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Old 11-17-2012, 07:39 PM
 
Location: AK
339 posts, read 582,958 times
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Looking into land.... sad at how unbelievably expensive it seems to be if power's available.

Off-the-grid is becoming an option. We can deal with using a generator and a wood stove, and I've heard there's some sort of oil-drip heater that can be used for back-up heat that doesn't require electric. We can put the stove and fridge on propane.

But if outhouse is the only option, and I can't wash dishes in a regular sink, and can't have hot showers...that will be a dealbreaker for me. Could we install a water tank that could work for all three? Do people do that?
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:43 PM
 
Location: AK
339 posts, read 582,958 times
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Oh and of course, are septic systems used?
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:48 PM
 
Location: Anchorage Suburbanites and part time Willowbillies
1,708 posts, read 1,632,349 times
Reputation: 873
Try asking your questions here - Alaska Cabins and Remote Living
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:52 PM
 
Location: Anchorage
1,923 posts, read 4,227,442 times
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You can use a composting toilet, most are 100% self contained and there are electric/non-electric options.
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:18 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
2,692 posts, read 4,583,598 times
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As I understand it... In order to have a well & septic system you need to have at least 40,000 square feet of land, or .92 acres.
So if you have that you can put in a septic tank and a leech field. But plan on having the tank pumped every couple of years, depending on your usage.
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:04 AM
 
Location: Alaska
5,356 posts, read 17,155,867 times
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There are plenty of places that collect rain water for domestic use. If you're in mountainous areas, you can divert creek water to a tank, but you need some way to treat it. A well would require electricity to power a pump. Septic systems are used all over Alaska. I don't know about the space requirements, but I know of some places with less than 40,000 square feet using a septic system.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:40 AM
 
4,715 posts, read 9,410,492 times
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Initial setup is pricey, but in the end I see what the OP wants to do as possible - but I do not see cost savings. At least the numbers I have crunched. Besides the initial outlay of the equipment, getting it to your cabin seems to cost more than the equipment. Then you have to factor in mainentance costs of having your own water treatment plant, power plant, and wastewater storage/treament system.

I've been looking at converting some RV type systems for use in a cabin. Since, RV's have 'indoor flush toilets' and hot showers. And there are reverse osmosis type water filtration systems out there. But storing and getting water to the cabin gets pricey. A lake, stream, creek, etc... nearby would be highly desirable.

Again, I did numbers based on what we currently use. A HUGE lifestyle change would need to happen for it to be 'cheap' living in an off-grid cabin somehwere. Is it possible- yes - is it cheap or convenient, not likely. It is the old adage of good, fast, and cheap. You can have any two you want.

If you figure it out - please let me know. I am always researching...

What causes a properly installed drainfield and septic system to need to be pumped out often in AK? I am assuming the bitter cold?
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:37 PM
 
Location: Interior alaska
6,381 posts, read 12,887,071 times
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Well at the risk of being normal, you can use a five gallon bucket, line it with a bag and take it to the dump when you go to town. Not something I would do, but some people don't mind brown bagging it. Just not me....

An outhouse if you don't have/want indoor plumbing is about the fastest/easiest way to fill that need. Like hog family said, you can use a compost toilet, but they have thier issues as well like not freezing up, they need heat to keep the bacteria alive and working. My cousin had one and they used wood heat so in the winter they could only be gone about 12 hours, kind of like leaving a dog in the house, you got to get back pretty often or things got kinda "Sh***y" when you get back home!

You can use battery backup and a heating pad to supply heat to it, but that needs power as well to charge the battery.
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Old 11-18-2012, 01:46 PM
 
Location: Palmer
2,519 posts, read 6,298,628 times
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The best way to live off the grid is to simplify as much as possible. The only simpler way to take care of these needs other than an outhouse is to do what the bears do.

The more modern amenities that you require the harder and more complicated it will be to live off the grid.

That said, if you are near a road system you can get a holding tank for water going in and water going out. A lot of people do it. It just adds to your expense and hassle. It's up to you. Depending on where you are you can hire people to haul your water as well as to pump your holding tank. Just don't hire anyone that uses the same tank for both.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:00 PM
 
Location: Interior alaska
6,381 posts, read 12,887,071 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dakster View Post
What causes a properly installed drainfield and septic system to need to be pumped out often in AK? I am assuming the bitter cold?
We for starters, too much crap too quickly, and not being the proper size tank for the house.

In my system I installed about 18 years ago, I have always dumped a small of bottle of baking yeast every other month or so after a bath of warm water, flush the yeast down the toilet and then let the tub drain. The warm water helps kick the yeast up a notch.

I have been told by the "Experts" that the ground is too cold and a waste of time using "Additives". First when I don't do it (Add yeast), I get very little steam venting out of the septic system when I remove the pipe cap, when I do add the yeast, the system steams all winter even at -50 from the heat the yeast causes when it is breaking down the solids.

When I do pump the tank, the operator alwàys comments that there is no "Solids" in the tank, which is the result of the bacteria action from the yeast. It caused the "solids" to break down, so what gets out into your leach fields is drained off instead of plugging it.

When the washer is used, no bleach is used, that will kill the bacteria in the tank causing that action to stop. My water softener is draining the salt rinse into its own system, because salt in a septic tank will plug up your leach field and that is only fixed by installing a new one!

Just my experiances.....
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