We’ve got the power

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

One of the challenges of building in the middle of a field is the lack of essentials we all take for granted: electricity and water.

We expect to have no shortage of natural resources as there’s a daily supply of sun, plentiful bounty of rain (depending on the season) and good wind through different parts of the year, but until we understand these a bit better and figure out how to harness and store the energy efficiently we’ll need to rely common sources of water and electric. And that’s been no easy task.

Solar is the obvious option but after speaking to a few suppliers we found it was possible, but would take a lot of management and a heavy investment. Electricity is generally cheap here and our family in the local village pay between 400-600 baht per month. It would take a long time to see any return on investment of 600,000+ baht!

Managing a completely off-grid system can be quite labour intensive too, as well as needing a bit of expertise. We want to use our time wisely and not cause unnecessary stress.

So the alternative was to run electric lines from the nearest village almost two kilometres away. But we had to run the lines through people’s land and they weren’t keen. So plan C came into play.

We have a neighbour living along the road and they kindly agreed to let us run our cables from their supply. They’re related, somehow, which made it easier, so we got to work running the cables and fixing poles along the road. I say we, but it was actually our niece and her husband.

If you look closely you’ll see we have used sustainable materials for the support poles, using no heavy machinery (thanks for that description Eddie!) Hand-cut bamboo poles secured in hard and dry land. We’re lucky to have lots of family support and we’ll lean on them a lot to get started.

But it highlights one the the reasons we’re making the move - community spirit. People help each other however they can. Food gets shared, resources are shared, childcare is collective. The trade-off is privacy. Rarely are you able to sit alone and think or read. Everyone feels the need to keep you company. I think we can live with that.

The other essential was water. Again we could have shared from a neighbour but looking at the long-term we think it’s better to have our own supply, so we found a well-digger. The existing neighbouring water supply comes from a 30m well that pumps water from a 4-inch hole, but they sometimes have issues with water.

We’ve drilled a 60m hole to mitigate future issues so hopefully that works. We hit water at 20m and fitted a pump. We’ll fill a 2000 litre tank for use at the moment and see what we need in the future.

The electricity and water supply will make it easier for the builders to do their job, and after a good survey of the land yesterday and position of the house, they are all ready to go.

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