Well, the answer is it all depends.
I have converted my home in Sydney to run on a carefully designed and well planned 12-volt system. We live in the City of Blacktown on an urban block and took the plunge to see if it was possible to run a normal home on a 12-volt system.
Let me give you a rundown on what we use in our home each day. In the morning, I do the first thing any good husband does, I drop my wife at the train station to go to work each day! All jokes aside my wife loves going to work (?).
For most people, the first thing they want is a hot shower in the morning. For us, we use the rocket stove to boil water and the percolator (as it is the best I have found to deal with my toilet paper rolls). We use bamboo from the property and twigs and sticks. In the mornings, I couldn’t be bothered, so I just flick on the kettle. Our breakfast is cooked using a Device called a turbo oven. It’s so good; I throw my home grown onions in and some bacon, turn it on for five minutes, and then I come back and put my eggs and beans in. There’s no standing around waiting and watching! Then it’s time to put my homemade bread in the toaster and serve! Oh and my lemon grass tea that I get from the neighbors off the rocket stove and now breakfast is ready! In winter we love our slow cooked meals, normally the next thing to do is put dinner in the slow cooker and let it cook dinner for me.
Next I unload the dishwasher that was on from last nights dinner and put the mess from the morning in it and turn it on, and it’s off to load the washing machine and turn it on. On a normal day in our home, the washing machine will be run a minimum of once and the dishwasher a minimum of twice every day. The dishwasher runs on our solar system, and it is the most efficient way for us to clean. It uses less water than washing up by hand and the energy from the batteries was put there from our solar panels by the sun. I work from home most days. All day I have my laptop plugged in and charging, and the place I like to sit requires the light on most of the day so normally I have a light on.
In the afternoons and at night is when households use most of their power consumption, and we are no different. The TV goes on in the afternoon for some background ambience. No one is really ever sitting in front of it; it’s just on and I thought it was for the ambience as it is the only logical reason I can think of. Unless the dogs like watching it, they seem to be laying on the couch mostly in the afternoon. Next is dinner and all the lights come on. I think humans have a habit of letting people know where they have been as you can follow the trail of lights on in the house and see that someone has been in that room for two seconds and decided that the room didn’t want to sit in the dark.
Cooking is the next biggest thing. If the slow cooker hasn’t been on all day, we whip out the turbo oven or the Thermomix and get dinner on the go. These two devices let us cook any meal that you would normally have and they are both amazingly energy efficient. The turbo oven even has a function to clean itself! And the Thermomix has too many features to list. Once the dishwasher is on we are down to watch some entertainment for the evening on the TV.
We do all of this and more powered off a 12-volt system . That is the same voltage that powers your car! And we have designed and planned how to run a normal home on this system. To top it off you’ll never be without power as we have installed some automatic fail-safe products so that if your batteries ever get too low you can always get power from the grid (if it’s available) or a generator depending on your setup.
We have a large fridge and a second freezer. I even run my welder on the system! Anyone with the right mindset and understanding can do it. They say knowledge is power? Well, in this case, knowledge is less power required to run your home and also less money to get off the grid. Off-Grid systems are expensive purely because of the amount of batteries required. Fewer volts in a system like this means fewer cells required.
Conventional systems have always been 24 or 48-volt system because the installers couldn’t be bothered educating their customers on a few simple mindset changes. Also some simple changes of habits can dramatically alter how you could run a home on a 12-volt system. Hence the reason we are running a course named the “Perma-Tech” Renewable Energy Course; to share this knowledge so that everyone can use fewer resources to set up off the grid lifestyles.
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