Rainwater Harvesting Off Grid

Rainwater Harvesting Off Grid


Hi. Markerbuoy with you once again, out in
the woods on a beautiful November day. Twenty years ago when we first
arrived in this spot, one of the first questions that most people would
ask was “What do you do for water?” Come along with me, and I’ll show
you our simple system that has worked so well all these years. Before we get started, how about if you subscribe
to my channel, either now or at the end, and leave a few comments. Now in addition to people asking us what we’re
going to do for water, they would often say, “So, are you going to drill?”
I’d say, “No, there’s no ferry. There are no roads. We’re off the grid.
We cannot get equipment in here.” Fortunately, we’re in very hilly terrain,
and we get lots of rainfall in the winter, and we can use both of those things
to our advantage. Just about at the top of the hill now, and
what you’re about to see is about 300 square feet of metal roofing that
drains into a 2000-gallon plastic storage tank. This tank is about…
it’s exactly 2000 US gallons. It’s one of the larger plastic tanks that’s
easily available. And one sunny summer day, it took only about
six friends and neighbors to help me roll it up the hill. It’s not too
heavy. And it’s been perfectly adequate for our family of four and frequent
guests and visitors over during the summer. And for interest, I just keep a casual record
of where things were on any given date. So, for instance, October 10th,
2003, we had about two-thirds of a tank. We must have had some heavy rains
early in the fall that year. But come January, this tank will be brim full.
And just with this 300 square feet of collection here, I’m entirely confident
that I could fill at least six of these tanks quite easily just from
this one roof. The water comes out of the gutter and flows
downhill in this 1-1/2 inch plastic pipe into my very fine mesh filtration
system here. Now there are lots of filter systems that will do a similar
job. There are tons of them out there. There aren’t as many of them available
that will allow you to view the filter inside the bowl. Most of them
are opaque plastic, and when you’re done or if you suspect there’s a blockage,
you have to disassemble the whole thing. Here, I can see through the clear bowl to
the filter which is inside, and if there’s no need to clean it, there’s no
need to disassemble it. But once it’s looking a bit black and scuzzy in there,
then I can unscrew the bowl and clean it off and start over again. Also, in the bottom of the bowl, I place a
puck, a chlorine puck, the type of thing that you would toss into a swimming
pool purification system, and that shocks the water as it’s going into the
tank. So my theory, which I think has been proven correct over the years,
is that you might as well scrub the water clean before it goes into
the storage tank, and then it’s much easier. There’s less intervention required. We are very fortunate here to live in a temperate
maritime climate, and the weather’s pretty mild most winters. It’s very
wet but mild. But if the arctic air blows, we can have unfortunately
a sustained period of hard freezing weather, maybe 10 degrees Celsius
below freezing, for a week or so at a time, in which case, if this bowl was
full of water, it would freeze solid. It’d break the bowl, and there’d go
any chance that I may have subsequent water collection if I’m not here,
which is the case sometimes during the winter. So my simple solution, it subscribes to the
KISS principle, keep it simple, stupid, is to just drill a little hole right…
and see this twig sticking out of the bottom of the bowl? I drill a little
hole in the bowl. And in months when I know it’s not going to freeze,
spring, summer, fall, I plug the hole with a little twig, as you can see
here. And that stops any leakage. But in the wintertime, my theory is that if
it’s raining, it’s not freezing. That seems fairly simple. So if
it’s raining hard during the winter, which is usually the case, then it
will . . . this hole will drain the bowl before things start to freeze up. So this is my summer position with the hole
plugged. This is my winter position with the hole unplugged, and it will
remain so until there’s no more chance of freezing, at which time, I’ll
plug it up again. At the base of the tank, we’ve got a one-inch
pipe exiting. We’ve got a shut-off valve. Right angle is closed. [Longitudinal]
is open. This vertical pipe here is a vent so that when
the valve is closed, which I will do for over the wintertime over the freezing
period, and I want to drain the line. This vent makes sure that when I
open the valve down below, the whole pipe is drained of water. There’s nothing
remaining. There are no airlocks. No nothing. And that seems to have
worked well over the years. Top of the tank, there’s what used to be called
a manhole. I guess it’s a person hole now. But very easy access. Some
people like to climb inside and scrub the tank clean before the winter rains
start. I’ve never subscribed to that theory because, as I’ve previously
mentioned, the water is scrubbed clean before it goes in. All I have done for 20 years is remove the
lid once in a while, check that everything’s okay inside. We don’t have any
frogs swimming around in there… never happened. And I can pour in
some chlorine to shock the water to kill any bacteria that may be in there.
And our family has drunk this water all these years… never, never a problem. From here, the line is buried just a few inches
below ground for mechanical and thermal protection. When my friendly helpers
buried the line, in hindsight, it would have been a good idea
if we had had the presence of mind to mark the general direction. Over the
years, I’ve felled trees on the line, punctured it once. And also I lit
a fire that only later did I realize was probably a little bit too close.
That would have been self- extinguishing but not a good idea. So it’s at this point where the line exits
from the underground such as it is, flows across the hard rock surface and
then back underneath the cabin to the simple filtration system that we have
set up. Back under the cabin, I don’t like coming
under here too often. There’s the incoming line, and the first stop here is
a one-inch shutoff valve, which is currently open, feeding the Rainfresh brand
filter unit. It’s just a single bowl with an activated charcoal filter
installed. And the reason for the charcoal filter is
that should there be any chlorine remaining in the water, the charcoal filter
will filter out the chlorine. We wind up with a pretty pure glass of water
upstairs. This line here bypasses the filtration unit and feeds a standpipe
that I have. So down at the standpipe here, which is the
lowest point of the systems. A hundred feet above us is where the tank is
located. And if I remember correctly, if you want to get technical, you’re
good for about 0.4 of a pound of pressure per vertical foot. So, in theory, assuming I’m correct with my
hundred feet, we’ve got about 40 pounds pressure here, which is entirely
sufficient to push the water through the filter, to push it through the
demand hot water tank. I’m just going to show you the flow into a
bucket here. There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. Anyway, lots
of water. Good pressure. Nice and clean. I installed a demand, just a mini demand hot
water heater to supply hot water to the sink. That way we don’t have
to boil our water to heat it up, and it’s very nice, very convenient. And the
price was right. So there we have it. Clean, potable hot and
cold running water right at the sink, crystal clear and yummy. Hey, thanks for watching once again. It’s
been a pleasure. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel, and that way you’ll
get notification next time I put up a new video. Thanks a lot. See you
next time. [singing 00:10:28 – 00:10:37] There’s a hole
in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza. There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza,
a hole.

