In 1993 our family decided that we wanted to start living off the grid. It was a major decision in our lives, and the lives of 3 small children, but we knew it was time to give it a try.
Back then we knew nothing about our new choices, or how they would affect the rest of our life.
The best part is that looking back over the last 16 years we would not change any one of those decisions. We use wind generators and solar panels to generate our power for our home, and we built them all ourselves from scratch.
Our garden is the nearly an acre now producing a substantial amount of food for our family. And we have time and freedom now to help others do the very same things we have accomplished.
Over the years we have had quite a few visitors to our home, all seemingly asking the same questions, "Do you think we can do this ourselves?"
Our answer is usually the same, "Do you think you can?". It is really up to you if you want to do what we have done.
What does it take to start?
- You first need a good plan
- get some experience living off the grid even if for only a short period of time
- make sure all family members are included in the decisions before you begin
Let's start with family planning first. Including everyone in the decision to live off grid is tremendously important. Even small children should be included. Remembering back to the time of our move, the kids viewed it as a giant adventure. And it truly was to them.
They had a huge back yard to explore now, new things to investigate and new experiences seemingly everyday. A dream come true for a child.
They all contributed in their own way to the building of our home too.
The oldest, Andrew was only 8 years old when we moved but he worked as hard as I did when it came time to lay block, pour concrete or cut beams for the construction of our off grid home.
We built the house ourselves from material that was on the place, preferring to use dead and damaged trees, and local native field stone in our construction as much as possible.
Gaining the experience can be a hard won bit of knowledge. Buying a weekend retreat or country property that you would like to spend some time on (and eventually move to living off the grid is a great first step.
Installing a few solar panels at your 'camp' is a great place to start.
Back when we started we did not have a ton of money at our disposal, so we made due. This included making our own solar panels and it was a great decision to do so.
It is a simple matter to find solar cells and put them all together in simple solar panels to run everything we needed.
Of course we did buy a few solar panels too, but after we learned how to make our own we did not bother with that any longer. You can choose which option is for you.
Our next course of action was to learn about wind generators and in the course of doing that we learned that we could build a wind generator of our own too, just like we did with the solar panels.
It was not a very difficult process to learn but it did require us to make a lot of modifications over time. The plans that were out there were mostly junk in our opinion, so we set to work to make them better and added our own experience to the mix.
Off grid living has been much easier since we learned what it took and because we were diy people we made some real advances that could help other people do the same thing.
What we discovered next was that our little experiment had a lot of people watching us, and wanting to do the same things.
Back when we first started we were known as 'those people who live down that road without hydro'. Kind of funny now that we think back on it. Because we moved to a new area, with a very strong rural and local flavor to it, our 'new' ideas were not well received at first.
But now, as we drive down the highway we see our influence as there are many homes with solar panels and wind generators installed.
Jane and I were constantly in demand to help our neighbors (and people who just showed up to ask for help) to install their own renewable energy system. And then we discovered that these same people would pay us to help them, and it developed into quite a nice little installation business for us for quite a while.
We still do the odd installation, but mostly we have set to work to outline the basic steps that these people need to take to start with living off the grid and help them succeed by themselves.
It has been a wonderful journey and we are sure that we can help you with your own journey, so just ask.