Have you considered or even dreamed of living off grid, but you just don’t know where to start? The first place we started was determining what sort of appliances we wanted to have off grid.
Now there are two schools of thought when it comes to living off grid. There is one; we will rough it like “Little House on the Prairie” and build as we go. Or, there is two; we will design our home, budget what we can do, and then make it happen for our move in date. I would like to say we took the second path by 100%, but truly we were a blend of the two. We had all our systems purchased when we moved onto the property, but we decided to move on the property when the home’s shell was established. We camped in the cottage over the summer while I wired and plumbed the home. We moved out in the fall to pay a company to insulate, sheet rock, texture and paint the home. We moved in the home to the hum of a generator and t6he flicker of oil lamps as backup while I installed the inverter and battery bank over Christmas. A month later we were living in the home permanently with one working faucet in the laundry room.We were surrounded by various parts and systems in boxes around our house. For example, our solar panels were stacked on the floor in our living room and would not be placed successfully on our homemade array until the following July. Once the solar system went online, our off grid home felt more like an on grid home as we used our various electrical appliances without reserve.For those of you who are dreaming of the off grid lifestyle, which school of thought are you leaning towards. For those who have made the transition, I would like to encourage you to share your experience with others here, so comment below.
3 thoughts on “Have you considered or even dreamed of living off grid?”
We planned for two years before retiring back home from Texas to Idaho. We searched properties for sale endlessly and got a real feel for what was available. Nothing however was listed as it REALLY looked me so it took us almost a month to find the perfect property and it was NOT perfect. We a bought a place advertised with solar, a water cistern, and a 2 cabins. Keep in mind we bought the end of June.
Everything advertised was there but not in great condition. Ok, in VERY POOR condition, slap hazardly put together where even a pro couldn’t figure it out, falling apart, no insulation, mice infested, and junky!!!! Several giant dumpsters junky!
Clean up was first. Then we had to partially tear down and reconstruct the cabin.
In the meantime we slept in the front end of a toy hauler trailer we’d moved here with. The second cabin had a kitchen set up with a propane rv fridge and sink, so all cooking and eating was done from there. We had good friends who helped with roofing and insulating before winter. Before winter was the key phrase to everything. Between everything, we also had to get in firewood. How much was enough????
We have to haul water to a 1000 gallon cistern here. Water is free at the Bonner county fairgrounds till winter when they shut it off. Bonner’s Ferry fairgrounds and the city of Athol both have water in winter for about $2.00 per 300 gallons. We learned to keep a water hose inside the truck in winter!
We learned the shower and insta hot water heater worked in the main cabin so we were able to shower every day.
The property had solar, but was wired wrong, had a half dead battery bank, and the panels were rv panels. They’re not as powerful but we only use solar for lights and phone charging, fans in summer, so it was ok.
We purchased a generator…don’t buy Firman, our first mistake. We ran it while replacing the battery bank over time, (batteries are expensive!), and a Firman is a poor product with almost NO way to contact the company. It was like pulling teeth from a mountain lion to get Firman to return a call.
Finally we bought a bigger Generac generator but in the process of all of this, we learned generator maintenance.
We have torn down and rebuilt one and a half cabins, installed 2 wood stoves (studio and shop), learned the differences in firewood and how much we need. Bought an old tractor for plowing and general work.
We’ve been dissecting the plumbing for two and a half years now because the previous owner seemed to make everything work with bits and pieces given to him. So a water line in the cabin might have a two foot piece of hose, clamp, a one foot, clamp, another three feet, clamp …yeah.
We learned how to store water in the cabin in case the line freezes.
We purchased a propane stove, refrigerator, and a propane chest freezer. This was the MOST expensive purchase. The prices have tripled since then and I thought they were bad THEN! We put in a good garden with the dog fence surrounding it to help keep deer out. We had to put up an electric wire high on the fence because we had a bear and a pesky moose who thought the grass was greener!
Every winter we make a project list for spring, summer, and fall.
This year is the biggest list. A pole barn to house vehicles and we have to rebuild the shop. Good thing the bottom of the property is loaded with lodgepoles! That’s one of the other things we learned…always try to use your own resources!
We will be digging a well, too, using a sand wedge. We had a water witcher out last year who identified where the water was located.
We don’t have a washer and dryer but we do enjoy going to the laundromat in Bonner’s Ferry. Gets us out of the house.
We still have not put in a bigger solar system but we are veterans on a fixed income and since I’ve started caring for my mom, saving for that is on the back burner.
We hunt, fish, raise much of our own food, pick huckleberries and wild blackberries, and still can’t identify an edible mushroom! My husband learned the art of smoking meat and I am fatter for it! Ha! I even learned how to can!!!
We are warm in winter, cool in summer, and we work every day to get to the next day. We work harder retired than we ever did when we had regular jobs but it’s rewarding.
We are probably roughing it more than most, but this is the off grid life both of us experienced in our childhood years. Letting go of some things was good for us. Not saying everyone should, but it worked for us.
After meeting y’all and reading your blog, when folks ask about off grid living, you’re the biggest success story I tell!
Thank you neighbors. One thing for sure is living off grid is an adventure. When you’re ready for a well and solar, I have some contacts that can help you for a fair price. Each project I choose now depends on my desire to do it. If I loath the task, I save up and pay for a professional. If I enjoy the work and know it will be successful, I do it.
How deep is your well and what is the pump capacity? 65 amps draw seems unusually large. Is that operating current, starting current or locked rotor current?