Modern Homesteading, Rural Living, Off-Grid, Generators
Maybe you are thinking of changing your surroundings. Many people seek a more rural lifestyle. Perhaps you’ve already made that change. Either way, our goal in homesteading today is to enable you to learn about and pursue a more sustainable existence. Whether you’re from the city or suburbs, we’ll help you along the way on your homesteading journey.
Learn along with us as we share tips, ideas, and stories of real people making their homesteading dreams come true. We offer firsthand experience about homesteading, livestock, sustainability, prepping, survival, renewable energy, gardening, and personal finance.
We are an extended family that dreamed for many years of living a more outdoor-oriented, simpler and quieter lifestyle. Several years ago, we bought an old homestead farm we now call home. Three generations work and play together, learning to be more self-sufficient, developing a more sustainable lifestyle. We consider ourselves true homesteaders.
Our goal is to encourage others who are transitioning to a rural existence or who are already homesteading.
Have you been thinking that now is a good time to learn more about sustainable living? It’s time for all of us to become more self-sufficient. There are many ways, to become less dependent on outside sources of food, household products, and other goods and services. Why the emphasis on sustainability and self-sufficiency? After all, many of us live where there is still plenty of everything.
There are many reasons to consider a more sustainable lifestyle. Many people want to be prepared for the “what if” scenarios, including economic uncertainty, shortages of food, and weather catastrophes, even droughts. Additionally, others dream of living off-the-grid. They want to be able to provide for their family with minimal reliance on outside sources. In addition, others enjoy sustainable living as a hobby. Some want to save money. Also, some want to be more eco-conscious and create less demand for commercial products.
Therefore, we offer information about cooking with a solar oven as well as choosing the best water filter. We even have information about toilets that compost. You’ll learn why it’s important to be sustainable and how your choices and habits matter. We offer tips about how to live affordably off-the-grid, including having a garden or orchard, and how to preserve fresh food.
In conclusion, you’ll find great ideas to get started on your path to sustainable living. You will learn about helpful products and best practices whether you are experienced or beginning.
Wooden fencing is the most traditional fencing material of them all, having been used for this purpose for centuries.
For that reason, you may think this is ideal if you want a traditional or rustic look around your homestead, but it’s also important to think about how it will look after it’s been in position for a number of years.
Fences have to take whatever our unpredictable weather systems throw at them, and wooden fences, in particular, can soon show the signs of weathering.
They will need regular maintenance if you want to keep them in great shape, and that can mean treating them with preservatives on an annual basis, or even more frequently.
This can be a huge job if you have a lot of fencing in place, but failure to do so can see the fence lose its color or become prone to rot and algae.
It’s strong and reliable, and its austere appearance alone can be enough to deter any felons who may be thinking of trespassing onto your land.
This positive can also prove to be a negative in another way, however, as there is no denying that metal fences don’t have the aesthetic appeal that some other materials can bring, and depending upon the type and strength of metal used, they could also be liable to rust over time, which can look unsightly.
More and more people are installing vinyl fencing from specialist manufacturers like Northland Fence, and it’s easy to see why.
Vinyl is a very versatile substrate so that fences made from it can be purchased in a variety of styles and colors.
Even more importantly, it offers superb value for money, as not only is purchase and installing inexpensive, but it also needs very little maintenance when compared to wooden fencing.
Vinyl won’t rot with rain or fade with the sun, and that means you won’t need to do anything to it other than wash it occasionally to keep it looking at its very best.
Vinyl is also very tough, and you won’t have to worry about warping, insect or algae attack.
Wooden fences have a quaint appeal and metal fences can look daunting, but for most homesteads vinyl makes a very smart choice.
Realistic Off Grid Power Sources – With the rising prices in electricity, and the growing concerns of the environmental impact of power plants to the planet, more and more people are saying that they want to go “off the grid” and produce their own power.
This kind of option is a dream for most people but sadly often times, that’s what it is- a dream.
They want to do it, but they don’t know where to start, or even what their options are.
