Everything You Need to Know About Creating an Off-Grid Outdoor Office Shed
Working from home is a dream come true for many. Remote work eliminates long commutes, offers flexibility, allows for customization of your workspace, and gives you the ability to work from anywhere in the world. However, working from home presents its fair share of challenges as well. Finding a quiet workplace free from distractions is typically one of the biggest obstacles. Others need an area to work in separate from their living space to get in the right mindset. A garden shed allows you to work mere steps away from your home while still having a dedicated office.
Reasons to Build an Off-Grid Office Shed
Unlike other types of sheds, such as those for storage, your office shed will need specific amenities. The most common amenities include:
– Ability to power office devices (e.g., computer)
– Internet access
– Mini kitchen/refreshment bar
– Restroom facilities
Each of these amenities requires that your office shed be equipped with power. However, running traditional means of electricity may not be something you can or want to do. Many people choose to go off-grid for environmental reasons. For one, it is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
In other situations, running power lines to your office shed may not be practical or possible. Building an off-grid shed is a cost-effective solution.
Many people prefer to have a private work area that they can keep separate from their home life, so they can close the doors at the end of the day and walk away until morning when the workday resumes.
Benefits of an Off-Grid Office Shed
The benefits of making your office shed self-sustainable include:
– Minimal operating costs will reduce the overall costs of working from home.
– The use of fewer resources means less waste is produced and put back into the environment.
– You may be able to take advantage of potential tax incentives for being environmentally friendly.
– Power outages are another aspect that may affect the workflow. Being off-grid could avoid these complications entirely.
– The installation of the systems is less complicated, saving time and money.
– An off-grid office is a great alternative for rural areas with little to no amenities close by.
Here’s what you need to know to create your own off-grid office shed.
A Solid Foundation
The cornerstone of your office is its foundation. Be sure that you choose a foundation such as concrete or wood that you can apply your choice of flooring on top of. For instance, vinyl, tile, or laminate flooring are just a few of the options you have that will increase the insulative properties of your shed and provide an additional layer of comfort while working.
A solid foundation is critical before an office fit-out can take place. It should be sturdy enough to hold furniture and other office necessities while being insulated and beautifully laid.
Optimize Thermal Mass
The thermal mass of your office shed is how well the exterior can absorb and store heat energy as well as handle external temperature fluctuations. The best materials for the exterior of your building to optimize thermal mass include:
Adequate ventilation is needed for moisture control and to circulate fresh air throughout the space. In fact, poor or no ventilation can be a health hazard, which includes an increased risk of developing:
– Respiratory issues
– Increased risk of mold build-up, and then breathing in these dangerous mold spores
There are two types of ventilation you can incorporate into your office-shed design.
1. Passive ventilation – This type of ventilation involves installing screened openings near the roof that allow air to pass through the building.
2. Forced ventilation – This type of ventilation uses forced air to circulate through the structure.
Use a Generous Amount of Insulation
Adequately insulating your office-shed is one of the most essential steps to successfully going off-grid. A well-insulated structure will allow your shed to do the work by keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter without the need for as many resources. The best types of insulation that are a more sustainable solution compared to traditional fiberglass insulation include:
– Sheep’s wool
Making sure your insulation is 3.5” to 5.5” inches thick is a good benchmark to aim for. It is also advisable to add foam board as well. Ensuring your office-shed is well-insulated will allow for optimal temperature self-regulation.
Maximize Natural Light
The more natural light you incorporate into your office-shed design, the less artificial light that will be needed to illuminate your space. Not to mention, natural light has health benefits such as the ability to improve mental health and is the only natural source of vitamin D.
Installing multiple windows, skylights, transparent doors, and even sun tunnels will not only reduce the amount of energy needed but further reduce your carbon footprint. When installing windows and doors, be sure to use double and triple-pane glass for increased efficiency. For doors, you can consider installing bi-folding doors as these can transform an entire wall of your home into glass, which maximizes natural light.
Off-Grid Power Source
In order to operate your amenities and office equipment such as computers, printers, fax machines, etc., you will need an alternative power source. Generators and wind turbines are two off-grid options, but the most common is solar power, which is energy harnessed from the sun.
For an office, solar panels and wind turbines would be better for noise reduction, whereas a generator could distract from tasks if placed too close to the office itself. Plus, the aforementioned are more sustainable than a generator that uses fossil fuels to operate.
Components Needed to Install Solar Energy
To use solar energy to power your office-shed, you will need the following components:
– Solar panels – This is how energy is obtained from the sun. The number of solar panels needed will depend on your office-shed size and the amount of energy required to power your space.
– Power storage – You will need a way to store power in the event of a lack of sunshine. This is accomplished with battery packs. Once again, the number of battery packs you need will depend on the amount of power you want to store.
– Generator – A generator is a good back-up if battery stores are depleted. It is the last resort. Once battery levels are low and the solar panels are unable to generate more power, the generator will automatically turn on. You can also install a bypass that allows you to go straight to the generator in the event that you want to keep your battery stores full.
– Inverter – An inverter will need to be installed close to the batteries that convert DC into usable AC power.
Placement of Solar Panels
The placement of the solar panels is crucial to generating the maximum amount of energy possible. You can install them either on the roof of your office-shed or on the ground. Choose a location that receives sunlight for most of the day and is free from interferences such as trees or even other homes and buildings. Be sure to consider how the sun rises in sets in both the summer and winter months. Some areas with many weather fluctuations can impede the solar panels from gathering enough energy. For these areas, it may be necessary to link the panels to a bigger type of energy storage for the days when the sunlight is not as bright.
These factors could also influence the location of the solar panels, depending on the installation’s exact needs.
Where to start?
Building an off-grid office shed is an excellent way to save money, support the environment, and get the private office space you need. It all starts with picking out the best shed design to fit your needs.
Make a list of everything that needs to be included in the plan, draw a basic floor plan, look at local businesses for quotes, and get going. Need some help finding that perfect layout? No problem!
Shedplans.org offers a complete line of office shed plans for you to choose from. These are specifically designed with your unique work needs in mind. Ready to stop using the already cluttered dining room table or squeezing into the corner of the kids’ playroom? Have your very own office space right in your backyard!- by Matt Watts