Martin Hone
I can think of a lot nicer places to live off grid than these examples. Why do we promote these ugly, tiny 'homes' when there are many, maybe less exciting real world examples. I guess not in Wales.... ;-)
While appreciate the design bonafides of the architects who build these homes, and can certainly see interesting themes raised by many of them, this niche is becoming a boutique second home arena for the wealthy rather than the value proposition it COULD be for the masses. If we are to get serious about off-grid/small home concept, then it needs to be at a price point that is considerably less than the $200 per sq foot for which I can build/purchase a home of almost ANY size in ANY location. As a current 3,000 sqft, suburban, middle class family man looking for the empty nest home that will be far more desirable in a few years (when the kids have flown away), I see many interesting concepts, but far, far fewer realistic choices with any type of reasonable value. I certainly don't want to trade a monthly utility bill for an upfront additional cost to build, especially when it is totally unnecessary. I guess I will keep on looking, trying to soak up ideas I see as good value with longer term livability for a vibrant, but aging, couple. Or, am I supposed to be wealthy enough to keep the 3,000 sqft anchor and use my "nest egg" on a second nest?
The Skud
Keep hoping - ChicagoBlue - At present most of these are single-version creations from architects or ivory tower designers with little thought for being practical or cost-effective at present. If an idea takes off, production costs may drop, but get a CAD computer program and work out your own, cheaper model that 'might' work.
Bhasker Raj
Adam Williams should be thanked for highlighting these unique homes. Some look crazy but the ideas are worth following. Living in houses which are off-grid have many advantages. We have to make use of many natural resources like solar-powered and wind powered, but the cost has to be affordable. A. S. Bhasker Raj Bangalore india
Affordable, sustainable, practical and liveable: In a real world, most of these designs would get stale for the occupants. Would people with money want to go off-grid for a considerable time? These designs are picture-perfect photo ops. Why on earth would someone want to live off-grid in the city? Costly, extravagant, impractical and short-term, describes most of these ideas that seem to come from the minds of ambitious architects. I have thought about building a spherical cabin as a guest-room on my land, and i could appropriate an idea here or there, but none of these concepts encapsulates a realistic living experience. The concrete monstrosity shown last takes the cake for outrageous over-indulgence.
Harold Johnson
I have lived off grid for over 10 years in northern Saskatchewan. Chicago Blue: it doesn't have to be expensive. We built an 800sq foot log house for under $6000. A big chunk of that cost was for a metal roof (because it lasts for 50 years and I know it won't be me who changes it) To build an off grid home inexpensively requires the use of local materials. My wife and I had the benefit of a black spruce forest handy. Pine or Cedar might have more popular appeal but to import them costs. If you are not blessed with a handy forest to build with, there are always materials at hand. People on the prairie are building with straw bales, others are using discarded auto tires packed with sand. In Sweden they build an entire hotel every winter out of ice blocks. A few things to keep in mind: Cardboard has excellent insulating qualities, a house dug into the earth will be warmer than one above ground. Solar panels are cheap! I purchased new panels this spring to upgrade my system and they are available at about one dollar per watt. It wasn't that long ago that we were being told that when solar power panels came down to three dollars per watt that they would be competitive with fossil fuels. It takes work. Living off grid is constant learning and doing and being and experiencing, and redesigning, and trying new ways. I've been paying attention to what's out there and appreciate gizmag's articles on off grid living. There are a wealth of ideas. I only wish there were more about how to do it at minus 40 degrees when water systems are fragile.
Don Duncan
Since 99.9% want a grid tie, land where none exists or it is too expensive will be cheap. And it will be secluded from widespread social turmoil. This is comforting to the survivalist. We can be "connected" for communications/internet and independent without paying a fortune or giving up conveniences. None of the houses shown above meet these needs. But they exist. The technology is here. Think tank Rocky Mountain Institute can advise, as can others.
Heikki Kääriäinen
The best proof of a concept is that the designer lives on the house they have designed. Looks like msny off these concept houses are like the chairs in a expensive restaurant, pleasing for the eye but very uncomfortable to sit for longer periods? I have lived in my current, about 10 square meter, off grid home on wheels for over 3 years now. It is not finished yet but practical and unconventional. It suits my needs and takes me to places as it is a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van. I wish to build a proper off grid home some day once I get some savings together and have a better idea where I am going to settle down. Gizmag could do a story on people living off grid on their mobile homes. ( I would not raise my hand as my van is not ready to show off yet. )
I think those are really nice. I would not mind living in most of them. The JF-Kit house is more of a gym than a house but perhaps it could recharge batteries and/or power a house? (in addition to other ways to get power).
So, off grid bedrooms? This is what you call the "Top ten" off grid homes? More like the bottom ten. Why not show REAL, full size, off grid homes?