Getting Grid Ready

“Grid ready” in this case just means wiring the building to code,
regardless of what the power source will be.
The main issue with the codes here is they assume a high-energy-use “American dream” for everyone and require wiring to that standard and there are no clear or easy ways to make legal exceptions in the code as it is.
For people who are going to have an off-grid system that supplies that much power (~$20K and up system cost) the grid-ready code is mostly worth following, as it insures safety in the electrical system.
For people who are going to have a system that supplies only a fraction of typical grid power (affordable/appropriate technology, voluntary simplicity in electricity use, etc.), grid ready wiring as required in current codes is unnecessarily expensive (“overkill”) and technically not always appropriate and/or necessary.
It can even be technically problematic, because safety devices are sized for an amount of power the system cannot even supply in all cases and therefor safety devices can fail to provide the safety they are intended to supply (Polestar has experienced this at least once).
Technically, it is no problem to scale safety measures and devices to suit the available power – that is, to design simpler and cheaper than current code electrical systems that are equally as safe.
However this option does not exist in current codes AFAIK.
It might be legally possible by going through a licensed electrical engineer, and, that just makes it overly expensive again (if any such engineer would be willing to do it).
I think the simplest option, since this is all about liability from the County standpoint, would be returning liability to the owner-builder who chose to not follow grid-ready codes for an off-grid electrical system.
One waiver-style “permit” for owner-builder systems could ideally cover all systems (structural, electrical, plumbing etc.).
Or they could be separate, if that made it easier for the  bureaucracy and as long as they were equally easy to obtain.
cheers,
John S.

“Grid ready” in this case just means wiring the building to code,regardless of what the power source will be.
The main issue with the codes here is they assume a high-energy-use “American dream” for everyone and require wiring to that standard and there are no clear or easy ways to make legal exceptions in the code as it is.For people who are going to have an off-grid system that supplies that much power (~$20K and up system cost) the grid-ready code is mostly worth following, as it insures safety in the electrical system.
For people who are going to have a system that supplies only a fraction of typical grid power (affordable/appropriate technology, voluntary simplicity in electricity use, etc.), grid ready wiring as required in current codes is unnecessarily expensive (“overkill”) and technically not always appropriate and/or necessary.
It can even be technically problematic, because safety devices are sized for an amount of power the system cannot even supply in all cases and therefor safety devices can fail to provide the safety they are intended to supply (Polestar has experienced this at least once).
Technically, it is no problem to scale safety measures and devices to suit the available power – that is, to design simpler and cheaper than current code electrical systems that are equally as safe.
However this option does not exist in current codes AFAIK.It might be legally possible by going through a licensed electrical engineer, and, that just makes it overly expensive again (if any such engineer would be willing to do it).
I think the simplest option, since this is all about liability from the County standpoint, would be returning liability to the owner-builder who chose to not follow grid-ready codes for an off-grid electrical system.One waiver-style “permit” for owner-builder systems could ideally cover all systems (structural, electrical, plumbing etc.).Or they could be separate, if that made it easier for the  bureaucracy and as long as they were equally easy to obtain.
cheers,John S.

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5 comments to Getting Grid Ready

  • PoopIsPlantFood

    As someone who aspires to build his own house in Puna, I desperately wish this vision were reality. I am not looking forward to all the electrical / plumbing costs I’m going to have to pay by mandate of the county.

    • victorio98

      PoopIsPlantFood,

      Building a house, especially here in Hawaii, is a huge expense. Some things can be done on the cheap, while others cannot. Please bear in mind that plants are not the only things that thrive on human waste. You are probably someone who can and would attend to that aspect of sanitation properly; I wish everyone could. A great example of a properly engineered composting toilet is there at the rest stop near Milolii. With a little elbow grease you could have one too.

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