housing, whatever.
The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:20 pm

Sorry for the late response. I just e-mailed you at 8:53PM this evening regarding that.

On Halloween, I installed it right after posting the last post I made on here because I really wanted to see how well it worked at keeping the place warm overnight. I built the entire wall in my garage and insulated it there tight. Fortunately, it fit snug right into the spot! That night, there were NO drafts and I heated the place up to 70 or so and the following morning, it was in the mid 40s and the outside temperature was around 25. Once it warmed up again, I painted it with 3 coats over the course of a week and left a fan on with my door open for a few hours per day. It looks great! It doesn't look like drywall, but it's pretty reflective to keep more light in and looks probably as good as I could get it having no painting experience besides once or twice in construction class last year.

I resolved the issue with the roof and despite a few issues with it still leaking, it was a few openings I didn't close up upon installing the new roof so that was my fault, but I think I got it all now. The only real leaks now are coming in through two of my windows. Yesterday and Wednesday, I did my best to try to seal them up with wood glue (that rain will find its way behind the smallest opening in spray foam!) and I won't know if it works for a few days.

Not too much has been going on really since then because I have a really low amount of usable money allocated for this.

I will be putting in R10 insulation in the ceiling "cavities" as I call them and covering those with thin plywood. It should be the last big part in my place that will be insulated and because there is 0 insulation on the roof, it should be the next biggest thing that keeps in all this heat I'm making with my heater.

Speaking of heating, the playground is getting a new passive heater very soon, likely tomorrow. I spent a long time gathering Sprite cans to be spray painted black to collect heat and have all of that blow into the playground. The playground is currently heated by the sun without it being around 50-55 degrees when I get home from school at 4PM, so this passive heater I could see heating the place up to the high 70s or 80s quickly. I'm going to have it able to turn a little so I can aim it to the sun for different times of the day. It will be connected to the playground through a dryer hose connecting through a window.

I got the inverter properly grounded today, as well. I realized a few days ago that the place wasn't grounded because the wire was connected wrong, but I fixed that nearly immediately. It also fixed the buzzing on the AM part of the car radio I have in there.

My only issue now really is having a high humidity a lot of the time. It is still in the upper 70s and 80s despite the outside humidity barely above 30 on winter days. How do you suggest I dry it out? I could put vents but I'd lose heat. Currently I just ignore it but the condensation on the windows is getting annoying. I have to keep leaving the door propped open every few days to bring outdoor air in and dry it out a little.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:12 pm

Today, we had a cold front come through with some rain and I once again have the place waterproof! I have spent a lot of time doing this. I also got the passive heater installed and it is fully functional. Its hose is rain through a hole I drilled right in the wall instead of through a window because I could see more complications if it ran through a window (cracking, leaks, etc.). My only dislike about running it through the wood is that its a hole I can't patch back up. I'll probably use it for ventilation or a portable Air conditioner this summer.

I got a 12x16 sheet of glass at home depot that I plan on putting some wood around and making that glass a (non-openable) window. It'll look a lot less ugly in my big "air conditioner" window and be easier to break in the event of an emergency and I can't leave through the door for some reason.

Since I can't seem to contact you through e-mail (it was rejected and the following one I sent has no reply yet), I'll post the link here for you to see. It's a playlist for only the off grid stuff. Other non related videos might be related very vaguely such as insulation but nothing related to my progress at the playground.
Playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... bcsDrGF2WH" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
First video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlDNzXe ... bcsDrGF2WH" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClbBN4 ... Irfryshvew" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Hopefully I'll keep up at updating the playlist but if not just click on my videos.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:40 pm

Today, I made said window and the video regarding that is uploading as I type this. It was pretty easy to make and it does look a lot nicer than my previous window. I'll keep that plexiglas for if there's a need for it but likely there won't be. The only difference between what I said I would make and what I did make was that it does open. I want it openable for easy escape and so I can have good ventilation in the late spring/fall time. Early spring, that place better be sealed up good from all that pollen...