100 Replies to “Rainwater Harvesting Off Grid”

  1. since none of us including you is getting any younger..lol…could you move those filters and valves under the cabin up to under a sink or somewhere inside so one doesnt have to crawl under as you do now…would it affect the pressure being up that little bit much higher

  2. Well designed system! I especially like the idea of putting the collection tank about 100 ft. above your home. Any idea as to the amount of rainfall (gallons) that you are able to harvest annually with your 300 sq. ft. platform? Any idea as to how much water (gallons) your family actually uses. Also, about how much rainfall do you enjoy each year? I ask these questions because the calculations that I am coming up with suggest that I might need approximately 1,000 sq. ft. of collection area to collect what I need (given 54 in. of average annual rainfall). Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  3. Will this system work for someone who will be living in a cabin permanently and is this the only method of collecting water you have?

    Great video by the way! 🙂

  4. I really love this video on how to be self contained but I would rather hear U with out that back ground music that over rides ur voice…..I am sorry but it is very annoying and I could only watch 3 min of it

  5. Love the video, very well done and easy to understand even if it is beyond my skill level atm! These are the vids I need to watch more of 🙂

  6. Are you running the tankless heater with an ordinary propane tank. 20-50lb range? You said you cant get trucks up there, so I figured no one is coming to fill a big tank.

  7. Amazing video!
    I dream of being able to live off grid when I'm older, but getting water has been something that I couldn't get my head around at all. This – even if beyond my current skill level(!) – has really helped and puts into perspective how collecting water doesn't have to be overly complicated or hard!

    However, I'm the same as Dal Maticus (below), could you/anyone explain the filter and puck at 2:30 in a bit more depth?

  8. I am planning to build a similar collection over a water tank. What diameter PVC from gutter to Tank? Where might I buy a similar Filter?

  9. Big filter (20 microns or so) before the main storage tank including chlorine puck, smaller gauge filter including charcoal element after the main storage tank…… Have I understood properly? Is that really all it takes to convert rain water into drinking water safely & reliably?

    Really great video sir. Much appreciated!

