Living off grid is defined as being self-sufficient of municipal utilities, such as water, natural gas, electricity, sewer and trash services. One advantage is knowing that you and your family can be prepared and will be able to survive quite well when a disaster happens.
The type of home in which you are living determines, in large part, the extent to which you can go grid-free. An advantage for both types of homes is that everything you normally need in the course of a day or week is close to home.
Being independent of all utilities may not be possible, but minimizing usage and creating your own electricity can be.
We need to use water for cooking, cleaning and washing, we just need to be wise about our water usage. Begin to minimize your dependence on grocery stores by growing your own food as much as possible. Apartment balconies can hold pots for vegetables and you can build vertical growing systems. Choosing to become more self sufficient and rely less on the grid can be an overwhelming thought. There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product.
We didn’t have an air conditioner in one of the apartments where we lived before we got our house.
We have an air conditioner now, but by employing these simple tricks during the summer, we’ve managed to keep our electricity bill down and still stay cool. Sometime in the spring when it feels like spring instead of summer, I turn off the circuit breakers for my baseboard heat. An off-grid solar (photo-voltaic) electric power system is an ideal prep for modern survival in that it can partially or totally relinquish you from dependence upon other systems, which themselves are vulnerable to disruption or breakdown. Off-grid systems also enable the ability to live away from the mainstream, which opens the door to properties which may be more affordable than others which require connectivity to public utility systems. Although there is much more to know regarding the proper design and construction of an off-grid solar power system, the following basic essential elements should give you a basic summary of the main components involved.
A typical off-grid system and can be split up into four sections, each with their own function and purpose as listed here. Today’s typical residential solar panel may contain enough individual cells to produce about 250 watts (although there are lots of different sizes).
For example you might want enough power to run a refrigerator, maybe a chest freezer, a number of lights, along with enough left-over energy to occasionally run a washing machine, kitchen appliance, radio or TV, and a computer, etc.
This very simple example of operating a fridge, chest freezer and a half-dozen light bulbs adds up to 2,400 watts of energy consumed in a given day, or 2.4 kWh. Lets say the worst case scenario for acquiring sunlight is during the middle of winter, and depending on your geo location – with 4 hours of good sunlight to provide electrical charging capability through your solar panels.
3,000 (watts) divided by 4 (hours of good sunlight) equals 750 watts of solar panel power capacity to absorb and convert 4 hours of solar energy into 3 kWh of electricity.
A significant factor in an overall design is to include margin of safety (excess) so that you don’t run short of energy. The charge controller is the electronic device that is between the solar panel array and the battery bank (the batteries store the energy).
The charge controller provides a proper amount (and technique) of electrical charge to the battery bank. It is intelligent in that it automatically adjusts depending upon the load on the system, and the state-of-charge of the batteries – versus the amount of available power from the solar panels at any given moment (at least the better ones do this).
A good charge controller will also perform maintenance functions on your batteries to help keep them in optimum condition and to prolong their life. Since you do not consume all of your daily energy requirements during only daylight hours, an off-grid system will store the energy that is collected during daylight into a bank of batteries to be used when the solar panels are no longer in the sunlight. An additional consideration for the overall solar power system is the number of backup days that you may want to have energy in reserve – during times when the sun is covered by clouds during periods of bad weather. It is important to have a few days reserve energy, which means having more batteries to store that energy. You will need this inverter unless you have special appliances and lighting to operate on DC power.
There are cheap inverters out there which I caution against for several reasons, including the ability to handle short-term high current loads from motors and compressors starting up (refrigerators and freezers for example). Lithium or calcium cells are safe for indoor use but have a much shorter life than lead acid.
Make sure you get quality solar panels and have them installed by verified quality installers using high quality connections.
Another issue with poor quality panels and installations are fire hazards a number have caught fire because of cheap Chinese components have gone short circuit. If your house catches fire your local fire department maybe very hesitant in fighting the fire if you have solar panels installed.
