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Family Successfully Living Off the Grid

Successfully living off the grid requires lifestyle changes. Here's how my family approached off-grid life in the early years. I wrote this article back in 2013 after we’d been living off the grid for enough years to be comfortable and confident with our new lifestyle choice.

We have since moved and are still off the grid, and so many of our appliances (like my solar oven) came with us. Our current solar system is bigger and better, but this article shows how we lived as a family for about eight years.

The hints are still relevant. If your family dreams of living off the grid, I hope they help you.

Control Box for Solar System

Each evening I check the 'charge', 'load' and 'SOC' (state of charge). During winter I check readings in the control box at least twice a day. This photo shows a charge input of 16.6 from my solar panels.

Each evening I check the 'charge', 'load' and 'SOC' (state of charge). During winter I check readings in the control box at least twice a day. This photo shows a charge input of 16.6 from my solar panels.

My Off-Grid Lifestyle

My family and I live 100% off the grid, so we have not had an electricity bill for years. Gone are the power bills associated with our previous six bedroom house with air-conditioning and a swimming pool.

We no longer have multiple bathrooms and the only taps in our garden are directly connected to water storage tanks. If I feel like a swim I can jump into the dam, dug deep and designed more for water storage and swimming than as a water source for animals.

I still visit a supermarket but I don't spend nearly as much money there as I used to. I have not bought any pre-packaged meals from the frozen section for over four years and my family is thriving on fresh home-grown produce.

My social conscience and desire for a more sustainable lifestyle kicked in long before we found and purchased our current two-acre property. My husband and I began researching appropriate locations and made a wish-list of ideal features in a home off the grid, but with the benefit of hindsight we wasted a lot of time in the planning process that would have been better spent making immediate changes and reducing electricity use and power bills even before moving completely off the grid.

Changing to Solar Power

Our current home is powered by solar panels that feed into deep cell batteries and I am now experienced at checking the charge rate (when the sun is shining) and the load rate (when any appliance is plugged in or turned on) and anticipating the state of charge (hopefully as close to 100% as possible) by the time the sun sets.

Our solar system is relatively small compared to the system we aim to upgrade to, but I can still have lights and phone chargers and laptops charging and watch the tv news and a movie or two in the evenings for most of the year without using all our stored power.

Many of the solar-powered lights and energy conserving appliances I use now are perfect for using even while you are still on the electricity grid.

Reducing carbon emissions while saving money on electricity bills should be sufficient incentive to invest in a few items that instantly save power. They will all be useful when you fulfill your dream of self-sufficiency, plus you have the added advantage of still having lighting in your home and the ability to prepare food despite interruptions to your current electricity supply from the grid.

Controls of Dual Power-Source Refrigerator

Our large upright refrigerator and freezer (with dual power source) can be powered by electricity from our solar system - or LPG cylinders, needing no electricity at all.

Our large upright refrigerator and freezer (with dual power source) can be powered by electricity from our solar system - or LPG cylinders, needing no electricity at all.

Cost-Saving Benefits of Winter

In the sunny months, there is no end to the free electricity we can use during the day. The children can play the Play Station or the Wii and run the big screen TV in fine weather, but they know to keep an eye on the clock and turn power-guzzling appliances off in time for the batteries to top up before the night.

When visiting children told my daughter the other day how lucky she is that her parents don't care how much electricity she uses she was quick to point out that it is summer and sunny. She doesn't have the same luxury in gloomy winter weather. When you are off the grid and relying on solar power, winter is far less forgiving of overindulgence in electricity demand. However, winter also brings its own benefits.

We purchased a large upright refrigerator/freezer that can be switched between electricity and gas. It has a catch that effectively locks the door so presumably it was made for use in RVs that may change between powered and unpowered camping sites. Because we prefer not to put such a demand on our existing solar system, we choose to connect it to a large LPG cylinder during the summer; however, when we upgrade our batteries, we will switch it to electricity.

