Since yesterday, I have been gazing through the glass panel of my new
washing machine. Observing each different operation cycle of this beautiful machine with a happy sense of accomplishment and fascination, and monitoring how the respective washing cycles affect my off-grid power and water supply. You see, I lived without a washing machine for four years, so today is special indeed.
Cheers, I just opened a beer, to also officially acknowledge this rather momentous and celebrative occasion. To add to the flavour of this day, there is a quarter of Hellmut’s ribs grilling slowly on the bbq for dinner.
Living Without A Washing Machine – A Lazy Man’s Approach
There are laundries on the Barrier and a normal person would probably use them. Of course there is also the method of ‘hand washing’. I’ve seen it, I’ve tried it, it works, but that’s not what a lazy man does either.
He reduces the amount of clothes that require washing, by strictly distinguishing between home, work and manual labour clothes. In addition, the lazy man thinks twice about wearing underwear, finds sources of free clothes and he has no issues throwing dirty clothes away.
While some associate predominantly negative connotations with the term lazy, others know that the root of great ideas and accomplishments are often found in characteristics such as procrastination and laziness.
Nature’s Washing Machine
It is all about finding the right balance between these four variables (Rain, Sun, Wind &Time).
Of course, Nature’s Washing Machine doesn’t work according to a schedule, only a fool would expect that. It leaves your clothes with distinct patterns, resulting from week-long, in-homogenic sun irradiance exposure. When you achieve equilibrium, however, you end up with clean and naturally fresh smelling clothes.
My washing machine is powered by renewable, photo voltaic energy and you can read more about respective articles here. I haven’t been using a generator at all for three years, solely relying on solar power. Hence, I had to find a suitable washing machine that is also within my budget.
I have installed a 1.2 kW solar panel array on the roof which feeds a 24 VDC battery storage bank (for more information, read Solar Power System Design III). The maximum power usage of my washing machine is 330 Watts, which is readily available during daylight even on overcast, inclement days.
I was lucky as the model I wanted to purchase was also on sale from 599 NZD to 399 NZD. Furthermore, it has a ‘Diamond Drum’ and an ‘Air Turbo Function’. Other than being eye-catching and intriguing, I have no clue what these features do or mean, as they are not mentioned in the manual…
If you plan to do your washing with renewable energy, don’t buy a washing machine that heats up its own water. In that case it would require a power usage of about 2000 W.
If you insist on washing with warm/hot water, heat the water up externally, that is via a gas water heater, a wet back or something similar. You can then simply connect the hot water cylinder to the washing machine.
There are a couple permanent streams on the property and all my water needs are met by a direct feed from a stream that is about 50 meters higher than the house site and about 200 m away. I’m using a standard – I think – 16 mm diameter alcathene hose pipe, and do not have a storage tank at the moment.
There is enough pressure for the washing machine to fill up quickly and the water quality is great. If you are using gravity and hoses for your water supply, keep in mind to provision the inlet in such a way that it can’t get blocked. You will also have to think about where to position the inlet. You want it in a reservoir with constant flowing water, and in a fixed position so that it remains stationary even after severe rainfalls.
Another thing I learned is to position the inlet close to the surface so you don’t end up with heaps of sand at the receiving end. At the moment I am extremely happy with my water supply, very clean water straight from the source without any sediments.
It’s free, permanent, clean and requires no pumping or storage. In other words, perfect.
In other news, I’m slowly getting the interior of the verandah sorted.