Prior to having switched to AGM’s, I used deep cycle Lead Acid 6-volt golf-cart batteries.
It appears you essentially are using a light bulb as one would a capacitor like what is used in a 12 vdc regulated power supply. If you’re planning on a system with more than 1000 watts in panels I strongly suggest not using 12v for your battery bank. My current system is running 90% of my 1600 sf home even in the winter although the air conditioner and clothes dryer aren’t in it.
Survival blog topics for a life of preparedness and risk awareness; emergency and disaster or threats thereof. Thata€™s why knowing how to construct a wilderness shelter is such an important skill for anyone who spends any amount of time in the great outdoors. Here are some actual real-world Survival Shelters; these shelters should give you a good idea of whata€™s possible and can give you a good starting point to go out there and practice. Here is a great example of an easy Aframe shelter, covered with leaves and debris for added insulation and waterproofing.
Here’s a quick and easy swamp bed that can help get you up off the ground in cold, wet, or damp environments.
A good fire reflector helps maximize heat retention and minimizes the amount of firewood you use. Here is a good example of a Lean To Shelter with a Reflector wall for bouncing heat back into the shelter. A survival shelter doesn’t have to be fancy to work, and it can often be improvised with existing structures and random materials sourced from the area.
The cordage for the bed is roots by the look of it and if a person does not have a knife on them while hiking in the woods, they really should stay home. I have made shelters 4 and 6 with nothing more then a pocket knife which I always have on me.
If you use spruce root you can tie down nearly anything, a basic fixed blade survival knife you can use to make all the shelters above.
Tall, conical shaped shelter (tee-pee style) with fire inside to heat and cook out of the wind, rain or snow. With the cost of utilities on the rise and the desire to live as off-grid as possible on the minds of many, tiny houses on the wheels are rapidly becoming the dream of many people trying to live a minimalist lifestyle.
There are many issues that accompany this path; you have to be willing to live with less and to live in less space. You can also build a tiny house for very little cash, comparatively, if you watch your pennies and are willing to recycle or repurpose materials. Now, without further ado, wea€™d love to share some tiny houses that wea€™ve found and were impressed with.
This house was built by a girl named Sarah who lives in Manassas, VA along with her father in order to complete her Master of Science in Environmental Science.
Sarah used reclaimed products where she could but opted to go with eco-friendly roofing, siding and lumber in order to make the house more environmentally friendly. This tiny house was built by Oregon Cottage Company for a client who wanted lots of wood and the appearance of space. This tiny house built by Molecule Tiny Homes is 335 square feet and is full of natural wood and tile. This house was designed and built by a company in Warwickshire, England and was built with the new a€?Glampinga€? community in mind. This house is only 160 square feet but was one of my favorites because it has that old-time cabin feel. It doesna€™t have a bathroom and doesna€™t list the square footage but Ia€™d guess it to be right around 80 square feet. She has a video that tells all about the help that she received building it and also about some seminars that she attended to help her learn how to do it.
Bill Southworth wasna€™t happy with his traveling accommodations that he had to use when traveling with his Rottweiler so he built himself an 80 square foot stealth tiny house from a cargo trailer. Outside it looks like a standard cargo trailer but inside, ita€™s a modern, well-built, efficient home. If youa€™re looking for an affordable tiny house that looks like a miniature log cabin, then this is the house for you!
It has traditional RV hookups and you can choose options that include propane tanks and full bathrooms. When Keith bought his 1977 Bedford Bus in 2007, he did so with the intention of living off the grid.
Will Winkelman, a builder in Portland, ME, was asked to turn a bus into a combination transportation vehicle for group gatherings, guest bedroom and travel trailer for forays into the wilderness with maximum flexibility and thata€™s exactly what he did!
Typically, if somebody tells you that they live in a van or a bus, that means that theya€™ve hit some hard times. One look at this house reminds me of a tiny church, or perhaps a miniature version of a row house that youa€™d find in Boston or New York. If I were to venture a guess, Ia€™d say ita€™s about 100 square feet, though that may be a bit of a stretch.
