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How did you succeed at going off grid?

Theresa Whited


Joined: Jan 26, 2012
Posts: 41
There seem to be a lot of people who fail at going off grid. I am feeling humble about moving on to my property and living a very different lifestyle. I have been very unhappy with my convient lifestyle so I started searching for what I really wanted and what would make me happy. I studied other countries lifestyles where they live happy and healthy, thats a start. The stress, diet and wasted energy in the US is screaming for change. They have said that our children have a shorter life expectancy than us. I believe money can't buy happiness, less is more, simple is better etc.

My #1 reason for going off grid - Quality of life

John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6675
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
    
139
I think you hit the nail on the head"
I have been very unhappy with my convient lifestyle


To me, the first step of getting away from the grid, is to look at all of those conveniences, and deciding which ones to eliminate, or phase out.

Don't try to do it all at once...I think that is where many fail...it's too much of a shock. Plus, many of those conveniences can be utilized this year to make you less reliant in the future.

I think it is also wise to maintain a healthy tie to the grid. One should strengthen ties to neighbors and community, especially those who are trying to divorce themselves from the rat race. We're all in this together, and sticking closer with those who feel likewise leads us further and further from that rat race.

If it is not a challenge, it is easy to lose sight of the goal, but if you make it too much of a challenge, it becomes easier to just step away from it. Start with baby steps, and you would be surprised how quickly you start jogging.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3235
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Theresa Whited wrote:There seem to be a lot of people who fail at going off grid.


It could be that their expectations are not realistic.

As I said on the other thread, I've been doing this for 19 years. My (our) reasons are complex. When my daughter was little - 3 or 4 she wondered why we couldn't have a "normal" house with a lawn. I think the kids like it now.

I will say you probably need some outlet not related to your house. So, even though I have 5 cows, 8 sheep, chickens, turkeys, 4 dogs, and... a husband and kids ... I still spend a fair amount of time...
...
...
...
wait for it...
...
...
er, playing tennis! USTA rated 4.0!


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I'd be especially interested in details about what people do for a living off the grid.


Idle dreamer

Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3235
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
I don't think there is any correlation between occupation and being off grid. Physical location may be more important.
We are Plumber/Book keeper though in the past it was Production manager/Paralegal.
Jordan Lowery
volunteer

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
    
  11
i agree with john, slowly replace things or eliminate them. say to yourself can i make this myself? if not do i need it? im not 100% off grid but somewhere in the 50-60% range.


The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Theresa Whited


Joined: Jan 26, 2012
Posts: 41
I have been eliminating anything that is not useful to me. The magazines with country cottages full of little trinkets, baskets, etc with something in every corner does not appeal to me and seems like wasted space. If your hang your pots in the kitchen now that is efficient. The thing I liked the most about cob as oppose to straw bale is cob is easily formed for thermal properties and space. You can create nooks and shelves in the walls to keep more organized and have no clutter. Time is money and everything you spend time on should be valuable. So point taken, eliminate everything that is not a necessity. I have moved too many times from on conventional home to another and we all know the truck loads of furniture etc. I will gladly not do that again.

I am right now trying to decide if I want to hook up to the grid or start with a battery and inverter. Its $400 dollars to connect to the grid starting with a temporary then hook to the electrical panel. Its probably at least $700 just for the battery and inverter and 1 solar panel that produces 100w is about $200. I was thinking of hooking to the grid and buying the inverter and batter while I have the excess funds and buy panels as I can. This way I have the electric to finish building and as soon as the building is done I can focus on just the panels.

Things I know will be new to me that I am kind of nervous thinking "how much will this affect getting ready for work, cooking dinner, etc"

A compost toilet: From what I have read the toilet dehydrates better if it is in the sun. I think you start a compost for the dried matter and so I guess you simply empty the chamber as needed. Is anyone using one of there's and is it convenient?
Cooking: I didn't make room for a typical stove in the cob house because I can always use a small electric top or the top of the heat source. I am installing a clay oven, grill and fireplace right outside the house. I don't think this will change much in cooking time and convenience?
Water: I am still working on this one but the end product like washing cloths and bathing I think I will get an electric washer and hot water heater that I can hook to the grid for now.

As for careers, I have been laid off (like a lot of people) from the automotive field and so I decided to work for my self and insure my shelter. I am looking for jobs close to my property, what ever it is so I can have income while I work on going off grid and hopefully self sufficient. So, I have to be able to move there and work the property while being able to work.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3235
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Theresa Whited wrote:
I am right now trying to decide if I want to hook up to the grid or start with a battery and inverter. Its $400 dollars to connect to the grid starting with a temporary then hook to the electrical panel. Its probably at least $700 just for the battery and inverter and 1 solar panel that produces 100w is about $200. I was thinking of hooking to the grid and buying the inverter and batter while I have the excess funds and buy panels as I can. This way I have the electric to finish building and as soon as the building is done I can focus on just the panels.


If it only costs $400 to connect to the grid then you should. I think it would've cost us $5000 if we buried the cable ourselves. $50k if we put poles up.

Perhaps your goal should be to power a few small loads during a blackout (your modem, laptop, and small light?). In that case, you'd need a smallish battery, a small charger and inverter which I bet you could do for less than $300. Put $50 in a jar a month and reassess after a year.
Kari Gunnlaugsson
volunteer

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
    
    8
Just to present the other side... There is the cost of the temporary grid hook up, then the panel and all the wiring which is going to have to be inspected, and that might open up a whole new can of worms if you are doing an unusual construction like cob. Then there is the monthly fee, the cost of all the appliances you are going to get, and all of the inertia you will have built into your system that will make it harder all the time to wean yourself off.

You could also get a couple of batteries, a 200 watt panel, and an oversized charge controller. The oversized controller is important because it would let you add panels and capacity to your set up as time went on and you saved up. This is what I have. At my lattitude I can run a cfl light bulb all evening, a stereo, my laptop and internet connection, cell phone charger and a bunch of electric fencing for livestock. Down south you might need less panel or you could run more stuff.

Now you are free and you aren't tangled up too much in grid infrastructure and investments, and the money you save you can put towards adding more capacity to your system. I feel like I live quite comfortably and enjoy my lifestyle very much. I have built several buildings with a handsaw, it's not a big deal and if you keep it sharp it's just marginally slower than a noisy circular saw. I sometimes charge a drill off my system, and often use a hand drill. I have an old generator (a few hundred bucks) that I can start if I ever really need a lot of electricity for something...I've only used it once in a year and a half.

If you use a DIY compost toilet it will use no electricity and it works fine.
Washing dishes in the sink is no big deal.

Your water system is a wild card...are you on a well? Municipal water? Hand pump and / or a gravity tank or blue jug and you are in business.

This year I am going to add another panel to run a twin tub clothes washer and spinner (one where you can control the timing of everything.)

'Flamineta' makes a very compact two burner and small oven propane stove..they are common in mexico, but you can buy them if you look around. Or an old RV stove. That takes care of my cooking when it's warm and i'm not running the woodstove. I go through a 20 pound bottle every three months or so, it's not a big deal.

Nobody had refrigeration even a hundred years ago...there are lots of tricks to doing without.

A set up like this could be had for less than two grand. I would vote for trying it, you might find you like it. I don't often feel like i'm missing out.

For full disclosure, I am frustrated at not being able to power a deep freeze or a heat light for starting poultry, but I am getting closer to workable alternatives for both of these.

If your starting from scratch, once you head down the grid tie road it will get increasingly difficult to opt out of it. My two cents...
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3235
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
Jay Green wrote:... Off grid simply means one isn't using public utilities any longer...as in connected to the electrical grid/gas/public water and sewage.

It also doesn't mean you can't have employment off your land or have a social life with the community.


Stop the presses! Jay Green and I agree!

In fact, based on info from the "Should I get I gun" thread I can't help but wonder if {c}J {verde}Green is my doppelganger!

Woman, (formerly) off-grid
Owns a .22
Livestock dog guarding livestock

Sheesh.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
To clarify.


I work at a home business. That is how I make my living. I'm interested in what other people who work at home and are off-grid do for a living.
Theresa Whited


Joined: Jan 26, 2012
Posts: 41

"Woman, (formerly) off-grid
Owns a .22
Livestock dog guarding livestock

Sheesh".

I don't own a gun or a dog.
Cj Verde
pollinator

Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 3235
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
    
  54
The gun and dogs aren't directly related to being off grid. They are due to the fact that I have livestock.
Rob Ketel


Joined: Dec 19, 2011
Posts: 18
    
    1
How did we succeed?

Well, my girlfriend and I have been ramblers for years. I spent my late teens and early twenties living in foreign countries and working where ever the wind took me and she did about the same, hitchhiking across Canada, picking fruit and living off the land. I remember living in a cabin on a mountain side one winter... I paid $12.50 a month in rent and frankly, it was worth just that. No running water, no insulation, my roommate and I would wake up and find everything liquid in the cabin frozen on some of those cold winter mornings.

These days, I'm a long haul truck driver and she is a Plumber. When we met, she was concerned that I wouldn't be able to hack it... frankly, when you've been living out of a bag for the past 5 years, a home is a novelty. She cleared out 6 drawers for me 2 months ago when I officially moved in. I still haven't filled them up.

I guess the point of my ramble is this. What do you NEED vs. what you THINK you need. It is a mindset change that we, in this consumer culture, need to take to succeed in off grid living. We finally have hot water, our power system is pitifully small, we spend many nights curled up by the wood stove reading by lantern light... and we are happy.

Frankly, I spend a lot of time shopping at antique stores while on my travels. I found a few great kerosene lamps, a hand crank coffee grinder that we use every day and a few other nicknacks that are all hand crank, old time off grid stuff that our great grandparents used in every day life. My favorite find is an old stove top waffle iron Waking up, grinding coffee and making my lady a few waffles is one of the few joys in life that every man should have.
pete mac sween


Joined: Jan 21, 2013
Posts: 7
we lived off grid for 2 years with 2 small children and we had some of the best times ever. Enjoyed winters most because of the free refrigeration, wood heat, gravity fed water. Whole family outside everyday getting lots of fresh air. Oil lamps and candles for lights fresh food from the garden almost daily except for winter time. Now we live in a big dirty city and dream of moving back to the country, only reason we left is because a third child came along and the older kids needed to get to school so we had to move to the city for the "convenience". Now the kids are grown up and we are thinking about heading back to the country, should be interesting.
Jeremiah wales


Joined: Dec 28, 2012
Posts: 108
    
    1
Living off the Grid ?
I have not worked for anyone in 5 years. Sell things that I make to other people who have play money. Have a house right on the very Edge of town. But use No Electric, use no town Water. Wood Heat only,
Although it costs me 10.00 per month to keep power available, Just in case. Keep two Propane tanks just in case of an emergency.
Water is from a Hand pump and Sand point I put on the property. Also a Rainwater Recovery system, Solar charging of batteries. use all 12 volt lights.
Television over the air and 12 volt, Internet over the air and inverter a few times a day.
So it costs me Taxes, Food and some Misc stuff to survive. Oh I do use some gas in the chainsaw sometimes. Ride a bike a LOT.
The Grid is there but I dont uee it. I keep it just in case and If my Daughter lives here later. She can use the Power if she wants when I pass on.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
 
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