Archive for the Homesteading Category

Solar Camping Gear: Powering Your Next Adventure

Solar Camping Gear: Powering Your Next Adventure

solar camping gear

NAVIGATION

Choosing solar camping gear can make or break your off griding experience. Whether you are hoping to immerse yourself in the great outdoors for a quick weekend getaway or are looking forward to several months in the mountains, having solid solar camping gear saves you the hassle of setting up utilities while trying to relax.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Traveling and going on outdoor adventures with loved ones has become super important to me over the past few years, and working remotely gives me that freedom. Knowing what solar camping gear I need to go off the grid helps me plan the best possible camping experience.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

How To Choose Solar Gear When You Go Off Grid Camping

How To Choose Solar Gear When You Go Off Grid Camping

Off-grid camping isn’t a new concept; true nature lovers have been venturing out into the middle of nowhere to escape the daily hustle for decades, if not centuries. Also known as dry camping or boondocking, it is a very rugged and removed experience.

off grid camping setupIf you are planning a boondocking excursion, ensuring you have the right solar camping gear is essential. Off-grid camping can be one of the most rewarding and rejuvenating experiences if you set yourself up well from the start!

I have heard all too many horror stories from those who go remote camping and didn’t consider things like water access or extra batteries for their lights to get back to a trailhead. With this in mind, I want to tell you to do your research about the challenges you may face out in the wild.

I’m not a survivalist, per se, but I do think my exploration into self-sufficiency over the last decade would be my best friend in the middle of nowhere. I have tried many different kinds of solar camping gear products and off-grid setups to find the ones that make my life easy and meet my needs when I’m off the grid.

off grid tiny house guide

How Many Panels Will You Need?

How Many Panels Will You Need

The first question you probably have is how many solar panels you need to install. Installing solar on your homestead requires an entirely different level of power than you need for a simple camping trip.

For solar camping, 300 watts is probably a good metric to go with when estimating how much power you need. If you want to run just the basic RV or camper accessories during the day, you’ll likely be alright with about 300 watts of solar panels.

300 Watts Of Solar Can Run These Daily

  • Lights
  • Fans
  • Water Pump
  • Refrigerator
  • Water Heater
  • Phone
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • WiFi Hot Spot
run a laptop with solar power

If you’re primarily running only these devices during the day, 300 watts will get you by. However, if you hope to run your RV fan or devices through the night, you may want to bump this up to 400 or 500 watts of solar.

gosun camping solar panelsNow, the number of panels you need to install for optimum wattage off the grid will depend on the quality of the panels you have. Traditional panels put out around 250 to 400 watts per panel, while portable panels like GoSun’s camping panels, typically put out 100 watts. Let that metric inform the number of panels you need for your RV or off-grid campsite.

Two to three solar panels is probably the sweet spot for getting power to your RV or campsite. In my own experience off-grid camping, I only really needed two panels to get the power I needed, but I wasn’t camping with a family. More people will require more power and more hot water, so keep that in mind as your plan your off-grid excursion.

Solar Power For Tiny Houses

How Big Of A Battery Will You Need?

How Big Of A Battery Will You Need

Knowing how many batteries you need to power your solar camping gear is also an important consideration. For about 300 watts of power, you can get by with a single 12-volt battery at about 100Ah. If you need 400 watts of power, you likely need two 12-volt batteries, or two 6-volt golf cart batteries, with between 200 to 250 Ah to power your RV.

Solar Panel Batteries

This recommendation certainly changes if you’re trying to power an entire homestead as opposed to just a camping trailer. On my homestead, I use lead acid batteries over AGM (absorbent glass mat) because lead acid batteries have more cycles and cost a bit less.

I also use 6-volt batteries because it was more economical over other options and Trojan is a pretty reputable name in the industry. Investing in a lithium-ion battery pack, like the GoSun solar generator battery pack, is probably going to be your best bet when it comes to battery use on your campsite.

gosun solar generator battery pack
gosun

“Lithium is the best battery by far. There is no comparison for energy density, longevity and zero maintenance.”

Building The Perfect Off The Grid Camping Setup

Building The Perfect Off The Grid Camping Setup

Before diving right into choosing solar camping gear, consider what type of gear you and your family actually need to create the ideal off-grid camping setup. What I’m trying to say here is that the perfect off-grid camping setup comes down to what your own non negotiables are and how much power you need.

Before Camping Off Grid, Ask Yourself

  • What do I use power for that I want access to off-grid?
  • How much hot water will I need off the grid?
  • How do I plan to cook off the grid?
  • How long do I plan to be off the grid?
  • Are there bathrooms or showers on my campsite?
  • Will I have access to potable water?
  • What is the climate like in my area?
  • What time of year am I off griding?
cooking off grid with solar power

Camping off the grid in a tent or an RV long term is no joke, but if you play your cards right, it can be an incredibly rejuvenating and rewarding experience for you and your family and friends. I have honestly found that some of my most rewarding experiences have occurred in nature, either alone with my thoughts or surrounded by loved ones.

living in a tent

What Solar Camping Gear Will You Need On Your Next Adventure

What Solar Camping Gear Will You Need On Your Next Adventure

If you’re thinking about heading off of the grid soon, you’ll want to make sure to have all of your ducks in a row to get the power, hot water, and other essentials you need to have a successful trip. This is where solar gear can come in as your best bet.

gosun

“Solar panels are the best way to go for off grid camping. Portable generators with fuel are large, noisy, need gas, and need yearly cleaning and maintenance.”

Best Solar Generator For Off Grid Camping

Best Solar Generator For Off Grid Camping

The absolute last thing you want to happen while you’re out in the boondocks is to lose power when you aren’t expecting it. To keep that from happening, you want to invest in a solid solar generator to keep your homestead or RV running the power you need.

I highly recommend the GoSun Power 550 solar generator for all of your off-grid camping needs. I use this generator when I go off griding, and it gives me enough energy to run all my essential devices including my camera, my lights, and my laptop.

GoSun Power 550 solar generator

Solar Cooking

Solar Cooking

Solar cookers operate by converting the sun’s rays into heat energy that is stored within the food tray. This stored heat causes the water, fat, and protein molecules in your food to vibrate and become hot, similar to the way a greenhouse traps heat to warm molecules within plants. The GoSun Go Pro Pack cooker is a good example of a solar cooker that concentrates the heat and keeps it locked in while your food cooks.

Using a solar cooker on your homestead or while you’re boondocking is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to cook your meals to perfection. Solar cooking allows you to prepare a simple dinner without accessing the power grid or sending fumes into the atmosphere with fuel.

complete solar oven guide

Solar Camping Stove And Grill

Investing in a solar camping grill or stove is an awesome way to go if you’re looking to grill out with your buddies while camping out, but aren’t able to connect to the grid. Out of all the solar cookers I have tried, I genuinely liked the solar camping grill and solar camping stove from GoSun best because they cooked my meals the fastest.

gosun solar camping grillAfter testing several cookers, I gave away all of them except the GoSun cooker. I loved GoSun’s because it cooked my food quickly and it’s designed to also cook at night when the sun is not visible.

Cooking time is also shorter in the GoSun solar cooker. Unlike other ovens I’ve tried that would take most of the day to cook, the GoSun usually could cook my meals in about 90 minutes on a sunny day. That means if you get to your campsite later in the day, you can still set it up and cook without worrying about running out of sunlight.

12-Volt Battery Powered Solar Fridge

Using a solar powered fridge is an absolute game changer if you want to live off the grid long term or you have a lot of people to feed on your camping trip. A12-volt fridge makes a lot of sense when you are considering dry camping any longer than a couple of weeks.

GoSun Battery Powered RefridgeratorBe sure to do your research when looking for a battery-powered fridge, as not all solar fridges are created equal. There are lots of coolers and fridges out there called “thermoelectric coolers” that attempt to label themselves as solar powered fridges.

These two labels aren’t the same thing. Thermoelectric fridges are not the way to go, as they don’t have a compressor, require a lot more power than battery powered solar fridges, and they take forever to get cold.

Instead, consider a 12-volt, lithium battery solar fridge like the refrigerators made by GoSun. I love this fridge because I never have to fret about my food being cold enough off the grid. The GoSun fridge keeps your food cold or frozen for up to 40 hours before needing a recharge and has intricate temperature controls to match the groceries you want to store.

Solar Powered Heating And Solar Cooling

Solar Powered Heating And Solar Cooling

When it comes to heating and cooling an RV or campsite off the grid, things can get very difficult quickly. In warmer climates, you can really only use a fan to keep cool, which easily run on solar. There isn’t really an easy way to heat your space on solar, unless you’re using propane, which is highly accessible in an off-grid camping setup.

how to run ac on solar power

Solar Fan

Solar fans are the best way to cool down a tiny house, camper, or RV. In a home, these solar fans run on sun power and pull superheated air out of your attic that is then replaced by cooler outside air. This reduces the amount of work your HVAC system has to do on its own.

Not all solar fans are installed in the homes themselves. You can also buy a regular table fan or pedestal fan that is entirely solar powered, like this fan. A solar powered fan is an awesome addition to any RV or campsite setup, especially in the thick of summer.

GoSun Breeze 12 volt solar powered fan

Solar AC

In most off-grid setups, it is very difficult to have running A/C — you’ll probably just need to stick with a solar fan like the one mentioned above. However, the GoSun Camp 365 is the closet thing I’ve found to a practical solution for heating and cooling off grid.

GoSun Camp365 TrailerMini-split systems are a very popular route these days for running A/C in a mobile tiny house or a recreational vehicle. Installing a mini split system that runs on solar can take some legwork, but it’s one of the best ways to keep your off-grid RV cool.

