The concept of off-the-grid living is gradually growing, aided with the global campaign for a better and sustainable living environment. This alternative lifestyle choice involves total disconnection from basic public utilities, including power, water, and telephone lines.
While it’s an admirable process, it involves thorough preparation for those who want to try it. Here are the basic steps involved in getting an off-the-grid living started.
1. Build A Functional Living Space
The first thing you’ll need to practice your off-the-grid lifestyle is a functional housing set-up influenced by your personal preferences. The first choice for habitation concerns whether you want a completely disconnected lifestyle from the city or a self-sufficient life.
If you’re looking to disconnect entirely, you’ll require a location change. The simplest process involves building or buying a house in a village or town. For the option of a more sustainable lifestyle, you can gradually disconnect from the power grid while taking advantage of some perks of living in the city, such as cycling, riding transit buses, and walking.
2. Ensure a Sustainable Water Source
Water is the next necessary aspect of your off-the-grid life. You’ll need a reliable and clean water source to ensure sustenance in your new home. This is made possible by multiple water sources you can create in your new home, including:
a. Underground Water Systems
This is the most expensive off-the-grid water option, including wells and borehole systems. A well is dug to varying depths between 75 ft. to 300 ft. while a borehole can be sunk from 300 ft. to 1,000 ft. Both systems require a solar or wind-powered pump which delivers the water into your home.
Both natural and human-made pools are great water sources for off-the-grid living. Pond water can be used for recreational purposes such as swimming, farmland support systems for livestock and crops, and domestic use when treated.
c. Streams and Creeks
These are naturally occurring water sources, and if you want access to either a stream or creek, your off-grid home must be strategically located around one. Perennial streams can cater to all your water needs either by manual hand-drawing or a pumping system.
3. Install Alternate Energy
Even if you’re already off-the-grid, you’ll still need an energy source to run several tasks that would still require energy consumption, including outdoor and indoor lighting, laundry, and appliances. Alternatives include the following renewable energy sources:
a. Solar Energy
Solar energy is the most applicable and sustainable renewable energy source. Its energy cycle is powered by photovoltaic (PV) panels, which capture the sun’s rays to provide you with clean energy. You’ll require a battery system to store excess energy from the PV panels to keep your facility powered longer.
Hydropower is dependent on the amount of water available at your off-grid home, such as one close to a stream or with constant running water. You can harness this power by using a micro-hydroelectric generator. It’s best installed by professionals to ensure a steady flow and adequate vertical drop of the water source.
c. Wind Energy
The application of wind-powered energy sources is also dependent on the average wind speed within the area. The wind speed witnessed in each area can be checked using appropriate authority websites. The minimum wind speed required is 9 mph and a turbine rated within the range of 5-15 kilowatts.
4. Compost and Grow Your Own Food
Composting is a dated yet effective method of soil improvement and fertilization. This eco-friendly process naturally decomposes domestic organic waste such as yam peels, rotten tomatoes, and vegetables within a soil mass. The compost is then added back to the farm soil to boosts plant growth, plant disease resistance, and maintain soil water and aeration.
Composting facilitates the cultivation of organic farm produce, which will enormously boost your off-the-grid living capabilities. It’s advised that you invest in planting a mix of annuals, biennials, and perennials to ensure food security. The benefits of producing and consuming organic food include healthier meals, improved air quality, and environmental responsibility.
5. Have a Backup Energy Source
A backup energy source is required to insure yourself against any weather-driven energy shortages in your alternate energy sources. This is because there are sometimes drastic reductions in wind speed, water, and sun levels. This will mean experiencing a time-dependent power shortage the moment you’ve expended your battery storage capacity.
Permanent and portable generators are practical backup energy sources that can recharge your battery bank whenever it requires recharging. A permanent generator may have auto-start functions and higher power ratings, but it could be more expensive than portable generators.
Off-the-grid living could also benefit from including an alternate energy source such as integrated solar power systems.
The trend of using alternate energy sources has contributed to the gradual adoption of integrated battery systems as a backup energy source to support the alternative lifestyle of off-the-grid people. But for a more successful unplugged life, you’ll need a sustainable water source, as well as homegrown food and composting, to pull it off.