Eco Houses – Off-grid living in the Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills
  • The home is powered by 15 x 165 watt solar modules that can generate up to 10kWh in summer. Light-coloured cladding helps reflect the sun.
  • Rainwater is collected in two 75,000 litre rainwater tanks and bore water is also used.
  • Homeowner Judy at home on the property that has small sections of native remnant bush and new and established trees.

With its own electricity and water supply this Adelaide Hills home demonstrates modern off-grid living.

The self-sufficient contemporary home sits on 76 hilltop acres with 360 degree views to McLaren Vale and the coast.

Energy efficiency and healthy house principles were essential to the owners, creating a place that’s in harmony with the environment.

The house features good passive solar design including reverse brick veneer construction to increase thermal mass within the home. The property was not connected to electricity or water, so has an off-grid solar power system and independent rainwater and borewater supply.

Watch this video to see how the house was designed and built for off-grid living.


Hot water

Cromagin Solar Hotwater with instantaneous LPG backup.

Renewable energy

3.7 kW solar off-grid power system, maintained by Solar Depot.

Water saving

There is no mains water. Two rainwater tanks collect 151,000 litres of rain water.

The wet collection system has been fitted with first flush diverters and drainage points to keep the water free from roof debris.

All greywater and blackwater is sent to a traditional 44 metre long soakage pit, and trees are planted to take advantage of the moisture.

Water is pumped to the house and garden via a pressure pump and pressure tank.

Passive design/heating and cooling

There is R2 insulation in all internal walls, and exposed stone is used as thermal mass.

The roof is light coloured Colour Bond, with R 3.8 insulation and sisalation.

Condor roof ventilators assist the indoor temperatures in both summer and winter.

There are deciduous vines in the courtyard. Full-length exterior blinds keep the house cool while allowing occupants to enjoy western and eastern views.

Active heating and cooling

The home is heated by a wood fire, collected from fallen timber on the property. An evaporative cooler is used during extended hot periods.

Building materials

The construction of the house is reverse brick veneer, timber frame, R2 insulation, sisalation with external colorbond cladding, which is light in colour to reflect the heat.

Windows and glazing

The home has double glazing throughout, with insulated curtains, and curtains hung from the ceiling to eliminate the need for pelmets and exterior café blinds to shade house in summer.


Compact fluorescent and LED lights.

Paints, finishes and floor coverings

Slab construction with waffle pod, solid timber used in main living rooms and Marmoleum in bedrooms/studios.

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