What’s awesome about the GoSun camper is that it actually has a mini split AC system included in the camper that heats and cools, which is an optimal solution for off griding and a pretty rare find. This is especially helpful if you’re looking for a way to camp in frigid winters or scorching summers.

gosun

“GoSun offers two different AC options: an off grid, portable, energy efficient AC and a larger one that would need a generator or grid power for continuous use.”

Solar Powered Heater

If you’re planning to go off grid in the middle of winter, it’s important to have a plan to keep warm. It can be from a cozy camp fire, a propane Mr. Buddy heater, or even something solar powered.

GoSun heated blanketHeating off of solar is a challenge as anything with a heating coil typically draws quite a bit of power. The two practical options are a propane heater that uses solar for the igniter or a heated blanket.

A heated blanket is great because it’s low enough power that you could run it off a solar setup. It keeps power usage so low because it only has to heat your body directly. If you like this idea, this one from GoSun runs on 12-volt batteries and is heat adjustable up to 45 watts.

Solar Powered Camp Shower

Solar Powered Camp Shower

Solar showers work by using water pumps charged with batteries to keep the water warm. Gravity sends the shower water downward through hanging pumps, giving you access to the water you need to shower.

A 12-volt solar shower does not require charging in order to work, which allows you the ability to take a quick shower when you need one. When the solar shower bag gets exposed to full sunlight, the black coated bag will insulate the heat and warm up the water for your shower.

The GoSun Flow Pro is the only real off-grid camp shower I’ve found that’s fully solar powered and actually works well. It has a flexible shower head, is entirely powered by the sun, and keeps your water warm for long periods of time. I’ve tried several other solar showers out there, but this is the one I use every time I go boondocking.

GoSun Flow Pro Shower

Solar Powered Lighting

Solar Powered Lighting

A light or lantern is a must have for a successful off-grid camping trip. Especially at night when critters and animals like to lurk, you’ll need a powered light to stay protected. Whether it’s string lights for your encampment or a solar lantern for late night walks, solar powered lighting is a must for off gridding long term.

Campsite Solar String Lights

On an off-grid campsite, solar string lights work through photovoltaic effect, where the solar cells convert sunlight into direct electric current that the battery stores in an inverter. This is converted into power that lights up your campsite! You can find solar camping lights on Amazon or at most places that sell garden supplies.

Solar Lantern

Having your own solar lantern on site is also a wise idea when boondocking. GoSun has its own solar powered lamp that provides 20 to 50 lumens of light and can be used for extra light in the house or at your campsite. It also only weighs 6 ounces, which makes it easy to carry when you want to take a night hike.
GoSun Solar Powered Lantern

Consider An All-In-One Solar Powered Trailer

Consider An All-In-One Solar Powered Trailer

If buying all of these solar products individually doesn’t seem like the route for you, you can buy them all in one instead. I honestly feel like buying all the products as one component instead of as individual pieces will make your life easier, which is where the GoSun Camp365 solar powered trailer comes in. As a guy who likes to travel often, the idea of being able to power my trailer through solar while hopping from campsite to campsite is incredibly appealing.

gosun camp365 trailer

What Does The Camp365 Solar Powered Camper Include?

What Does The Camp365 Solar Powered Camper Include

The GoSun Camp365 trailer has everything you need for an idyllic off-grid camping experience while using solar power to meet your needs. The Camp365 is equipped with essential appliances for cooking, refrigerating, showering, and A/C control while boondocking.

It is designed to double as an entertainment area, offering 100 square feet of interior space with 7 foot, 6 inches of headroom when fully expanded — plenty of room to spread out and enjoy your time. It is made from high-grade aluminum that doesn’t rot when exposed to inclement weather, so you can use it in the rain or snow too!

gosun

“The best thing about using solar camping gear is you can be off grid for a long time, as long as you have adequate sun and access to water.”

The trailer solar charges entirely on its own, giving you access to all the utilities you need off the grid without having to work extra hard or mess with the solar setup on your own. It folds up nice and compactly so you can easily pull it behind your vehicle on the open road.

The GoSun Camp365 Includes

gosun camp365 trailer includes

As someone who loves camping off the grid and spending time in nature, I can testify that this camper provides everything you need to easily relax and getaway with loved ones (and pets!). You don’t have to worry about the tedious process of setting up off-grid access to electricity, hot water, hot coffee, or delicious meals; it’s all part of this one hassle-free trailer.

What Does The Camp365 Cost?

What Does The Camp365 Cost

The bulk price of The Camp365 from GoSun is $34,250, which may seem pricey on paper, but actually isn’t all that expensive for the bang you get for your buck.

Setting up utilities on your own off the grid can be so complex, especially if you’re new to off griding. Investing in a trailer that does it all for you is worth the price. GoSun also gives you the option to pay for this product in four interest-free installments if that bodes easier for you and your wallet.

tiny house plans

In my own life, the best-off grid camping experience is the kind where I can kick back, relax, and take my mind off of all the daily chaos. For me, this means being able to grill out, play music I love, work on my writing by lamplight, and crack open a fresh, cold beer.

I have found that solar gear built to be portable has been the easiest way for me to have this kind of stress-free experience in the mountains or the woods. Trying to adapt stationary setups into something portable is often clunky and not as durable. I hope you’re able to find a setup that works for you so you can escape to nature by yourself or with your loved ones.

Your Turn!

  • What kinds of solar camping gear would make your off-grid experience better?
  • What needs to you have that solar camping gear could help fill?

Sunken Greenhouse: The Solution To Plant Year Round

Sunken Greenhouse: The Solution To Plant Year Round

sunken greenhouse

NAVIGATION

Imagine being able to house your crops in a sunken greenhouse that self insulates and not having to worry about harsh winters or dry summers ruining your garden. Sunken greenhouses are one of the most ideal structures for farmers and gardeners dealing with fluctuating climates.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Over the last few years, I have gotten super into vegetable gardening on my homestead, but I hate it when undesirable weather patterns harm my crops. When I heard about the magic of the year round Wallapini, I knew I had to check it out!

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Is A Wallapini Sunken Greenhouse?

What Is A Wallapini Sunken Greenhouse

The Wallapini sunken greenhouse is one of the earliest known sheltered greenhouses in the world. They are used all across the globe by farmers and gardeners who hope to harness the sun’s thermal energy and extend their traditional growing season.

sunken greenhouse for plantsThe unique design of these structures is what sets them apart from traditional greenhouses. Similar to Mike Oehler’s original underground house design, the “sunken” aspect of the sunken greenhouse design means that the greenhouse quite literally sinks down into the earth and uses the earth’s mass to benefit the crops in the greenhouse.

Wallapini greenhouses are intentionally designed to retain both heat and cold air. They bring light and heat into the greenhouse and convert it into energy. This self-sustaining process leads to a greenhouse that can regulate its own temperature levels.

History Of The Underground Greenhouse

History Of The Underground Greenhouse

The Wallapini greenhouse was officially given its name in 2002 when a group of student volunteers from the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute went to La Paz, Bolivia, to help local farmers in the area. They departed with the goal of building low-cost pit greenhouses for local farmers to use year-round, and did not fall short of their goal as they created the Wallapini.

underground greenhouse structureThe students were able to design and build a greenhouse structure that helped farmers in La Paz keep their crops warm in the wintertime. They gave their pit greenhouse the name “Wallapini,” as it means “place of warmth” in the indigenous tongue of the people from La Paz.

However, the Wallapini was not the first time that a sheltered greenhouse was used to keep crops warm in all circumstances. One of the earliest recorded examples of an underground greenhouse was built in 1798 at the famous Lyman Estate. The Lyman Estate Greenhouses are some of the oldest surviving sunken greenhouses in the United States.

The design idea caught on all across Massachusetts in the 1800s to protect rare grape and fruit tree varieties from the harsh cold farmers were facing. The first sunken greenhouses were heated with wooden stoves, but many new heating methods have become popularized since then.

Today, many farmers and gardeners choose to embed pit greenhouses into their land to take back control of their growing season and keep the temperature of their crops regulated. There are many different design variations of sun pit greenhouses. However, all sunken greenhouses are designed to regulate temperature in a similar way.

How Does A Wallapini Greenhouse Work?

How Does A Wallapini Greenhouse Work

A traditional greenhouse is built with four glass walls and a glass roof. This basic design may allow a traditional greenhouse to warm up quickly, but it does not give the structure the ability to trap temperature for long periods of time.

On the other hand, pit greenhouses are intentionally designed with one open wall to take in sunlight and one earth bermed wall to insulate thermal energy. Berm greenhouses are ideal for farmers and gardeners who want to strategically extend their growing season longer than their climate at home might allow.

So, how do sunken greenhouses work their magic? The intricate design of the Wallapini greenhouse uses a wide, angled roof to take in sunlight and convert it into solar energy.

wallapini sunken greenhouse design

Additionally, its sides are bermed into the earth so that they trap and insulate the thermal heat under the ground. This allows farmers and gardeners to keep crops warm underground even while the above ground climate is bitter and cold.

Not only does the Wallapini keep crops warm in cold weather, but it is also designed to keep plants cool in the dry heat of the summer. The cold sink is dug into the south side of the sunken greenhouse and allows the structure to keep crops cool and moist.

We know that cold air sinks and heat rises. The Wallapini is designed with a deep welled cold sink to trap the cool air that runs through the front wall of the pit greenhouse in the wintertime and become trapped by the layers of soil at the bottom of the cold sink.

The main interior of the sunken greenhouse is layered with a thin line of gravel that is covered by a growing bed made of topsoil. Each of the crops and plants are either placed in the soil, set on top of raised growing beds, or housed in individual pots.

