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How many people fail at going off grid

Theresa Whited

Joined: Jan 26, 2012
Posts: 41
I talked to some local guys that direct and make off the grid documentaries and they say the truth is most people fail at this. Is this true because I'm feeling pretty humble right now.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
it probably is true, I know my hubby and I have tried to get the money to even get started on wind and solar and we just can't get there no matter how hard we yeah..probably so.

I think IF I lived in Arizona I might be able to do solar or wind..but here in Michigan the sun seldom shines for an entire day..or even a half a day..and we have a LOT of trees so wind isn't too feasible either


Bloom where you are planted.
Wilson Foedus

Joined: Nov 07, 2011
Posts: 43
Location: NW Montana

I do not have any metrics for you to show success:failure ratio. However, to totally go unplugged and off grid once and for all is a difficult proposition because of the labor requirements. An under appreciation of that can cause some real disappointment with a "cabin in the woods" dream.

I can buy spaghetti sauce in a glass jar at any grocery store for a price that is less than 15 minutes of labor (given minimum wage). Now, say that our family consumed the sauce and we were not wasteful with the jar but continued to use it for storing food or sprouting seeds, etc. What would the labor requirement be for our family to produce such a jar? Granted the benefits of saving the jar are not trivial--but what would it cost me in labor to have that jar? Backing up a step, can I take the same 15 minutes of labor and expect to raise a tomato plant, the spices, have the pot on hand to make the sauce (including firewood and a cook stove) and produce the same amount of sauce in 15 minutes?

These are the questions that start the thought process for off grid living under the constraints of the second law of Thermodynamics. Cheap electricity has allowed us to live like kings without having to think of how much easier our lives are with major appliances automating the tasks that we used to have to do ourselves. Who needs to cut firewood, we have baseboard heat. Other appliances like a refrigerator to preserve food (purchased comparatively cheaply at a grocery store) rather than to have to produce that same food for the same amount of time.

Consider a gallon of milk. How much grass does a cow need to produce that gallon of milk in the first place? What care does the cow need? How long does it take to milk her? Now that you have milked the cow and you have the gallon in your kitchen, how long will it last? A refrigerator extends the useful expectancy of the milk because of inexpensive electricity. $3 a gallon for milk is a real bargain in comparison to producing it yourself. But how long can that perpetual value last?

Permaculture is now our best option for deciding how we are going to live without cheap electricity and inexpensive fossil fuel power. It is only "cheap" because we do not have to pay in true labor what it actually costs to have those conveniences. In my opinion, it will take a community to produce what we normally can walk into a grocery store and purchase in half an hour.

So going off grid is a noble goal and it can be done, but we have to ask the right questions and be able to put into proper perspective the items that we depend on as consumers. Great thread!

Just my $.02 - homesteading supplies
Kathy Burns-Millyard

Joined: Feb 17, 2012
Posts: 75
Location: Arizona low desert
FWIW we've lived on a 60 watt system for over two years now. Solar, in AZ. Takes a heck of a lifestyle change though.

Personal projects occasionally added at - Photos & Books at
Cj Sloane

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3580
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
19 years off the grid!
My husband and I have a fairly high tolerance level & we both like it off grid. Things break, it's harder to keep things clean, and so on.
I think it'll get simpler again in a few years when the kids are out of the house.

My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Theresa Whited

Joined: Jan 26, 2012
Posts: 41
Cj Verde wrote:19 years off the grid!
My husband and I have a fairly high tolerance level & we both like it off grid. Things break, it's harder to keep things clean, and so on.
I think it'll get simpler again in a few years when the kids are out of the house.
Yes, I feel for you! I just realized yesterday, had my daughter with new permit drive me to the grocery store and then she helped me every step (even when the battery died and left us at the store ha) The difference between having 2 toddlers on my hip and having 2 teens that can help me. I do wish I would have been able to raise them off the grid because they don't realize the full value of land paid for and no mortgage. That leads me to ask "What is the most important reason you went off grid? What would be so important to you that you'll do what ever it takes to live a more simple life? It was brought up to make a agenda or list and budget to go off grid. I have tried this and its not easy.