As wea€™ve learned throughout this article, building your own tiny house is limited only by your imagination. Tiny houses are a great way to combine modern conveniences with sustainability and off-grid living and I hope to have my own someday.

If you have any pictures or even plans or stories that youa€™d like to share with us about tiny houses, PLEASE do so in the comments section below. Dry cabins are perfect for off-grid lifestyles, but after a while, some people may begin to look at options for running water systems to cut down on hauling water and paying for facilities regularly. Before you go out and start digging a well, take your land survey to a state geological office to decide how deep you need to dig, what layers you will be digging through, and if water conditions are suitable enough to draw from. Once you are down far enough and the screen is intact, you can easily set up a water pump and filter and call it a day.
If you don’t want to dig a well and install plumbing, there are still ways to introduce running water systems to your dry cabin. For large amounts of hot water, do some research into tankless water heaters, such as Paloma or Excel, that work by utilizing natural gas to heat water through copper tubing. Another quick and easy solution is to collect water from a local water source or excess run-off rain water and harness it in a 55-gallon drum.
A simple search for any of these ideas will render diagrams and all the essential parts necessary to get started. Look at the slope of your land and take some measurements in your home to decide whether or not you should store water inside or out, and if you choose to dig a well, make sure that it is dug deep enough to be efficient.
Converting your cabin doesn’t need to cost a fortune, and if it’s done right, can provide you running water for years and years. My wife and I have lived on our Missouri Ozarks homestead for twenty five years, and have done just fine using the cistern system we designed and built.
We own 4 acres in Washington county MD and would love to live Off grid, don’t mind bringing in water or taking out waste but my county straight refuses. We have a Solar Well Pump installed in our well that only needs two 100 watt panels to get over 1000 gallons a day into a holding tank. When you buy, or otherwise acquire, preparedness supplies, do you practice with them or are you a prep hoarder? Do you ever try them out when they come in the mail or do we add them, still in the package, to the ‘cooking shelf’ in our bug-out trailer? In a major crisis, when emotions are high and everything and everyone is confused is not the time to try and figure out how to put that HERC stove together! Along the same lines, I picked up a new fondue set at the thrift store thinking I can use it to heat things up with sterno fuel or even tea lights. So far I’m relying on my fireplace and gill for cookig options bu cooking without power and getting a better handle on water supplies and are my two biggest priorities. Some are able to escape the noisy concrete city and move to quiet acreage in the Midwest or another idyllic country setting.
Walking or biking around town provides great exercise and saves money on gas, vehicle maintenance and insurance. Try the various methods of transportation your city offers and know what works best for you. This will help you realize what you rely on the most and then find ways of coping without that appliance, electronic, or whatever.
In a home, you can plant in flowerbeds, allot a spot in your yard for a garden or add containers for additional space. We had to rely on alternate means to regulate the temperature – we opened up all the windows in the early morning to flood our place with cold air, and then closed them and covered them with curtains when it began to heat up during the day. A typical solar panel is made up of an array of many small individual solar cells, made of crystalline silicone, each connected together to provide a usable amount of total power. The result is a unit of energy which is required to power that device – power multiplied by time.
It’s job is to convert the DC (direct current) energy from your battery bank into AC (alternating current) energy that is used in the typical home.
Better inverters provide pure sine wave AC power and will not damage your appliances (or electronics). You maybe surprised by the number of solar arrays that are sitting on rooftops which are faulty and the owners can’t afford to have them repaired. They performed well, although I had to keep them in a shed outdoors – with ventilation. Grid tie systems are for Yuppies who drive Priuses and I hear they are disabled during an outage (for the safety of utility crews).