Also, people think that going off the grid means having to leave the convenience of living in a town or city, which most people don’t want to do.
The good news is that with new research and technology, there are a lot of renewable energy options that are available that can fit any type of property that you currently live in.
The cost of installing solar shingles on your roof would be between $20,000 – $50,000 for a 2500 square foot home (232 square meters) depending on how you want it installed in your house, as well as state and federal tax incentives if you live in the USA.
Make sure to check with your country’s government for any incentives that can be available to you.
Yes, it’s a hefty price to start, but, think that solar shingles can cut your monthly electric bill from 40 to 60 percent or even to zero if you go full solar.
And considering that a system like this can last for 30 or more years, it will definitely pay for itself in a few years’ time.
Residential Wind Turbine
The wind is another renewable, and sustainable energy that can be tapped for off the grid electrical systems thru the use of a wind turbine.
Like solar panels, wind turbines have been significantly reduced its size so that it can be installed in residential houses.
And if you like in an area that is windy, and you have at least in an acre of land, then a residential wind turbine can be an option if you want to go off the grid.
If you want to talk about cost, a typical 10Kw wind turbine will cost between $50,000 to $60,000.
It is a considerable amount of money to fork out, but if you think that you’ll be saving up to 90% or even 100% of the electricity bill every month.
The whole system will have an ROI in about 6 years.
And, because it’s renewable energy, countries like USA, China, Korea, Belgium, Ireland, Spain etc, offer varying tax incentives ranging from 12 to 30 percent depending on where you live.
So, if you’re thinking of installing a wind turbine for your home, make sure that you check first with your local government to what incentive they are offering.
Geothermal Heat Pump
Geothermal energy is a clean, and sustainable heat energy that comes from below the earth’s surface which can supply energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Now, your home can harness the power of geothermal energy thru a geothermal heat pump.
If you’re wondering what a geothermal heat pump is.
It’s a central heating and cooling system.
It uses the ground as a heat source when it’s cold in the winter.
In the summer, it uses the earth as a heat sink.
It can be easily integrated into your existing HVAC system, or it can be installed in a new build project.
It works pretty much like your fridge where it transfers the heat coming from the earth into your house or the other around thru loops of pipes that are filled with liquid in the form of water or an antifreeze solution.
These pipes are then attached to a geothermal heat pump in your house which acts like a heater or an air conditioner depending on the weather.
If you are lucky enough to live in a property that has a source of running water like a brook or a stream, then you might want to look at micro-hydro electricity to power your home.
Like its name, hydroelectricity uses running water to generate electricity usually from energy coming from water flowing from higher to lower places.
A micro hydropower system works by converting the flow of running water into rotational energy that is in turn transformed into electricity using either a pump, a turbine or a waterwheel.
Compared to solar, wind, and geothermal energy, micro hydroelectricity is relatively cheaper and easier to build.
However, the downside is that it requires a very specific on-site condition.
This means that if you don’t have a river, stream or some form of running water in your backyard, then you pretty much can’t have this system.
Solar/Wind Hybrid System
If you want to live one hundred percent off the grid, you might want to have a system that can handle the fluctuations of weather in your area to make sure that electricity is generated all the time because we all know that the weather can be fickle.
The solution to this problem is a solar/hybrid system.
This kind of system is more dependable than using just one power source because your power grid is not dependent on one source.
In addition to this, it’s also cheaper because it uses smaller components for each source compared to what would be needed than if you only used either solar or wind power.
If you are curious about the cost, a base hybrid system that can generate 7.5 kWh per day starts at around $35,000 and can go up to $65,000 for a system generates 15.5 kWh per day.
With new advances in solar, wind, geothermal, and water energy, going off the grid is now not limited to moving out of the urban setting.
Now, because the systems are smaller, you can install an off the grid system no matter where your home is located- whether it be in an urban or rural area, or even in a remote area.
And yes, admittedly, the upfront costs are expensive, but it is expected that, as technology progresses in this area, these kinds of systems will become more and more affordable in the near future.
We have been spoiled! With all the advances in technology, the thought of giving that up is unheard of.
