Ken’s Straw Bail House – Part 2

Solar water heater on the roof of Ken's straw bail house.

In Part 1 I introduced Ken and his straw bail house in the mountains around Torvizcon and in this part I will explain how he manages to live almost completely off-grid.

Ken spent three years designing and building his straw bail house and it’s a great achievement. When he and two friends bought the land he was mindful of utilities such as water and power but he has carefully got around these things.

His water supply comes straight from a mountain spring at the back of the house. In what is best described as an alcove in the rock he has arranged several barrels to harvest the spring water and from there they feed the house, the outdoor kitchen and his swails.

These water butts are filled by the spring behind Ken's straw bail house.

These water butts are filled by the spring behind Ken's straw bail house.

During the spring, summer and autumn months Ken’s water is heated by solar energy; not with conventional and expensive solar panel systems and storage tanks, but with a simple length of black hose which is coiled on the roof. The hose is encased in clear plastic bottles which creates a greenhouse type effect so after a few hours of sunlight he has hot water in excess of 40 degrees.

The hose runs down to the bathroom where it joins a cold feed tap so he can enjoy a good hot bath.

The electrical system is very similar to mine in the van (read here). He uses several solar panels set up on the roof and they supply energy to a few leisure batteries via regulators. These power 12v LED lighting systems in the house as well as an inverter so he can run a stereo and charge laptops, etc.

Heating in winter is catered for by wood burning stoves in every room and in the summer months it is kept cool purely by design.

At the moment Ken is using gas to cook with but he is planning to experiment with a rocket stove which will also take him a step closer to stepping completely off-grid.

He is still working on other aspects of the house which will include a pool, the foundations of which are already in place.

In the next post I’ll explain how Ken takes care of his toilet duties.

Read part one by clicking here.

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