Going Off-Grid – Three Questions to Ask Before You Take the Plunge

Okay, so you’re convinced that you want to move away from public utilities and become more self-sufficient. Great!

But before you start buying up solar panels, you should take some time to plan out exactly what you hope to accomplish, in what time period you want to accomplish it, and the best way to reach these goals.

Are You Prepared to Live Off-Grid?

One of the most important questions to ask yourself is how much power you will need to live comfortably. In other words, what things can you do without to achieve your goal of living off-grid?

Is it central air? Is it the big TV? Only you can answer these questions and you are best served by doing it honestly. You will quickly regret the choice to live off-grid if you find that you have given up too many of the comforts you enjoy.

Just like practically anything else we do in life, living off-grid requires proper planning. Most of us have gotten ourselves involved in some sort of project that seemed to never end and sucked up time and resources like a brand-new vacuum that “never loses suction.”

We want to avoid that mistake and make sure our money and our time are being used effectively when migrating away from the power grid. Thorough research is needed to determine what type of alternative energy systems are best suited to your off-grid goals, as well as budgetary guidelines, financing, time and labor costs.

How Much Will It Cost?

Alternative energy solutions can range from $2,000 for a modest solar photo-voltaic system to over $30,000 for a high-end hydroelectric system. How much you spend to move off-grid depends on your needs and the area where you live. another consideration is the necessity of checking local ordinances for restrictions on what you can build, particularly when it comes to wind turbines and hydroelectric systems.

Also take into account the necessary permissions and permits you may be required to get from local authorities, even if you are constructing the alternative energy systems on your own land. Learn about the permit requirements and application process beforehand to save you time and money.

Fortunately, most people who decide to live off-grid never look back and love every minute of it. The beauty of alternative energy is that it can be scaled to practically any size you want. You don’t have to give up anything as long as you’re willing to pay for the equipment to operate all of your toys.

How Far Off-the-Grid Do You Want to Go?

In addition to assessing your power requirements, also think about how far off-grid you want to go. Many people throw a few solar panels on the roof and call it a day. Others want to become completely self-sufficient and install standalone water systems, septic systems, and alternative heating sources that do not rely on natural gas or propane.

Again, going off-grid is definitely not something that should be done overnight. Take small steps and add components as you can. What you plan to incorporate into your off-grid home may bear no resemblance to how you actually do it. as you begin outfitting your home you will learn new techniques and discover areas of inefficiency that may not have occurred to you before.

Remember that planning to live off-grid is almost as important as putting your plan into action. Clearly define what you want to accomplish before you do it and you should have no problem enjoying the freedom that comes from living off-grid.

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