  10. hey man nice set up. iv been off the grid for a small while now and once you learn a little bit about everything its a really nice cool lifestyle. I hunt all year so I always have more then enough meat, I have a huge all year around greenhouse which doesn't take a lot of work such has watering all the time cause I simply have a pipe system that drips the perfect amount of water 247 360 yearly, and so much more. I was never huge on the loud city life so im glad the woods are my home. happy travels…

  11. Very interesting video. Thank you. I guess you don't need uv filtration? I'm surprised 2000 gallons is enough water!

  12. Nice dude.. good thinking.. and sharing … I'm passing this intro vid, onward to my daughter and husband.. what a strange word.. for 'thing's to think on ' wisdom bank of ideas.. in process to building their own way …. thanks deep ! Canyon

  13. I really like your setup and will be integrating some of it into our system. My concerns is the use of chlorine disks in the filtration system and it being allowed to passively drip when your little twig is removed. Where is that chemical laden water dripping to? Do you collect it and dispose of it safely or reintroduce it to the system? I HOPE it's not just dripping onto the forest floor and soaking into the soil. What do you do with it?

  14. Wow mate… you are really over killing the water purity angle… Here in Australia all rural people use tank water and no one literally no one adds anything to the water its just fine as it is. You just have to keep it dark and clean. Nothing will ever grow in there. Nothing dangerous. Id be more worried about the chlorine quite frankly regardless of your charcoal filter.

  15. Hi. love your channel. I'm learning a lot. may I ask where your from. sounds like you have an Irish twang. I'm from the North of Ireland

  16. Do you do anything to the container for keeping it clean? I imagine water sitting in there will become grimy and 'dirty'.

    Regarding your land, is it free or do you have to pay tax on it?

  17. nice thorough vid, great ideas. Thank you.
    questions if you can answer, is the chlorine puck small enough to fit in your filter or do you have to break it? I live on the east coast, nova scotia, sometimes -20 c … will a tank as big as yours turn into a big pop sickle or does the plastic expand to accommodate . usually our weather minus one day and plus the next.

  18. Hi M. I'm a new subscriber. Is there an overflow for when the tank gets too full? How does removing the twig from the hole prevent damage to the filter from freezing? Thanks.

  19. Great. Thanks for this video. I wanted to know how to harvest rain water for my garden and house plants. Now I know how to clean it so I can consume it.

  20. This is the best video I've seen on this topic, and I've watched a lot of them recently!! Thank you so much for posting!

  21. Sub you for nice ideas you applying, yours fan and friend from Pakistan ,enjoying yours helpful impressive bids,nice to meet you good days I wish

  22. My family is thinking about doing this because we’ve always wanted to be self sufficient and we haven’t had water in 2 week because apparently our water companies tank that provides for 4 different town with water is empty! We found out today and no one knows what to do!

  23. Perhaps you could further purify that water by making it into pilsner beer, and pouring it into your pilsner beer glass to drink. You'll also benefit from all of that vitamin B in the beer! You're welcome….

  24. 9:52 Oh no! He doesn't actually drinks the water…!!!
    Anyway, this is quite a precious video you have here. Thank you for the insights.
    Greetings from Portugal.

  25. Superb workmanship…NO…craftsmanship. Exceptional explanation! You should be on dual survival

  26. A most fantastic video – just 2 questions from cold and wet England1. What make is the clear filter you use2. if it freezes – and it can get to say -10centrigrade, 14 F, is there any type of tank which will not crack with Water kept in it?Many thanks

  27. Would love to have this system in northern BC Canada but it would have to be underground with a solar pump. Your setup is great and one day hope to set up a small version of your system, thank you for showing it.

  28. I think you had a lot of valuable things to say it was really very distracting and difficult to understand you with the completely unnecessary music playing can you cut that out and repost this video so I can hear you?

  29. Very good! Your boiler is outside?? and do you no have any problems with the exposed pipes freezing? I live in a caravan in Scotland and Im connected to a house for water but in winter it freezes so was thinking about setting up rainwater collection but not sure how I would stop the tank and pipes from freezing aswell!?

  30. would this work year round on the east where winters can get real harsh -30 i figured the whole thing would have to go underground….? what are your thoughts on it?

  31. what do you do in winter ? I know your north of me in Wisconsin and we hit 50 below this year there was nothing out side frozen

  32. Peter Australia interesting video , I agree with the guy from Australia you don't need chlorine, I am in a suburban area in Melbourne , have done the same as you 30 thousand litres , run it through two in line filters after the tank , and I don't know if they have this sort of thing in the states but it is a heavy duty cloth bag that fits into the top of you tank , amazing how much fine dirt it catches .

  33. Could you not use a say copper filter or make a filter using clay and colloidal silver to line the filter so the water pass through the holes going through the silver ??

  34. Your video made my day…the system you have described has inspired me and given me the confidence to pursue a similar set-up on my off-grid property. The rocky, hilly topography limited my choice for a building site but now I see clearly that there is an undeveloped potential for rainwater/snow collection! Thanks for the information.

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