I have a limited amount of funds and my family is loosing their house so after watching everyone struggle with big mortgages I wanted a very inexpensive lifestyle. I do believe that its been just as stressful to live convenient and I would even say that the stress of kids, career, urban life (I am born and raised North County St. Louis) hasn't been easy or convenient. In my case after four years of not knowing what I really wanted it all came pretty quick to start my own homestead. I could have move to my friends in Southern Oregon (beautiful place) or Arizona. I've not been real fond of Missouri but it is a great place to go off grid with a lot of natural resources. So what is the most important things needed to be able to live or move to a homestead?

Shelter 1 - Cabin $1,500
water 2 - Cistern, pump $2,000
food 3 Garden
toilet 4 Compost toilet $500
Things still needed or wanted:battery and inverter, solar, water heater, clothes washer, ram pump

I would love to know how, and in what order did successful people go off grid.

Tyler Ludens

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5729
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
Theresa Whited wrote:
I would love to know how, and in what order did successful people go off grid.

If you change the title of your thread to something like "How did you succeed in going off the grid?" you might get more response. Asking how many people fail at going off the grid is less likely to attract information about how to successfully go off the grid, in my opinion.

Idle dreamer

Theresa Whited

Joined: Jan 26, 2012
Posts: 41
My legacy will be my cob house but I did some research that said a few small buildings is more efficient than one big one. The plans are a cob house for main living quarters, a small cabin (already built and dropped) for utilities and a small quest quarters. A small bath house in light wieght concrete conected to the cob house and a small light weight concrete Dome. The cabin is for my teenage son and the dome is for my teenage daugther, I told them they will have a place to stay but I didn't want to make them too comfortable. My daugthers is heading to college and my son making plans to live the city life for a bit and I want them to find there own way for awhile. When they are ready to settle (start a family or whatever) they can build their own homesteads on my property and be free from a mortgage. A big part of what drives me is ensuring a better future for my kids and I have had more quality time working on the property with them than I have in a long time.

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Johnny Addison

Joined: Mar 03, 2012
Posts: 10
Thanks for sharing.!!! I really appreciates your concern on this one.
Zachary Crawford

Joined: Feb 10, 2012
Posts: 9
for me, circumstances that are bridling my progress are helping my odds of success. i'm stationed in germany, and everything that comes with that places limits on how far off grid i can be. so for the next few years i can ease into things. when i get back home, i will again be limited by the resources available at my home. so thats one three year phase here in germany, and then another at my house until the third phase, which i plan on being when i find the land i want to buy.

here in germany i can grow food in raised beds in my backyard. i can finish building my still and begin learning to distill. i can build a modest sized compost silo. i can build a small rocket heater. i can build a 55 gallon drum methane digester. all things that really wont let me disconnect from anything, but will set me up with the needed knowledge for when life lets me move on to bigger steps.

when i get back home i will be able to do everything that i can start here in germany, but more seriously because its my home and my lot. with a larger yard i can produce more food with dozens of raised beds over my old garden spot. three years from now my fruit trees i planted last summer should be producing apples and peaches. i can direct the rainwater from my roof into the 275 gallon water tank my neighbor gave me. i can apply what i learn here with tinkering with rocket stoves to pull my wood heater and replace it with a rocket-mass hearth.

one step that i think is one of the most serious ones in terms of feasibility and what it will accomplish is to build a true methane digester. pursuing home ethanol brought me in contact with methane and the simplicity of it, even if it is only for the heat and compost it provides, has me focused on it as a priority that will greatly facilitate further transition. additionally, when i am able to capture the methane produced, that free source of energy will pay dividends towards all further progress. as i mentioned, i am also interested in distilling my own ethanol. my plans for this center around acquiring waste products such and beer and baked goods from local businesses rather than growing a dedicated feed stock. so while i will still be in a conventional home with neighbors, because it is mine, i will be able to implement my ideas more completely and freely than i can here in government quarters.

finally i plan to get my own land and come together with like minded friends and family to create a magnificent community of self sufficient peoples and so on and so forth, and while that seems like such a pipe dream at this point because of how far i am from it, every journey starts with a single step. my first steps will be little hobbies like urban gardening and canning and dehydrating. i think the key to success is successive steps that build into one another so the transition is gradual. ask me again in three years though.
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