Off grid washer… kinda

So I was totally going to blog about how awesome dehydrating food is… but I can’t. Because once again, the devil was in the details for me. I love blueberries – in muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, etc. Besides Bou, none of the other children are excited about them. So that means, yup, I don’t purchase them. Then I heard you could dehydrate them fairly easily. Sweet!

Insert Google Search fail.

Most everything I read said 8-10 hours. I borrowed my mother-in-laws dehydrator… and bought 4 pounds of frozen blueberries… before I thought about looking up the manual to the actual dehydrator I had in hand… only to find that it required rotating every 2-4 hours and blueberries take 36 hours.

Apparently those Bloggers from my Google search have the totes amaze Excalibur. I do not. They also have grid power if they don’t have the Excalibur. I again do not. Hence I am left with 4 pounds of thawed blueberries and a mess of blueberry drippings in the bottom of the kegerator. Sigh.

Instead I’ll show you this awesomeness – an off grid washing machine. Ok, so really it isn’t totally off grid. That would be our plunger washer. It works fine for small “oh need to wash this real quick” but is not practical for our little family of 8.

Which means hauling everything to the laundromat once a week and dropping $40 just to wash clothes (we line dry most things). There was an upside to it though – all laundry was washed in about 2 hours! Which meant I had 4-6 glorious hours with absolutely no laundry in the baskets. Mt. Washmore felt tackled every week, at least for a little bit.

So I had been on the hunt for a washer, ideally an HE. Then I was offered this one for $20 by my future-brotherin-law’s mama. For $20 yea I’ll take it! The only downside is it is a regular washer, using 40-50 gallons per load. Whereas an HE is around 25 gallons. One of the water tanks hold 250 gallons. We’re talking a difference of 1 weeks worth of laundry (5 loads) and 2 weeks worth (10 loads) from one tote.

So while I am still hunting for an HE (and saving up for a new one in case I can’t find one), this thing is still gonna save us some cash. Rainwater is free and it costs about $1 an hour to run the geni. Of course we can do other high power things while the geni is on – bake bread, vacuum… dehydrate :ahem:, Playstation, etc. You get the idea. No need to let power go to waste!

The set up is simple: rainwater from the roof, pumped by solar, but the actual washer still runs off the generator.

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Connecting the tanks together was rather easy. I don’t know what these little rubbery things are but one end is 2″ and 1″ on the other. There’s little twisty clamp things to tighten each end down. They are in the plumbing section. Best I can tell ya. πŸ˜‰ At the T in the middle there is another little plastic piece (also found conveniently in the PVC section” that has a 3/4 inch thread on one end that fits the hose perfectly… and a whole lot cheaper than the $6 copper piece they were trying to sell me.

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TaDa! 500 gallons of water storage!

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This is a cheap $30 pump from Harbor Freight. I’m not sure how Mr. connected it all but I know the pump runs off the solar batteries directly. He also installed a manual switch to turn the pump on, eliminating the possibility of forgetting the water was on. Not that I ever get distracted from the current task at hand…

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At first we had the hose connected to the back of the washer like normal but it took foreva to fill so I just put the hose into the tub. We have to catch it to push switch for the rinse anyway.

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This isn’t the best empty method admittedly. Already creating a muddy crater mess. The plan is to run the pipe into some PVC and into the house garden sub-irrigation system. So far it works wonderfully!!

Update in the spring: Yes it still works great. Except for during the winter. I didn’t think about the hose and the water in the washer freezing. Wasn’t a big deal, just had to plan the washer usage differently. Like after noon during above freezing days. An HE is absolutely going to be necessary, it doesn’t take long at all to go through the water. The idea works, just have to tweak it to work for our little family. πŸ˜‰

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