In the winter, however, we turn the refrigerator off. A large covered area that embraces the entire length of one side of our home and is enclosed with shade cloth has one window opening from the kitchen. During the coldest winter periods, we simply open the window and treat it like a fridge door. A cupboard in the undercover area sits beneath the window, on it is a large plastic storage container in which we place any items that need to remain cold.

Many solar powered appliances including lights and torches can receive enough light through a closed window for charging – and the low winter sun is ideal for placing small solar panels between a window and the protective curtains on the appropriate side of your house.

Solar and Dynamo Flashlights

We never buy batteries for flashlights or torches. These are just some of the solar and dynamo flashlights we use around our home.

We never buy batteries for flashlights or torches. These are just some of the solar and dynamo flashlights we use around our home.

Lights That Take You Off the Grid

Your electricity bill is directly influenced by the amount of electricity you draw from the grid. It stands to reason then that every light or appliance your family stops using through your grid power source should result in a smaller power bill.

The most obvious choice for making immediate savings is lighting. There are many torches that are either solar powered or powered by hand. My flat red torch in the photo is solar powered, the other small torch is powered by squeezing the side with your hand.

My large yellow torch is solar powered. It also has a built-in radio and a siren and flashing light for emergencies. If there's no sun, it can be powered by turning the handle. If you have access to power, it also can be charged with electricity.

I like the fact that it also has back-up batteries in case they are needed. Of course, I use rechargeable batteries.

Amazon is advertising the same kind of torch as my yellow one. It is surprisingly cheap, yet it works extremely well for me. Worth mentioning, however, I cannot get reception on the radio here at my home but that's because of my location. Other radios don't work either without an antenna. The radio works fine when I am in a high reception area.

Cheap and Easy Solar Lighting

Every home should have at least one effective internal solar light. There is little point to illuminating your garden during a blackout if you still can't see inside your home.

We have a small solar panel with a long lead to a battery pack which in turn leads to two lights. (Only one light is shown in the photo because I rarely use the second one and it is packed away in case the first one breaks.)

There's a button in the centre of the light to turn it on and off so it is perfect as a bedside light or to light your kitchen bench or desk space. My family uses ours for hours at a time and it has not run out of power yet.

The solar panel stays in the window for convenience and the leads are long enough to extend to different parts of a room. It is easy to unplug the panel and take the unit elsewhere when required.

One of the nicest features of this unit is the USB port for charging cameras, iPods, mini speaker capsules, etc. It is a particularly good gift for teenagers who forget to turn the bedroom light off when they leave the room. There's no bill from a power company because it is off the grid!

Easy Lighting Off the Grid

Taken  outside in the undercover area, the reflection in the solar panel is a clear section of the roof above. Note the small blue light on the right side indicates the panel is charging even in low light.

Taken outside in the undercover area, the reflection in the solar panel is a clear section of the roof above. Note the small blue light on the right side indicates the panel is charging even in low light.

Solar-Powered Electric Fencing

Here's one for the farmers ... including families with just a pig or two. Running electric fences can greatly inflate your power bill.

There's a nice range of solar-powered electric fencing available. The size of the unit is determined by the distance of electric fencing you'd like to run. Some have the ability to be charged by a generator (or your solar or grid power if that's how you operate now) should you expect more than a few days without adequate sunshine. Others are just 100% solar. We have two different units - one is just a small one and the other can run up to 2km of electric fence. More powerful versions could save a lot of money on a real farm.

We use the one in the photo in the winter time to run two levels of electric fence around a large summer vegetable garden and confine two pigs in the area instead of using the rotavator to clear and prepare the ground. We have three large vegetable gardens and lead our pigs from one to the other without any need for restraint.

We simply call our pigs in the same way you'd call a dog to follow you and they run alongside us obediently. The trick to training pigs is to call them by name every time you approach them with food. They soon learn to come when you call.

After the pigs have cleaned the gardens, we feed them daily with all sorts of produce and greenery from elsewhere on the property.