Wallapini sunken greenhouse design
interior of the sunken greenhouse

Sunken Greenhouse Benefits

Sunken Greenhouse Benefits

There are many reasons why building an underground greenhouse rather than a traditional greenhouse can work wonders for your crops and your garden. The Wallapini greenhouse includes several strategic elements that can aid you in getting the absolute most out of every planting season and maintain the best soil health for your vegetable garden.

how to prepare garden soil

You Can Use A Wallapini Greenhouse Year Round

You Can Use A Wallapini Greenhouse Year Round

The biggest plus that comes from building a sunken greenhouse is that the design keeps the temperature of your crops regulated year-round. With pit greenhouses, you don’t have to worry as much about changes in weather having a negative impact on your crops.

As the Wallapini stores both hot and cold air, it self regulates the temperature of its interior and keeps your crops healthy despite the climate changings outside. This also makes it easier for gardeners to plants crops that may not necessarily be ideal for the climate they live in.

Pit Style Greenhouses Can Be Built Into A Hillside

Pit Style Greenhouses Can Be Built Into A Hillside

When it comes to farming, you typically want to make sure your land is totally flat to best serve your crops. It can be much more difficult to grow plants when you live on a hillside or at a higher altitude. However, sunken greenhouses can be built into a hillside with no issues.

A sunken greenhouse is the perfect solution to farming and planting on a hillside because you can design the Wallapini to work with the curve of the hill. Due to the fact that pit greenhouses are embedded into the earth, you can still lay crops flat underneath the ground, even if the structure is built into a hill or elevated piece of land.

An Underground Greenhouse Means Less Weather Damage

An Underground Greenhouse Means Less Weather Damage

Leaving your crops subject to the elements can lead to devastating results. I’ve been into growing my own vegetables for a while, and there have been too many times when a huge storm would blow through Charlotte and I would have to start over with my crops.

Since the Wallapini is underground, plants are much less likely to suffer from weather damage. They are protected by the earth bermed sides of the sunken greenhouse.

gardening for beginners

A Sunken Greenhouse Is Protected From Critters And Pests

A Sunken Greenhouse Is Protected From Critters And Pests

In a similar vein, keeping your crops underground keeps your precious vegetables more protected from hungry nighttime critters and grazers. As an avid gardener, I’ve spent way too much time using wire fencing and fancy repellants to keep animals out of my stash.

With a sunken greenhouse, your vegetable garden is protected from extra hungry visitors. The bermed walls and the roof over the ground keeps your garden out of the way of creatures roaming around day and night.

The Insulation Of A Wallapini Increases Moisture

The Insulation Of A Wallapini Increases Moisture

Underground greenhouses are designed to harbor an especially moist, humid environment to aid the growth of your crops. When planting above ground, crops can easily become dried out by the sun’s heat.

When crops are regulated underneath the ground, your plants are isolated from the elements, so it’s easier to keep moisture from evaporating back into the atmosphere. This is especially conducive to aquaculture plants that thrive in moist conditions.

What To Plant In An All Year Round Greenhouse

What To Plant In An All Year Round Greenhouse

The key to making the most of a sun pit greenhouse is to know what to plant and when to plant it. You want your plants to be able to thrive!

Mastering the Wallapini greenhouse means understanding the eb and flow of the weather where you live and how to rotate your crop cycle to achieve the most gardening success. It also means looking to gardening and homesteading books, experts, and other resources to help you understand how to manage your pit greenhouse during all months of the year.

fall gardening

Using A Pit Greenhouse In The Summer

Using A Pit Greenhouse In The Summer

When growing vegetables in the summer, you should keep your greenhouse temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit to grow all of your warm-season crops. To have optimal planting success, you’ll want to make sure to check in on all of the systems in your greenhouse that keep it cool.

Check your waterproofing, draining, and ventilation systems in your sunken greenhouse. Proper ventilation, cooling, and air flow is extremely vital to keep your summer crops alive in your Wallapini.

It’s also super easy to over water, under water, or forget to drain your summer crops properly, which could quickly lead to an unsuccessful harvest. Make sure to check in on all of your watering systems during the dry summer months.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that your greenhouse is effectively taking in solar energy and converting it into heat. It’s vital that this process occurs during the summer months so that you are prepared for frigid winters when they come.

Best Summer Crops To Plant In A Wallapini

  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Okra
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Muskmelon Cantaloupes
grow tomatoes in a sunken greenhouse

How To Use A Wallapini In The Fall

How To Use A Wallapini In The Fall

In the autumn months, pay extra attention to the position of your plants on the topsoil grow bed of your sunken greenhouse. Use the waning fall sunlight to your advantage as a gardener by positioning your plants in spots where they receive optimum sunlight.

Another great trick for tackling autumn months is to use deeper containers for fall crops. Deeper containers can provide more water and nutrients to your autumn crops and will give you more gardening success.

Best Fall Crops To Plant In A Sunken Greenhouse

  • Baby Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Turnips
growing beets in a sunken greenhouse

Using A Sunken Greenhouse In The Winter

Using A Sunken Greenhouse In The Winter

For gardeners and farmers, the wintertime is one of the most challenging seasons to navigate. Thankfully, it is the season that best allows a sunken greenhouse to do what it does best.

In the winter months, you’ll want to make sure that you are using the heat stored in the bermed walls of the Wallapini as well as letting cool air sink down into the cold sink to prepare for the return of hot, summer months.

If you happen to be in a climate that is especially cold, you can actually design your sunken greenhouse to work even more effectively in cold climates. Give the interior of your Wallapini an extra layer of stone, earthbags of lava rocks, or any dense material that is able to store heat more effectively than topsoil alone.

Materials like concrete, brick, and tiles require a much higher amount of heat energy to alter their density. Due to their high thermal mass, using these materials in your pit greenhouse walls can act as a thermal battery that keeps crops warm on days with no sun.

Best Winter Crops To Plant In A Wallapini

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Garlic
grow-broccoli-in-a-sunken-greenhouse

How To Use A Wallapini In The Spring

How To Use A Wallapini In The Spring

Similar to the fall, you’re going to want to take advantage of the way the sunlight falls during springtime by positioning your plants to face the light. This will help your spring crop take in enough light to grow successfully.

Springtime is also the perfect time to get everything in order for a new season of planting. Take time in the early spring to set up new planters and garden beds, clear out weeds, mulch, and debris, and begin pruning your plants.

Best Spring Crops To Plant In A Sunken Greenhouse

  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Chard
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Corn
grow onions in a sunken greenhouse

How To Build A Sunken Greenhouse In 10 Steps

How To Build A Sunken Greenhouse

When you’re ready to build your own sunken greenhouse, there are several design elements and aspects of the building process to take into account. You want to design and build a sunken greenhouse that works best for your specific type of land, climate, and planting goals.

build or buy a tiny houseAs a guy who built his own tiny house from scratch, I know that building anything is a huge undertaking. It can be easy to get ahead of yourself with a project like this and end up biting off a lot more than you can chew, leaving you with a half-finished greenhouse and a lot less money than you started with.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try if you feel ready, or that you need a certain level of experience to build something like this. When I started building my tiny house, I had never built anything before in my life! I’m a firm believer that anyone with the time, funds, and dedication is ready to become a DIYer.

All I’m saying is, from someone who knows the money, time, and effort that building things yourself takes, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before diving head first into a huge project like this.

Pit Greenhouse Materials List

Pit Greenhouse Materials List

This tools and materials list is meant for sunken greenhouse with dimensions of 20’x74’. If you’re building a larger or smaller greenhouse, you’ll need to alter the sizes on this materials list to fit your desired pit greenhouse size.

Sunken Greenhouse Building Materials

  • (20) 4” x 16’ poles or PVC pipes to span the roof
  • (3) 3’ x 6’ hinged doors (one is for the 3’ x 5’ vent cover)
  • (3) 3’ x 5’ door frames (two if rear wall vent is not used)
  • (2) 3’ x 6’ door lintels
  • 1700 sq. ft. of 200 micron agrofilm (poly UV plastic)
  • 640 ft. of 1” wood stripping to secure sheeting to poles
  • 30 cubic yds. of gravel for the floor drainage system
  • 100 ft. of drain pipe
  • 1 cubic yd. of gravel or stone to fill the 2 drain sumps
  • 233 cubic yds. of soil will come from the excavation
  • 22 cubic yds. of top soil for planting (8” x 66’ x 12’)
  • 94 cubic yds. for the rammed earth walls
  • 2700 sq. ft. of plastic sheeting to bury for drainage
  • 74 ft. of drain gutter for the lower end of roof
  • Galvanized Nails or weatherproof deck screws
  • 8” x 4” x 12” adobe bricks

Sunken Greenhouse Building Tools

  • Hammer
  • Shovel
  • Picks
  • Saw
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Crowbar
  • Measuring Tape
  • Level
  • Clear Hose
  • Cutting Knife
  • Hose
  • Nozzle
  • Hand Compactor
  • Adobe Form
  • Drill
  • Drill Bits
  • Grade Stakes
  • Nylon String
  • Plow
  • Tractor

tiny house tools

1Evaluate The Land For Sunken Greenhouse

Before building anything for your Wallapini greenhouse, you’re going to want to evaluate the land that you are building it on. Doing this isn’t as much about making sure your land works for your Wallapini, it’s more about learning how to build your Wallapini to work for your land.

evaluate land for a sunken greenhouseThere are several things to consider and check for when it comes to evaluating your sunken greenhouse land. You’ll want to examine the slope of your land, the type of soil that makes up your land, and the climate you live in.

If you are trying to embed your sunken greenhouse into a hill, you’ll want to ensure that the soil in the hill is stable and isn’t under downward pressure. Since the sunken greenhouse is built directly into the earth as opposed to on top of a foundation or solid footing, a wall built in unstable soil or soil under pressure will inevitably collapse.

