What Does Off-Grid Living Mean?
There may come a time either by necessity or design that you may want to or have to face the reality of off-grid living.
And what exactly is off-grid living?
It can mean several things to different people but it refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without the reliance of one or several public utilities.
Your off the grid home could be the one your living in now which has been isolated from your utilities due to a crisis situation or one in which you decide to build to achieve autonomy.
An off the grid home does not have municipal water supply, sewer, gas, and is not connected to the electrical power grid.
As I mentioned before this can be by choice, or brought upon you because of a devastating crisis such as a hurricane, fire, flooding, etc.
Both situations pose the same problems and for the most part, will require some of the same solutions. I will attempt to show you how to get started in getting yourself comfortable without the use of the utility companies.
How Do I Get Off The Grid?
The answer to that is rather easy if you just came out of the other side of a natural disaster and you are now cut off from the utility companies.
You are now off the grid.
I hope you have prepared yourself somewhat before any crisis hits home.
The question you are asking now is how the heck am I going to get my life and the lives of my family back to some semblance of normalcy without those things we have taken for granted for so long?
We will cover some solutions for you in this post and you may find solutions in other posted blogs on this site.
However, for those just wanting to get away from it all, we are going to explore the hows and pros and cons of off-grid living.
So obviously you will need a piece of land to put your well-planned house on. And well-planned means how big with how many rooms for ‘x’ amount of people, well designed to be efficient in the hot and cold environment that you have chosen to build in, etc.
How about the legalities?
Is Off-Grid Living Illegal
And you thought ‘checking out’ was going to be easy.
Here is something to ponder: Off-grid living is illegal sometimes and in some states with rather harsh zoning laws.
Remember that off-grid living by definition is being disconnected from the grids of public utilities which is not technically illegal.
It is perfectly OK to produce your own electric power, creating your own heating solutions, and growing your own food in your own garden, and raising livestock such as chickens.
You may also build your own home off the grid.
However, you may come across problems in a rather overly restrictive area of a city or county that will put a ‘fly in the ointment’ and give you headaches when you are preparing to do things on your property such as building that off-grid structure.
And that is when it might become illegal.
As an example: most municipalities will not allow you to “camp” on your own property for more than two weeks time. That seems to be the ‘go too’ grace period of almost everywhere in this country.
Then your only solution will be to obtain a permit to camp out for a longer time on your own property or find someplace nearby to live while the building process is underway.
Kind of puts an ironic twist of owning your own land so I suggest you look up and find out the law of the particular land you are getting ready to build on.
What Do I Need To Live Off The Grid?
Before even considering your off-grid lifestyle, let us look at eight necessities for living off the grid:
- You are going to need a piece of property. Consider how easy it is to get to, and how easy it will be to build on.
- Shelter: what type of structure are you going to be putting on this land. How big for how many people, facing which direction for best solar panel placement and for fronting the cold wind of winter and/or the cooling winds of summer.
- You can not live long without water. How are you going to come by it? You living near a stream of reliable freshwater or are you going to be pumping it out of the ground. How are you going to get that done? Where and how are you going to store that water?
- Gardening and livestock. You got that water situation figured out, now you got to eat. You will be getting hungry in about seven days, so you might want to consider how you are going to feed yourself and by what means you are going to be doing the cooking.
- Power. You are going to need the power to run that pump to get the water out of the ground and maybe some power to keep you warm in the winter. A light bulb or two may be a wanted commodity. You need to figure out how to generate that power. Solar, wind, water.
- You generated the power, now you need to store it in batteries. You need a place to house those batteries and you need to know the size and type.
- You are going to generate waste via the bathroom and general living. What are you going to do with it? You need a solution for that. Rember, you are alone……there is no connecting sewer system.
- After you have absorbed all the above, the eighth thing you must have is a good mindset. Living off the grid is not for the faint of heart type of person.
Off-Grid Living Cabin
Let’s suppose you are ready to step off the edge and go full throttle into the building and setting up your own off-grid home in the woods.
Check out this site and the video that follows.
Let’s get into the meat of the subject.
Off-Grid Living Pros And Cons
Why going off the grid may not actually be such a good idea. … According to a recent study just out in the influential journal EnergyPolicy, however, ditching the grid is likely to be more an individualistic dream than an economically viable solution for most people.
If you are going down this road to save money on utility bills, that might not be the best reason.
If you are going this route as an insurance policy for the aftermath of a severe or even moderate survival type disaster, you are on the right track for the reason of such an investment.
You may find yourself in a situation that will require you to ‘bug out’ and it would be a great relief to know that you do have someplace to evacuate too.
Much better than a school gymnasium with restrictions.
It may even double as a great vacation home away from home. A place to really get away from it all.
While doing this research I learned a valuable lesson of wind and solar power: they can’t always be counted on when you need them. No matter where you are, the sun will always set and the wind will stop blowing.
In summary, this is what I have learned about renewable energy by those living off the grid:
You can’t count on it when you need it. You need a battery bank, and you should have a backup generator available, too.
It’s expensive. While the energy is free, the equipment is not, making the cost of power higher than utility prices. The money you will most likely never make back.
When it fails, the carbon footprint of non-renewable backup generation is larger than that of a utility company.
Propane is a great answer for a multiple of energy questions. It can heat a house, cook your food, and actually run a refrigerator.