Shows how used to cheap energy we are (like the practice of putting the compressor on the bottom and allowing the heat to drift up over the outside of the fridge). Without cheap energy, the carrying capacity of planet Earth goes down by at least 5 billion humans. They vary from our dorm room size fridge to twice that size, definately nothing like our monster fidges. This leads to a lot of people leasing units, which is paradoxically reducing the selling potential of the abode, should they need to move. Even though most home appliances work just fine, computers, digital clocks and similar devices won’t work well with modified square wave inverters. Even though my system is much more modest (30 Amp controller) than the PHOTO of the system in this article, I still spent time to make sure the wires were FAT, and the connections SECURED to a double plywood. As a person who is trying to make an off-grid electrical system in my vacation cabin, I needed something like this. In fact, when it comes to common ways that people die during a wilderness emergency, hypothermia, a drop in core body temperature, and hyperthermia, an increase in the bodya€™s temperature, are right at the top of the list. They are easy to construct, and can be as simple as a tarp draped over a single line, or a more elaborate design using local materials. It’s also a great way to get you up off the ground in areas where poisonous critters might be poking around at night. A small fire can be built in between the wall and the Lean To, which allows heat to be reflected back into the shelter.
This Debris shelter uses natural trees and debris that was already in the area to construct a quick and warm place to lie down for the night. I teach my friends and family to always be prepared when going on hike, if your not always prepared your never prepared. I’ve seen lost of survival techniques on how to build shelters in the woods, but some people are in desolate, arid climates with little vegitation. You can nearly eliminate all utility costs, you greatly diminish your environmental footprint and you can take your house with you wherever you go, if you so choose. She doesna€™t list a square footage but it sits on a dual-axle trailer and comes with a solar panel.
It has black walnut accents and knotty pine walls along with skylights to let in as much natural light as possible. It cost her $26k but she has some custom work and didna€™t use entirely reclaimed materials so you could do it cheaper if youa€™d prefer. He decided to do this because he didna€™t like the look, quality and inefficiency of modern travel trailers. Ita€™s completely sustainable and dog-friendly and is complete with a kitchenette and wet bath. It has a decidedly industrial look to the outside of it but the inside looks like a real, honest to goodness house.
Ita€™s taken him 21 years but his experience with living on boats taught him a lot about how to live minimally. With lots of hard work and togetherness, they pulled it together into a home to be proud of! The trailer comes with plumbing, power and a fun, funky interior that offers good times and comfort no matter what the client is using it for!
The client wanted a a€?funky, hippy, Moroccan vibea€? so he used lots of wood, animal prints, beads, paisleys and dangles. They added wood trusses for the roof and turned the interior into a living space that is utilitarian and didna€™t cost a fortune. One look at what this Welsh couple does and youa€™ll change your mind on that stereotype forever. Though this is only a picture, ita€™s a great way to get some ideas for what youa€™d like your tiny house to look like. As preppers, we have that can-do attitude that makes building anything possible because we know that if we apply ourselves, we can learn to do anything.
While this may not be the reason you chose to live in a dry cabin from the start, the longer you do it, the prouder you become when you realize that you only waste one bucket of grey water every two weeks or so.
Also, take a trip to the local utility company and make sure there aren’t any sewer, gas or power lines near where you plan to dig.
It depends on your preference, use, and how much effort you plan on putting into the project.
Galvanized steel will resist corrosion, but PVC works just as well if you are digging manually.
While there will inevitably be a few different methods used, driving the well far enough down and placing the screen is the bulk of the digging work. Consider using an RV water pump and attaching tubing from a water tank stored in a convenient location to gain enough water for showers and dishes. When water begins to move, a natural gas valve will open, heating a combustion chamber and moving water through the coiled copper tubes.
Add a filtration system that is attached to your chosen heating source and then seal and pressurize the drum with a tire pump, up to 20 pounds, making sure not to exceed the limit and burst the drum. One of the biggest mistakes is not digging far enough down, so always do the math and make the effort to ensure a properly running system the first time. We have had to replace the pump and pressure tank once after an extended power outage when temps went below 0 for two weeks and froze our system.
And when they need clean water, elite soldiers are choosing the Paratroopers Water Purifier -- the smallest, lightest, and most durable water purifier on earth!