The last thing you want is to put in all this work building a beautiful greenhouse just for the finished product to fall apart and destroy your land in the process. Check the pressure of your soil beforehand. If the soil is being pressed downward towards the earth, find a different spot to build.

Another thing to check for is the type of soil that you have in your land. If the bottom layer of your soil is made of a wet clay as opposed to dry dirt or sand, your soil is not going to drain water as well.

type of soil for a sunken greenhouseThe ability to drain water when building a Wallapini is so crucial to the longevity of your sunken greenhouse. If water continues to seep into the walls and floors of your Wallapini without being fully drained, your whole greenhouse will fall apart.

If your soil beds are made of clay, don’t fret! It’s an easy fix. It will be in your best interest to add drains around the perimeter of your greenhouse to allow water to escape from your Wallapini.

I would recommend building French drains to get the best results. French drains are trenches with perforated pipes that are wrapped in landscaping fabric and work wonders to drain water from the interior of an underground greenhouse.

Another extremely vital thing to consider is anything on your land that could get in the way of your greenhouse roof getting sunlight. Make sure that the Wallapini is located so that the sunlight is not being blocked by trees, other buildings, or any other structure. Be sure to observe the sun throughout a full year to understand how the light falls during different seasons.

2Mark The Outline Of Your Underground Greenhouse

Once you’ve evaluated your soil type and taken necessary precautions to protect your Wallapini, go ahead and mark off the land area you plan to use. Measure out a 12.5’ by 66’ growing area, marking it with four corner stakes and your nylon string.

Next, “square off” the area with measuring tape or pre marked rope so you can clearly see the outline of your sunken greenhouse exterior. The string line serves as your visual for the area that will need to be dug out.

3Choose Your Sunken Greenhouse Design

Everything you do from here on out is really going to depend on the type of underground greenhouse you choose to build. The Benson Institute’s traditional Wallapini is built entirely into the earth, with the interior sinking deeply into the subsoil and an angled roof built at ground level.

sunken greenhouse layout
pit style greenhouse
sunken earth greenhouse
earth sheltered greenhouse

However, you can also choose to build an earth sheltered greenhouse, which originates from Mike Oehler’s book, The Earth Sheltered Greenhouse. An earth sheltered greenhouse has one entirely earth bermed wall with its remaining walls supported by wooden beams that extend aboveground.

earth sheltered wallapini greenhouse
sunken berm greenhouse

Whether you build your sunken greenhouse entirely underground or berm one side while raising the rest of the structure, the most important element to consider is if your roof is built where the sun’s rays will hit at a 90-degree angle. I’ll explain more on this in the coming steps.

4Excavate The Hole For Your Underground Greenhouse

Now it’s time to start digging out the interior of your Wallapini. Obviously, the depth of your dig is going to depend on your design type.

If you’re building a traditional Wallapini, the main hole of your sunken greenhouse should be dug one to two feet deeper than your growing surface. This is super important because it allows room for rocks and gravel to fill in underneath the topsoil.

mini backhoe for digging sunken greenhouseIf you are excavating your Wallapini by hand or by shovel, a major tip is to wet your dirt beforehand. This will make your dig easier because the water will make your dirt much more malleable as you dig.

The excavation will go much faster with a tractor or backhoe. However, those tools can be expensive if you don’t own them already, so the method you choose is up to you. If you’re friends with any local farmers, now’s the time to lean on them!

As you dig up endless layers of soil, go ahead and pile that soil onto the side of the hole that you plan to berm into the earth. This will make it way easier on you in the long run because you won’t have to lug huge piles of soil around.

5Create Your Sunken Greenhouse Walls

Again, this comes down to your choice of design. If you’re building a traditional Wallapini, make sure that all four vertical walls of the dig are sloped from the bottom of the hole to the outside at the top.

digging channels for earthen greenhouseA minimum of a 6” slope from bottom to top is what experts suggest for a 6’ high wall. Doing this is going to reduce soil caving in or crumbling off from the walls over time.

Make sure not forget to dig out two channels needed for the door entrances at opposite ends of your Wallapini. If you forget to dig out door holes in your walls, you’ll create a totally insulated greenhouse that you won’t ever be able to enter!

You’ll also need to dig holes for your wall posts. Make the holes for your wall posts about three feet deep. If your holes start to fill with water, add PVC socks to the 6” x 6” pine posts to prevent your wood from taking in moisture and rotting from the inside out.

Use your clear hose to make sure each grade stake is set at the same level. If one or more walls are going to be rammed as the soil is removed, also lay out and mark those spots. After setting the posts, fill in the areas around the holes with cement.

After adding beams to your earth sheltered greenhouse, you’ll build out three wooden walls to surround the sides of the greenhouse that aren’t bermed into the ground. My friends who have built their own underground greenhouses suggest rough red and white oak boards for your exterior walls. Pine or hemlock wood can also work really well for a sunken greenhouse.

6Add A Roof To Your Underground Greenhouse

The roof is arguably the most important elements of a successful underground greenhouse. The positioning of your roof is so vital in ensuring that your plants stay happy and healthy.

Make sure that the angle of the roof is approximately 39º to 40º so it will be perpendicular to the sun’s rays on the winter solstice. The slope and the longer side of your roof should face toward the winter sun to gain the best light exposure underground. This means you should angle your roof southward if you’re in the northern hemisphere and northward if you’re in the southern hemisphere.

sunken greenhouse roof angle

When actually building your rooftop, it is important to use material that will effectively trap light and effectively store it within the Wallapini. There are lots of different material types you can use to give your sunken greenhouse optimal sun exposure from the roof.

Sunken Greenhouse Roofing Options

  • Polycarbonate Panels
  • Traditional Glass
  • Double-Layered Acrylic
  • Suntuf Panels
  • Fiberglass Panels
  • Plastic Sheeting
Sunken Greenhouse Roofing Options

7Dig Out Your Cold Sink

Digging a cold sink is an integral part of making your sunken greenhouse a success. Because the greenhouse is built under the ground, the cold air will naturally collect at the very bottom of your structure. As the cold air migrates down your Wallapini, it will create an unwanted frost pocket around your vegetables.

This is where your cold sink comes in handy. Raise your garden beds up and dig below the pathways to create a long tube for your cold sink. Wherever your pathways are, dig them deeper and then build a board walk over them.

Doing this will allow the cold air to sink to the lowest point of your structure instead of layering frost on your crop. It will also help you store cold air to assist your crops in the summer heat.

8Add Doors And Floors To Your Sunken Greenhouse

When installing your doors in a traditional Wallapini greenhouse design, build out the door frame to be about 2” of thick board stock with holes drilled at the top, middle and bottom of each side.

Then, drive wooden stakes, dowels, or rebar through these six holes into the bermed wall to make sure the doors are level. Make sure that your doors fit as airtight as possible. Fill in any air cracks found around the door frames with adobe mud, clay, sand, or straw.

When it comes to flooring, there are lots of different options you can choose to use to lay underneath your topsoil and trap heat.

Materials To Use For A Sunken Greenhouse Floor

  • Gravel
  • Sandstone
  • Lava Rocks
  • Limestone
  • Fieldstone
  • Sand
gravel floor for sunken greenhouse

9Make Sure You Have Proper Ventilation In Your Wallapini

Proper ventilation in a sunken greenhouse is a beast of its own. Since the majority of your structure lives underground, you’ll need to take extra precautions to make sure that you are achieving the best air flow possible to keep your veggies alive and thriving.

Best Ventilation Options For An Underground Greenhouse

  • Add open doors on the east and west sides
  • Install a vent in the top back wall
  • Build a hatch door in the upper north corner
  • Add a chimney above the apex of the roof
venting a sunken greenhouse

Each option has pros and cons when it comes to the amount of work it takes to build, the cost of materials, and optimal airflow. Achieving the best ventilation in your sunken greenhouse will likely come down to knowing your needs and understanding the best option for your design and land setup.

10Seal Off Holes And Start Planting!

Once the main structure of your greenhouse is finished, you’ll want to reevaluate for any air leaks and seal up spaces with holes and gaps. It will be easy to tell which areas of your greenhouse need patching because you should see steam escaping from the outer holes of your Wallapini.

A great way to seal up walls and trusses is by using tung oil or natural citrus solvent. Neither of these products fume harmful chemicals as your greenhouse begins to heat up.

You can also wrap basic pond liner around the entire greenhouse structure for an extra layer of sealant. If you do this, cover your pond liner with plywood to keep from ripping any holes in the rubber. Once all your holes are sealed up, it’s time to start planting crops in your beautiful sunken greenhouse!

finished greenhouse structure
sunken greenhouse design

Buy A Sunken Greenhouse Kit

Buy A Sunken Greenhouse Kit

If those 10 steps seemed like an ungodly amount of labor that you aren’t up to, don’t worry! One of the easiest ways to be a proud owner of a sunken greenhouse without having to put in so much work is to invest in a sunken greenhouse kit.

Sunken Greenhouse Kits To Buy:

How Much Does A Sunken Greenhouse Cost To Build?

How Much Does A Sunken Greenhouse Cost To Build

The overall cost of your sunken greenhouse will depend heavily on the design you choose, the materials you use, and whether or not you choose to hire out for labor costs.

For example, if you only use unlined, inclined, interior earthen walls, your overall cost is going to be much cheaper than if you purchase wooden walls to line your greenhouse. According to experts, the cheapest roofing material for a Wallapini is eucalyptus poles. If you want to use polycarbonate panels, on the other hand, that’s going to raise your price.

As a general estimate, you could probably build an extremely basic, entirely dirt rimmed Wallapini for as low as $200 or $300. On the expensive side, you could create a wood lined, fully glazed, sturdy earth sheltered greenhouse with a polycarbonate roof for around $15,000 or $20,000 dollars.

