Must Have Items for Off Grid Living
Off-Grid, RV Living on the Homestead
As we have begun our off-grid life, we have found several things that are almost indispensable in our home. Our home is our RV while we work on the homestead cabin, so this creates some unique needs. We live full-time on our property, but we don’t have the luxury of electrical, septic, and water hookups. Therefore, we had to figure out how to make do, until we can get fully hooked up! (See About Our Ridge Haven Homestead)
What I will share will be things we have figured out in order to live in relative comfort without all of the regular luxuries of a grid-tied property. We would have been happy if we had known some of these things before we jumped right in, but that’s kind of how we roll. If there is a hard way, we usually find it!
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Essentials for your Off Grid RV Life
I will begin with the essentials and then move on to what we consider “almost essential” in order to live this off-grid RV life. If you don’t happen to live in an RV on your homestead, most of these essentials will still apply.
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Ten items essential for Off-Grid RV homesteading
These are listed in no particular order, because essentials for us might score lower on your priority list. I will say that I would not like to live without any one item on this list.
- Get the best one that you can afford.
- Look for high fuel efficiency.
- Check to see how LOUD it will be while running, because you’ll likely be running it a lot.
- The bigger generators may suck more gas, so keep that in mind. We used a friend’s Honda 6500 generator at first, which worked very well. However, it was a large generator, and used up more gas than we wanted to use every day. It didn’t make sense for us to run such a large generator to mostly run the lights and water pump, but we were super thankful to get to use it until we could buy our own.
- After a lot of research (by Greg), we settled on the Honda EU2200i. This was quite similar to the 2000 watt Harbor Freight generator, but had slightly more running wattage (1800 vs 1600 watts). Both had great reviews, but ultimately, we chose the Honda because of the warranty. We knew that we had to use the generator every day, and had to be able to rely on it, so we wanted the assurance of the Honda reputation and backing. That said, we have friends who use the HFT generator who are completely happy with theirs.
- This is the one we use
- Note that this size of generator is not sufficient to run your A/C, so you would either have to pair two of this size (you’d have to make sure to the the companion version, like this one) , or get a larger size generator. I hope that makes sense.
- RV GENERATOR ADAPTER
- This is the adapter we use on the large generator
- This is the one we use, the Camco 12″ L5-30 AMP Locking 3-Prong Plug / TT-30 30 AMP Standard Receptacle PowerGrip Generator Adapter (55272)
- This makes it very easy to hook your generator up to your RV so that you can have lights, outlets, and the electrical connections inside your RV.
- There are many brands, this is just the one we have tried, and it works well for us.
- This is the type that you’ll need for a smaller generator, like we have, so that you may hook up your power cord from the RV into the generator.
- RV BATTERY
- Look for a Deep Cell battery 12v
- (Interstate is a good brand, but there are many)
- We’ve been using this Wal-Mart brand. The reviews are just OK. The more amps to your battery, the longer you will get to run your power once it’s charged. Here again, buy the best that you can afford.
- We run our generator throughout the day, off and on, and this charges the battery. Then we have lights through the night, which is nice, and the generator doesn’t have to be running constantly.
- You may not think of this as an essential, and neither did we. But then we moved into our RV with five people, 3 cats, and two dogs. Once the weather turned cold, we suddenly had a major problem with moisture and mold! We’d have water dripping off the windows and seams of the RV, and that led to mold developing, which is unhealthy. We tried dessicants and products like DampRid, but these got maxed out almost instantly. They just didn’t make a dent in the dripping.
- It was a happy day when our Frigidaire Dehumidifier arrived. We have been very pleased with this dehumidifier, We got the largest capacity that we could. We run it all day in the colder months, and this has solved our wet RV problem.
Frigidaire FAD704DWD Energy Star 70-pint Dehumidifier with Effortless Humidity Control is the dehumidifier we purchased. Amazon is not letting me link to this product, but you may click any of my other links to be taken directly to amazon.com, and look at it. We did purchase ours through amazon.com. This model is similar, for similar price, but not the one we purchased.
- BERKEY WATER FILTER
- We got the BIGGEST! The Crown Berkey
- We drink a LOT of water!
- This is the best water filter for off-grid living! It filters out just about everything!
- From the description:
The versatile Crown Berkey system is the ideal system for use with medium to large groups, at home, churches, hospitals orphanages, outdoor activities or during unexpected emergencies. This powerful system purifies both treated water and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds and water supplies in foreign countries, where regulations may be substandard at best. Perfect for outdoor activities and a must in hostile environments where electricity, water pressure or treated water may not be available. The Crown Berkey system removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury. This system is so powerful it can remove food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs. Virtually no other system can duplicate this performance. Constructed of highly polished 304 stainless steel, the system comes complete with two purification elements, two fluoride Filters and utilizes the latest technological advances. This system has a storage capacity of about 6 gallons (22.7 liters) and when in use it stands 30″ in height with a diameter of 11″;. The upper chamber nests within the lower chamber for transport and stands only 20″ in height. Configured with two Black Berkey purification elements the system will purify up to 6.5 Gallons per hour. This system can be expanded to use 8 purification elements.