Some had a learning curve that I’ve mastered and with others, I’m still climbing that curve.
You really do need at least 2 of them, making sure those 2 do not rely on the same type of fuel.
Like you, she wears many hats while trying to keep it all together and still get dinner on the table for her children.
Living in California we can BBQ year round, and our camp stove and turkey fryer run on propane, so we store large and small tanks.

Maybe you ponder becoming a long bearded man living in the mountains, content to be a hermit. However, for many, like me, work and family obligations make that impossible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to live as off the grid as possible.
Others have found peace and confidence in their new learned skills along their path to grid-less-ness, but do not conjure up a romanticized version of happily churning your own butter and building an outhouse.
Be aware that an entire house solar system will be tied to the grid and will be vulnerable to the effects of an EMP, should that ever occur.
This will help you figure out what kind of lighting you would need in a grid-down emergency. If the plants don’t seem to be thriving, try using more or less water, a fertilizer (consult a nursery), but be sure to make notes. This kept the cool air in and the hot air out – the curtains kept out sunlight, but they also helped to keep out the heat (this was an attic apartment in a desert climate). Sunlight (photons) strike the crystalline silicone wafers, which convert that energy into electricity.
The disadvantage with lead acid is that you need to mount them outside in the open in a covered vented box (batteries emit flammable sulfuric fumes when charging). AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries work by reabsorbing the hydrogen gas generated during charging. The client will live in it full-time and wanted it to remind her of her home in Japan so they installed tatini sleeping mats and a Japanese soaking tub. The lighting has the look of gas lamps and the interior makes you feel like youa€™ve stepped back into the 1800a€™s. The inside is totally modern, though it manages to keep the cabin feel by using a combination of dark and light wood walls, counters and accents.
Hea€™s a traveling carpenter and needed a home that he could take with him so that he didna€™t have to stay in hotels.
She wanted to simplify her life and live more purposefully so she attended Four Lights Tiny House Workshop and bought herself a house plan.
The house is made almost completely from wood and has a sleeping loft and a skylight and stained glass window that opens.
She uses tiny solar panels to power the house and a propane heater so it requires very little electricity. The bus has 131 square feet of living space and is built with careful thought and a ton of creativity.
If they decide to have children down the road, the house can be arranged so that extra bedrooms are a possibility.
If youa€™re looking for simplicity without all the fancy trimmings, this is a good project to get some ideas from. Bill and Becky Goddard founded Rustic Campers and start with run-down old vehicles and transform them into absolutely gorgeous, even luxurious, homes with the feel of an upscale cabin using locally sourced wood. His imagination went wild from there and he is now dreaming up his own plans for something similar. Here are some ways to dig a well and install plumbing or bypass the extensive system for something simpler and more suited to your needs. When deciding where to place your well, make sure that you are far away and uphill from any contaminated areas, such as outhouses, septic tanks and marshes. Do some research and decide what type of well you want to dig, find diagrams and check for parts lists, all of which are available online. Some people may choose to rent a drill or backhoe, but these methods aren’t always necessary unless you need to dig below sedimentary rock layers. Installing a large grey tank system under your home with holes for drainage is a great way to get rid of used water from dishes, showers and laundry.
This method is space- and cost-efficient, and saves electricity used to continually heat and store hot water during times of non-use. The pump will give the water enough pressure to work a small heater, such as the Paloma, and provide sufficient water for showers and dishes. The real issue is deciding what space you are working with, where water and tanks will be stored, and how you plan to use your running water on a daily basis. The controller for the pump actually charges the batteries that run the booster pump so I don’t even have to think about it.
It’s so small and lightweight you can easily carry it in your pocket or purse, backpack or glove box. Some are easier to clean and store than others.  Fuels differ, conditions they can be used in differ, set-up,  clean-up and storage instructions are not the same, but we need to learn how they work. You bring your food to a boil in the inner pans and then place them in the outer holder and seal it up to cook with the residual heat. Off-grid living, whether urban, suburban, or rural, isn’t the easiest choice you’ll ever make! You will find more money in your budget to stock up on food and other emergency supplies for your family as you implement urban living off-grid. Ita€™s priced at $25k and has one bedroom and a bathroom in addition to the kitchen and living area.
