All things energy, from solar and wind power to efficiency and off-grid living.
Want to get away? Like, permanently away? Maybe it’s time to go off the grid. An estimated 180,000 Americans families are currently doing it. Living off the grid can mean a lot of things for different people, but it’s fundamentally defined as being disconnected from most infrastructures like sewer systems, electric and gas utilities.
People choose to go off-grid for a multitude of reasons. Some families want to live on acres of land or a very rural landscape. Others feel the need to downsize their material possessions and adopt a tiny-house lifestyle
Homes that are truly “off the grid” do not rely on utility power at all. These homeowners must decide how to produce energy for the household. Renewable energy sources such as wind and residential solar power are essentially what make off the grid living possible! If you go the solar route, this will be a little bit different than installing a solar panel system in a suburban environment. The whole point after all is to not be connected to the grid, which means that you won’t be able to give or take power from it. Therefore, you will need to purchase a system that is big enough to produce energy for all of your needs. The best way to figure out how big of a system you need is by first noting the amount of energy you currently use each month. You should be able to find this on your utility power bill. The typical homeowner, consuming 11,000 kWh per year, will need 28-34, 250-watt solar panels to cover complete usage. If this is larger than you wanted to start with, you could downsize the array if you practice downsizing the amount of electricity you use per month. Try these home energy-saving techniques to painlessly use less power.
Using renewable energy is beneficial to homeowners in many ways. For one, independence from electrical utility companies means no longer being vulnerable to power outages or power rate increases. Your solar-generated electricity will always be free! Secondly, by using renewable energy source instead of costly fossil fuel-sourced power, your carbon footprint is decreased dramatically. Living with renewable energy can also be more cost effective compared to utility power prices. Solar panels require a bigger investment upfront, but the savings add to thousands over the system lifespan.
If you’re disconnected from the utility grid, you’re going to need to store your power independently somehow. To do so, you’ll need batteries that can be charged by your renewable energy source. This will be your source of power at night, or when your solar production is low. When your panels are soaking up the sun and transforming it into energy, the batteries will be charged and ready to reliably pump out power. Batteries do require some maintenance, such as ensuring that its charge does not fall below 50 percent is good practice, as well as periodically adding distilled water to them. There is some daily monitoring and maintenance required when keeping your battery bank at peak functionality. You can read more about battery system maintenance and repair here.
Location, Location, Location
Some regions are better than others for off the grid lifestyles. You could do it just about anywhere, but considering land prices, building codes and property taxes, there are some area with obvious advantages. Northern California has reasonably priced land and a milder climate. It also provides easy access to water and less-strict ordinances, according to offgridworld.com. Get estimates on solar panel systems in California at 123solarpower.net. Another state with relatively affordable rural land and plentiful sources of water is Florida. Your main considerations when searching for a region to put down your off the grid roots should be things like climate, laws, taxes, zoning, land price, and access to building materials.
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