Additional Resources For An Earth Sheltered Greenhouse

Additional Resources For An Earth Sheltered Greenhouse

I may know a fair amount about building and gardening, but I’ve yet to build a sunken greenhouse on my own. I thought I’d include some additional resources from experts who have built and managed their own Wallapini greenhouses.

Your Turn!

  • How would building a sunken greenhouse benefit your garden?
  • How will you choose to design and lay out your Wallapini?

Do I Need Batteries For My Solar Panel System?

Do I Need Batteries For My Solar Panel System?

Do I Need Batteries For My Solar Panel System

NAVIGATION

Imagine you’re in the middle of the biggest storm of the season and your whole neighborhood has lost power. Luckily, you’re still able to watch TV, heat up your dinner, and check in online, all thanks to your solar battery bank.

Whether or not you need batteries for your solar panel system is an extremely common question, especially for folks who are just getting started with solar. But this is a simple question with a complicated answer, so I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Living off the grid with solar has been my life for the last decade. I’ve learned a lot about this way of living and batteries are at the core of making that happen. Here’s what I’ve learned.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Do I Need Batteries For My Solar Panel System?

Do I Need Batteries For My Solar Panel System

Not all solar panel systems need a battery backup to work effectively, so how do you decipher if you need one? There are so many benefits to using a solar power battery bank, like grid independence, energy security, and lower electricity bills. However, this doesn’t mean batteries are required to go solar.

In my opinion, battery backups are the way to go. A solar battery bank can help you avoid pulling expensive electricity from the grid when your solar panel system isn’t generating enough power to meet your needs, which helps offset the initial cost of batteries, particularly if you have variable power rates with your energy provider.

Solar battery backups will likely reduce your carbon footprint, reduce your electricity bill, and help you gain energy security should the grid short circuit.

best solar panel system for my house

Are Solar Batteries Worth It?

Are Solar Batteries Worth It

Just because battery backups are great for me doesn’t mean they’re great for everyone. In order to decide if you need batteries for your solar panel systems, it is important to understand what battery backups actually do.

As a general rule of thumb, experts say that home batteries are financially “worth it” when any two or more of these conditions are met

  • You experience power outages
  • Your peak and off-peak utility power rates differ
  • You qualify for cash incentives for installing a battery
  • You are installing batteries alongside a home solar system
solar panels on a house roof

When it comes down to the numbers, you often have to make a decision about batteries based on financial realities. In some cases, the return on investment (ROI) is short and then you’re saving money every month after recouping your initial investment.

tiny-house-solar-panel-setupThe power company wanted to charge me $15,000 to run a power line to my home. Instead, I spent that same money on a solar array and batteries, which was an instant ROI, and I haven’t had a power bill since. Crunching the numbers, that’s $25,000 I didn’t have in power bills since I went solar!

In other cases, you might realize that instead of batteries, you could just buy more panels and sell the excess power back to the power company. Then you can use those credits when batteries would normally help, using “the grid” as a quasi-storage system.

For me, being off the grid, batteries were required since I didn’t have a grid to pull from. But even if I were grid tied, batteries would be a cost I’d shoulder because it makes life much more comfortable.

tiny house solar

Do Solar Panels Work During A Power Outage?

Do Solar Panels Work During A Power Outage

I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve gotten a call from one of my neighbors asking if they could come charge their phones because the power had been out for a while and I had no idea! My air conditioning would be running, I was watching a movie and cooking dinner like nothing had happened.

The magic of the battery backup is that your power can be accessed even when the grid fails. When your home doesn’t need all the energy being produced by your panels, the excess energy is automatically stored in the battery bank to be tapped into at any time.

power outageIf your panels are connected to your local utility grid and it goes out, they are designed to stop funneling power so that the power doesn’t feed back into the grid. When the grid fails due to a natural disaster, overload, or maintenance work, your panels will stop producing energy in order to protect utility workers fixing the lines.

There are only two ways to continue to get power from your solar panels during a grid outage: using a battery or using an inverter with battery capacity. The only inverter type I know of with the capability to keep your lights on during an outage is the Enphase IQ8s.

When you add a solar battery backup to your solar PV system, you will still be able to access electricity in your home even when your neighborhood is suffering from a power outage. This is because the battery backups literally store energy for your home to access, independent of your city’s main grid.

10 reasons to live off-grid

How Do Solar Panels With Battery Storage Work?

How Do Solar Panels With Battery Storage Work

If solar battery banks are so magical, how do they actually work? A battery system regulates the flow of electricity during an outage, allowing your solar array to stay powered, and by storing excess energy when more is being generated than the demands of the home.

Your solar panels take in the solar energy from the sun and convert it to DC power. That DC power then flows to the charge controller, which regulates how much power is stored in your battery backups and how much goes to your inverter.

Your charge controller saves your battery backups from overcharging or over discharging electricity. When the energy is discharged, it goes to your inverter. Then, your inverter converts the DC power to AC power, which your house is able to use. This is the flow of power for systems with DC coupled batteries.

However, some systems are AC coupled or have their own inverter solution, in which case the DC power moves from your panels into a solar inverter, then a battery inverter, and then straight into your battery bank. From there, the power flows through another battery inverter, and is then discharged as useable energy in your home.

solar panel system parts list

Whether or not the battery bank is installed in the circuit before or after the inversion to AC is dependent on the type of battery and inverter that you use. Both setups certainly have their own pros and cons.

Is Solar Power Battery Backup Right For Me?

Is Solar Power Battery Backup Right For Me

One thing I wish I knew before going solar is that the decision to do so is actually made up of many smaller decisions. There’s the decision of going on or off grid, backing up with batteries or a generator, type of inverter, charge controller, and batteries you’ll use, how many batteries to buy, and much more.

I’ve ground mounted 15 panels on my property that are backed up with flooded lead acid batteries, but I didn’t come to that decision overnight. I did a ton of research to understand what method would be best for me.

These decisions are often navigated more easily with the help of a local solar provider. They understand a lot of these details, are familiar with your local codes, and can help you make the right decisions.

best solar panel system batteries

Grid Tied Solar Vs Off-Grid Solar

Grid Tied Solar Vs Off-Grid Solar

It’s a common misconception that using solar panels means you’ve gone off grid. In actuality, you can use solar panels both on and off the utility grid.

With the off-grid method, battery banks are required to store solar energy. However, batteries are still an option with the grid-tied method if you want to reduce your dependency on the grid without disconnecting fully.

solar panel off grid setupThe primary difference between grid-tied solar and off-grid solar is where your solar panels store their energy. With the grid-tied method, the energy your solar panels create is fed into the utility grid and is used to generate electricity for homes in your area.

In return for feeding your solar energy into the main grid, you’ll receive credit that you can access anytime. This is how you “store” energy to use when your panels are no longer getting sun in the middle or the night or on an especially cloudy day.

The main setback with grid-tied solar panels is that you’ll be affected by power outages. If the main grid goes down, your grid-tied system will shut off in order to prevent energy from feeding into the system and potentially harming utility workers. However, many folks find this easier than having to invest in and keep track of battery backups.

The more common method for storing solar energy is going entirely off grid, but make sure you’re ready to take this leap before deciding to disconnect. In some cases, you may be required to remain on the grid by local authorities.

With off-grid solar, you aren’t using grid connection to store extra energy, so backup batteries are required. The main reasons I see friends lean toward the off-grid route are avoiding power outages, lowering electricity prices, and having less involvement from code enforcement. For me, the off-grid method was really the only way to go because of where my house was located.

Backup Generators Vs Solar Battery Backup

Backup Generators Vs Solar Battery Backup

Another core decision when installing solar is what method you want to use to back up your home electricity for those moments when your main system fails. Backup methods are highly recommended to produce greater energy independence and generally be prepared for power outages or solar panel failure.

There are two main ways that people tend to back up their electricity: a whole-home generator and a solar battery backup system. I used a portable backup generator for the first two years I used solar panels. Later I opted to upgrade my system because portable generators require more maintenance that I cared for.

solar panel batteries pro tip

“We recommend battery backups over a generator. Battery will instantaneously kick on and supply the critical loads for the home. Gas or oil burning generators often take some time to turn on.”

– Matt C., EnergyPal

Backup generators provide electricity by burning a fossil fuel like natural gas or propane. Some backup generators turn on automatically when an outage is detected, while others are turned on manually. Some higher end inverters will have an automatic start for generators when your batteries get below a certain threshold.

Depending on your setup and budget, it can go either way. I honestly prefer the solar battery backup method over a backup generator, but a combination of the two is even better.

Benefits Of A Backup Generator

  • Backup power on demand
  • Can utilize existing gas line
  • Low installation costs
  • Can be added to any home

Disadvantages Of A Generator

  • Noise
  • Will incur gas costs
  • Maintenance
  • Burns fossil fuels

The solar battery backup method is totally different and is what I tend to recommend for those going solar. Batteries will store and disperse the renewable electricity generated by your solar panels.

Solar battery storage makes sure that your house uses as much of the renewable electricity coming from your solar panels as it needs. They can be used when your panels have low solar output, like at night or on an especially cloudy day.

Pros Of Solar Battery Backup

  • Low maintenance
  • Detects power outages
  • Decreases your carbon footprint
  • Qualifies for solar tax credit
  • Quiet operation

Cons Of Solar Battery Backup

  • Higher cost
  • Less predictable
  • Battery lifespan ends
  • Installation costs
  • Poorer charge retention

Choosing The Right Inverter To Work With Battery Backups

How To Choose The Right Inverter To Work With Battery Backups

Whether you choose to go on or off grid with your solar system, it is vital that you have a high-quality inverter. Your inverter is the apparatus that’s in charge of creating power that you can actually use in your house. It does this by transferring the high voltage DC power from your panels into AC power that is safe and useable in your home.

So, how do you make sure you’ve chosen the best inverter for your panels?

