Backup Power is the Beginning of Living Off Grid

Reader Contribution by Aur Beck and Advanced Energy Solutions Group
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In recent months, we have seen the plight of millions of families as they struggle to cope without the power grid and this is becoming much more frequent.  What would your life be like without the monopoly of the power company? We are so dependent on electricity…almost everything at your home (and mine) would quit without power.

Look around your home. Your land-line phone, fireplace and pilot lights (on stoves and hot water heaters) are likely gone. Our reliance on electrical power has increased significantly over the past 20 years. So when there is a power failure, we have no communications, no heat and no hot water. Our electricity-intensive society needs backup power more than ever.

I’ve been installing home battery backup power systems on and off for 20 years.

Water – wells are great…but “no power, no water” (for drinking, sanitation, irrigating your garden, etc).  You can’t live without water!

Freezer & fridge – Is your garden’s harvest in the freezer?  Say goodbye to it. Ouch!

Heat – using an electric heater? Even modern wood stoves, gas, and propane furnaces need electricity to operate. Power outages in winter can spell disaster.

Everything else – from your coffee to your microwave to phones to lights.  Almost everything needs power. Is this dependence just a “fact of life”?  Something that you have to live with?  Or is there a good way out?

For years I’ve been teaching how to simplify people’s lives by “Living Off Grid, Really” on all the ways there are besides electricity to help with your life. Why not tap into the free energy of the sun to power your home and gain the security of energy independence?

Here are a few reasons why…

Energy independence – blackouts become a thing of the past!  Reliable power for your water pump, freezer, fridge, and everything else.

Cut monthly expenses – imagine no more monthly power bills in the mail.  This is a blessing when you lose your job, are on a fixed income, or anytime!

Being “green” – many are going off the grid to have a smaller footprint.

Remote property – looking at remote property that is beyond the power lines?  Now you can live normally and pay less for the land (since it has no utilities).

It’s awesome! – let’s face it…even long-time solar users are addicted to watching their power production meter when the sun is shining! So, how do you actually get started going “off the grid” with solar power?  Can you phase into it or do you have to do it all at once? Does it cost a lot of money to do it?  Do you have to be an electrical engineer to figure it all out?

In the 18 years I had lived off grid, I have had the luck of great teachers and studying a lot to be able to answer those questions to now in my John A Logan college classes. Frankly, many have put off starting their off-grid journey because they have been intimidated by what they do not know.

Have you ever experienced a power outage or gone camping? These are both similar situations from an energy standpoint but the mentality we approach them are different. Both are Living Off Grid but one is done to us (power outage) and the other (camping) we choose to do.

Why not have the mentality and choose to live off the grid, thus using less. Start small; solar portable power packs can power LED lights, music, and cell phones.

Get serious living on the grid; Figure out ways to use less electricity (average off grid use is only 40% of on grid use) or not use electricity at all. For example dry your clothes on the line and use a wood stove or outdoor furnace to heat with.Get a self consumption with utility outage backup solar system that weans you off the utility as you add more solar panels.

Go all out and put up enough solar that the utility becomes your secondary power source during the winter when there isn’t as much solar.

Aur, is a NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer with AES Solar in Carterville. He started educating himself about renewable energy as a teenager even before he moved into a camper in his parents’ driveway to live off-grid solar and ended up living off grid for 18 years. Aur understands that living how he does makes it very easy to advocate for a life of simpler living, energy efficiency and renewable energy. His name Aur (pronounced “or”) means light or to enlighten in Hebrew. Can be reached

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