However, the fact that living off the grid is becoming more and more popular, it has to at least spark your interest a little bit.
It has to at least make you wonder why people choose that lifestyle.
Is it financially smart, or do they just love nature THAT much?
Well, living off the grid is not as easy as it may seem.
You can’t just leave your home and pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere.
It takes lots of planning.
If you’re one who is seriously considering off-the-grid living, then there are some basic essentials you will need to survive.
In the minds of most people, going off the grid means sleeping under the stars.
Some people really do sleep out in the open, but you have to be a little realistic here.
You need to have some type of shelter to protect you from the elements of nature.
You can opt for a small log cabin, RV (RVshare), or even a yurt.
Now keep in mind, it’s not going to be like a real home with all the luxuries you’ve grown accustomed to.
The key to finding shelter for this lifestyle is small.
If your shelter is small, it’s easier and less time consuming to heat up.
You also want to check to see if there are any laws or regulations you may have to follow that could potentially prevent you from making this change in living arrangements.
Off-Grid Food Source
How to get your source of food might be the hardest part of off-the-grid living.
You can’t just run up the road to your local Kroger or Publix.
No, you have to work for your food with this lifestyle.
Nowadays, you can’t really survive off the land just by eating berries, plants, nuts, and wild game.
You run too high of a risk eating something poisonous.
It’s also jut not that plentiful as it was in past generations.
A safe way to self-provide your sources of food is to grow your own garden, and invest in livestock.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables minimizes the poison concern.
Learn to compost to add richness to your garden.
The goal with livestock is to produce your own milk and cheese from them, and then breed them to produce sources of meat.
Failure to dispose of bodily wastes can be very toxic to not only yourself but also to the environment.
It can cause several diseases such as intestinal worms and cholera.
Outdoor toilets are popular among those “roughing it,” but living off the grid is also about utilizing every resource you have, so people also will take their bodily wastes and compost it with a composting toilet.
From there, you can take that compost and use it to fertilize your garden.
But be sure to do your research on how to properly compost human wastes.
The whole process sounds somewhat gross and complicated, but just know when it comes to removing waste, nothing goes to waste!
Having clean drinking water is essential to living off the grid.
Before you decide where you want to live, you need to make sure that a reliable water source is nearby.
Yes, being out in nature, you would think that there would be several sources of water via lakes, ponds, rivers, and even rain, but even those sources can be full of bacteria and can make you very sick.
Those living off the grid will dig water wells or harvest rainwater.
Transportation Living Off-Grid
Just like everything else with living off the grid, the way you get around will be very minimalist and simple.
Depending on where you live, you may consider in boats, canoes, tractors, and horses.
The most common mode of transportation is by foot.
Walking to get to a location definitely takes time and energy, but it certainly is free.
Another mode to get you where you need to go is bicycling.
Cycling is definitely a lot more convenient than walking, and it gets you to your destination in a quicker time frame.
For those times where you have to get back to civilization, cycling typically isn’t a common form of transportation used in cities, so you want to be especially careful when cycling in town.
Accidents happen all the time, so for those occasions that you do have to go into town for something, you want to, of course, be careful, but you also want someone who will help in case an emergency does occur.
The important thing with off-grid traveling is safety.
Bicycles have none of the fancy safety features that newer model cars do, so just mindful.
Essential DIY Skills for Homesteading has always been a very hard knock life.
It was hard for our ancestors who first settled on the frontier in the days of the American Colonies, and it’s just as hard for those who choose to live in some the most remote locations that the United States has.
Sure – we enjoy far more advanced technology than our forefathers and mothers had, but for the homesteader, there are certain aspects of life that no fancy computer, or piece of machinery can solve.
Technology can’t stop water lines from freezing in below zero temperatures, or coyotes from trying to get in the coop, or a drought that leaves crops withering and dying on the vine.
No matter how you look at it, there’s a multitude of challenges that farmers and homesteaders alike have to deal with in order to pursue this way of life.
So when it comes to keeping the house running smoothly, you can’t afford to leave all of your repair work to someone else.
