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Your Guide to Off-Grid Homes

Ready to go off-grid? Here's what you need to know to plan, build and enjoy an off-grid home!


Photo by Alex Gorey on Unsplash
 
The idea of living off the grid has gained a lot of momentum in recent years. This more sustainable way of life offers many benefits, like financial freedom and a lower carbon footprint. But what does it truly mean to build and live in an off-grid home? Here's what you need to know if you think an off-grid home may be for you:
 

What Is an Off-Grid Home?

The definition of off-grid living varies widely depending on who you ask. Folks who call themselves off-grid can fall anywhere on a large spectrum. The most basic definition off-grid living is not being connected to public utilities. Some people, in pursuit of a more rugged veresion off-grid living, cut themselves off from the system completely and, in addition to sourcing water and power independently, live without technology and grow their own food. 
 

Is Off Grid Living Similar to Homesteading?

While off-grid living and homesteading are two different principles, they go hand-in-hand. Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency; at a minimum this usually involves growing some of your own food and potentially raising livestock. Other, more dedicated homesteaders will live as sustainably as possible by making their own clothes, preserving foods, and often living totally off grid. Both ideals aim to live sustainably, however some homesteads are still connected to the grid. Conversely, some off-grid homes still rely on outside sources for food and supplies.
 
Learn more about homesteading here!
 

Why Choose a Log Cabin for Your Off-Grid Home?

There's a reason many log homes from generations ago still stand today. The simple, sturdy nature of log homes makes them a natural choice for homesteads and off-grid homes. Plus, with all the kits and companies that exist today, achieving one's dream log cabin is actually quite accessible.
 
Log homes and cabins are also a sustainable choice. With proper sealing and maintenance, log homes can be highly energy efficient. Plus, a solid log wall offers more thermal mass capabilities than other building components do. Finally, wood is a renewable resource. Most log home producers practice reforestation or take their stock from managed stands of trees, while others harvest standing-dead timbers (those that have been killed by fire, disease or insects) as these trees have a negative effect on the overall health of the forest.
 
 

Choosing the Right Solutions for an Off-Grid Home

Let's take a look at some of the different systems and methods of making the off-grid lifestyle a reality. Most off-grid homeowners will still need ways to prepare food, access water and perhaps even run a few appliances or control the temperature.
 
When you build your dream cabin, you’ll want to ensure you choose the right setup to make the most of the natural surroundings. Here are few questions to keep in mind as you consider property for your off-grid home.
 
  • Does your property have plenty of access to sunlight?
  • Is there a water source nearby which you could use?
  • Do you get much wind in your region?
 
Bear in mind that most off-grid homeowners choose to live with less electrical appliances and will instead choose alternative ways to do things. For example, you might choose to wash the dishes by hand rather than having a dishwasher, or heat up your food on a stove rather than in a microwave.
 
Planning your systems, especially water, before you build is essential to make the most of your resources. Here are some of the common solutions:
 

Power


Photo: Pexels
 
Disconnecting from the electrical grid and generating power is usually the first step people take to move their home off the grid. But how exactly do you do this and what are some of the different options? Let's take a look at power sources for off-grid homes:
 

Solar

Solar panels are the most popular form of off-grid energy. This setup will require solar panels, an inverter and batteries. If the area you live in has plenty of sunshine, then this could be the ideal option for you. In comparison to other types of renewable energy, this is probably the most cost effective choice. Learn more here.
 

Wind

Once you’ve found out your local wind speeds, you might reach the conclusion that wind turbines are a better fit for your off-grid home. Wind turbines do tend to be more expensive to set up than solar systems, and they typically need more space.
 

Microhydro

If you have water on your property, you might even consider generating electricity by water. This can be the more expensive option, however, it is also very responsive and long-lasting. This setup works best for those homes that sit on a hilly site with access to running water. Learn more here.
 

Non-Renewable Electricity

Most people want to ensure their energy is renewable, however this isn’t always possible. Perhaps you don’t have the initial investment needed to set up an off grid system, in which case you might need to rely on propane for cooking and heating water.
 

Water


Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash
 
In addition to power, you’ll need to think about how to get water to your off grid home. If you are relying on a natural source, make sure you check whether it is available all year, and consider how you will filter the water.
 

Wells

A popular solution for homes in the country is water from a well. Wells can offer year-round water and should last for a few decades, if not more. You can either use electricity to pump the water from the well or a hand pump, which will certainly save on costs! Wells can be expensive to install and are usually highly mineralized. Check out this guide to find out what it might cost in your area for a complete well system.
 

Rainwater Collection

Collecting rainwater is a simple solution for collecting water. You can use roofs and gutters to direct the water into barrels, and that water can then be purified, or simply used to water plants and feed animals.
 

Water Tank

If you’re looking for a temporary solution to store water while you get your off-grid home up and running, you might consider a water tank system to store water which is brought in from off site. This can be time-consuming and costly and isn’t ideal as a long-term solution, as it usually means relying on a municipal source.
 

So, Is an Off-Grid Home for You?

If you’re looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and log cabin living appeals to your spirit, then building an off-grid home could be the ideal solution for you. With enough research and the right planning, an off-grid home of your dreams is possible. Don't forget-going off-grid can take many forms. To get inspired, check out this selection of off-grid log homes!
 

Examples of Off-Grid Homes

A Luxurious Canadian Cabin

This remote-but-luxurious, off-grid cabin is not what immediately comes to mind when you think of off-grid homes. Built in a secluded bay of Lake Tremblant in the Canadian Laurentian Mountains, this cabin is not accessible by car and can only be reached by boat or snowmobile. It is powered by solar panels on the roof and propane gas, and the water is drawn directly from the lake, passing through a treatment system before entering the house. The wastewater is collected in an ecoflo bio filter. Read more more about this off-grid home here.
 

This Off-Grid Cabin Takes a Simpler Approach

 
In complete contrast to the last cabin, Doug and Stacy built their two-bedroom, 800-square-foot log cabin using trees which they felled from their property. Their home doesn’t have any solar power; instead they rely on kerosene lanterns to light the home and a wood stove to heat it. Despite not having any electricity, they still manage to make daily posts on their YouTube channel, by powering their laptop through their car’s battery! They use a 3,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system which supplies them with enough water for their showers and outdoor kitchen. Learn more here.
 

A Cozy, Off-Grid Cabin in Colorado With Rustic Style

 
This Colorado cabin looks straight off a movie set. A wood-fired, cast-iron stove, hand-forged wrought-iron hardware throughout and candlesticks, sconces and oil lamps light the interiors really set the scene in this cabin which has no plumbing or electricity. Learn more about this cabin here!
 

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