The only issue with that window is that the lock had to be so precise, I needed to stick a screw to prop the turning part up for it to lock properly. It took nearly an hour to perfect that. I also siliconed everything on the window frame I made itself, but the connections between the playground and window that shouldn't have openings need to be sealed up. There's a lot of light coming through and air leaks that must be sealed. I will tomorrow if I get another tube since I'm fresh out.

I am glad I made the window, though, and I will make another one just like it between now and March when I put the air conditioner in. I want to have at least one openable window year round for ventilation and for those nice days. I'll have to figure out how I could have a screen keeping bugs out but that's nothing a few screws and wood can't do.

I'll be posting less and less on this forum regarding the playground now that I've posted the link to my videos since all of it's explained in my videos and the descriptions.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:23 pm

Well, it's been over a month since my last post. I'm sure by the time you read this, the snowstorm you're currently getting as I type this went by well and I wish you the best.

I have filled the ceiling cavities with R10 Foamular insulation and the place is completely waterproof besides one area I forgot to do, which is my leaky window area by my table/door. It's not bad at all and completely patchable now. They went up pretty easy besides one cavity where pretty much all the insulation broke into about 10 pieces. It's back up there and taped now.

I am still yet to finish the paneling/insulation on the wall with my newly made window but I did finish the wall that does have the leaky window. The bottom part until yesterday has always been completely uninsulated with not even cardboard to be a buffer. It's now got R6.4 insulation put tightly in there and covered by plywood cut to shape. I then mounted my heater on the new plywood/insulation and it fits perfectly with not one eighth of an inch to spare. I think it's in a good spot as is since it's not under anything to cause lost heat or a safety hazard and it is where my legs usually are so it'll act as a good leg warmer.

I hope to get an exterior door mat outside the playground or something so I can get the dirt off of my feet to stop bringing dirt in the place upon entry. Eventually, once I am positive there are no more leaks, I'll try putting carpet in there.

I drilled a new hole for my passive heater to enter the playground with a proper 4" hole drill bit and connected it using proper fittings and it's working great now, pumping 120+ degree air in the place with 50 degrees outside. It'd probably be much warmer if the intake was from the inside and not outside's fresh air, but I want outside air to have dry air and it will help vent the batteries.

Speaking of batteries, I made a new battery chest and it's properly made and on casters. I also purchased my fourth battery, bringing up my total AH capacity to 449. I can run my 350 watt electric heater for around 3.5 hours (with no sun to recharge while it is running) before the batteries go down to 80% of full charge. A great improvement compared to last year where that was around 45 or so minutes in the dark. I use my passive heater primarily during the day though so I don't waste any energy I don't need to by running the heater.

I am going to finally insulate/cover my last wall before I bring out the air conditioner in mid-late March, along with making two more openable windows (maybe 12x16 also like the other one is) with R6.4 insulation. I love the option of opening windows now that I have done it and want to have one during summer, since the one that is openable right now is the one that will be filled by the air conditioner in summer unless I were to buy a $300 portable A/C which is simply not going to happen unless I strike it rich or find a great craigslist ad.

I hope to get a water storage out there once we get our last freezes in April because before it got cold I had a glass water container and it was so convenient to not need to go in for water and it'll encourage me to have water and not Gatorade or whatever.

When summer comes, I'll obviously store my passive heater but the vent hole I drilled out will then be used to blow inside air out from the roof since I remember in summer the temperatures in the roof could easily get to around 85 by noon and around 100 when I returned from vacation in July. I hope the insulation will keep the cold A/C temperatures in and not the warmer-than-outside temps.

I know it's only late January, but by this time next month the trees will be budding here so the dead of winter is when I begin preparing for summer.

Maybe I'll try to do monthly updates on the forum in regards to this unless big stuff happens, but I try to upload at least once every other day regarding updates to the place. While the quality of my videos aren't great at all, I try my best not to lose focus on what I'm talking about and do my best to explain what's been going on every video. I am usually always doing something since that's just how I am. I've never liked lazing around too long. I also give temperature readings, as well.

Have a great day whenever you read this, Troy!

techman
Site Admin
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Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by techman » Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:38 am

Your project is coming along very well. By the time you get your own place you will be well on your way to being fully off the grid already.