Besides the high costs associated with hiring carpenters, electricians, and plumbers to make repairs, there’s the delays because of scheduling, and a lack of qualified technicians available.
You can get away with having an electrical outlet or two that won’t put out a current, but having a faucet leaking so bad that it floods the kitchen?
That just can’t wait.
If you’re a homesteader, or you’re considering pursuing this very noble, but very hard, way of life, you need to be able to do the bulk of your own repair work, and below are the most critical DIY skills you need to keep your homestead running smoothly.
Fix a Leaky or Clogged Faucet
One of the most commonly associated problems with any house, whether it’s a farmhouse in the Big Sky country, or in the heart of Brooklyn, is the faucet.
They freeze up, won’t put out enough water pressure to clean hardly anything, and sooner or later, develop a leak.
A slow trickle of water that runs into the sink won’t do any harm, but a faucet that’s shooting out a geyser, or flooding the cabinets and floors of your home, will quickly wreck your home.
Fortunately, these are usually the most simple repair jobs, and require the fewest tools:
DIY Homestead Plumbing Tools You’ll Need:
Clog Remover (I’d recommend Draino or Liquid Plumber)
Latex or Dish Washing Gloves
How to Fix It:
Start by shutting off the main water valve to your home, both to stop the leak, and to keep water from spraying everywhere while you make your repairs.
Check the water hose connecting to your faucet. Ensure that it is seated in the grooves, and is twisted down tightly. If not, tighten with your hands or your adjustable wrench.
If the line connector is already firm, check for rust, cracks, or breaks. If this is bad enough, you’ll need to replace the house. If it isn’t too advanced, remove with your adjustable wrench, and use WD-40 if it’s difficult to remove. Clean off any excess rust and reconnect the hose.
If you’ve noticed that water has been slow to drain, or pooling in the sink, begin by pouring approximately half the bottle of your clog remover down your drain. Wait a half hour, then flush with hot water.
If that doesn’t fix the problem, put on your latex gloves, and place towels below the PVC piping to catch excess water and filth.
Remove the PVC piping connecting to your drain using your adjustable wrench, lighting tapping with a hammer if you need to to loosen the connector.
Using your pipe brush and fingers, remove as much gunk, filth, and stoppage as you can.
Repeat Step 4, and ensure the water is draining normally.
Repair a Strand of Barbed Wire
If you’re a homesteader, odds are you keep livestock of some form.
Even if you don’t, homesteaders are often easy prey for rodents and critters that target your garbage and crops for an easy meal.
It’s essential that you keep some sort of fencing up in order to help keep these varmints at bay, and your own herd contained.
Sooner or later, you’re going to have a wire break, either because a cow or horse panicked and ran through it, or because its rusted from rain and snow, and finally snapped.
When this happens, you’ve got to detect the break quickly, and fix it.
Fence Repair Tools You’ll Need
Thick Leather Gloves or Wiring Handling Gloves
Eye Protection Goggles
Strand of Barbed Wire
Heavy Duty Pliers with Cutter
How to Fix Fencing
If yours is an electrified fence, begin by shutting of the breaker running a current through your fence.
Wearing your gloves and goggles, begin by removing any barbs about six to eight inches past both sides of the break.
Measure out enough wire to extend about half a foot past both sides of the break when pulled taut.
While keeping the wire taut, use fencing sleeves to crimp the replacement strand to the broken strand. Crimp the sleeve down, leaving about one inch of loose strand on each end.
If the entire strand needs replacing, find the fencing staple connecting the broken strand to the fence post. Cut the strand with your pliers, leaving about three to four inches. Staple the excess back into the fence post using your hammer and fencing staples.
Measure out enough new strand that you’ll be able to wrap about halfway around the fence post when pulled taut.
Cut the new strand with your pliers, then connect to the fence post using two fencing staples on each post.
In either type of break, check the tension when you’re finished. The new strand should move no more than about half an inch under steady pressure. Check your other strands while you’re at it.
