Published on November 16, 2021 Author : Nancy (Admin) Librti account of respondent : Rednek6966
Question : My question is simple, what have you learned from these 4 decades of living off the grid and your main advice
The question is simple, but the answer is not as simple as it may appear. First I must preface the answer with my definition of “offgrid’.
The reason being that offgrid conveys different meanings to different people, so what I am expressly referring to is independence from the electrical grid and the utility companies associated with it.
True there are other facets of independence that become involved in this lifestyle but primarily it involves becoming energy independent regarding electrical consumption. I still use other forms of energy just like everyone else, such as gasoline for my car and assorted small engines. Although we are equipped to cook solely using a wood burning cook stove, we do use a propane stove for convenience. Although our refrigerator is powered by our own solar/battery system we have added a propane powered absorption freezer to help with food preservation. This combined with an in ground root cellar meets our needs of food storage.
To continue I would like to say a few things about the financial logistics of living off grid. Here as with everything else it depends on the personal preferences of the individual, for ourselves personally this is more of a lifestyle choice than an austerity measure.
True you can save a lot of money by not having to pay electrical bills but an alternative solar powered system is not necessarily cheap either. Again this depends on the wants and needs of the individual and how much money you are willing to invest.
I am very much a minimalist in most things and solar power is no exception however we do enjoy our creature comforts and digital toys, this laptop being one of them. In point of fact our phone bill is our only regular utility bill as our phone serves as our internet hotspot it's imperative for our contact with family and friends and our source of news and information, not to mention the all important on line shopping. However these activities are not large energy users, nor is lighting thanks to the advent of low voltage LED bulbs. The largest single investment in alternative energy is the batteries, it is also the one part of the system that has a finite lifespan. They don't last forever and need to be monitored in use if you want to maximize that lifespan.
A typical set of lead acid batteries can last 4,000 or more duty cycles if those cycles are shallow, meaning never drawing them down below 80% of capacity or only using 20% of the available capacity. The same batteries can fail after as little as 800 cycles if you conversely use deep cycles and draw them down consistently to 20% of capacity, or using 80% of the available amp hours.
Our current battery bank consisting of 12/2 volt cells is connected to create a 12 volt system that provides 2240 amp hours. since this set of batteries cost almost $10,000 it is only prudent to do everything possible to maximize this investment.
For some people, who want to sacrifice nothing in way of convenience solar power can require very deep pockets in investment. But of course those who have the money or are willing to pay for it are certainly entitled to do as they wish with their money. Our minimalist approach would not satisfy most people, nor would I expect it too.
In this segment I will discuss the transition to living offgrid, for myself personally this was not difficult due to the era and circumstances I was born into. I realize my situation is unique and atypical for the majority of people, I consider myself fortunate.
I grew up in a rural home with no electricity or other common amenities such as indoor plumbing and running water. I was 12 years old when our family experienced the wonders of electricity, prior to this our lighting came in the form of kerosene lanterns and naphtha fuelled lamps, commonly called hi-test gas. We carried our water from a nearby creek in the summer months and melted snow during the winter months. We grew and preserved the majority of our own food and only purchased the staples such as salt, pepper, sugar, flour and yeast or baking powder. As a result I learned to work with my own hands and become self sufficient or at least as self sufficient as possible. We preserved our food by canning, drying, smoking and in the winter months by freezing. we learned to make do with what we had and do our own repairs with what was available. Here is where the aspect of offgrid living overlaps into a lifestyle of self sufficiency or survivalism. Although most people would shudder at the concept of such a primitive lifestyle I would remind you that humans existed and thrived for millennia without the existence of our common electrical grid. I realize most younger people cannot even visualize a world without the amenities that modern civilization provides, sadly the concept of self sufficiency and the independence and freedom that comes with it is also alien to them. I consider myself blessed to have grown up in the era and manner which I did and to have learned so many lessons relative to life in general, this knowledge is invaluable. Many would argue, this is mundane knowledge. Agreed, but knowledge nonetheless and certainly knowledge that would benefit anyone as we look forward to a world of very troubling times.