I have a 2-3 part question/challenge. Not sure this is the right forum for posting this, but there's no "water" section that I saw.
We recently moved to 7 acres here in Upstate NY. We built a yurt, off grid, we have solar power and a composting toilet. We are trying to figure out a water solution, hot water & frost free proof.
Challenge 1: Water Source -
- We live next to our friends who have 30 acres and whom we share a 2.2 acrepond with that is about 400 feet from our yurt. The pond, as most around here, has ecoli and other things we may be able to treat to make potable.
- We tried to dig a well, but hit clay at 90 feet and stopped, hoping we have another, more affordable and clearer solution. Our neighbor friends have a good well and have told us we could dig a well on their land, but that would be about 1500 feet from our yurt - a far way to bury a water line below frost.
- We collect rainwater from the yurt's roof. This is used to give our ducks water, but is not collected into a large cistern at this time.
Currently we use our truck to bring water from the pond to a 300gallon tank outside the yurt and pump that into a sink and outdoor shower. We haul in drinking water.
Our long term thought, we plan to swale the land, capture current pond overflow and probably dig another pond or 2 on our land.
?? Should we use the pond, get a cistern, dig a well, other?
?? Any great filters people recommend? Sand, katahdin, other?
Challenge 2: Freezing Water
?? Whether we dig a well, use the pond, etc. How shall we keep the water from freezing and get it to our yurt? We can have frost anytime from October-May. We have thought about burying a cistern under frost line, then from there into our yurt water lines wrapped in insulating/heat tape. Or perhaps bury a cistern inside a greenhouse and then bring it to the yurt.
- we have a frost free hydrant in the ground outside the yurt, currently not connected to anything. We have a grey water line out from our sink and outdoor shower and a 4 foot deep line under the yurt ready to connect to our source.
Challenge 3: Hot water We would like to have hot water shower and sink. Currently we use a little propane RV heater and have an outdoor shower. We'd like to avoid propane, but either way can't use this inside without ventilation - challenging from inside a yurt. Are there electric hot water heaters that use very little or even DC electric?
Have you lived a winter in the yurt yet? I'm assuming that you will want to be able to go away for a few days at a time in the winter, and that it will probably freeze inside fairly regularly?
I'm just going to put in a plug for keeping it simple and lo-tech, and suggest some ideas that could get you through your first year or two, or you might decide they work well enough that you could just live with them..
hot water at sink is as simple as keeping a kettle on the woodstove
for cold water have a gravity water 'day tank' near the sink that you just fill up with a bucket...empty it out when you're going away so it doesn't matter if it freezes
hot water shower... a not bad shower that comes from the small boat sailor's world...get an unused garden chemical sprayer, the kind with a two gallon tank and a manual pump to pressurize it. Remove the chemical spray wand and attach the kind of spray nozzle on a tube that is found on some kitchen sinks (that will give you an on off control right in your hand as you hold the nozzle..) Paint it black for solar heating in the summer, in winter add hot water from woodstove.
if i ever get more complicated than this for my yurt, i will install a cistern deep enough that it won't freeze, and water pipe to yurt...probably with a weeping hole below frost line (so it's frost free, but high enough that it wouldn't drain the cistern, might need an anti-siphon loop too?) ...then a hand cistern pump, but one with a gate valve at the spout that lets you pump water above the pump. I would then use the cistern pump for pumping regular cold water, and plumb it so i could divert the output to fill a tank near the woodstove (which would gravity feed a seperate tap for hot water back a t the sink or shower...i suppose it could all be electric pumps if you had the power, if you were sure they were frost proofed)
if you look at websites for frost free livestock watering systems, you will see that people sometimes set a wide bore hole (to below frost level) down next to a pond, (case it with culvert), and then run a pipe from the bottom of the bore hole into the pond....this gives convenient frost-free access to the pond water after freeze up, and you can mount the shallow well pump of your choice down in the bore well. It doesn't address any of the water quality issues, but maybe with careful management or filtration / or UV treatment it would be ok for washing etc?
If you use a deep trench filled with sand to the "well hole" it will pre filter fairly well. Small solar pump to transfer to cistern.
Cistern directly under the sink with a pitcher pump. Below frost line. Berkey for drinking water.
The stainless steel bug sprayer WORKS!
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Sounds like a good plan. If your yurt is already in place, i think you could place the cistern a ways off it and still use the cistern pitcher pump, with pipe below frost line.....it should pump a ways laterally without adding too much effort but be careful not to add too much head....r scott, does that sound ok with your experience? if your platform is simple i guess it might be easier to just move the yurt when you put in the cistern
I'd like to graduate to a set-up like that someday.
Lehmans has plain jane cistern pitcher pumps as mentioned, as well as the kind that will pump 'up' if you wanted to add a gravity hot water tank...but it pumps harder...i'd be interested in hearing if anyone has experience with these two pumps...
Thanks folks. The yurt is not moveable - it's on a black locust deck and hopefully never going anywhere. I'll look into the hand pumps and the barn tank looks great. We think we are going to go with an RV style heater that can be drained when cold. I hear you about keeping it simple for hot water, but for us, moving to the yurt, living off grid and happily giving up many amenities and doing much of what we can do be sustainable we are so excited about but our one requirement - hot showers with good pressure. We all have our weak spots I guess
Tanks in and under a greenhouse.
Will give you enough warmth to keep stuff growing in there all winter, especially if you add a hot tub !
Then you can put the shower in there too, and have extra water collection surface area.
Can you put it uphill of the Yurt?
look at the evacuated tube water heaters too, they dont need to be turned towards the sun, and work as storage too.
Build a semi attached small insulated structure adjacent to the yurt that faces south. Place water tank in space, place water heater (gas/propane) in same space put double layer of glass or plastic on roof at 45 degree angle so snow sheds build removable insulated reflective covers for same. If you have chickens place in same area with a caged inclosure and access to chicken run outside. Expand as budget affords to green house.