Gene is running the Freedom Kit at his family home in Gisborne. After a 6 year journey, construction on the house was finished earlier this year, and he, his wife Chelsea, their two daughters, and a new puppy are now enjoying life fully off-grid!
How did you set up your kit, and where have you got it installed?
My brother-in-law is an electrician so he helped us install it, speeding up the job significantly. We have the solar panels installed on the hill behind our house where they receive sun all day long. We chose this spot because the height and pitch of our roof would have made it very difficult to access when required in the future. In total it took one day to install, and later that evening we had lights!
What are you running on your kit? What are you not running?
We can live quite normally on our kit, although we had to be a conservative with power usage over a succession of cloudy overcast days. Ideally during the day we run a water pump, gas califont, washing machine, lights, toaster, sockets, vacuum cleaner, fridge and a TV on special occasions. Our gas fuels an oven, stove top and hot water.
What made you decide to build your own house, and in this area?
Our house site is in Gisborne. My wife was gifted the land by her father when she was young and she always hoped to build … I happened to come along and was happy to go for the ride.
It is a difficult house site to build on and many things had to be achieved to get resource consent, such as the removal of 100 + pine trees, native tree planting etc. Building on a slope was a new challenge and had access difficulties, but we got through and feel extremely privileged to have such a site.
What was it that appealed to you about the off-grid lifestyle? Why did you choose this lifestyle?
Chelsea and I thought it would be a nice life challenge to a degree, but of course we like to think we are acting environmentally responsibly and doing our bit. Ultimately it is nice not having a power bill, which at times we found difficult over winter with a growing family.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
None as yet, asides from the 3 days of rain and low solar generation.
Why did you choose solar over a generator or something else?
In recent years the solar option has become come much more affordable. When we looked at connecting to the mains the cost for us was going to be 2-3 times more that the cost of our solar unit.
Why did you choose GridFree over another company? How did you find us?
My brother-in-law found GridFree online and I researched the individual products online as a result and it looked very positive. We trialled a smaller Gridfree system at a family bach then consequently our house. My brother-in-law now has the same system GridFree system but has lead batteries and a generator.
What’s been the best part of the new lifestyle?
Knowing that energy generated by the sun it powering our house !!!
Do you have any advice to other people that are planning to go off the grid?
Give it a go if possible, its extremely satisfying to know the energy harnessed from the sun is powering our house.
To see more from Gene, check out his and his wife's Instagram accounts: