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I’m interested in disconnecting from the grid

Starbright Steve | Posted in Mechanicals on

Our house is tight. One of my big winter loads is the clothes dryer. I am getting questionable reviews on heat pump dryers. Should we just “freeze dry “ laundry on the porch. Are there any options?

We had poor reliability with two different horizontal axis washers and now have a Maytag. It spins but not like a horiz. axis.

Steve in Wellsboro

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  1. calum_wilde | | #1

    We just got a heat pump dry last weekend, so take this for what it's worth. So far it's working really well. It takes about 10-20 minutes longer than our old dryer, but that's very manageable. I have no idea what longevity will be like.

  2. toho | | #2

    We have noticed that when we visit Paris, Rome and elsewhere in Europe, the apartments we rent typically have washers but not dryers. Instead, they use simple folding racks to dry their clothes. They work fine. You just have to let nature do its thing. Our apartment this year had a simple, clever, rack suspended from the ceiling and parallel to it (in the small room off the kitchen where the washer was located), that could be lowered for loading, then hoisted. Simple. Effective. Energy-efficient. We should all be using drying racks for our laundry. Good luck.

  3. SwitchgrassFarmer | | #3

    There are times the dryer is very handy:

    1. When you are in a hurry.
    2. To remove lint or animal hair.
    3. To soften clothes with a dryer sheet.
    4. To use a home drycleaning kit.
    5. When you don't want to air your "clean" laundry in public, when you have company!


    Most of the time I use a dryer rack:

    A. Inside in the winter, it helps add humidity.
    B. Outside on a wind free day, or in our (three season) sunroom on a windy day.
    C. At all times it avoids sucking in unconditioned air.
    D. And you don't use any electricity!


    One other thought, the effectiveness of drying on a rack is directly proportional to how effectively your washing machine spin cycle works. I think in general side loading washing machines might extract more moisture. Our Speed Queen washer seems to spool up to almost launch speed; I would swear some things are dry almost the moment they come out.

  4. Starbright Steve | | #4

    Thanks to you all for your ideas on my issue. I am reluctant to hang wet clothes in the house. I live in a cold climate. It’s been down close to zero F. Or below Every night for the last two weeks. Drying. Clothes in this tight house will result in moisture problems inside or in the walls. We do dry clothes outside for at least 6-7 months. We are looking for a winter solution. Andrew, those horizontal axis machines sure do get most of the water out and that may be part of the solution I’m searching for.

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    First of all, if you don't yet have much off-grid experience, you need to realize that those of us who live in an off-grid house use much, much less electricity than people who live in a grid-connected house. Producing your own electricity is expensive, especially in winter, when the sun doesn't shine. You'll be making your electricity in winter with a gasoline-powered generator or a propane-powered generator, and your electricity will be very expensive.

    For more on this issue, see How to Design an Off-Grid House.

    Heat-pump clothes dryers use a lot of electricity. The LG heat-pump clothes dryer draws 26 amps at 240 volts. (See Comment #8 on this page: Heat-Pump Clothes Dryers.) That's 6,240 watts.

    So, if you live off-grid, you're going to be drying your clothes on an indoor rack, like it or not -- or you will be using a propane-fired clothes dryer. You won't be running a heat-pump clothes dryer off of your batteries. (I suppose it's possible to fire up a big gasoline-powered generator every time you dry your clothes, but that that's like installing a push pin with a sledgehammer. After a few hours of that racket, and the hole it burns in your fuel budget, you'll embrace your indoor drying rack.)

  6. wisjim | | #6

    We decided years ago to use the laundromat every 2 weeks or so. Saves wear on our well pump, septic system, water heating system, and we don't need to have a washer and dryer in the house. We still dry on the lines outside in nice weather dry some things inside on racks in the winter. Cost for laundry for 2 of us is about $10 to $12 every 2 weeks. We do have an old Maytag wringer washer that we use in the summer, set up by the garage, for occasional big loads, throw rugs, etc. When we were totally off grid and more remote we depended on the wringer washer and clotheslines in the basement.

  7. Debra_Ann | | #7

    I would be very hesitant to hang dry laundry inside a tight house. When I lived in Buffalo many years ago, I used to hang my clothes outdoors throughout the winter. It takes a bit longer to "freeze dry" the clothes, but it works. (Just don't try to kick off icicles hanging from frozen old bedspreads. You might punch a hole right through them. Ask me how I know!)

    However, when humidity levels are sky high, your clothes could hang for days without drying. There are times when it's worth going to a public laundromat.

  8. SwitchgrassFarmer | | #8

    I agree it makes sense to exercise caution when hanging laundry inside. Certainly you do not want moisture to condense inside your walls.

    In my case, because of the drying that our heat recovery ventilator (HRV) creates during the winter, I struggle with keeping the humidity at acceptable levels. Once the humidity level gets to the mid twenties I start to experience static problems, excessive skin drying, etc. So I use the moisture from drying clothes to offset that to some degree. (Right now I also have a pan of water on top of our masonry heater - fireplace.)

    By the way I monitor our humidity levels pretty carefully. An average of three semi-pro meters shows 30% in our home at this moment in time, and that is after I already dried a load and a half of laundry this morning!

  9. Starbright Steve | | #9

    I agree. M.Howladay’s comment seems to be a bit careless. But this reminds me of other comments he has made to me on other subjects. I’ll just ignore him.

  10. Expert Member
    MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #10


    For your "agreement" that Martin's comments are careless to be useful, or have any weight, you need to at least make a case for why you think that way.

    It does seem strange to come to a site you don't agree with to get advice.

  11. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #11

    I'm not sure which of my comments you perceive as "careless," but I'm guessing that it was my advice to use a drying rack indoors to dry laundry. I'm also guessing that you are worried that this method will result in high indoor humidity.

    In my experience, drying laundry indoors in New England during the winter doesn't cause problems. But the key variables are (1) the volume of clothes in each laundry cycle, (2) the frequency of the laundry cycles, and (3) the size of the house.

    The worst-case scenario would involve large loads of laundry, hung up very frequently, in a very small house. That might be a problem, so common sense should prevail. Several other people have pointed out that you can always use an outdoor clothesline or a laundromat.

    My most important point centered around the fact that anyone who lives in an off-grid house has to pay attention to battery management, especially during the winter when the sun doesn't shine. It's hard to run a heat-pump water heater off of batteries. Because of that basic fact, those who live in an off-grid house need to figure out a different way to dry their clothes than tossing them in an electric appliance.

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