Living Off the Grid–What Does That Mean?
A week or so ago, someone commented to me publicly that I’d never make it living off the grid, that my idea of camping most likely involves a fully equipped recreational vehicle, and I have no clue what living off the grid means.
Mind you, I’ve never met this person, he has no idea whatsoever about me, and certainly not our life. He stated to me that living off the grid equals what you see when you watch Little House on the Prairie, so I should consult that and get a life.
Honestly, now I can laugh at the sheer craziness of his statements. At the time, I was not so amused.
Why did he feel the need to tell me all this nonsense? Because I had the audacity, on a group entitled Off the Grid Living for Beginners, I asked for some input on washing machines. The kind that wash clothes when you insert clothes and turn them on. Not washboards or bucket plungers.
Imagine…I am so spoiled.
As an aside, we have not had a washing machine running for almost four years now. But that’s beside the point.
We are so close to getting our solar setup done that I’m looking at options for washing machines we can use off the grid power. So we don’t use too much energy, so the clothes get clean, etc. All the things most people want.
Anyway…all this led me to thinking: What does it mean to live off the grid?
Obviously, to some, it means copying the made-up television version of how life used to be. Where you don’t really see the behind the scenes work, where everyone happily pumps water from their hand pump, where somehow everything gets done but all you really see are the people visiting and laughing, and where the real farm chores happen off set. Sure, you see snippets, but there is a lot of town visiting that real life may not have actually afforded. Pretty dresses that actually had to be washed, dried, ironed, starched, and such. Anyway, they do a pretty good job of making the olden days seem golden, but it was hardly as romantic as a one hour show can capture.
Disclaimer here: I enjoyed watching Little House.and we’ve read all the books I just never thought to pattern real life after a fictional TV show. And I do know there was a real Ingalls family, but we all know the show was made up.
Off the grid life means different things to different folks.
I’ll say that again.
Off the grid living means different things to different folks.
We could all live like Grizzly Adams or Dick Proenneke (and if you haven’t heard of these men, you need to see their videos!). We could all live like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Or maybe like our grandparents. Or cavemen, or people in Bible times. All of those people lived off the grid. Some lived in tents, some lives in caves, some in nicer homes, others in the wilderness.
So many choices for Off the Grid Living
These days, many choose to live off the grid, and it’s not quite as burly of a life. Many use solar, wind power, or other alternative power sources, and they live quite comfortably.
Others live off the land, foraging, doing everything by hand, and live more like Indians or the early settlers. Hand tools, a simple way of life, and no frills.
The Amish live generally off the grid. Their life is hard, but the community spirit helps to get it all done. I applaud their lifestyle, but that’s not the life we are choosing. At the same time, we are edging more and more toward their philosophy and endeavoring to be less complicated, although we have not succeeded in that attempt.
There is a book I’m interested in reading that focuses on Living Like the Amish, without electricity. I’m very interested to learn more, and I do want to use glass oil lamps like these, if even just for the ambience.
Off the Grid Us
We technically have lived off the grid for pushing four years now. In September it’ll be four.
We live in our camper, use a gas powered generator to power lights, charge batteries, and have a propane fridge and stove. Notice I didn’t mention a washer, lol? That’s our current situation.
Sooner and sooner, we will live in our cabin. We have 16 solar panels to power the lights and appliances. We are choosing to use highly efficient conventional appliances, like an Energy Star fridge, washer, and propane dryer. We realize that we won’t be living like everyone else. We will wash when the sun shines and be happy to do it at home!
We heat with wood. We have for years and it’s no big deal, but it does require planning. Some nights it would be great to flip a switch! It’s a trade-off for being independent and off the grid.
Our well pump is on solar panels of its own, which is very nice. We gravity feed the water, and can pump the water to fill the tank on sunny days, or use the generator we also collect rainwater.
The generator will still be used, but praise the Lord not as much as we’ve used it the past 3 1/2 years! It’s getting super pricey with these gas prices!! Sheesh! We will just use it for back up. If I want to wash laundry on a cloudy day, I can crank it up!
Your Choice, Your Way
When you choose to go off the grid, you just have to do a lot of praying and considering. What you can live without and what is not negotiable. How much you can afford, and what’s reasonable.
We’ve never hooked up to the power grid. Why shell out money to get it hooked up, when we were going to be off grid? We actually considered it, but the price was more than we could do, and Greg didn’t really want a bunch of trees cut down to run wires. Underground was just gonna be way too hard, with all of our rock, so we went straight for the solar setup. Which has been a real process!
☀️ Almost Ready for Solar sun I
Within a week maybe, we hope to go live. This weekend we hope to do a trial run on the system and work out the bugs. We have old batteries which we have to determine whether they will serve us. But we are this close!
Living off the grid means different things to different people.
We have friends who sell their power back to the electric company. That’s pretty cool.
Some friends use solar.
We know a family who lives in a straw bale house and uses a windmill, but not for all of their energy.
We know others who live in a car. Although that’s not quite the idea…it’s still off grid.
Some live like kings, others live like backwoods campers. You get to choose your life.
You can wash your clothes over a rock if that’s your thing. You can pull out the washtub! You can even load your laundry up in a wheelbarrow and push it to a creek or behind a boat in the Amazon! I’ve done that. I’ve washed jeans in a bucket and endured the bleeding knuckles. I’ve trucked loads into town and mooched off my parents or broken down and splurged on the laundromat. But when I have my off the grid house, I will certainly have a washer!
And, sorry Ma Ingalls–I will wear my own straw hat, but I won’t be wearing a sun bonnet on this off grid homestead!
Thank you very much!
If you have questions about living off the grid, we’d be happy to share specifics. There’s so much more to life than this post entails.
What are your specific questions and observations when you consider living off the grid?
We are learning, and experience has always been the best teacher, so let us know if there’s anything g we can share.