Turn your breaker back on. Test the current by either using a multimeter, or taking a blade of long grass with your bare hands, and touching the tip to the new strand. You’ll receive a slight shock, that won’t harm you, if the current is live.
Install a New Fence
Whether you opt to use barbed wire or plain old wood, I’ve already emphasized that you need fencing of some kind in order to protect your home, and corral your livestock. Best Fencing
A self made fence is a time honored tradition amongst homesteaders, and it’s one of the most basic tasks that you should be able to perform.
Before you do anything else, measure out the area where you’re going to install your fence. The distance between fence posts can vary, but I’d recommend that you go no more than 15 to 20 ft. in between posts. You also need to how high you want your fence to be, and the gap you want to leave in between each board. Common livestock fences are usually between five and seven feet high, but if you keep horses, it may need to be higher.
Using your measuring tape, measure out the distance between your fence posts. Mark the position using a rock, flag, or whatever you choose.
Wearing your gloves, and using your post hole digger, dig a rounded or squared hole. Dig at least a foot deep, and keep your dirt in a consolidated pile.
Insert your post hole. Have your assistant hold the pole upright and rigid. Using your leave, ensure the post is straight up and down, and level. Ensure the post reaches the desired height. If not, pull out and replace some dirt, or dig deeper.
Pack the excess dirt in around the base of the post using your shovel.
Repeat Steps 2 through 5 for a second post.
Use your measuring tape to the position of the first plank between the posts. Mark the position with your ink or paint pen. The plank should extend halfway across the post.
Have your assistant hold the plan in position, and hammer in the top corner of your plank on either post.
Using your level, ensure the plank remains horizontal and flush with the post.
Hammer in the remaining corner.
Use your measuring tape to gauge the gap between planks.
Repeat Steps 6 through 11 until your fence is complete.
Home Maintenance Tips – Just like your car, your home requires proper maintenance, or you’ll end up paying a big price with it coming back to bite you in the end.
A house is the biggest purchase most people ever make, and regular maintenance helps to ensure that you protect that asset, avoiding expensive repairs later.
One of the primary reasons a home doesn’t sell when it’s put on the market is that it’s been poorly maintained, resulting in many repairs that the buyer will need to make – or forcing the seller to make them before the sale can close, which may prove too costly.
For example, as Kiplinger reports, replacing a roof in Florida runs around $6,000 for a 1,500-square-foot home, or $25,000 for one that’s 4,000-square-feet.
Buyers, particularly first-time home buyers, are likely to be scared off by that.
You may need to change them even more often, every two weeks, if your a/c is running all the time during the summer, or if you live in a northern climate subject to harsh winters and use the heat continuously through the season.
Always Clean Out Your Dryer Vent
Allowing lint to build up in your dryer’s vent not only means clothes will take longer to dry, reducing its efficiency and requiring more energy, it could possibly lead to damage.
Replace Worn Out Washers in Faucets
The primary cause of a leaky faucet is worn out washers as they’re made up of rubber.
They’re easy to replace, just turn off the main water supply by unscrewing the handle that controls the flow of water to the spout, remove the washer and drop in a new one.
Touch Up Interior Paint
While you can transform the look for your home by repainting the entire interior, it can be rather costly and take quite a bit of time.
Instead, be sure to save paint from the current paint job, and then you can use that to do simple touch ups, rolling it over dirty spots on the wall. When it dries, it will look as though it was freshly painted.
It can seem easier to save energy in the warmer months, but it’s just as important (and even more economical) in colder weather.
To get advice on ways to save energy in the winter, I asked the eco-friendly home performance experts at Air Heating and Cooling for their advice on reducing our carbon footprint in our homes from December to June.
Their best tips, as well as our our advice for work, school, and travel, are included in our 10 easy ways to save energy this winter:
Here are easy ways to save energy
Turn your thermostat down just a few degrees
This will give you an excuse to break out the hot cocoa or that favorite fuzzy bathrobe, and will save you hundreds over the course of one winter.
It’s surprising how quickly you can get used to a new ‘baseline’ temperature in your home.
