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Prefab Net Zero Off Grid Thoughts: Kitchen

Oh how prefab-ulous: We are ALL sick.
It is raining.
Coughing, sneezing, low grade fevers... we will not visit the net zero off grid prefab this weekend.
Yet inside, we're bustling about in our pj's and woolen socks, ill but happily busy, and I am researching:
Kitchen Appliances For The Net Zero Off Grid Prefab Modern House!

I have been toying over thoughts on the kitchen island and appliances for months.
General thoughts:
  • Kitchen island should face the chaos, so that I can happily participate as I cook
  • Upper part: contains juice and wine glasses so I can throw them at thirsty clamoring mutinous guests
  • Smaller fridge reflects our locally eating, buying fresh food, often, lifestyle
  • Composting bin
  • Smaller trash can because we compost our food waste, feed scraps to chickens, avoid packaging
  • and a recycling bin, of course
But something in the functionality I drew out earlier didn't sit right... I was still working on it...
The big barrier to energy efficient off grid appliances is that, frankly, they often cost a heckuva lot more.

Today I stumbled onto this: A green fridge that uses almost no electricity, made out of a freezer!

Freezers and fridges that open from the top make sense. Think about it: hot air rises, cold air falls. When you open a traditional fridge or freezer, the air literally falls out of the compartment as you consider, "Hmmmmm... what shall I have for lunch today?"

With the door on the top, you can keep the cold air contained within much more efficiently.
I again researched energy efficient appliances... then stumbled across what seems like a good solution:

A freezer with TWO access drawers and temperature zones! So the top could be for food kept cool... and the bottom, remain a freezer! (IF we even need to use a small freezer. More on those thoughts for you on that in another post...)

The Haier freezer I selected was rectangular, not square, because it makes sense that when you open it, with a more rectangular shape you can quickly scan the inventory vs. dig through layers trying to find something in a square space. I researched and researched, and found one for $329, not the least expensive, but with free shipping (shipping averaged $100 so in the end, it was a good deal).

Now I am going to play with crayons to show you my kitchen area idea:

(The reality will be much more sleek and modern, longer in width, much more stylish; I'm trying to explain the functionality. Dudes, I'm drawing with CRAYONS.)
  • Countertop:

    • Range
    • Cutting board area also doubles as where to put the dish rack when drying dishes, water can run off to be recycled with a surrounding groove into a container right in front of the compost top?
    • Drawer top to hold compost bin to the right of work area (doesn't need to be too big as we discard scraps at least twice a day - you can see the bin top to the left of the stove, it would be built in- metal container, flush with the countertop) - if I were left-handed it would go on the left...
    • Sink: shallow but wide enough for rinsing, washing dishes
    • Glass storage: facing me, sliding glass provides access to glasses

      This reflects the natural progression in how I cook:
      By putting the workstation between the range and sink, I can rinse & cut, add scraps to compost, then add the cut items to the pan all without moving the cutting board.

  • Underneath:

    • Pull out shelf (not drawer) reveals freezer-converted-into-fridge, yet allows access to bottom drawer of fridge (after I drew this I realized it should be under the sink, as I'm right handed and thus making it more accessible as I prepared / cooked)
    • Two drawers under sink for pots and pans

  • Side where the stools will be:

    • Sliding glass: provides access to glasses (the nonbreakable pewter cups of which we Virginians seem to acquire so many...)
    • Legroom under the glasses area for swinging, restless children's legs
    • Access to pipes if you need it by making that side face a latched door, able to swing open
    • Handsome Husband pointed out we could take that latched door just mentioned (that opens to the pipes, systems where the stools are) and instead have it lift up, not open sideways, and could then create a "insta-table" for extra guests.

  • Behind me, flush and built into the wall:

    •  Two shelves that open for more storage of plates, glasses, utencils, cloth napkins
    • Underneath: a pull out drawer separated into

      1. trash (as in, non food anything): which we have *very little* of...
      2. recycling (um... we have more of that. Hello, beer cans...)

Here is another crayon rough version of what it might look like...

Picture this room with the grey polished concrete floor, a built in bookshelf, smooth plywood finishes mixed with the recycled VMI basketball court on the walls and in the kitchen island.

Now I need to keep an eye out for cool, modern (hopefully reused, as I try to recycle, even better: vintage) bar stools, and juice and wine glasses.  I'm also looking for a marine stove...

After a split-second of thought, I decided I do not need an oven.  I use our solar cooker for fun, why not make it integral for our bread baking, etc. *every* time? Granted, that rules out a Thanksgiving turkey, but there are other, more creative ways to approach that dilemma. The reality is that I only use our oven a few times a year, and many of those times can certainly be replaced with the slow cooker, solar cooker, and other methods.

So there ya have my prefab house kit thoughts on the kitchen area!
All certainly to be refined, revised before you see photographs of the finished area...
But what else was I supposed to do on a sick, rainy day? : )

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At 10/30/09, 12:04 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

What? No brownies, cookies, muffins, cornbread, pizza or casseroles?

Our first trailer lacked an oven and the successor (our present one) has a little oven we absolutely love.

Instead of a marine stove, we use an Amana RV propane stovetop/oven combo. It is very compact (24" X 24" X 30" tall), plenty large enough for us, and the burneres and oven regulate heat perfectly.

We cannot do anything large in the oven (okay, no large Thanksgiving turkey) but we can bake the other 99% of things we would want.

Friends without the oven don't know how they would ever give up the storage under the stove-top. The oven just isn't worth it to them, either. If we didn't use it, I wouldn't want an oven either.

Jim & Debbie
full-timing in North America

At 10/30/09, 1:28 PM , Blogger Passive Solar Prefab Homes said...

Thanks for commenting! I am enjoying reading YOUR site.

Actually, I will follow this up in a blog post but...

I started thinking about the oven... and have come up with another solution, that doesn't utilize kitchen space. Perplexed? That's because it's outside- an EARTH OVEN!

(More details soon! : ) )

At 9/23/16, 11:25 PM , Blogger berdy said...

Where did you find that fridge/freezer? What is the model?

At 9/27/16, 7:30 PM , Blogger Passive Solar Prefab Homes said...

We put it in the northe east storage space area, it was just the most energy efficient model we could find- first, a Haier, which sadly was not ideal- that bottom drawer was always too warm. Now it's a GE.


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