Inverters come in size ratings, measured in watts. As a very basic rule of thumb, you want your inverter to roughly match your solar panel wattage. This means if you have a 2000-watt solar panel system, you’ll need at least a 2000-watt inverter to successfully convert your DC power to AC power.

It’s also a good idea to give yourself some wiggle room incase you want to add some more panels later. If you’re choosing a good quality inverter from any of the name brands, you’re going to have a “smart” inverter, meaning it will be able to dynamically adjust as needed up to a certain level.

Inverters typically have a typical load rating that it can handle constantly and then a spike/peak rating that can handle higher wattage for short periods if there are any surges.

simple electrical for tiny houses

Once you know the wattage needed for your inverter, you can look into which type of inverter to invest in. Inverters for solar panel systems can be broken down into three basic types. A string or single inverter will need enough wattage to cover all of your panels, while a microinverter system only needs enough wattage for the panel it’s connected with.

Inverter Types:

  • Micro-inverters (Grid tied)
  • String inverters (Grid tied)
  • Hybrid inverters (Off grid)

What Are Microinverters?

What Are Microinverters

A microinverter is, as can be inferred from the title, the smallest kind of inverter. A microinverter is about the size of a DVD player and can handle energy conversion of one to two solar panels (about 120/230V, 60Hz of AC power).

They’re called microinverters due to the fact that the conversion from DC to AC power is done by several small inverters as opposed to one large inverter handling the entire load. There are many advantages to choosing this route as your solar inverter of choice.

solar panel systems pro tip

“We recommend microinverters, as they allow maximum energy production during the times of partial shade, have great warranties, and are proven in the residential space.”

– Matt C., EnergyPal

Microinverters have many advantages in any size home. For one, micro-inverters are easily grid-tied, so you don’t have to disconnect from the grid to use them.

Another plus is that if one inverter in your micro-inverter fails, it will not disrupt your entire system and will continue to power your home, which would not be the case with a string inverter.

What Are String Inverters Or Central Inverters?

What Are String Inverters Or Central Inverters

Grid-tied string inverters, also called central inverters, are the most popular type of inverter for a solar panel system. Many folks like this inverter type because of the way it streamlines clean AC power straight to the electricity grid.

Additionally, grid-tied string inverters allow self-consumption of your solar electricity in your panels. They’re about the size of a bread box and are mounted to your wall. String inverters are also connected to the utility grid and to the house power circuit, so you don’t have to go off grid if you don’t want to.

Another reason many people like this option is the price. String inverters tend to be the most affordable option when you take all elements into consideration. Smaller solar panel systems may find a more expensive microinverter to be worth the increase in price, but for medium-sized or larger homes, a string inverter is the way to go.

While string inverters are good for many applications, I still often suggest people make the leap to the third type of inverter.

What Are Hybrid Inverters?

What Are Hybrid Inverters

The third type of inverter is the hybrid inverter, which is the type I use (Schneider SW 4024 Inverter). Hybrids are strategically designed to deliver AC power off the grid and protect your home from electricity loss or power outages. Hybrid inverters always require a battery for electricity storage, as it doesn’t store any power in the utility grid.

solar power battery managementHybrid inverters are the most intelligent type of inverter out there, because they’re designed with the ability to regulate the charge and discharge current of the battery on its own. Just like with a grid-tied inverter, hybrids take DC electricity from your solar panels and convert it to AC power.

However, hybrid inverters go a step farther. They have their own magic touch, as they’re able to feed DC power into the battery during charging.

This means that if your panels are not getting enough energy from the sun, the inverter picks up on that and automatically pulls extra DC electricity from the battery, converting it into AC power your house can use.
Many of these inverters also have the ability to start up a whole house generator when your batteries get too low. They can handle a wide range of setups and, in my opinion, are worth the investment.

It’s important to note that you can’t just swap a string inverter with a hybrid inverter, as they require different wiring. However, if you can swing the extra cost, hybrid inverters can end up being worth your while. They provide power backups when the electricity grid fails and solve issues stemming from renewable energy variability.

Does Solar With Battery Storage Use Charge Controllers?

Do Solar Panels With Battery Storage Use Charge Controllers

When I first made the decision to go solar in my own tiny house, I was confused as to whether or not I actually needed a charge controller. Not all panel systems need them.

soalr panel charge controllerThe distinction is this: If you have batteries, you’ll need to have one because a charge controller manages them.
I liken a charge controller to an amusement park ride operator for your solar panel system. A ride operator regulates how many people can board the ride before it reaches max capacity. Similarly, a charge controller regulates how much energy can be safely stored in your battery backups and how much can be fed to your home through an inverter.

If you aren’t relying on battery backups, a charge controller isn’t necessary. They’re best used with battery backups such as for van life or a small, off-grid tiny home.

Choosing The Right Charge Controller For Solar Panel Batteries

Choosing The Right Charge Controller For Solar Panel Batteries

If you are using a solar power battery bank for home, you’ll want to choose a charge controller that can give your batteries as long a life as possible by preventing them from overcharging or discharging too much power.

There are two types of charge controllers:

  • Pulse width modulation (PWM)
  • Maximum power point tracking (MPPT)

The PWM is an older style and costs less, but it’s not as efficient the MPPT. MPPT charge controllers are the most common these days and can gain you up to 30% more power than the PWM controllers, so I would recommend going with the MPPT.

At the end of the day, both will work fine with your solar panel batteries, but the MPPT is worth the investment. Once you decide between the PWM and the MPPT, you’ll need to figure out the amperage needed for your charge controller.

Calculate Amperage With:

  • The wattage of the solar array
  • The battery bank voltage

Use this formula to calculate the amperage

Watts / Volts = Amps

Take the total watts of the solar array divided by the voltage of the battery bank. This will give you the output current of the charge controller that you need.

pro tip for solar batteries

“Always make sure you have a charge controller that is large enough to handle the amount of power and current produced by your panels.”

– Matt C., EnergyPal

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, you can typically find a sizing tool on the manufacturing website to make sure you’re on the right track. You can also call the company if you don’t see the info online or want to speak to a real person.

After you figure the type and size you’ll need, it just comes down to brand. There are so many makes and models of charge controllers out there.

I use the Schneider MPPT 60 Charge Controller for my panels. I found it to be super easy to install and it was part of the same product line as my inverter so it just .worked out of the box without any fuss. However, there are a ton of great brands out there that can give you the results you’re seeking.

How Much Do Solar Batteries Cost?

How Much Do Solar Batteries Cost

Your solar battery cost is going to depend on which type of batteries you choose, how many you buy, and what it costs to install the type you roll with.

solar panel system pro tip

“Government incentives, special battery program rebates, and additional savings from rate arbitrage allow the solar battery to quickly pay for itself.”

– Matt C., EnergyPal

The average cost of solar batteries ranges from about $5,000 to $7,000, not including installation costs. However, don’t just consider the upfront costs when deciding if you want battery backups.

Consider the gross price, the price per relative capacity, the installation costs, the cost for any additional equipment, and the longevity of the battery when factoring the overall solar battery cost.

How Many Solar Batteries Are Needed To Power A House?

How Many Solar Batteries Are Needed To Power A House

Understanding how many batteries you’ll need to power your home will also factor into your solar battery cost. The number you’ll need will depend on the size of your home and your specific electricity needs. One battery usually won’t cut it — you’re going to need a whole series of them in most cases.

batteries for solar powered houseThe number of batteries comes down to what you want to power when the power is out. Anything that deals with heating and cooling, or cooking are going to be very intensive power loads. Practically speaking I’d suggest not trying to power them from batteries, but have an on-demand generator.

Your fridge, freezer, ceiling fans and lights (if they’re LED), modern TVs, and mobile electronics (phone, laptops, tablets) will be a moderate load and can reasonably be powered with a larger battery set. This setup is a really practical approach to battery backs because it keeps your food cold, a fan going and entertainment and communications ups when the power goes out.

If you want to go off-grid completely and rely on your batteries as your main energy source, I would say you’ll need anywhere from eight to 15 batteries. As an off-grider who lives in a tiny house, my system uses 12 batteries as my main source of energy and I have been satisfied with that.

How Long Do Solar Panel Batteries Last?

How Long Do Solar Panel Batteries Last

Generally, solar batteries last anywhere between five and 15 years. However, different battery types are going to have different lifespans.

Lithium-ion batteries will last the longest, typically 10 or more years. Flooded lead acid batteries can have a lifespan anywhere from three years all the way up to 12 years, depending on the manufacturing process. AGM batteries have the shortest lifespan at about three to five years.

best solar panel sytem for my house

Solar Battery Types: Choosing The Best Solar Battery

Choosing The Best Solar Battery Type

Once you decide to back up your solar panels with batteries, next up is determining which type of batteries to use. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type, but these are the basics I believe you should know about each type when trying to make your choice.

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are typically used in laptops and cellphones, but they’ve been used more and more lately as solar power battery banks. Lithium-ion batteries are one of the more expensive kinds out there, but the advantages tend to justify the higher price tag, particularly as their prices come down.

The drawback with using lithium-ion batteries is that they require a special charging process which will need to be followed exactly if you are using a solar panel to charge it. On the other hand, lithium batteries can handle deeper discharges, so you need less overall capacity than you would with a comparable lead-acid battery bank.

The biggest draw for me is that they are a sealed battery, so you don’t have to worry about topping off with water like I do with my lead acid batteries.

Lithium Battery Advantages

  • Longer lifespan
  • Faster charge
  • No maintenance
  • Efficient power usage
  • Deeper discharges
  • No off-gassing/ventilation
lithium ion battery for solar panel systems
solar panel power battery pro tip

“We recommend Lithium-ion batteries for home storage. There are a couple different lithium-ion chemistries, but the chemistry that has emerged as the best mix of price, reliability, safety and ability to cycle is lithium iron phosphate.”

