In the early 1990s, the term “off-the-grid” referred to buildings that used alternative electricity solutions rather than main line, municipal or county grid. With the development of new technologies, “off-the-grid” refers not only to solutions for electricity — it means no reliance on public infrastructure for energy, water or sewer, and it intersects the larger concept of “living green.”
Off-the-grid living covers a large array of components, ranging from photovoltaic systems to rainwater collection, private wells, gray water systems and use of septic tanks. While the upfront costs for installing such systems may be considered high, the long-term benefits are priceless, particularly when one becomes completely
independent of main utilities providers.
Some used to think that living off-the-grid means living like a recluse; in today’s world, one can have a modern lifestyle, including amenities like air conditioning, refrigeration, pool, satellite TV and Internet.
For those looking into off-the-grid energy systems, they would need to start by calculating the total amount of energy they need in their household. Using energy-efficient appliances will significantly reduce “the draw.” The second step would be to determine the number of photovoltaic panels needed, as well as the number and size of batteries. While solar panels are important for their capacity to capture solar energy, the batteries are the ones that can store this energy temporarily, to be used at night time or during cloudy days.
Properly fitted photovoltaic systems can produce enough energy for a modern and comfortable lifestyle, in Hawaii or on the U.S. Mainland.
Those that have the option to or are already connected to the county electrical system may be able to use the grid tie as their battery bank when they are collecting more solar power than they are using. This energy surplus can be used as a credit toward the days with higher energy consumption.
While designing and building their off-the-grid home in Honolua, David and Mihaela Stoops used their professional background and expertise. As a licensed general contractor, David was in charge of selecting and installing the photovoltaic system with the backup gas generator. He also contracted and supported the team that drilled the water well. It was David’s team of professionals that installed the septic tank and all necessary piping and plumbing.
Mihaela Stoops is a realtor with Aloha Realty Group. In her day-to-day business, she has seen many homes and learned many “green” concepts. She believes that all homes should have energy-efficient appliances and solar water heaters. As part of the interior design process, the use of easily replaceable materials (like bamboo flooring) is also another green concept. Decorative rain chains support water collection and are pleasant to the eye and the ear. Last, but not least, a beautiful ceramic or stainless steel composting pail can enhance the beauty of a kitchen countertop.
If you would like to learn more about living off-the-grid, please feel free to give David or Mihaela Stoops a call. David can be reached at (808) 357-1000 or www.davidstoops.net. Mihaela can be reached at (808) 357-4000 or www.ForSaleinLahaina.com.
Living off-the-grid doesn’t mean living like a recluse. One can have all the amenities of modern life, like air conditioning, pool, satellite TV and Internet.