There are two settings on our solar-powered electric fences, high and low. We use the high setting when the pigs have moved into a new area until they've yelped a few times and learned the lesson to stay away from the fence, then we drop it down to low.

Not only is the garden area cleared before planting and fertilised with lovely manure, but there's always an abundance of tomatoes and pumpkins and other plants that sprout up without any effort from our family. I doubt the pigs would leave so many seeds uneaten so I guess they must make the trip through the pig's digestive system before being distributed throughout the garden.

This summer we have hundreds of tomato plants growing strong and tall despite the heat. The girls are off at a nearby farm becoming mothers. There will be plenty for them to eat when they get back.

Save Money, Save Fuel Off-Grid

Thanks to the pigs, we retired the rotavator to the shed and no longer spend money on fuel. It helps to put nature to work when living off-grid.

Thanks to the pigs, we retired the rotavator to the shed and no longer spend money on fuel. It helps to put nature to work when living off-grid.

Outdoor Solar Lighting

I always installed motion-detecting lights in my previous homes to light the path when people approached the front door. It annoyed my husband immensely when the light was triggered by the cat from next door or one of our dogs passing by because the bulbs were massive and it was an unnecessary expense.

I wish I had discovered solar powered motion detector lights decades ago. They're great. I have them positioned in lots of places around the property ... even on the side of sheds just in case I need to wander down to find tools or pick something from the greenhouse after dark.

I strongly recommend you turn off your existing outdoor light and opt for a solar-powered alternative.

Great Value for Money

After years of rain, hail, sunshine, howling winds and neglect, our outdoor motion detector spotlights are still reliable. We bought them very cheaply on ebay not really  confident they would work at all.

After years of rain, hail, sunshine, howling winds and neglect, our outdoor motion detector spotlights are still reliable. We bought them very cheaply on ebay not really confident they would work at all.

So Many Options

There are many other items I could recommend to people who hope to make the transition to successfully living off the grid but there's a danger of providing a shopping list that extends beyond one's budget. These items are a good starting point.

The money you save on your electricity bill can go towards even more purchases that will be useful in your family's pursuit of a self-sufficient lifestyle.

Off-Grid Cooking With a Solar Oven

Harness the power of the sun with a solar oven. It is a great way to cook if you live off the grid.

Harness the power of the sun with a solar oven. It is a great way to cook if you live off the grid.

A diverse range of cheap appliances can be put to use in an off-grid kitchen. Or used in any kitchen if you want to reduce your power bill.

A diverse range of cheap appliances can be put to use in an off-grid kitchen. Or used in any kitchen if you want to reduce your power bill.

More About Living Off the Grid

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 LongTimeMother


LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 17, 2015:

Thanks for your comment, Paul Westphal. If you make it a goal to live off the grid, you'll get there!!

I've written lots of articles about my life off-grid. Perhaps you can start accumulating useful off-grid items for your kitchen, lighting etc to have ready for when that day arrives. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 17, 2015:

My best advice for you, DebMartin, if you want to get connected to solar power as cheaply as possible, is to contact a local solar power installer ... and ask if they have any second-hand components they could sell you - while you save up for a new system. (They can test them to make sure they still work. Even if not at full capacity, decent second-hand items should get you started!)

I am in Australia and you're in North America. While the principle is the same and you'll need solar panels, batteries, an inverter etc, the costs and specific items will be very different. Find a friendly distributor, and ask how much it would cost for them to set you up as cheaply as possible.

Let me know how you go. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 17, 2015:

Yes, solar ovens are great, Glimmer green. As far as your hubbing goes, the best advice I can give you is to read the info in the 'help' section ... and keep writing until you develop your skills. There's really no point asking for feedback until you've done the best you can with help from the Learning Center files and written lots of hubs. Feedback from others will help with fine-tuning after you master the basics.

If you want an overview of how to get your hubs past 'pending' and published, I've written a hub you can access from my content page. Just click on my name at the top of this page to find it. Good luck.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 17, 2015:

Hi Kara. I am so pleased to hear you harvest your dandelions to use! Too many people just consider them weeds, dig them up and discard them. Such a waste.

