Off-Grid Rental Cabin Secrets: A Canadian Couple's Story
This fall, a couple of our customers reached out on Instagram and invited us to tour their off-grid property. Conveniently, they live on the Miramichi river, about an hour away from our flagship retail store in New Brunswick.
Before we left, we were advised to bring a truck with AWD, as the path into their property is actually quite an impressive trail. We navigated a winding forest path, passing impressive rock formations, crossing a bridge, tackling some terrain, but alas, we reached our destination. There, we were welcomed by a fluffy orange cat named Harvey and our customers, Kylie and Mike.
Kylie and Mike Shaw are the proud owners of The Hideaway; a wilderness resort consisting of two rental cabins perched high on the edge of the river-valley, conjoined by a gorgeous deck with a firepit, dining area and plenty of space for outdoor entertainment. They live on-site all year in a cabin on the other side of the property, and have done all the landscaping, renovating, installation and interior decoration themselves. In addition to the cabins, there's 300 acres of forest to snowshoe, explore and enjoy.
Before diving head-first into the off-grid lifestyle, Kylie and Mike had some prior experience. The two had already spent three and half years living off-grid on a 30 ft wooden sailboat, sailing from all the way from Lake Ontario to Venezeula. (You can hear more about that trip in our full 20 min interview.) So, it's safe to say they were already acquainted with the lifestyle.
They were happy to sit down for a video interview and talk about their experiences and provide some insight to other people looking to go off-grid.
Let's take a look inside:
Both of the cabins are aptly named and provide a theme for the interior. So, "The Spruce" cabin has spruce wood accents, while "The Birch" cabin includes birch bark decor.
All four buildings at the Hideaway operate independently using their own battery banks. The Spruce and Birch are each powered by one of EcoFlow's Delta 2 portable power stations. In Kylie and Mike's cabin, they use a series of larger portable power stations, charged from a 1200w solar array by the water. There's also a workshop building on the property.
Whenever one of the Delta 2 units run out of power during a guest's stay, they simply bring it back to charge at their cabin, and replace with a freshly charged unit. Thankfully, the charging process is quick. EcoFlow happens to have some of the fastest charging technology available on the market, so they can charge from 0-100% in only an hour.
For fresh water, they pump from the river up to their cabins and filter using a gravity-fed water filtration system. To keep their waterlines from freezing, Mike and Kylie have applied heat-line to their pipes. Another water feature at The Hideaway would be their outdoor shower.
Complete with a moss garden and stone stairway (meticulously gathered from all across the property), the outdoor shower is privately enclosed by a cedar structure, and gives a clear view to the treetops. To heat their water, they use a Camplux 8L Outdoor Tankless Water Heater.
Mike and Kylie bought the Hideaway property sight unseen, and discovered many unexpected things while renovating. One huge discovery was a working septic system, allowing their guests to enjoy a traditional flush toilet despite being kilometres into the woods. Septic systems can be incredibly costly to install, particularly in remote areas. So for the majority of our off-grid customers without a pre-existing septic system but still want a 'flush' toilet, we recommend a Cinderella Incineration toilet. Cinderella is an odourless, waterless off-grid toilet that evaporates waste and liquids into a sterile ash at a fraction of the cost of a septic system using 240v AC or propane power.
Upon their initial arrival, the cabins appeared to be nothing more than rudimentary structures, replete with a multitude of pressing issues. Recognizing the need for an extensive renovation, the couple, with Mike's background as a skilled carpenter, took on the entire restoration themselves.
To harness solar energy, Mike installed a 4x 300w (1200w) array of GMA solar panels along the riverbank. Initially, they had utilized a roof-mounted setup for their panels, but they soon realized that during winter, the sun dipped below the tree-line, significantly diminishing their solar input. To fix this, Mike designed and built an adjustable wooden pole mount. This allowed him to adapt the panel positioning each season, ensuring optimal solar capture by accommodating the sun's shifting trajectory.
For those seeking an adjustable, expandable, and easily deployable system, the Trifecta solar ground mount is an excellent solution, proudly 100% Canadian-made. No concrete is required for installation.
If you're reading this blog in November of 2023 AND you live in one of the Maritime provinces, you're in luck. The Hideaway is letting us give away one free night's stay (in both cabins!) for you and three of your friends. Check out our Facebook post here to learn how you can enter. The winners are chosen on November 29th. *Participants must reside in the Maritime provinces to be eligible to win.