Ten Tips for Going Off-Grid
Ten Tips for Going Off-Grid by A.U. – Survival Blog
My husband and I recently bought a piece of property with some family members in the hope of transitioning to off-grid living. For those who might not be familiar with the concept, going off-grid means creating a lifestyle that does not rely on public utilities (water, electricity, et cetera).
There are many different reasons people choose to go off-grid. Some of the most popular reasons are:
- to decrease environmental impact,
- to prepare for disaster, or
- a desire to be independent and self-sustained.
We jumped into our endeavor with almost no knowledge or experience. We have had to learn some things the hard way. While I would not trade the experience for anything, there are some things that I wish we had known from the start. Here is a list of tips I can offer to help make the transition to off-grid living a bit easier.
- Have a backup plan.When we switched to off-grid living, we thought switching to a solar system would be a relatively quick and easy process. We expected we’d soon have all the modern conveniences at our fingertips, but we were wrong. In the beginning, we had to use a generator to charge the batteries when the solar panels were not collecting enough sun. (I will talk later about buying extra supplies.) A camp cooler was our refrigerator for nearly a year before we had enough solar equipment to run a real refrigerator. We still do laundry at the laundromat. To have a washing machine would require we expand our system And we still do not have a television.Starting small is not a bad thing. However, the key is to be prepared. If you plan to buy property and cannot afford to buy all the off-grid equipment at once, perhaps look into a piece of land that has utility hookups available to make the transition easier. We chose land with no hookups, so our transition was a bit rough. However, starting with nothing has made us realize how much we can live without.
- Have a flexible budget.Before we started building on our property, we had a certain amount of money set aside for each expense. Like fools, we thought we had everything figured out and were pretty proud of our budgeting skills. As you would expect, we went over budget on almost everything. Drilling a well? Buying a solar-powered system? That stuff is expensive anyway. However, when you find out you will need more than you thought, it is quite a blow to morale.We live on a mountain that has quite a few natural springs. So, we figured we would not have to drill our well very deep before striking “gold”. (Let’s be honest; fresh well water is as good as gold.) Unfortunately, we ended up having to drill over 100 feet deeper than planned, which added up to several thousand dollars extra. As for solar power, we did our research and found a reputable supplier. They gave us a quote for the equipment we would need to run our appliances. As you might have guessed, we needed more power than our equipment could supply, which meant having to spend more money.
- Start small.Given that things usually end up costing more than anticipated, my recommendation is to start small as you build your off-grid system. Also, since there is so much trial and error that goes into the transition to off-grid living, buying all the best equipment right away can be pretty risky. It’s easy to accidentally drain your batteries beyond repair. If that happens, your decision to start with a lower grade setup and requirement to replace certain components will hurt less if you don’t start with a “Cadillac” system.When we switched to off-grid living, we also made the transition to tiny home living. Without a large house to power, the small square footage has helped save money on our solar system and has made it so we can be self-sustaining sooner than if we had tried to go off-grid in a large house.