Australian Couple Lives On Mountaintop in Off-Grid Shipping Containers

Off-Grid Shipping Containers

Off-Grid Shipping Containers


For three and a half years, deep in the Australian bush, Paul Chambers and his wife Sarah have lived in two 40 foot high Off-Grid Shipping Containers. They are entirely off the grid with no municipal power or water source. The couple had lived an ideal life in Scotland, but when Paul received a job offer to move, he took it. Wanting to escape suburbia, the couple had decided to start living off-grid.

The Off-Grid Shipping Containers were chosen because they didn’t have a tract of land that they owned personally. Shipping containers are easily moved and are not permanent structures. They lucked out and found some land from a kind individual to place their home on . In return for the land, Paul does maintenance on the road and surrounding lands. He has since obtained a third container to use as his workshop. Paul had never built a house before and everything had to be built from scratch. He used small grinders and metal tools to cut the containers to meet his specific needs. Using his knowledge of industry, he was able to piece everything together by hand.

Paul is an engineer, teacher, and adventurist. Having no formal building training, he had learned the construction trade by watching his dad build houses. His friend taught him how to weld and he has now become a proficient welder. There was no original building plan and he adapted the build as he went along. He has created a custom ceiling and door system to allow the proper installation of insulation. To connect the containers , he built an enclosed walkway between them.

The containers have all of the creature comforts of a normal home. He has installed beautiful wood flooring, bathroom fixtures, and lighting. Recycled materials are used whenever possible to save money. Paul estimates the cost of the project at sixty-one thousand dollars USD. The project has taken them considerably longer than expected as they had no other outside assistance. The living space in the containers is comparable to a one to two bedroom apartment in the city. They enjoy their time by sitting around a fireplace and even watch movies to relax.

Without any power, they installed a generator to start with and have now upgraded to twelve 250 watt solar panels. These panels are connected to two huge golf cart battery pods. Maintenance is fairly easy as they only have to check the water levels of the batteries. The couple uses a regular fridge and freezer. They have enough power to run a washing machine and every appliance that you and I would have. To make the most out of the power supply, they use the most energy intensive devices during peak times during the day, and use the batteries to run the air conditioner in the night times. To charge their phones, they use a 12 volt outlet to run the modem for the internet and to charge their phones.

Lighting is supplied by LEDs to be as efficient as possible. They also utilize natural sunlight as much as possible during the daytime hours. If the batteries are fully charged, they can use as much electricity as they please. After 4-o-clock, they stop using any high use electrical appliances to save on battery power and battery life. In this phase of the project, the couple no longer has to worry about running out of electricity as they have fine tuned their energy consumption enough to have an abundance to spare.

The roof is built specially to collect rain water. Rain water is piped from the gutters into the main water holding tank next to the house. The water pressure is provided by an analog water pump using 240 volt power. Water is then run through a filtration system to ensure it is safe for drinking. Now that they have enough water supply, they can wash their clothes in a standard washing machine. Paul also built a solar powered outdoor bath so that he could enjoy the relaxing warm water. Using a mix of hot and cold water, Paul achieves the perfect bathing temperature. When finished with the bath water, it is used to water various plants located around their container home. For their sewage needs, they have installed what seems to be a basic porta-potty which is then emptied into a compost pile to be used for fertilizer.

Initially it was difficult to grow vegetables in the hot Australian sun. Paul built a greenhouse cave to keep the the direct sunlight at a controllable level. All of the plants and gardens are feed by the rain water collected. Paul bought seedling plants from the local supermarket and has had much success despite the fact of him not being a gardener. The containers are built in the middle of a cow pasture and the couple has since had to build fences around the home to keep the stinky cow dung out.

The couple has been able to reconnect with nature after living a suburban lifestyle for so many years. Paul and Sarah work very hard to maintain the property around the home and have developed their own personal paradise. Being an avid swimmer, Paul has his own personal pond with no chlorine, chemicals, or harmful additives. They believe that anyone can go off the grid if they set their mind to it. After letting go of their old lifestyle, they have found a new appreciation for nature and life in general. They believe anyone can escape the drudgery of on the grid living. Since these shipping containers are movable, the couple can move anywhere they please at anytime. If you are interested in a more step by step instructional on how Paul has accomplished this amazing feat, one can check out his personal YouTube channel at .