Off-grid living is more than just becoming a hermit out in the woods. There are actually businesses who have chosen to go off-grid in the city so they can always have power. Whether you’re striving to be more self-sufficient in town or have a goal to be far from the city, the tips below can help.
Location is Key
The first step in going off-grid is finding land where you can settle your home or business. To go off-grid, you will need access to water and decent drainage so you can build shelter and power. Depending on where you choose to site your home or business, you will need to check permitting requirements to make sure that you can build to suit your needs.
Another critical thing to check when buying your land is access. You don’t want to buy land that forces you to buy an easement from another landowner. If you have to build your own driveway off a public road, do make sure that your drive won’t wash out in heavy rains or be impassable after heavy snow. If you can’t access it directly from a road that is not privately owned, don’t buy that land parcel.
You Don’t Have to Have it All Together
For those hoping to build a home off-grid, the first thing to realize is that you don’t have to have all your tools, skills and supplies in order immediately. In fact, once you find your land, you may be better off parking something temporary on the space so you can watch the weather and site your home appropriately.
For example, you may want to start out in an RV. Watch the rain. Where does the water pool? When it snows hard, where does snow pile up naturally? Where does the sun hit the ground first on a winter’s day so you can capture as much solar power as possible during the darkest days?
If you own several power tools, earth movers and other items to help you build your off-grid home, the first thing you may want to build is a pole shed so you can secure these items. The location of your off-grid home will impact the ease of cooling, heating, and water management. Choose that site slowly if at all possible.
Keep Things Simple to Start
Your off-grid power journey can start slowly and build up over time. For example, you may need to start with a generator to power the saws necessary to build your first shelter. You may need to remove some trees to capture as much solar as possible once you’ve found a site for your off-grid home.
If you need to build up funds to put up enough solar panels and batteries to fully power your house in the future, consider using 12-volt appliances for the first year. A camping cooktop or a fire pit can be an ideal spot to fix meals while you build your first home or put up your first barn. Do look for a solar supplier with a strong history; you want to be able to add to your system over time.
Make Things As Easy As Possible
Moving off the grid will take more labor than living in an apartment. If you have experience in gardening, livestock or hunting, you may be ahead of the average city dweller, but you will still be working hard. Simplify where you can. If you want an animal for milk, consider getting a couple of nanny goats raised locally to save the labor of a cow. Cows are manageable, but their waste is messier than goat waste (flops vs. hard round pellets), and they’re much heavier. If you’ve been busy with the milk bucket and had a cow step on your foot or hit you in the face with its dirty tail, you know that goats may be the way to go.
Skip the exotic chickens and get those that are hearty enough to thrive in your chosen area. Do be sure and build a structure for your livestock; chickens, in particular, are vulnerable to attacks from hawks above and raccoons and foxes on the ground. A simple life off the grid for your family is feasible over time. A business that is always powered, no matter the weather or national emergency, can offer you tremendous financial security in the years ahead. Take your time and plan the system and site that is best for you.
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