– Matt C., EnergyPal

Flooded Lead Acid Batteries

Flooded Lead Acid Batteries

Flooded Lead Acid batteries (FLA) are the most common batteries used for off-grid solar setups. These batteries are designed to handle daily charge cycling and work well for folks who like to be hands on with their system.

Back when I bought my batteries, lead acid batteries were the way to go with solar panels. At that time, lithium-ion was very expensive, so lead acid was the only reasonable option. I use twelve Trojan L-16 6v 370 AH Flooded Lead Acid Batteries in my setup.

They do require a little bit of extra maintenance, but for me, the low price and high efficiency is worth the extra work. I tend to like being hands on with my house maintenance because I know I can do it and like to have that autonomy, but if that’s not you, some of the other options may be the better move.

Lead Acid Battery Advantages

  • Most affordable
  • Recyclable
  • Easy to dispose of
  • Highly reliable
  • Prevents overcharging
Flooded Lead Acid Batteries

One main thing to note with flooded lead is that the plates of every cell in the battery must be submerged in water in order to keep working (this is where the “flooded” part of the name comes from).

You’ll need to add water at least every three or so months to keep the plates submerged, but I would recommend checking on them once a month to make sure they are doing their thing.

AGM Batteries

AGM Batteries

AGM stands for absorbent glass mat batteries. The glass mat technology is what allows this type of battery to be spill proof. The biggest difference between AGM batteries and standard lead acid batteries is the level of maintenance they require.

AGM batteries are completely sealed, and you’ll never have to check water levels or deal with expelled gas like you do if you choose to use the lead acid route. AGM is a great option is you don’t want to spend a ton of money and also don’t want to constantly check in on your panel system.

AGM Battery Advantages

  • Inexpensive
  • Light weight
  • Spill proof
  • Non hazardous
  • Self-contained
  • Handles temperature changes
agm battery for solar

Tesla Power Wall

Tesla Power Wall

The Tesla Power Wall is kind of in its own category when it comes to solar battery backups. It’s not just a battery, but an integrated battery system that stores your solar energy and protects your power when the grid goes down, as any battery backup can do.

It’s an extremely popular choice because the system is so intricate and tends to be fail proof. There are many reasons people love this battery brand; it’s all the rage in the modern solar energy world.

One of the main reasons people choose to go the Powerwall route is that it has one of the highest efficiencies and reliability as far as solar battery systems go. The major downside? It’s expensive.

Users argue whether or not the Powerwall is worth the investment in the long run. When you break it down, you’ll net $358 in annual savings and pay off the Powerwall in 31 years. This means it would likely take four times the warranty period for the Powerwall to actually pay itself off.

For some, the high quality is worth the expense. For me, I went with a more affordable option that still gave me good battery life, charge, and efficiency for my solar panel system.

Tesla Power Wall Advantages

  • Saves money over time
  • Increases panel efficiency
  • Supports larger loads of power
  • High efficiency
Tesla Power Wall

Another drawback with Tesla is that there are often long wait times with the supply chain, and it’s not yet available in every area. If you’re in no hurry, this isn’t a concern, but if you’re trying to get your system ready fast, you may want to go another route.

Check out these brands if you’re looking for a similar integrated battery system, but don’t want to wait as long as you would for Tesla’s installation:


Your Turn!

  • Do you want battery storage for your solar panel system?
  • How many batteries will you need in your solar battery backup?

Homesteading Book Review: The Best Books To Help You Become Self Sufficient

Homesteading Book Review: The Best Books To Help You Become Self Sufficient

homesteading book review

The practice of homesteading can find its way into one’s life in many different ways. For some, being a homesteader looks like producing your own food, making your own clothes, managing a small hobby farm, or generating your own power. For others, the journey towards self-sufficiency might be as simple as adding a vertical garden of climbing peas to your apartment balcony.

I started out by adding chickens next to my small raised bed, then integrated other versions of homesteading into my life gradually. The process was a slow one, but that made it fun and manageable.

Start small. Take baby steps to start your homestead. Pick a skill you’re wanting to learn and engage with a book from that list, then see what happens. Happy reading!

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Homesteading can be life changing if you give it the chance, but, like anything, the first step is to learn. I’ve compiled a list of what I feel are the most helpful books for those looking to get into homesteading, and sorted them by category.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

Homesteading Books For Beginners

Homesteading Books For Beginners

Homesteading entails many different areas of work and varieties of DIYing, which can all seem a little overwhelming to a beginner. This booklist includes guides that are broken down simply, ideal for someone who wants to start a self-sufficient life but is looking for some guidance on how to get started.

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

by Carla Emery

If I had a friend who was getting into homesteading and asked for my advice, this is likely the first read I’d recommend. Carla’s encyclopedia includes detailed instructions for a plethora of important homesteader skillsets, including canning and preserving food, gardening, growing your own food, beekeeping, cooking on a wood stove, raising livestock, milling flour, tapping maple trees, and much more.


New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency

New Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency

by John Seymour

With the newest version published in 2019, John’s Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency is full of comprehensive information about life as a homesteader. The guide also includes detailed instructions for various elements of the lifestyle, like how to create an urban organic garden or how to harness natural energy.


The Homesteading Handbook

The Homesteading Handbook

by Abigail Gehring

I know firsthand that life can quickly become noisy, chaotic, and overwhelming. This read delves deeper than the mere process of minimization — it’s about what that process can do for you.

Dana elaborates on the reasons why decluttering can often feel difficult. She writes about the ways our emotions get in the way of creating a clutter-free life for ourselves, and ways to combat these mental roadblocks.


Mini Farming On Quarter An Acre

Mini Farming On ¼ An Acre

by Brett Markham

If the self-sufficient lifestyle of homesteading is appealing to you, but you don’t have a ton of land to work off of, this book is for you. Brett walks you through ways that having less land doesn’t have to limit you when it comes to homesteading.

Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers what’s essential for beginners to know, like buying and saving seeds, crop rotation, farm planning, seasonal gardening, crop rotation, and many other basic farming need to knows.


The Backyard Homestead

The Backyard Homestead

by Carleen Madigan

With several different editions including an all-inclusive guide to raising livestock, growing your own food, kitchen know-how, building projects, and a seasonal planner, Carleen’s The Backyard Homestead series is one of the best guides for beginner homesteaders. Each guide includes step-by-step instructions for the topic it covers, along with pictures and diagrams for you to follow.

Homesteading Books On Buying And Managing Land

Homesteading Books On Buying And Managing Land

Owning, managing, tending to, and working off of your land is the first step to becoming a successful homesteader. Without your own land, it’s hard to maintain a self-sufficient life. These homesteading books will help you locate quality farmland and gain tips for keeping it up on your own.

Finding Good Farmland

Finding Good Farmland

Larkin Hansen

Finding Good Farmland covers every aspect you should consider before buying your own farmland, including government regulations, residential concerns from the surrounding area where you’re searching, soil conditions, and ways to budget. This read is a great self-checker if you’re looking for quality farmland and want to ensure you’ve thought through the basics and the details.


Five Acres and Independence

Five Acres and Independence

by Maurice Grenville Kains

Maurice provides an easy-to-understand view of what small-scale farming entails practically. This read helps you evaluate land economically and agriculturally, guiding you in making an informed purchase. You’ll learn suggestions for land management like draining the land or improving soil quality, suggestions for when to grow seasonal crops, tips for raising goats, chickens, and bees on a small-scale farm, as well as marketing tips for farmers.


Land Buying Tips From the Pros

Land Buying Tips From the Pros

by Pat Porter

Pat’s book will give you specific information about different types of land and what to watch for when thinking about investing. No two types of land are the same, and purchasing a plot comes with a lot of need-to-knows about that specific land type.

The bulk of this book is a compilation of tips from experts on budgeting for rural land based on phone calls Pat had with these eight different experts.

Gardening Books For The Homesteader

Gardening Books For The Homesteader

Growing your own produce from a garden is a huge aspect of homesteading. For me, working in my yard and garden is super cathartic, but it’s also a huge undertaking. Wisdom from expert authors about the best times to plant each crop, tilling and fertilizing methods, tips for crop rotation, and much more will be extremely helpful when creating your first garden.

Organic Gardening For Beginners

Organic Gardening For Beginners

by Lisa Lombardo

Organic Gardening For Beginners opens with an overview of the most popular types of organic gardening, as well as the benefits and setbacks to each. This section is helpful for beginner gardeners to decide which method works in their space.

Lisa also provides explanations to several natural growth methods like controlling pests without chemicals, and a crop-by-crop inventory that tells beginners what they need to know about each plant and vegetable to start growing.


Growing Vegetables The First Time Gardeners Guide

Growing Vegetables:

The First Time Gardeners Guide

by Jessica Sowards

Jessica’s YouTube Channel, Roots and Refuge Farm, is filled with wisdom for the first-time gardener, and so is her book. I would recommend this quick read to anyone who is looking for the most basic information when it comes to growing your own food in a garden. Conversational in style, Jessica delves into common questions like where to put your garden, how to prep your soil, and how to keep pests and critters out of your home garden.


The Flower Gardeners Bible

The Flower Gardener’s Bible

by The Flower Gardener’s Bible

The ultimate flower gardener’s handbook, Lewis walks readers through everything from what to think about when choosing your growing site to increasing the lifespan of your flowers. The books includes many helpful tips on how to improve soil, fight off pests, make informed decisions about seasonal planting, and specific information about each type of flower.


