Living Off-Grid: Generators



Generators just have to be one of the best inventions ever — power when and where you need it.

I’m not any kind of generator expert; I’m just a user and a big fan of what these machines have allowed us to do over the years. In the past, I’ve owned several types and sizes of generators in my commercial construction company. We were able to work way up in the mountains or anywhere else that power wasn’t available. We’ve built everything from buildings to bridges with nothing more than a generator to power our tools.

Two Types of Generators

Right now, living off the grid, I own two generators. One is an inexpensive, 3,500-watt portable generator. The other is a more expensive, 12-kw home standby generator.

I use the small one for all kinds of things. If I have to install a new entry gate, I just load my tools, materials, and the generator up in a vehicle, drive it to the work spot and get to work. When we camped on our property, I used it to pump water into a holding tank. I've also used it to charge my trailer batteries. Sometimes I may have to load it up along with the air compressor and drive to a remote spot on the property and air up a flat tire. There is almost no limit to the usefulness of a small portable generator.

The only thing I would recommend in a small one is that you go for one that has a 220-volt option. I still use mine to pump water on occasion. I also use it sometimes to charge my solar batteries and that is done on 220-volt because of the way my system is wired. You may never use the 220-volt option, but it sure is nice to have when you do need it.

Most of us who live off-grid and use an alternative power source such as solar, wind or hydro, also have a battery-backup power storage system. That is where my power comes from at night or anytime the sun isn’t shining and the solar panels aren’t producing power.

9/29/2019 4:41:37 PM

Yeah, we bought that small Generac and it's been in the shop all summer waiting for parts. Then we bought the next one, 15 KW Generac, made to charge our batteries, worked for a few months and now it's been in the shop all summer, too. They keep sending parts but our dealer tells them it's still not still waiting for parts. We use ours a lot living in Illinois but we can't get electric company to bring power for under $200G. Investigating diesel right now and using a portable generator to recharge batteries. I don't care how good a generator is, or what the price is, if the manufacturer won't get parts to you in a timely fashion, their brand sucks. Our home is earth bermed so it can get pretty humid so we run a small window AC on energy saver mode off and on. We are adding more solar panels and got some bigger batteries now so we are doing what we can. Thanks for your thoughts.

1/29/2019 11:27:05 AM

Does your bigger generator power the house 24/7/365? We are looking at an LP generator that powers our home all year around. Any recommendations? prdakota

1/29/2019 11:27:03 AM

Does your bigger generator power the house 24/7/365? We are looking at an LP generator that powers our home all year around. Any recommendations? prdakota

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