He didna€™t use any chemically-treated material and used local sustainable materials to build it. The house does have electricity and hot and cold water, with 27.5 gallon fresh and grey water tanks. This is probably the most a€?housea€? looking tiny house that Ia€™ve seen and reminds me a bit of an apartment that I stayed in in college, but nicer! She used every inch of space wisely and the house is actually very functional despite the size. Depending on the pipe you use and the well-point type, with a little hard work and a day’s time, you can easily twist and muscle a sharp-toothed pipe through the sediment by hand.
You also need to dig the lines to your cabin and determine where you will be drilling from the outside of your home or cabin deliver water.
Pump models such as the Shurflo 12 VDC or 115 VAC are excellent choices and do not require an accumulator tank, which works great when hooked to a tankless water heater. There are also electric models available, but if you are running power from a generator, gas may be a simpler and cheaper option. Economical methods, both price- and water-usage wise, are available if you do the proper research. Between you and your four neighbors, chances are that at least one of the five households will experience a break-in… or worse, a home invasion. Combine trips, shop in your local neighborhood and learn of new activities in your community for your family. Maybe this will increase your savings so you can get that acreage in your favorite rural countryside. This is why a nearly full fridge is more efficient than a nearly empty one… lots of thermal mass.
We sprang for a new propane fride, it costs about a dollar in fuel a day and yes, it is much smaller that an average american fridge but it’s better than a cooler.
Square footage isna€™t listed but ita€™s 16 feet long and fits on a trailer, so Ia€™d guess ita€™s about 8 feet wide. Make sure that the piping you choose to use is slightly larger than the screen that you will be placing down the tube, as attempting to pull out the pipe will typically result in the hole collapsing.
Make sure that you purchase a pump powerful enough for daily use, depending on your water consumption, and always seal the holes surrounding plumbing with spray foam to keep pests and rodents from gaining an access point.
If you choose to use an RV pump, think about attaching the system to a solar panel to save on batteries, and use a ball valve on your shower to control water use. Where you live and how you plan on extracting or harnessing water are all factors to making your running water system work best for you.
We figure well just sell the land after we hold it for five years,also county regulation because inherited by grandfather.
What if you, THE MASTER OF ALL THINGS PREP in your home are not around or are injured or ill?
Once I took a few weeks only cooking with my butane stove (Gas One) and got three days breakfast, lunch and dinner out of it.
Libraries, parks, swimming pools, local colleges and recreation centers offer free or low cost entertainment and activities. Another option is to arrange with a neighbor that, in exchange for the use of their backyard for your garden, you’ll give them a percentage of the harvest and cover the cost of water, fertilizer, seeds, mulch, and the like.
I have a routine of picking up one LED bulb every time I food shop, and am almost done replacing all of my incandescent and CFL bulbs. Lithium Ion batteries are way too expensive for this application, although that may change.
Ita€™s completely mobile and solar panels can be added to make off-grid living entirely possible. Also the water pump is another very important piece of the puzzle, same scenario, kicking itself on after hours and using high amounts of wattage. Take a tarp, trash bag, or more other local cover and cover over the whole of one end with a small extension. Ask anyone whose home has ever been robbed what if feels like, and they’ll say it feels like they were violated.
You need something to hold your pot above the flame like a casserole holder, and to bake, something you can contain another pot and hold over a flame (camp chef charcoal basket). I made a youtube video on how to make a Wonder Oven and introduced a lady in Ghana the idea of thermal cooking and they went CRAZY when they learned what a Wonder Bag was. Because not only do criminals violate what should be your sanctuary from the world and walk away. Always be sure to put it out, and try and cover over as much area on the roof that you can when you sleep.

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