A solar-powered cell phone charger is a good start. Maybe when people ask you what you want for Christmas, you can request some solar lights. lol

Paul Westphal from Starke,FL on June 16, 2015:

This is simply awesome! I hope to get there one day.

DebMartin on June 16, 2015:

I'm so ready to live off the grid. Downsizing comes first and then it's off the grid for me too. But I'm finding it is expensive here in Michigan to get started with solar power. Was it costly for you to set up your system? Would you be willing to share your "system" purchases? Thanks.

Jaydyn Ramsey on June 15, 2015:

Okay that solar oven is truly the coolest thing I've ever seen. But could any of you do me a favor check out my blog follow me maybe give me some constructive criticism

Kara Skinner from Maine on June 15, 2015:

It's nice to know you can live off the grid without giving up modern conveniences like TV and computers. Being a bit of an environmentalist nut, I've wanted to go off the grid as soon as I'm able to. Right now I have a solar-powered cell phone charger and I harvest dandelions in the yard to make tea for the winter from the roots and use the greens for salads. Not much, but it's what I can do now. Thanks for these excellent tips to do more sustainable living.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 23, 2015:

Hello DebMartin. It is not cold enough right now, so I still have the refrigerator indoors working. My slightly eccentric approach to winter food storage won't kick in again for another month or more. :)

Each year I use a slightly different model, lol, depending on which container I have available at the time ... or if I don't have any empty, so have to buy a new one. I'm sure you'll have similar containers available in your part of the world. Essentially I just use a large plastic storage container with a tight-fitting lid. Last year it sat on top of a wooden cupboard I use for storing firewood, at a height that's convenient for reaching through my kitchen window. (Dammit. It just occurred to me I've moved that cupboard elsewhere ... and already filled it with firewood. A few more cold nights needing a fire and I'll be able to move it back.)

On super cold and frosty nights, I covered the box with a small blanket so the milk didn't freeze.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 23, 2015:

Hi darciefrench. May I suggest you start buying items now and using them so you can start getting in the off-grid mindset. Birthday presents and Christmas presents for a few years will give you a head start! If you have the dream, it is only a short step to doing it. Good luck. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 23, 2015:

Hello, Melissa. Good luck with your renovations. Solar hot water is pretty easy to arrange. You can buy systems on ebay or amazon. The ones that cope with freezing temperatures cost a bit more than the basic ones for using where the weather stays warm all year.

A quick-fix however would be one of those black plastic 'bags' (probably called a 'solar shower' or something like that when you're searching online). You put cold water in it and lay it out in the sun to warm up. I used to rest mine on the front of the car in the sunshine, and it would heat up really quickly!

Then you hang it up high, and use the little shower nozzle at the bottom. We used one for a while when we first moved to this house. We had a shower cubicle, but no hot water connected. I rested a wooden broomstick handle over the top of the shower cubicle, and then put a short 'meat hook' on it so I could hook the shower bag on.

It worked great for me and the kids ... but my tall husband used to swear at it a lot.

Here's another tip ... test the heat of the water before you get in the shower. You may have to add some cold water to the mix so you don't get burnt. Oh ... and we also used the bag on cloudy, cold days. I would boil up a big pot of water on the top of the wood-burner stove, then put some cold water in the bag followed by the really hot water to make a nice warm shower. :)

Those solar shower bags are very cheap and might help you in the short-term. :)

DebMartin on April 19, 2015:

Good for you! I love to hear about how others are living off the grid. And I would really, really like to see a photo of your winter refrigerator setup. This is a super idea for me in the north. Fantastic hub. Thanks!

Darcie French from BC Canada on April 18, 2015:

Many thanks for the awesome off grid hub - it's a dream of mine and hubby's to live the same way once our youngest is old enough to make the decision to come with or venture out on her own.

Melissa Orourke from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras on April 18, 2015:

Thank you for sharing this information! We are living in Roatan right now. Will probably not stay long term, three years? Anyway, we use outside solar lighting. We have a cistern under our house, which stores our rain water. It's for the house and gardens. Our stove is propane, I would love to try a solar oven! It gets hot to cook! Our electric bill was high this month, $25.00 US dollars. With that said, electric is very, very high here! Many expats use their own generators, solar, or wind, or a combo. Solar outside helps us. We are remodeling, so we don't have enough lighting , nor do we have hot water! We are looking into solar hot water! This is part of the reason our bill was only $25.00 I would really enjoy a hot shower right now! I miss it! Thumbs up and useful!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 18, 2015:

Hello kranthimitra. I have a wonderful solar oven I use for cooking off the grid in summer. It was made in India. Hopefully solar panels and off-grid power systems will be available in India soon. Thanks for your comment. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 18, 2015:

Hello csmiravite-blogs. The Philippines would be perfect for solar power and living off the grid. If you're a farmer with animals, I am sure you could save lots of money with solar-powered electric fencing! Solar lighting options are available online if you can't buy them locally. With your sunny climate, I suggest you try transitioning away from the grid. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 18, 2015:

Thanks, melissae. I'm pleased you found it interesting. Hope you found a few ideas inspiring enough to consider transitioning to off-grid living. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on April 18, 2015:

Hello canadian. If your youngest child is ten, that's a good age for moving off the grid. The transition is pretty easy for kids who like the idea of playing outdoors - particularly if you build them a tree house, and let them have a few animals to look after. It is a completely different life compared to living in a city.

Get motivated and get moving. :)

kranthi mitra kancha from warangal,india on April 18, 2015:

i love you idea.i would like to install solar panels in my house but it is bit difficult to purchase here in india.i try to keep up my thoughts about solar panels if i get a better amount.

Consolacion Miravite from Philippines on April 17, 2015:

As a farmer, I find this hub interesting. Living off grid is a new lifestyle, suitable for countries like the Philippines that is sunny all year round. We can use solar power to run our homes and farms. An upvote!

Melissa Reese Etheridge from Tennessee, United States on April 17, 2015:

This is such an interesting toic and very well written.

Mike St. Pierre from Pembroke, ONT on April 15, 2015:

I am like you Have 3 kids 2 of which are older now and just heading to University, I am left with my 10 year old and have put the last 2 years of research logged in a book, reading articles like this motivate me even more thank you

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on March 28, 2015:

You are very welcome! I shared the link within the group, hopefully if they have questions they will comment. Although your hub may very well answer some of the questions people have been asking!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 28, 2015:

Hello Cynthia. Thanks for thinking of me. :)

I'm always happy to answer any questions about my solar life if your homesteading group need any tips.

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on March 27, 2015:

I hope you do not mind, I shared this in a homesteading group I am in on Facebook, someone was looking for solar info.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 22, 2015:

I agree, Viriginia. And solar hot water systems are surprisingly cheap on ebay. Everyone in a sunny climate should have one!!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on March 21, 2015:

Solar just makes so much sense. We have a solar hot water heater where we live in Florida and previously in Alice Springs. It's a start.

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on March 08, 2015:

I had a good little giggle, I too should be a little more worried about snakes and critters. I do keep a rifle by the front door. Unfortunately I have a sensor light on the porch and yet an opossum still munches on my trash every night. I think he likes the light honestly lol. We have seen some coyotes here on the farm too. I can't imagine a kangaroo in my backyard, pretty awesome. I do understand the worry that they will munch your plants! I have the same issue with deer. They like to nibble on apples, I find it irritating since they only nibble and move to another apple instead of eating the entire thing. I just try and tell myself it will make them taste a little sweeter come hunting season! Very glad to have connected with you! I am learning a lot from you!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 08, 2015:

I use motion-detecting solar security lights outside, Cynthia. Not because I feel unsafe, but because I don't like the idea of stepping on a snake in the night. lol. Of course they don't detect the movement of snakes, but they help light the ground once I start walking.