Have your heating and cooling system maintained and cleaned yearly
A thin layer of dirt on the inside coil of your system can reduce efficiency by 10% or more.
Few people think about this hidden efficiency issue, but almost all local heating and cooling industry professionals will offer this service.
Replace your most used lighting with CFL or LED lightbulbs
LED bulbs use up to 75% less energy and last longer than incandescent bulbs.
Get over the initial sticker price and change out your bulbs this winter!
Ride your bike to work
Yes, you can still commute to work by bike in winter!
Wear rain gear over work clothes to make the transition into the office easy, and make sure you have a quality safety light if your commute will be in the dark.
When going on extended vacation, turn down your hot water heater to “vacation mode”
Or “low”, unplug unused/un-needed appliances or electronics to combat “vampire” usage, set your thermostat to 60-65, and turn your thermostat down on your pool or spa.
Have your home “performance tested”
Determine any duct leakage, under-insulation, or excessive air leakage in the house.
In our area of the northwest, for instance, duct leakage is 25-40% on average.
This can cause efficiency concerns obviously, but also health, safety, and comfort issues in the home.
Make sure the air you breathe the most–the air in your home–is not making you sick this winter!
Carpool to school or work
My family is involved in no less than four different car pools to accommodate my kids’ school and activity schedules.
While sometimes difficult to keep track of, carpooling saves us hundreds of dollars in fuel costs and reduces our carbon footprint.
Don’t block registers, radiators, return air, or baseboard heaters
Be sure to check the vents under beds and in closets, which can easily become blocked by blankets, clothes, or boxes.
Buy (and prepare) seasonal produce
Instead of having your fresh fruit shipped from abroad, find out what’s seasonal locally.
Look up recipes using seasonal ingredients, and find inspiration at your local farmer’s markets.
Light candles instead of switching on lights
I’m not suggesting you do everything by candlelight, but winter candles can add a nice touch to the dining room during meals or the living room while you’re only needing low light.
Only do this when there are adults present, not when children will be around and especially not around toddlers.
Accidents happen in just a second.
These are very simple and easy ways to save energy that you can implement immediately.
What ideas do you have for reducing energy use during the winter months?
This outdoor furnace is definitely built to last, and simple enough to operate that my neighbor’s kid could operate it if I was away for the weekend.
The best part, aside from all the money I’m saving, is how extremely efficient it is, in the amount of wood it consumes.
The Crown Royal Stoves RS7300E is a sleek looking, modern furnace with flush mounted doors with an integrated silicone rope gasket and a roller bear latch system, giving it one of the tightest seals I’ve ever seen.
Not only is this unit going to provide my home with heat for the next decade, but it will look good doing it at the same time.
The control panel is conveniently located to the left of the loading door and features a basic aquastat with simple setting.
My favorite feature on the control panel is the Load Switch which turns the blower fan on for about 90 seconds, forcing all the smoke through the chimney when I go to load more wood.
No need to worry about getting a cloud of smoke in the face anymore.
A water level indicator is located at the top of the furnace, which I can easily see from looking out my back door.
It even includes a Stainless Steel chimney that allows for additional lengths to be attached, or a chimney cap, to stop the rain from getting inside.
The firebox and water jacket are both constructed from 409 Titanium Enhanced Stainless Steel making it highly durable.
Something included in this wood furnace, that I haven’t seen in others, is something they call “Air Panels”.
These individual panels are hung from a single hook and are meant to help destitute the air flow around the fire and take the brunt force of the heat without damaging the water jacket or poured refectory.
Plus if anything happens to them, they can be easily replaced.
Gasification Outdoor Wood Furnaces
When they say they have the “most advanced Gasification process” in any Outdoor Wood Furnaces they weren’t joking.
Their poured refectory is literally a ‘gasification manifold’ injected hot air directed into the combustion zone, igniting even more gases, creating a hotter flame in the second combustion chamber.
Included in the Crown Royal Stoves RS7300E are Heat Exchanger Cleaners which have a dual purpose.
