Living Off Grid
What is living off grid?
Living off grid is simply living disconnected from the grid. “The Grid” is the common term used for the power grid. This is what brings power into your home for all your gadgets and appliances. Your home is also usually connected to natural gas, phone, cable and water lines. Living off grid is a way to cut all those lines and become self sufficient.
It’s completely up to you how much of your utility usage you want to cut out. You can use wind, solar or hydroelectric for your power needs. You can drill a well for water, and a functioning septic tank will cut out the need for sewer service. It is a method that will enable you to change your way of living and avoid the monthly utility bills.
Benefits of living off grid
There are a number of benefits to deciding to live off grid. For one thing, you lessen your use of fossil fuels, which can help improve the environment. By using alternative renewable energy sources you not only have the benefit of savings by not paying monthly utility bills, you also help the environment. Once you have made the initial investment into green energy sources, they will pay for themselves many times over.
What do you need to live off grid?
The saying, “It’s location, location, location” is as true in off grid living as it is for business. You need room for your equipment as well as producing food if you really want to go all out. The batteries to store the power you produce will take up room too. You’ll need a place where you can reasonably drill a well and put down a septic system if you want to get off the city water pipes. The proper mind set is probably the biggest need when you decide to live off grid. An ability to be independent and the desire to live a sustainable lifestyle are important.
Finding suitable land to build your off grid living space is the first step. You aren’t going to pull this off in an apartment in the city. Once you find suitable land either with a home already on it, or where you can build, you’ll have the first piece in place to begin your off grid life. Some things to consider when choosing a property include:
- If possible find a site with both open land for growing a garden and some woodland for heating fuel for the winter. If you can find property that has a running stream it’s even better. You can set up hydroelectric power in addition to wind and solar. Also make sure you have an open area to the south for solar power needs. You’ll need a spot far enough from trees to allow your wind energy setup to not be blocked by forest. Otherwise you’ll need a tower taller than the surrounding trees.
- Do your research and find out what it will take to drill a well for a water supply if you want to provide for your own water.
- Do your research and make sure you can build a waste disposal system such as a septic system.
What will I need for power generation?
Solar power is usually what people think of when they think of off grid power. To use solar power you’re going to need good quality solar panels, a battery bank to store the power generated, and either 12 volt appliances or an inverter. You’ll have to figure out how much power you will use in a day and install enough capacity to meet your needs with additional backup supply for unforeseen circumstances. You can add additional generating capacity by adding a wind generator. Finally, if you have a running stream you can add hydroelectric capability. Combining these methods will give you the most secure power supply.
What about a water supply?
You can have a well drilled to provide water for all your needs. Prices can vary depending on how deep the water table is in your area. You’ll also have to consider the cost of the well pump and piping to get the water where you need it. In areas with high iron concentrations you’ll need a softener to make the “hard water” suitable for use.
If you want to go off grid and live independently there are up front costs involved. However, once you get the systems in place you will rapidly see a return on investment as you save on all those utility bills you aren’t paying monthly. Additionally, you’ll never have to worry about the utility company raising your rates.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments below.