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Living off the grid
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Living off the grid on 07/01/2014 09:51:07 MDT Print View

OK all you folks with awesome cabins and yurts and huts and do you do it? How do you finally cast off the trappings of a 50-hr workweek and bills and move out there??

And where do you find these places??

I'm getting there - the condo is sold. I paid cash for a car. I am paying off my debt from PT school (2.5 more years!). I am making changes to my job so I can be more flexible.

How do I make that final leap???

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Living off the grid on 07/01/2014 09:53:43 MDT Print View

Read Backwoods Home While some of it is questionable, over all it can help a person get there.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Living off the grid on 07/01/2014 10:27:40 MDT Print View

Mother Earth News

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Living off the grid on 07/01/2014 13:06:47 MDT Print View

I recently suggested to my wife that we should quit our jobs and move our family into a camper van. She told me not to quit my day job.

I have no experience living off of the grid other than in my camper but I’ll share some stuff I’ve researched and plan to do for myself.

You’ll have to check local zoning laws but there are a number of plans out there (eg Tumbleweed homes) where you can build a house for roughly 20K on a flatbed trailer. They actually look nice (imo) and are a great option for a single or likeminded couple. Some families with small children have found a way to make this work as well. The nice aspect of this is that you have a smaller space to heat/cool plus the structure is typically treated like a RV and not a traditional home for building code purposes.

What’s nice about treating it like an RV is that you don’t have to lose power (solar for example) converting 12v to 110v through an inverter. So for me, I’d run 12v to all of my LED lights and what not and keep your 110v powered stuff to a minimum. If you plan on going solar, I think having a UL mindset will come in handy. Itemize your devices/appliances that require power, figure out what the lowest power demand option is for that device, and then calculate what your energy needs are. Once you have that figured out, you can build your solar system to meet your needs and often develop it in a way where there’s room to expand in the future.

There are a few ways to maximize passive solar to heat the building and is well worth researching.

Composting toilet options improve every year. You can recycle gray water to your garden.

You can buy an RV fridge that’ll run on Propane. With our camper, I’ve found that our propane needs for the fridge, furnace, and oven to be modest but we don’t take it out long/often enough to know what the long term cost would be. What is nice, propane is fairly easy to find and store. If you don’t want to go the propane route, you can convert a chest freezer to a fridge which will have a low enough energy draw to run off of solar.

Nice thing about the prepper movement is that there’s a ton of information out there on this very topic.

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: Living off the grid on 07/02/2014 12:02:09 MDT Print View

Have you watched the vids of Dick Proenneke? I can't find the original full length documentary he made of himself, but here are some tasters:

Edited by tallbloke on 07/02/2014 12:02:49 MDT.

Travis Bernard
(DispatchesfromtheNorth) - M

Locale: Ross River
Re: Re: Living off the grid on 07/04/2014 12:12:30 MDT Print View

+1 on both Mother Earth News and Dick Proenneke's documentary.

We've been out at our cabin for just about two years now and I wouldn't trade it for anything. We are spoiled though and are by no means off the grid. We have electricity, running water, an indoor bathroom, and even an internet connection. I'm particularly happy about not having to run out to the outhouse at -35C to take a poop in the morning!

My biggest advice to you would be to make sure you are realistic about your expectations and understand that there will be trade-off's you'll have to accept if you live off-the-grid. Living out at the cabin means both my spouse and I have a constant list of chores that keep us pretty busy - felling trees and bucking and splitting the wood for fire, garden maintenance, pumping water, etc. No longer can we just up and leave for a week or two without some serious preparation and a reliable and competent house sitter. Add a few chickens and a goat to the mix and hiking trips and extended vacations are suddenly pretty tricky to plan and execute.

Of course, for us it's a trade-off we happily accept to be able to live with such an intimate connection to nature. This picture was taken at midnight last week and was taken from our 'front yard'. Makes the hard work more than worth it.

Midnight on the Lake

In terms of the actual planning, I'd put together a list of things I'd want in a location (ie: access to running water, south facing exposure for the garden, etc) first. Once location is determined you can work your way outwards, deciding on the type of home you need, and how to get electricty, heating, etc.

Good luck and enjoy the research. And don't let the naysayers dissuade you if it's what you want.