Not only do they self-clean the Heat Exchanger Tubes with a simple pull of the cleaner handler at the front, but they force the hot air to slow down by spinning through the Heat Exchanger Tubes, increasing the amount of heat transfer.
I’ve had my Crown Royal Stoves RS7300E Pristine Series Outdoor Wood Furnace installed for nearly two months now and I can already tell this coming winter is going to be one of cheapest I’ve had in years.
If you decide an outdoor furnace is how you want to heat your home, just make sure you do your homework.
This is one investment you don’t want to cheap out on.
And most homesteads can take advantage of both types of systems.
Or even combining systems so that the overflow of a built system becomes the source for a landscape system.
Rainwater Harvesting Systems Components
Rainwater harvesting systems use various components to best meet needs.
These components can be broken down into catchment surface, conveyance (gutters and downspouts), screens, first-flush, storage, water purification, and end use.
Catchment surface – area that the rainwater falls on to be captured.
Conveyance (gutters and downspouts) – transports the water from catchment to storage or use.
Screens – separates debris from the water.
First-flush – diverts the first, and dirtiest, portion of rainwater.
Storage – holds water for later use.
Purification – cleans the water to the needed level.
End use – gives purpose to the system!
You know your homestead better than anyone… often you can conduct a ‘water audit’ just on the back of an envelope.
If you are using the water for drinking, you will need more treatment than if you are using it for gardens.
If you are using it for cleaning (tools, grounds, equipment, etc.), then you won’t need any treatment.
It all depends on your needs and resources (e.g. do you only have seasonal need due to a seasonal creek).
The catchment volume is calculated from the precipitation falling on the collection area with some loss due to the efficiency of the collection materials (and leaks).
In addition, conversion factors are used to yield the desired units of volume.
Typically, monthly catchment values are calculated based on monthly average precipitation data.
The collection volume for any period of time is calculated using the following formula (mnemonic device Vrake):
Equation: Vrake – Rainwater harvesting potential.
V = Volume of collection in gal/time or m3/time or liters/time
Note that time is usually in months.
Use this to help determine potential yield and tank size.
R = Precipitation in inches/time or mm/time
Collect this data or find it from existing climate data.
A = Footprint of collection surface in ft2 or m2
This is the vertical projected area of the collection surface.
For a rectangular house, use length times width.
k = Needed conversion factors, such as 7.48 gal/ft3 or easier SI units
Can also combine the 1ft/12in conversion for the precipitation data here.
e = Efficiency of collection surface (which is unitless)
75 soil, 0.8 average, 0.95 metal
Another consideration is pressure.
Pressure is critical to moving water from where it is gathered or stored to where it will be used.
In a rainwater harvesting system, the water must be able to flow from catchment through the filters and conveyance into the first-flush and storage or end use.
This pressure can be provided by gravity from vertical height difference or by a pump.
As an idea of how much pressure you will need:
Typical US residential water pressure is between 40 to 80 psi (pounds per square inch); typical drip irrigation systems (and some micro-sprinklers) need between 15 to 25 psi; and some appropriate technology drip irrigation systems need only 4 to 10 psi.
In addition to flow from catchment to storage, the flow from storage to end use is critical.
Using the existing topography and/or platforms can often yield enough pressure for end use.
If necessary, a pump can be implemented to add sufficient pressure.
While utilizing a pump increases the pressure, it also increases the upfront and operational costs.
Gravity acting on the vertical height of the water column is what produces the pressure, which is also referred to as head.
Make sure not to confuse volume with pressure (head).
For instance, a 20-foot-tall water tower of 8000 gallons has the same water pressure as a 20-foot-tall pipe of 80 gallons.
If your homestead has varying topography, you want to catch and store the water at the high spots, and then use it in the low spots to provide enough pressure.
Otherwise a pump can be used to generate the needed pressure.
In a system we built in Eureka, California, we were able to change the existing local law to allow us to place the catchment tank where it made topological sense, without being restrained by set-back limits.
The Book – To Catch The Rain
All of this and much more is included in a new book on Rainwater Harvesting, titled To Catch the Rain.