"Expect the unexpected and count it as part of the adventure"   Laurie Jane

cooking on the woodburning stove

LIVING OFF the GRID

           The term "Off the Grid" or off grid                  refers to an area without public electricity.
Our adventure began ~
     We no sooner moved to the land and the housing market collapsed.  We lost our building fund, which was to come from the assets of our former home. The previous year the land had been cleared and the well drilled.  The water tank was set in place and a very old 24' camping trailer was purchased. 
   With no cash to pursue projects, we lived with intermittent  generator power, 2 years and 5 months.  It has  not  been an  easy  journey,  but the thought of turning back, never crossed our minds ~                   

Those 2 years and 5 months ingrained in me things I "thought" I knew. The simplest of things like the value of a flashlight and extra batteries.  Today flashlights can be found in every car, every building, and most jacket pockets.  I, being an instructor and training people for emergency situations for a number of years, gained some first hand stories to share with my students.  Living off the grid with children, in an area with 4 seasons, wildlife, and a husband working far from home, presented challenges. Challenges we would experience during a long term or grid down emergency.

 

Our 4 month stay in the camper turned into a 10 month stay - "naturally", and in one of those record cold winters.  As a young teenager I had lived in an old rural home with hardwood floors that was warmed by a very inefficient wood burning stove. In the late 70's I lived in an antique home, the last home on the fire road before entering the forest.  Like the old rural home it was heated only by the wood burning stove, and the bathroom had been added in the outside porch. I had experienced living in cold homes, I thought.  The winters here are harsher than the old rural home and the antique home. Constant strong winds year around, and icy winter and spring roads, can make chores a challenge and travel dangerous.

 

When designing an off grid power system it must not only be efficient, it must be easy to manage in the worst of weather.  Environmental factors need to be considered.  We have become pretty efficient in managing electricity, water for home and growing crops, propane used, and in heating our home with wood. Still, nature tosses in drama every so often and mixed with physical and financial capabilities, living off grid can be miserable - if not dangerous.  Each power source has it's own strengths and weaknesses, determining these can provide the advantage when building a system that is comfortable to manage. 

Producing power is NOT CHEAPER THAN PUBLIC UTILITY BILLS.  It is a very rare situation that actually building and maintaining a 24/7 power system, that provides the same level of power needed for a modern home, will cost less than public utilities.  The batteries required to support our AC power system need to be replaced approx every five years. The system has 4 banks of 8 batteries. Every 5 years we must budget to replace 32 6volt batteries.  With the cost of the batteries and the environmental fees it cost us over $3,000 to replace our batteries in 2015. To keep the batteries charged during periods of cloudy weather or, in the case of wind turbines a lack of wind, a backup generator will be required. The generator will require fuel and maintenance.

Off grid power systems provide the opportunity to live in an area without existing power.

 They require a responsible and dedicated person to constantly

monitor and maintain them.    

LIVING OFF the GRID