Off-grid in our Skoolie
Updated: Jan 22, 2022
Being off-grid means living without connection to public utilities. Generally these include electricity, water, sewage and sometime gas.
Independently generating these systems is often challenging and costly. Plus, fitting them into the limited space of a converted school bus is an added difficulty. With sustainability as the foundation of our design, choosing off-grid options was a priority as well as an opportunity to reduce our environmental footprint.
Living in Canada means very cold winters and a very real fear of freezing. Heating was definitely our biggest stress and for obvious reasons. This meant balancing comfort and security, which resulted in the combination of three diesel heaters and a wood stove for our Skoolie.
Our Cubic Mini Wood Stove has been a life saver in so many ways. While able to burn naturally fallen trees to stay off-grid, this compact wood stove provides us with more heat than we need while being able to cook all our food and more. The comfortable heat and versatility make mini wood stoves a must-have for anyone who will be looking to spend winters or even cold nights in their Skoolie. As an added bonus, we use a DeWalt electric chainsaw that we can recharge from our solar power system to cut all our tiny fire wood.
Having three diesel heaters acts as our security by not only being able to provide heat while we are asleep or away, but being a double back up should up to two of the heaters fail. Plus their excellent fuel efficiency keep costs low while helping us go longer without refuelling.
Going all out with our Sun-Mar composter not only eliminated our need for a black water tank and sewage all together, but keeps maintenance to a minimum. Alongside that, we have a grey water tank to keep our otherwise naturally drained water contained while traveling. To top it all off, natural well water brought to our water tank, keeps our water source simple and off-grid.
Bringing everything together is our electrical system. With a big fancy solar power system only fitting into the budget of future projects, we are currently utilizing a combination of four GioSolar roof top panels to charge our main batteries and an Eco-Worthy portable panel to recharge our Bluetti portable power station to stay off-grid. For added security or a little extra power during bad weather, our buses diesel engine and alternator act as our backup generator with our Pooxtra inverter. This allows us to recharge all of our batteries while powering everything else for very little fuel.
Taking the first steps to being off-grid has been amazing and taught us so much already. We still have more ways we want to improve but every day we are learning more about being self sufficient while getting to appreciating the accompanying freedom.