I have been watching some of your videos. I am quite impressed with all the progress. Keep it up. And keep the videos coming.

I might just feature your channel one day. See if you can improve the audio though somehow. It was very hard to understand you with my volume turned all the way up and my ear to the speakers.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:29 am

Thanks. I hope to make myself a few more things before I finish with this thing. Once I move out, most of the stuff in there will come with me because I'm sure not going to be rich and then I hope to build my own house. I hope one day I can be like you in many cases such as waking up inside something that you're the reason why that something exists.

Yes, I've turned up my videos' sound up to the max when it's being edited (probably about 25% louder) since you first made the comment about stuff being quiet. I don't know how loud everything is, but with everything on max for me on headphones, it's pretty loud for me. I'll try to remember to speak louder or keep my mouth closer to the microphone. Running the video through the editor twice to double amplify the sound is over modulating(?) the sound and it's cutting off and sounds terrible.

I might make a new window this weekend. I think that it'll be fogged up and for now at least be only one window on the part of the playground that still has the OSB wall and no insulation in it. It's probably easier to do prior to insulating because I don't need to go through as thick of material as I would. I'll probably fog up that window when the time comes because that would give a very nice view of the stuff I have inside. I'm just doing the window idea because for some reason I feel kind of bored not doing anything. I'll just need to buy a 2x2 and a 1x2 for the window and use the same plans I did for the previous one. I've decided it'll be 12"x16" because it's nice and big.

And for any reason if you feel the need to ask or somebody may try to get you in trouble, I give you permission to use my channel's name in your videos if you would like to do so in the future.

techman
Site Admin
Posts: 1326
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:49 am

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by techman » Tue Feb 03, 2015 11:13 am

Just keep doing updates every so often if nothing else. Tell us about the weather outside. Temperatures outside and in. Moisture levels inside. Do you have a humidity meter? Like on my weather gauge. This will tell you how well you are doing with mold prevention and rot prevention.

I am considering - not making a promise - but I might mention you on my channel. Because I think what you are doing is really cool and deserves to be known by more people.

Are you considering a tiny home or a full sized one?

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:58 pm

In response to your last question, it all comes down to what I decide to do in the next year regarding further education vs jobs. I'm honestly against college because I view my time on earth as a privilege and I'm not guaranteed one day on this planet. I do know, however, that for the rest of my life I am going to live a life in an environmentally friendly fashion (my best to do organic foods, natural a lot of stuff, etc.) for many reasons and regardless of if I win the lottery or if I live in poverty. I think I'm going to become an electrician to make money to build a tiny house and also because that seems like something I'd be interested in along with solar panel/environmental engineering work. No college required for that and instead of losing money for 4 years, I'm gaining more money than I'd be indebted.

I could see myself easily living in a tiny house because of the benefits of being forced to have few things and less energy required for heating/cooling/lighting, almost as if I had my current bedroom off the grid. The only downside in my eyes is less food storage. While a bigger house seems nicer, the upkeep and mortgage for only me isn't worth the hassle when I would do fine in a tiny house that can cost as little as just a car on the lot. My parents seem pretty accepting of my idea of tiny home living, mentioning it to me before I mentioned it to them, but they still think the idea of living off the grid seems quite radical to them growing up in highly industrialized areas. I think they think off grid means living in remote Idaho or something.

Don't feel like you have to mention my channel if you don't want to. I could see a lot of support from people knowing that they may not have done or even thought of doing anything of this magnitude as young as 15 years of age and other people thinking it's ridiculous to do such a thing in a 30 square foot playground room that's falling apart and needs a lot of work with as little money I can put into it as possible while still maintaining a solar power workplace, and that I'm technically not "off the grid" because it's in the backyard of a house with almost as many grid hookups as possible and I don't sleep in there.