- I had to laugh when I read that it’s ideal for up to 35 people. We are just 5, but we do drink a lot of water, and we filter it from our rain water cachement, so we keep this filter busy! You can literally filter pond water and dirty, contaminated water, but of course this will shorten the lifespan of your filters!
- Berkey Systems are the World’s Most Powerful and Cost Effective Personal Water purification Systems Providing Reliable and User-friendly Water Purification in Both Normal and Hostile Filtration Environments. Moreover, Berkey systems are capable of purifying both treated water and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds and water supplies in foreign countries, where regulations may be substandard at best. So powerful, this system is able to remove red food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs. Perfect for everyday use and a must in hostile environments where electricity, water pressure or treated water may not be available.
- Even our cats prefer this filtered water. Seriously.
- To keep your Berkey filter going, you need Scotch Brite scrubbers, or similar. You have to scrub the filters periodically. More often if using cloudy water, less often for clear. The water filters much more slowly when the black filters become clogged up. We have to wash ours about once per week.
- WATER PUMP or other WATER SYSTEM
- This will actually be highly individualized, based on your needs and water availability. If you have a WELL, then you can go with accessories needed for your well system.
- We don’t have a well yet, so we are doing rainwater cachement. We so far have a very simple set-up of barrels and pipes to collect rainwater off the RV roof and run off from the hillside. Once we collect the water, we treat it with bleach according to the table here. For example, for our 25 gallon RV fresh tank, we treat it with 1.6 tsp of concentrated bleach, or 2.5 tsp of regular bleach.
- Before running the water into the RV, we prefer to treat the whole holding tank, which holds 275 gallons. We treat these tanks with 3/4 cup of concentrated, or 1 cup+2TBS of regular bleach.
- After collecting rain in the barrels or holding tanks, and treating them with bleach, we use one of two types of water pumps,which we connect to hoses to get the water into the RV, or from the barrels into the holding tanks.
- This pump is our main pump. My husband attached some PVC pipe so that we could hook it up to our hose. This pump is electric, so we run it off the generator. We actually got ours locally from Harbor Freight, but it’s available on amazon.com too.
- We have another gas pump that someone built us using a weed-eater engine. It’s slower, but still works well. It’s nicer to be able to run the pump on gas to me, but they both work.
- LED FLASHLIGHTS
- We use our Kobalt Flashlights every day of the year. They are a portable, free-standing light source. We now have two of the Flashlights, and one of the super bright Work Lights. Since we live in our RV for now, we use these lights in random places for reading, working, and just to light the RV with we don’t want to use the main lights because of depleting the battery. We don’t always want the generator running just for lights, so these come in very handy.
- I cannot tell you how useful these lights are for us. They are rechargeable with regular Kobalt Tools batteries, and they last for hours at super brightness.
- The big work light sits on top of our Berkey filter and provides light for the main part of the RV.
- KOBALT BATTERIES and CHARGER
- These battery chargers are practical for everything! My boys are obsessed with Kobalt tools, and so is my husband. So, we already use batteries for those tools. BUT…in one Combo Kit at one point, we got the USB Charger, not knowing if we would ever even use it. Now that we live in our RV, with less continuous power, these chargers are just the thing to CHARGE OUR CELL PHONES!!!!!!
- We literally use these chargers constantly, with two cell phones, a couple of iPads, and cute little fans that the boys bought for their bunks!
- 275 GALLON TANKS
- Like these, only check locally. I’ve seen these listed on Ebay for local pickup at $25. We have eight set up for water storage, covered with a tarp, currently. This is temporary storage, but it works.
- PROPANE TANKS
- Get the size you think you’ll need. The bigger the tank, the better! We have several of the 20 pound tanks, a few of the 30 pound, and four 100 pound tanks. Before next winter, we’d like to have the gas company come and set a 300-500 gallon tank. With the little tanks, we have to run out more for fill-ups, which is a pain. We heat with propane, cook and bake with it, and our fridge runs on propane, so propane is an essential item for us!
- I recommend checking around for best pricing on the propane, because we have found quite a difference in prices just in our local propane sellers. We have found that if we are willing to drive just a few more miles, we can save per quite a bit per gallon. It all adds up!
- Some propane retailers/sellers only will fill the grill size tanks for you, and not the 100 pound tanks, so be sure to call ahead. We have wasted a lot of time by forgetting to call when we show up and they don’t fill big tanks!
- Also, check to find out WHEN the companies are willing to fill tanks. Some only fill very early in the morning, because their delivery guys are the same ones who fill tanks. It always pays to call ahead!
There you have it!
I can’t say that I’ve included everything you’ll need to set up your off grid homestead in your RV, but if you have many of these items, your transition to off-grid life will be much smoother than ours was! And, again, I have mentioned only items that we literally use every single day, that we never used regularly before moving to Ridge Haven Homestead.
Let me know what I’ve missed on this list!
Leave me a comment to tell me about it!