Vertical Gardening

Vertical Gardening

by Derek Fell

Don’t let space limit you from becoming a homesteader. Derek’s book on vertical gardening is made for those who want to start a garden but don’t have a ton of space. The growing up and not out method is not dependent on having land to plant on, anyone can do it! With over 100 colorful pictures and diagrams to help with the process, Vertical Gardening showcases ways to grow perennials, shrubs, vegetables, flowers, and fruits no matter where you live.


A Seasonal Gardeners Handbook

A Seasonal Gardener’s Handbook

by Donna L. Long

The biggest key to knowing when to plant each crop without wasting seeds is to pay attention to seasonal crop patterns. Take it from Donna, knowing when to plant what is an intricate process. Her guide will have you creating your own seasonal gardening calendar and planting by the natural signs of the Earth in no time.

She teaches you everything you could ever want to know about seasonal gardening, including when and when not to prune, creating a simple compost pile, hardening off, tips for plant’s chilling hours, planting by the phases of the Moon, and when to plant each type of annual.

Preserving Food On Your Homestead, Best Books

Preserving Food On Your Homestead, Best Books

Preserving, canning, cooking for yourself, managing your food storage – these are all key aspects of the homesteader’s life. These books will take you through what you need to know to bake, save, and store all your own food stuffs.

The Ultimate Guide To Preserving Vegetables

The Ultimate Guide To Preserving Vegetables

by Angie Schneider

Angie’s ultimate guide gives readers access to charts, colorful pictures, and step-by-step instructions for all kinds of preservation methods like canning & pickling, fermenting, freezing, and dehydrating food. It’s a very helpful book for beginners because the instructions are highly detailed.

Her book also includes many of Angie’s family recipes to try on your homestead, like canned dilly asparagus, fermented corn salsa, dried scalloped potatoes, and dried pumpkin pie.


The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving

The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving

by Ball Test Kitchen

The Ball Book of Canning And Preserving is a classic for homesteading and food preservation. It shows up frequently on best of lists when it comes to food prep. Why? It includes over 350 recipes for the beginner to the experienced homesteader, ranging from jams, fruits, butter, jellies, jerkies, pickles, and salsas.

The instructional section of the guide covers water bath and pressure canning, pickling, fermenting, freezing, dehydrating, and smoking with detailed instructions and step-by-step photos to make the process simple and efficient.


The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning

The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning

by Diane Devereaux

Pressure canning is one of the most popular methods for preserving cooked meals. Diane’s The Complete Guide To Pressure Canning is a step by step resource to teach you the art of pressure canning, so you can preserve your favorite low acid foods for you and your family.

Covering everything from soups and stews, jar meals, broths and beans, and game and other meats, this guide will introduce you to everything you need to know about canning through colorful pictures and diagrams.


A Year Without the Grocery Store

A Year Without the Grocery Store

by Karen Morris

This book is geared towards food preservation to prepare for times when grocery stores may not be accessible. Homesteading is all about self-sufficiency, and these tips from Karen will teach you what you need to know to have enough food for you and your family at the ready, no matter what.

Complete with tips for economically storing food your family wants to eat, simple recipes for baking basic comfort foods from scratch, how to safely store and use water, and common mistakes homesteaders make when storing food with ways to do better.

Books on Off-Grid Living and Alternative Energy

Books on Off-Grid Living and Alternative Energy

Becoming self-sufficient with your energy sources is freeing because it cuts out the middle man. Plus, using alternative energy is great for the environment. Many homesteaders go off grid entirely, so let’s take a look at some books that can educate you on how to make off grid living a reality for you.

Off Grid Living 2022-2023

Off Grid Living:

Back to Basics Guide To Become Self Sufficient

by Small Footprint Press

This updated, 30-day guide to go from energy dependance to an entirely off grid life is extremely worthwhile for the new off gridder who wants to adopt the lifestyle as quickly as possible. This guide includes information on living off the grid without giving up any of your luxuries, how to use solar, wind, and geothermal sources, how to install different types of water systems in your home, the best US states for living off grid, and more.


Off Grid Solar Power Simplified

Off Grid Solar Power Simplified

by Nick Seghers

The most popular method of alternative energy on the homestead is solar power. Many people have asked me about putting solar panels on my own tiny house because I’m one of the few out there that is totally off the grid. Let me be the first to say the process isn’t easy and there is a lot to learn!

Nick is an electrical engineer who specializes in solar power design, so his tips are definitely backed by experiences. This manual delves into things like a comprehensive tool list for installing your own panels, tilting, cleaning, optimizing solar input, types of photovoltaics, and much more.


Wind Energy for the Rest of Us

Wind Energy for the Rest of Us

by Paul Gipe

Not as popular as the solar power method but still accessible for the average homesteader, wind turbines are another way to access alternative energy off the grid. Paul’s Wind Energy for the Rest of Us moves through many different methods for harnessing wind energy on your own homestead, including small and large turbines, water-pumping windmills, and multimegawatt wind turbines.


The Complete Guide to Water Storage

The Complete Guide to Water Storage

by Julie Fryer

Learning to store water is a vital for the life of a homesteader. But properly storing your water so its genuinely useable is a learned process, and this read is a great guide for getting started. Using tanks, ponds, and other means of water storage to maintain a safe and viable source of drinking water has become popularized in prepper and homesteader circles. Other water-saving techniques such as rainwater harvesting and gray water collection are also valuable and are explained throughout this guide.


Wood Stoves How to Make and Use Them

Wood Stoves:

How to Make and Use Them

by Ole Wik

Ever considered cooking with a wood stove? This quick read goes over everything you need to know about using and tending to a wood stove, including information about types of wood and stovepipes, how to actually use the wood stove once its going, how to cook with a wood stove, and general safety tips to consider when using an open flame in your own home.

minimalism book reviews
tiny house book reviews

Homesteading For A Living: Books On The Business Side

Homesteading For A Living

Homesteading goes beyond self-sufficiency – it can also be a business, that, when maintained well, can bring you abundant rewards and financial freedom. Agricultural financing isn’t easy, but with a little guidance you can create the space to sell your tomato harvest, goat cheese, or homemade bar soap and make a substantial profit.

How to Make Money Homesteading

How to Make Money Homesteading

by Tim Young

This simple guide examines an array of skills that are crucial for turning your homestead into a business. Follow along with Tim and learn how to insulate yourself from financial collapse by monitoring which risks you take, manage your finances as you sell your crop, plan for retirement on the farm, and generate livable income from your own homestead. This book features interviews with 18 homesteaders and farmers who share intimate stories of their own journeys toward a fulfilling and financially freeing life on their homestead.


Starting & Running Your Own Small Farm Business

Starting Your Own Small Farm Business

by Sarah Beth Aubrey

Another great source for those who want to start homesteading but don’t have a ton of space to work with. Sarah Beth’s Starting And Running Your Own Small Farm Business is chalk full of savvy skills to help you get started, like planning your budget, web design to self-promote, and food service wholesalers.


The Organic Farmers Business Handbook

The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook

by Richard Wiswall

After working for twenty-seven years at Cate Farm in Vermont, Richard knows the ins and outs of running a farm like a business. In his book, Richard shares advice on how to make your vegetable production more efficient, manage your employees, create a budget, and turn a livable profit on your homestead.


The Future Is Rural

The Future Is Rural

by Jason Bradford

You might want to give yourself a minute to take this one in. Written by Jason the biologist and farmer, this book gives a very meta-assessment of what we know about our modern world and why that analysis can benefit the rural community.

Jason explains why, sociologically as well as economically, the decline of rural areas and dependence on fossil fuels will reverse entirely in the coming decade. This will greatly elevate the importance of self-reliance. If you’re looking for a high brow evaluation of why turning your homestead into a business and independently oiled machine is worth it, this is the book for you.


Farm Record Keeping Book

Farm Record Keeping Book

by Exocet Journals

Staying organized is crucial for running a successful farming business. Writing everything down in an all-inclusive journal can help with that. This record keeping journal is one smart way to log your daily farm routine, livestock care, seasonal crop rotations, repair operations, budget, and more – all kept in one place.

Books On Homesteading Skills, Tools and Supplies

Books On Homesteading Skills Tools and Supplies

Repairs, updates, and maintenance work is required for maintaining a successful homestead. Knowing which tools get the job done and understanding how to perform basic repairs can help you keep your farm in tip top shape and keep you from having to call for backup.

The Tool Book

The Tool Book:

A Tool Lover’s Guide to Over 200 Hand Tool

by Phil Davey

Phil’s tool book is basically an encyclopedia for common household tools. Leaf through this guide to find pictures of common tools from every imaginable angle, detailed patent drawings, zoomed in diagrams, and step-by-step illustrations of each tool being used with expert advice on how to use each tool best. The book covers different types of hammers, spades, chisels, and more.


Woodworking The Complete Step-by-Step Manual

Woodworking: The Complete Manual

by DK

This step-by-step carpenter’s manual includes guidance for a wide range of skillsets. New carpenters will learn the ins and outs of basic design techniques, how to use essential tools, and basic carpentry techniques like woodturning, furniture restoration, and wood joints.

More experienced carpenters can use their skills and follow the steps in the 28 different DIY woodworking projects the book provides. There’s something here for everybody wanting to learn more about woodworking.


Do-It-Yourself Plumbing

Do-It-Yourself Plumbing

by Max Alth

Another essential skill to get good at is plumbing, especially if you aren’t wanting to hire out on your homestead. This DIY guide includes over 500 photos, diagrams, and drawings to teach how to fix leaky faucets, balky toilets, clogged drains and traps, and even how to install hot-water and steam-heating system on your own.


Farm and Workshop Welding

Farm and Workshop Welding

by John Seymour

With over 400 step by step photos and tons of tips and suggestions for beginner to experienced welders, this comprehensive welding guide has it all. Learning to cut and shape metal will help you keep your homestead up to par and give you the freedom to create endless projects on your own.

Flip through A