One of the challenges to living off-grid is getting hot water. There are several ways of getting hot water that do not require connecting to the grid system. Each method has it’s pros and cons and choosing a method will depend on where you live and your natural surroundings.
In the past people would simply heat their water on wood burning stoves and take a sponge bath or wash dishes, thankfully that method is no longer necessary, as water is heavy and carrying hot water can be treacherous. There are several inventions that enable you to have hot water in your shower or bath just like you have now only without the heating bills!
One invention is the solar water heater: The solar water heater can be used if you have a decent amount of sun and while there are many solar water heaters that you can buy you can also build one yourself and save a lot of money. A basic solar water heater can be formed from an empty used gas water heater. Paint it black and put it into a glass case (sort of like a greenhouse) to capture the sun. The sun will heat up the water and depending on where you live you may never have to pay for hot water again. There is a video to your below that explains exactly how to do this.
Another approach to off-grid hot water heating systems that will work in areas that aren’t as sunny is to hook up a hot water tank to a wood stove. The wood stove will not only heat up your house and can be used to cook on but it will also heat up the water tank. This is a good solution for those with plenty of wood but not very much sun as you have to have some kind of fuel to run the wood stove.
Of course one can always use propane. While most people use propane as a temporary method some people use propane as a way of life. The best off-grid water heater using propane is Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless water heater. It runs on propane and can be used anywhere as it is portable. This system is very affordable and works well in interim situations although many people have used this as their main hot water system quite successfully. The downside is that you do have to buy propane.
Other methods include generating electricity through either solar panels, micro-hydrators (water electricity) or wind turbines. All of these methods will generate electricity and the electricity will heat up your hot water tank, however heating hot water is energy intensive so I would turn to these as methods of last resort. Not only that but they can be very expensive.
Finally, in a pinch you can use a solar hot water shower box. To use this you simply fill the container with water and set it in the sun for awhile. After it has heated up position it above yourself and enjoy a hot water shower. Many people use these containers while camping but they can also be used on a regular basis if you have enough sun. They are very affordable and have received very good reviews.
Whatever off-grid hot water heating system you choose it is very important to have a source of hot water. There is nothing worse than taking a cold shower in the winter and as far as I’m concerned hot water is not a luxury but a necessity. Luckily, with the innovations and inventions that we have today there is no reason one should go without hot water and just as important without heating bills!
- http://www.countrysidemag.com/issues/94/94-1/free_hot_water_from_your_wood_cookstove.html Free hot water from your wood cookstove by Patricia Greene from the January/February, 2010 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal