Off Grid Living: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Embark on a self-sufficient life! Discover essential tips & tricks for beginners in our ultimate guide to off-grid living and start your off grid living journey with confidence

Do you wish you could live a simpler, more self-sufficient life? Do you want to ditch the public utilities and rely on your own sources of power, water, and waste management? If you do, you might want to give off grid living a try. Imagine a life where you cut down your environmental impact, save some money, and enjoy more freedom and flexibility? If you do, you might be interested in off grid living. It is a lifestyle choice that is quickly gaining interest world-wide and for good reason!

Table of Contents

We've been off grid living since 2015

Here’s how it started…

Off Grid Living How It Started

… and how its going.

Off Grid Living How Its Going

An Introduction to Off Grid Living

Off Grid Living Solar Power Lights At The Off Grid Cabin

Off grid living is a lifestyle choice that means living without relying on public utilities like electricity, water, gas, or sewerage. Instead, you use alternative sources for power, water, and waste management, like solar panels, rain barrels, compost toilets, and generators.

For example, you can use solar panels to capture the sun’s energy and batteries to store it for later use. You can use rain barrels to collect water and filter it for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. You can use compost toilets to turn your human waste into soil, propane tankless water heaters for hot water and a propane heater as a primary/secondary backup heating source to keep you warm. And for those times when you really need it, you can use a small gas generator to power up your devices. Sounds pretty cool, right?

People choose off grid living for different reasons, like self-reliance, cost savings, environmental concerns, or personal preference. Off grid living can also vary in degree, from completely disconnected to partially connected to the grid.

Some people might envision off grid living as remote a life as living in a hand built Alaskan log cabin. And there’s nothing wrong with it if that’s the way you want to go. Richard Proenneke did it for thirty years. In fact, we wrote a complete story called “How Dick Proenneke built a log cabin alone in Alaska”.

Richard Dick Proenneke One Mans Wilderness Featured

At the other end of the spectrum, you can have an off grid home stuffed to the rafters with the latest technology that is completely automated and rivals the comforts of even the fanciest on grid home. 

Off Grid Living Advanced Home

In this article, we’ll give you a complete guide for beginners who want to learn more about the basics of off grid living.

We’ll cover four broad but common topics we get asked the most:

  1. How to Power Your Off Grid Home
  2. How to Get Water for Your Off Grid Home
  3. How to Manage Waste for Your Off Grid Home
  4. How to Stay Connected and Secure in Your Off Grid Home

By the end of this article, you’ll have a much better understanding of what off grid living involves, and how you can start your own off grid journey. In today’s day and age, it’s probably not what you may have envisioned and that’s probably a good thing. 

The topic of designing, building, finding land or buying an existing off grid home each has its own article on our website.  So in this article let’s pretend you just bought or finished building your off grid home and let’s answer the four most common questions we get asked about off grid living. 

Let’s get started!

How to Power Your Off Grid Home

One of the most important things about off grid living is how to power your off grid home. Without electricity, you can’t run your appliances, lights, heating, cooling, and other devices that make your life comfortable and convenient.

Luckily, there are many options for generating your own electricity from renewable sources, like solar, wind, hydro, and biomass. These sources are clean, green, and abundant, and can help you reduce your carbon footprint and utility bills. We have created a complete beginners guide to off-grid solar systems

But, choosing the best system for your off grid home can be tricky, as there are many things to think about, like your location, climate, energy needs, budget, and preferences. Here are some of the common types of renewable energy systems for off grid homes, and how to use them safely and efficiently:

Solar Power

Solar power is one of the most popular and widely available sources of renewable energy for off grid homes. Solar power works by turning sunlight into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) panels. Solar power is great for sunny and warm climates, and can provide enough power for most of your daily needs. But, solar power also has some downsides, like the high initial cost, the need for batteries and inverters, the dependence on weather and daylight, and the maintenance and cleaning of the panels.

Off Grid Living Solar Panels

Wind Power

Wind power is another common and reliable source of renewable energy for off grid homes. Wind power works by turning the kinetic energy of the wind into electricity using wind turbines. Wind power is great for windy and open areas, and can provide a steady and consistent power supply. But, wind power also has some drawbacks, like the noise, the visual impact, the need for towers and foundations, the dependence on wind speed and direction, and the maintenance and repair of the turbines.

Off Grid Living Wind Power

Hydro Power

Hydro power is a less common but very effective source of renewable energy for off grid homes. Hydro power works by turning the potential energy of flowing water into electricity using water turbines. Hydro power is great for areas with rivers, streams, or waterfalls, and can provide a continuous and stable power supply. But, hydro power also has some challenges, like the environmental impact, the need for permits and regulations, the dependence on water flow and level, and the maintenance and cleaning of the turbines and pipes.

Off Grid Living Micro Hydro Power Systems

Biomass Power

Biomass power is a rare but viable source of renewable energy for off grid homes. Biomass power works by turning organic matter, like wood, crops, or animal waste, into electricity using generators or gasifiers. Biomass power is great for areas with abundant and cheap biomass resources, and can provide a flexible and versatile power supply. But, biomass power also has some drawbacks, like the emissions, the need for storage and transportation, the dependence on biomass availability and quality, and the maintenance and cleaning of the generators or gasifiers.

Off Grid Living Biomass Generator

No matter which system you choose, you’ll need some safety components to make sure that your system works properly and safely. These components include:

  • Charge controller: A charge controller is a device that controls the voltage and current from your renewable energy source to your battery bank. It stops overcharging, undercharging, and reverse charging, and extends the life of your batteries. This is the set up we have in our loft. 

Off Grid Living Solar System Charge Controller and Inverter

  • Battery bank: A battery bank is a bunch of batteries that store the extra electricity from your renewable energy source for later use. It provides backup power when your renewable energy source is not available, and lets you use AC appliances that need more power than your renewable energy source can provide. You’ll need to choose the right type, size, and number of batteries for your system, and keep them in a well-ventilated, dry, and secure place. We have AGM batteries which do not off gas so they can be kept inside this rather handy wooden box that also serves as a seat.