I’m going beyond the GeoStudio today. I’d like to address the 2nd most important element in creating a truly off-grid house. Not only due to an interest in tiny houses (a growing phenomenon in the US and Canada), but because it is front and centre for this company’s plan to upgrade the GeoStudio to the status of tiny house in the next 12 months.
To paraphrase a saying, “He who controls hot water controls the world”. In simpler terms, generating hot water allows for not only personal hygiene but is potentially an ingredient to heat one's home, to generate electricity and to help prepare food. So you can see it is fundamental to making a space liveable. And if you can control its creation without fossil fuels you can therefore create all of these options.
Some examples of fossil free hot water generation technology are solar tube collectors, a large magnifying glass and a parabolic reflector - there are others but this sample tells us solar truly is coming of age.
The large magnifying glass idea can be created with a large transparent plastic sheet suspended on a rack of 4x4’s, in which the water acts as a ‘magnifying glass’. Check out this very cool idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeSyHgO5fmQ
There are solar tube collectors now on the market that are being refined. And they needn’t look too large or awkward and would make addition to any tiny living space.
My favourite however is the parabolic reflector. This is an umbrella shaped device that you invert and point to the sun, like a satellite dish. Only it has a mirror-like surface that will reflect the sun's rays to a centre focal point. (On a satellite dish this is the piece that sticks out and concentrates the signal.) At this focal point the heat is intense enough to boil water - under sunny skies of course. The Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association has used such a device in solar cooking demonstrations. It is very effective, you can put a pot of water suspended on a grill at the exact focal point and boil water in minutes. My plan is to use one of these to run some metal pipe up into that focal point and back down into a tank or boiler system in order to store hot water. After that the water can used domestically to help heat one's space on the coldest days of the year.
So at this point I’m soliciting my readers. I’m looking for someone with solid plumbing knowledge to create such a system. This would bring us all one step closer to being able to create an off grid tiny house. And off grid living I believe, is the “Rosetta stone” of small footprint sustainable living.
So if you know a plumber or engineer or just all around “inventor guy” who would be interested in participating in this challenge - please message me!
Gilles Leclair is the founder of GeoStudios. Somewhat eccentric, fairly environmentalist, politically aware, he believes the world should have more off-grid communities... many more.