Temperature/humidity is of high importance to me for electronics' sake. If I could get internet out in the playground, I'd run a 24/7 weather server off the batteries to upload as well. I have plenty of power to use with 449AH of batteries. Below is the general summer/winter temperature and humidity tendencies, assuming clear days and no temperature regulation:

Winter: temperatures are between 0-10 degrees warmer inside than outside at the coldest and warmest parts of the day. The humidity is between 55-70%.

Summer (foil-faced cardboard and blinds blocking sun): humidity is in the 78-83% range. The temperature will be around 5-15 degrees colder inside than outside in summer at the coldest part of the day. The temperatures will get to around 5 degrees colder than the outside temperature at the warmest part of the day.

Summer (no aluminum foil/blinds): humidity averages 65-75% and the temperatures at night equalize inside and outside. The temperatures are around 25-40 degrees warmer inside than outside at the warmest part of the day.

A few other things is that I do consider very heavily many things from water pH (low pH has higher cancer risk in water I hear) to year round solar exposure to distances away from a nuclear power plant in the case of explosion.

techman
Site Admin
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Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:49 am

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by techman » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:46 am

I think tiny homes are the way to go but the problem is finding a community that accepts them.

I have mixed feelings about a degree these days. You can get higher paying jobs with a degree but then again if things come together properly you can do just as well without. Sometimes I wish I had finished my degree. I dropped out due to finances and the fact that most electronics engineers at that time were working at McDonalds or in assembly line processing. Take a measurement, write it down, pass it on. Boring. Why would you need a degree for that? A monkey could do it.

Anyway, I make my own way through life. Being self employed most of the time made it a lot better for me to make my own way.

You need to get that humidity down somehow. That is a killer of homes and wood. I am looking at a peltier powered dehumidifier for this summer.

Or, if you can get enough solar power to run an AC unit, you can run it on a higher temperature but it will still pull the humidity out of the air quite nicely. 80 degrees F at lower humidity feels so good when its near 100 outside and near 100 % humidity.

The_Amateur
Posts: 56
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:17 pm
Location: NW Atlanta

Re: My "off-grid" playground experiment!

Post by The_Amateur » Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:19 pm

I'm right there with you on the air conditioner comment. I do have an air conditioner out in the playground from the middle of March to the middle of October. The humidity inside definitely needs to drop, and I do believe that the passive heater I recently installed to bring in fresh hot air is really helping with lowering the humidity. I've been trying to research how to get humidity sucked out of the place for summer, but still I have found nothing.

Growing up in the south, I'm very accustomed to mid 90s in temperature and humidity for 5 months and warm temps for 8, but nothing beats that feeling of going from hot summer air with the sun right above you to an air conditioned space. I know humidity must go down for the sake of mold and growth, but since I don't have a vapor barrier, it'll be hard to retain low humidity for long, and there's not much more room inside the playground to just stick in a vapor barrier. If the playground is to get bad with the humidity, I think worst case scenario, it'll at least be fine for the year and few months I have left of occupying it. When I do make my own house, I'll surely have a barrier to keep summer humidity out.

For humidity in summer, I heard of this thing called DampRid that may do the trick designed for basements that stay humid. I'm going to try that this summer and see how it goes.

I forgot to mention this in my previous post, but I also don't feel that I need to be living off of even $40k a year just to "survive". Having no water, heat, electricity, or any utility bills, all that money stays with me. I would only spend a little bit of money on some little things like tools and gear, not to have access to thousands of channels I would never watch. Money isn't important to me in regards to having a lot of it, but when it comes to spending it, I will buy quality things so I don't have to keep purchasing cheap stuff. This is why I don't like the idea of getting a degree. It all seems to be about money to me and that's something I think I could live with little of.

I wish tiny homes were more accepted in the country, as well, but it seems out west they're becoming big and I could see them being recognized out there soon and growing in popularity nationally in the next 10 years.

In summer, I do run my air conditioner every once in a while to keep the temperatures below 83 or so. I will run it down to 65 or the lowest and let it rise up before going at it again, but having stuff blocking my south facing windows made the biggest difference. The temperature will not warm up fast at all with those things blocked if at all. With my insulation this upcoming summer, things will probably be a lot better in keeping the cooler temperatures inside. We'll just have to wait and see.

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