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When one hears the term “off-the-grid,” images of bucolic cabins, candlelit evenings, and wood outhouses are rarely far behind. HippyHomesteaderHeather is a homesteading, homeschooling, wanna be hippy who loves cooking and blogging. Once a week we introduce you to one of our members, curate the very best of the week's content and alert our readers to giveaways and special promotions!
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If you are new to our off grid adventure or you just have questions about why in the world we would choose to live this way, this article will answer many of your questions. Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead.
In a nation where we are accustomed to not having to worry about our power, my family is very unusual because we are off the grid. Surprisingly, even though the US is so technologically advanced, the power grid is an old system that can reach its limit (particularly during the summer months) and most likely won’t be able to handle the addition of renewable energy technologies adding energy into the system.
Because of projects like these, more investment was put into renewable energy in developing countries than in the developed world. This post goes along well with one of the thoughts I was having as I drove home from Manteo.
My thought hit as I drove past countless, already-existing tall structures such as cell phone towers and power lines.
Living off the grid simply means having a self-sustaining domicile that is independent of outside utilities.
Utility bills vary widely, depending upon where a person lives, services available and the amount of use.
While solar power can currently only produce about 7 kilowatts of power a day (in sunny and dry environments), the technology continues to improve every year. No one can live without water, so the importance of a good and clean water system is of the utmost importance. Have an unlimited budget, a three to five-year startup window and friends with advanced engineering degrees?
If you want to work or live off-grid, a stand-alone solar energy system enables you to power your home or business without the assistance of the utility company. Using photovoltaic power to live off-grid is becoming increasingly popular, as it provides both energy independence and significant long-term financial benefits.
If you don’t plan to hook up to the municipal power grid, your stand-alone photovoltaic system must be designed to completely meet the energy requirements of your home or business.
If you are limited in the size of system you can accommodate, you could try to increase your energy efficiency. Off-grid photovoltaic systems also must be designed to handle fluctuations in energy collection and use. All photovoltaic systems require specific equipment, including an array of PV solar panels, an inverter and mounting hardware.

A backup system is required because photovoltaic panels will produce power only when the sun is shining, but you’ll need electricity on cloudy days and at night too. Stand-alone systems typically use a bank of batteries that can store at least a few days’ worth of electricity. For many people, one of the most attractive aspects of living off-grid is being free from the utility company and their terms and rate increases.
Choosing a stand-alone photovoltaic system also can be more economically feasible than extending a line to the electric grid, particularly in remote locations.
We look forward to helping you achieve your goals for the energy independence of off-grid living. These are the trappings of a rustic holiday – but certainly not the makings of a lifestyle.
Solar panels provide clean energy without the irritation of a noisy generator, while other homes opt for wind power. The trend of this is growing so much that many communities have formed around the idea of a self-sustainable lifestyle. Those who opt for this lifestyle need to get their home decked out with all of the trappings to make living off-the-grid a fun and viable option. However, unlike Europe where most of the population is clustered around large cities, the US is a very large country where it would be possible for citizens to live off the grid due to their distance from it.
I find this inspiring because if developing countries are able to begin using technology like this, perhaps the US will begin to make more productive changes as well. You talk about using smaller scale energy generating devices for an individual, but what if power companies used the same small scale technologies in great numbers? What if these structures were equipped with a few small solar cells, or perhaps topped with a small wind turbine? The average household in the United States, despite the variance in costs, still spends about 54 percent of their utility bill just for electricity.
For a professionally installed 24-volt system, including a backup generator, the total cost is estimated at $38,000. Heat is needed not only to stay warm in the winter, but for cooking, heating your water and many other tasks. The best option is the next generation of power plants – small nuclear reactors that can generate up to 45mw of electricity with no need to refuel for decades at a time.
However, most of today’s PV energy and backup systems allow you to generate all the power you’ll need.
Simply compare your average daily and seasonal energy usage with the availability of the sun in your location to determine the size of your system.
For an off-grid system, however, you’ll also need components to store electricity for future use.
You’ll need to keep the solar panels clean and monitor the performance of the system yourself. To learn more about this kind of true energy independence, contact Intermountain Wind & Solar, serving customers throughout the Intermountain West.

A lot of people I talk to find this very interesting and think it’s a great idea, yet very few take advantage of the current technology that is available to homeowners wanting to go off the grid – or just wanting to reduce their reliance on utility companies. Most developing countries do not have power grids and the UN is helping them find ways to use renewable energy to meet their needs, like using solar energy to power LED lights. If every family in the US had some form of device to help reduce their reliance on the grid, or just cut back on their usage, imagine the difference that could be made.
Telephone poles already support electical cables, so the issue of transporting the power is already solved. For example, Brad Waters, a contributing writer to Psychology Today, writes about two normal and healthy households who are doing what they can to be energy independent. Simply put, if you can reduce or cut out the need to buy electricity, you can save a large amount of money every year. Finally, to regulate the flow of electricity between the panels and the batteries, and to protect your batteries from being overcharged, you’ll also need a charge controller. Don’t be fooled by visions of crude cabins and antiquated lifestyles – most of these homes enjoy all of the modern luxuries that we are accustomed to and are beautiful to boot (check out these incredible houses, and this one too!). Three hundred homes strong, this community is made up of huge mansions, modest cabins, and even a smattering of yurts.
You can also use Off-Grid’s Land Buddy map to find people in your area who can help you make your home self-sufficient.
These families are far removed for those who are preparing for doomsday or a zombie apocalypse. Swedish retailer Ikea now sells solar panel kits in the United Kingdom and chances are their kits will be available in the United States soon enough.
A complete installation of a wood oven will run about $3,700 and a years’ worth of fuel (if purchased) will average about $300. New innovations and technologies are constantly invented to make this lifestyle an easier and more accessible option.
The houses may represent a wide socioeconomic spectrum, but every one of them is self-sustainable. As well as all things HOMEsteading, it also features articles on HOMEkeeping, HOMEschooling, and HOMEindustry. While this may seem like a natural option, the downsides of wood include the amount of heat produced, the space needed for storage and time needed to use it. Far from cooking dinner over the open fire, its residents enjoy every amenity you would expect in a modern home, from wireless internet to radios. Or if you are more adventurous, greywater systems or waterless composting toilets might be worth considering.
By living in Three Rivers, homeowners get to enjoy the rural atmosphere and rest easy that they aren’t making a negative imprint on the planet.

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