What it means to be in-sync with the environment and consider the weather that affords the utilities. Vaughn and Louise talk about their experience designing, building, and living off-grid.
Vaughn and Louise purchased their block of land on the Sunshine Coast in 2016, and began visualising a shed house design on the block. They looked at many examples of shed house designs online, but primarily theirs was designed for affordability, which is why it may look unique as a shed house. One of the reasons they chose to design a 120m2 Off-grid Shed House home was for the lifestyle. Read more about their off-grid living and the many reasons they love it in our Living Off-Grid Series.
Watching For The Weather
The living off-grid lifestyle has Vaughn and Louise watching the Australian Bureau of Meteorology weather forecast and radar app quite a lot. This assists them prepare for any weather situations.
“We ‘get excited’ when rain arrives, and we begin to harvest water for a two-third empty (22,500 Lit) water tank (Winter dry season 2019), which fills in two days!”
They have learned to have respect for the weather in a different way and feel lucky they haven't had a major storm damage any of their utility equipment. When building it is important to ensure your land of choice is not in a flood zone and is somewhat protected by the elements. You must make sure you have enough cleared space in the North aspect so solar panels are not impacted by shade. The Shed House can help with the design of your property to best suit your needs and your land.
You would not be taking advantage of the living off-grid lifestyle if you didn’t try homegrown produce. Vaughn and Louise shared with us how they grew varieties of tomatoes for a season, which was very bountiful. They enjoyed that short experiment, growing from seed the Cherry, Black Russian, and Roma varieties.
“We had much leftover, including green tomatoes and so we made relishes that we gave to friends.”
This inspired them to continue growing vegetables and fruit, working with the seasons. This will provide year-round with their living off-grid lifestyle. Being self-sufficient with their food will lessen their dependence on market requirements. They won’t have to travel to the shops in their car as often if they grow their own food resources. For Vaughn and Louise, it is about freshness of produce too.
“We were amazed at how long the tomatoes stayed fresh over the store bought option, not to mention the added flavour from home grown.”
With their living off-grid lifestyle, Vaughn and Louise have become more conscious of their daily activities. They limit the combined use of equipment at any one time. For example, if Louise has the espresso coffee machine on in the morning, and they are using the toaster, then the vacuum cleaner would wait for use until the toaster and coffee machine are off. It is about ‘loading’ the system. This somewhat reduces their activities to singular action and supports mindful living and reduces stress.
“We are actually aligned to singular action through the limits of our system, and this is actually a good thing for us, slowing down and not rushing. We focus more on each individual task, as we are bound by the solar and battery system limits.”
Don’t get them wrong, their equipment can handle in total up to 5 kWatts of supply (5 kWatt inverter from battery storage including 3 kWatt solar panels), however they follow a lifestyle that, through slow living, supports minimal strain on their system that flows through to the overcast days.
About Vaughn and Louise
Vaughn holds a PhD in Interaction Design, and with seven home renovations and new builds completed over twenty-five years in New South Wales and Queensland Australia, Vaughn and Louise have treated this recent experience as a personal research project. They designed and had Jason Barton build their Off-grid Shed House home to lock-up on 12 acres in 2017, in the Noosa Hinterland of Queensland, Australia. Vaughn and Louise fitted out the interior of the Off-grid Shed House design. Read all about their discoveries in our Living Off-Grid Series.