Off-grid living provides freedom from the constraints of modern society. No longer are you at the whims of skyrocketing utility and gas costs or the unreliability of failing and outdated infrastructure.
Still, making the transition to living off-grid can be extremely daunting. So much of our lives relies on resources we might take for granted.
The good news is that modern technology has allowed us to utilize natural resources to keep our lights on, have clean water, and power our homes.
If you’re researching how to live off-grid, this guide is for you. We’ve compiled five ways to supply your home with off-grid power and what to consider when doing it.
Let’s jump in!
5 Best Ways to Take Your Home Off-Grid
Learning to live off-grid doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ll cover five ways to go off the grid and live a life of complete freedom.
The sun is the most abundant resource for clean energy, making it the most accessible renewable energy source for powering your home off-grid.
This alternative energy system uses photovoltaic solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. Modern technology has improved, so homeowners can easily install rigid panels on their roofs or use portable solar panels which require no fixed installation.
Solar panels alone won’t do the trick. They capture the sun’s energy but require a portable power station to convert solar power into electricity and store energy for future use. Alternatively, you can get the whole setup—solar panels + portable power station—in one bundle with something like the DELTA solar generators.
Solar is the most practical of all renewable energy sources since it requires the fewest conditions to work. All you need is sunlight, which is freely available. The only downside is that you must factor in cloudy days and nighttime, which can impact your energy production.
Solar power is the leading option for off-grid energy, giving you peace of mind that your energy consumption doesn’t lead to high-cost utility bills or leave you vulnerable to blackouts.
Wind power turns the motion of the air into usable electricity using a generator and turbine. The wind spins the turbine blades, initiating the internal generator to spin and produce electricity.
While the setup costs of wind energy are often affordable, many places aren’t windy enough for the system to work. Even if you live in a highly windy area, it won’t work if the wind swirls aimlessly. The window must blow in a consistent direction.
Wind turbines require ample open space to work properly. Relying on the wind to power your home can be fickle since it’s far from constant.
Hydropower harnesses the energy generated from moving water and turns it into electricity. It leverages the natural motion of water to spin the turbine, converting movement to electricity. Micro-hydro power works similarly to a wind turbine, except it uses water current instead of wind to turn the turbine.
The benefits of using micro-hydro energy are that the source can run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing consistent off-grid power, meaning you don’t need fewer batteries to store the energy. Also, micro-hydro generates the most electricity per financial investment.
However, micro-hydro requires specific on-site conditions, such as having access to a stream on your property. Only a few places offer water sources with enough volume to provide a meaningful amount of energy.
Geothermal uses heat from under the earth’s surface to power your home. The idea behind geothermal power is to tap into the underground reservoirs of hot water and steam. It means drilling underground wells and harnessing heat to drive turbines and produce electricity.
With geothermal energy, you’re getting a reliable power source with a small land footprint. However, it’s expensive to build and viable only in specific locations.
5. Fuel Generators
Fossil fuel-powered generators are effective in powering your home off-grid. The generator relies on a fuel source like gasoline or propane, meaning you’ll need to replenish your generator’s fuel source regularly. Depending on the generator, some can only power a few appliances, while others can run an entire home.
The most common fuel sources used for generators are diesel, gasoline, natural gas, and propane, making you dependent on volatile fossil fuel supplies and prices. Diesel and gasoline generators, in particular, are very noisy and emit toxic fumes when operational, significantly increasing your carbon footprint.
One problem with power generators is that gas and propane tend to burn quickly, driving up costs. Therefore, power generators are best as a backup solution if another renewable energy isn’t working.
For example, you may have extended days without much sunlight in colder climates. Having gas or propane as a backup for solar keeps your electricity going and the heater running until you gather enough energy from the sun.
Having as many energy options as possible is recommended to prepare you for any emergency. Gas might be inaccessible during a blackout, making gas and diesel generators unreliable in certain emergencies.
One option to avoid this issue is dual-fuel generators like the EcoFlow Dual-Fuel Smart Generator, which lets you switch between multiple fuel sources. You can use gas or propane so that you can still have power even if the fuel supply at your nearby gas station runs low.
Propane also burns cleaner fuel, meaning fewer carbon emissions, and it’s easier to store, unlike gas cans which degrade over time. The dual-fuel generators can automatically or manually switch between fuel sources, giving you a longer runtime to maintain your power source.
What To Keep In Mind Before Taking Your Home Off-Grid
Before you sell all your possessions and hightail it into the mountains, carefully plan out all the necessary resources, such as electricity, water, and food.
Your off-grid location significantly impacts your access to renewable energy resources. If you’re using solar panels, choosing a place with year-round sunshine is optimal. The last thing you want is your panels lying under heavy cloud cover for multiple days a week.
It’s also important to look at the various laws and restrictions related to off-grid living based on location. For example, in some provinces, you may only be able to raise livestock and grow your own crops on land zoned for agricultural use.
While there are many ways to power your home without connecting to your local grid, choosing the right power solution is essential.
For most off-grid seekers, solar will be the most practical solution, given the sun is freely available almost anywhere in the world. Solar equipment costs have plummeted dramatically over the years, and portable solutions have made installation almost effortless.
Many manufacturers offer an entire solar power kit, so you have everything you need in one place with minimal setup. For example, the EcoFlow Power Kit offers easy installation and integrates with tiny home and RV electrical circuits.
No matter which renewable energy source you choose, it’s essential to understand your energy consumption needs. You’ll need to calculate your usage to install the right system.
Many people would go hungry quickly without the luxuries of modern society, like grocery markets, restaurants, and food delivery services. When you source your own food, you can decide what to put into your body without worrying about harmful ingredients or contributing to more carbon emissions.
The best way to source your own food supply is to grow, collect or catch it. Fishing is an easy way to gather seafood for off-grid food. Fish are full of healthy vitamins and minerals, making them an excellent food source for your diet.
If you have the skills, hunting is also an excellent way to live off the land, provided you have a hunting license and only hunt in approved areas.
Farming is another excellent way to get food for your off-grid home. Small farming covers everything from raising cows for milk and cheese to growing grains for bread. It doesn’t require a large industrial farm to feed your family. A small-scale herd of livestock and crops will do the trick.
Along with energy and food, you’ll need to consider how to source water for your off-grid home. The average Canadian uses about 329L of water at home daily, meaning you’ll need a reliable system to capture and filter the water you collect.
There are several ways to source water sustainably, such as:
- Well water: If your home has a nearby drilled well, hook a supply line to the well and add a submersible pump to push water to a pressure tank inside your home.
- Rainwater: You can harvest rainwater from a tarp system, an existing roof, or a frame. Install a gutter that directs rainfall on your roof into a designated downpipe.
- Natural rivers, ponds, streams: A jet pump and a large diameter pipe can deliver water to your home, similar to the submersible pipe.
Type of Off-Grid Shelter
There are many ways to skin a cat, as they say. A cabin in the woods feels like a romantic escape that can serve as your off-grid housing. Wood is an excellent choice when living in a cold forested area.
An RV is perfect for those who want to pack up their bags and move within a moment’s notice. You escape the cold weather by enjoying a sunny destination during the winter months.
Tiny homes are great for downsizing and living a minimalist lifestyle. The size is enough to handle your needs rather than being tied to a hefty mortgage payment or unimportant belongings. Using shipping containers as the building materials, you can ship your tiny home anywhere in the world.
No matter the type of off-grid shelter you have, there are plenty of portable solar options like solar generators and panels you can take with you to keep your power on anywhere you go.
Here are the most frequently asked questions about off-grid power.
Is It Possible to Completely Go Off-Grid?
The short answer is yes! People lived this way for thousands of years. However, going completely off-grid can be challenging as you have to cover all your necessities, such as food, water, shelter, and electricity.
Nowadays, a growing community of people is living off the grid. As long as you find the right location, you’ll have access to the resources like water and food nearby. Then, having a portable power solution and the proper shelter can make it possible to go off-grid.
Is Living Off-Grid Cheaper?
Living off-grid is a cheaper and simpler way of living. However, this depends entirely on how you plan on living off-grid. For example, owning land off the grid will incur a hefty property tax.
Buying an existing off-grid home, building your own tiny house, or RV living can save you from mortgage payments.
Using renewable energy for power helps to save on electricity bills in the long run. Make sure to buy durable solar panels that last a long time to prevent the need to replace them.
Whether off-grid is cheaper for you depends on your setup and your needs. If you live a minimalist lifestyle or can live hybrid off-grid, you may be able to decrease your expenses significantly.
The notion of off-grid living means location freedom, a lower cost of living, and self-reliance that very few will ever experience.
There are many essentials to consider to successfully transition from living in society to off-grid living. With the information from this guide, you’ll have a good starting point for where to source your power, food, and water.