We repositioned a couple of our outdoor lights because the kangaroos and wallabies kept triggering them. The light doesn't stop the roos from grazing, and I live in hope they might not eat my favourite plants if they can't see them.

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on March 03, 2015:

Before we lived on the farm our electric ran around $170.00 a month. We have the old style glass fuzes still. I think that helps, I am unsure why though. Part of it could be since I feel safer here I am not leaving on outside lights while I am gone. Coupled with unplugging the things we don't use. I can not complain! :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 03, 2015:

Hello Cynthia. Some friends of mine were complaining about their power bill recently. I can't remember how much it was, but it was a lot more than $30 a month. So either power is a lot cheaper in the US than here in Australia, or you are doing a remarkably good job of reducing your usage.

Or both! :)

Cynthia Hoover from Newton, West Virginia on February 28, 2015:

We have been heading in the off grid direction as well. Great article! I am looking to invest in solar panels in the future. Although by just unplugging appliances that are not being used my average bill is only $30.00 a month. So my main focus is on farming, I very rarely visit the market to buy food. Voted up, interesting and useful! I will be followinv too!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 09, 2015:

If you're a tech-savvy person with enough money to spend, you could live completely off the grid, toptengamer. You'd pay to set up a bigger system than mine ... and establish your home where you have access to fast broadband. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 09, 2015:

In California, you certainly have enough sunshine for solar. Thanks for your visit, Mypath.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 09, 2015:

I certainly believe it is worth it, JPac1. The system works brilliantly for my family. You'd have to find out about local prices to establish the cost of setting it up. After that, it costs nothing to run. When there's a few days of foul weather, we put fuel in the generator and run it long enough to top up the batteries.

Is it feasible for the masses? I guess that depends on whether or not people are prepared to take responsibility for their actions, and adjust their lifestyles and power use to accommodate seasons. I wouldn't want to be sharing my power supply with people who turn on the tv and wander away to do something else ... or leave lights on in unoccupied rooms all night.

Brandon Hart from The Game on February 02, 2015:

I have thought about going solar powered, but not living completely off the grid. It would be hard for me to do, since I am such a tech-savvy person.

Mypath from California, USA on February 02, 2015:

Nice hub. Thanks for sharing.

James Packard from Columbia, Missouri on February 02, 2015:

Thanks for sharing. In today's environment... we need more people to be able to live like this. Out of curiosity, what are the expenses like? Do you think it's really worth it? Is it feasible to get the masses on this kind of sustainable living?

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 02, 2015:

Hello again, mamamikks. I can't imagine what it must be like to live in the Philippines ... and work in Dubai. The next time I hear someone complaining about commuting, I'll tell them about you. :)

I sincerely hope the cost of solar becomes more realistic for you. 40k is an extraordinary amount! You have plenty of sunshine in the Philippines. Solar power would be great there.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 02, 2015:

Hello seenjet. I live off the grid in rural Australia so I am probably the last person to be advising you how or where to buy things local to your home. However as you get ideas about the type of things that might help you be less reliant on the grid, you can watch for good bargains.

Good luck, and thanks for visiting. :)

seenjet on February 02, 2015:

It's really worth information to be implemented by everyone as lifestyle that would reduce grid dependence and costs. Moreover the items showcased seem to be quite costlier so it would be nice tell us how to procure a quality low cost products to benefit optimum levels. Any way nice article and I really enjoyed it to go through...

mamamikks from Dubai, UAE on February 01, 2015:

Hi LTM! No, Dubai is my workplace. Home is the Philippines. I was quoted roughly about $40K. But I'll keep on researching on this. I'd really love to have the solar lighting one day.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 01, 2015:

That's very exciting nicolas-ray. There are so many useful innovations these days to help make off-grid life easier to achieve ... and more comfortable. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 01, 2015:

Hello mamamikks. I know very little about life in Dubai apart from the many signs of obvious wealth. I am surprised by how expensive it sounds to have solar lighting. Can you purchase direct from amazon? Perhaps you could buy a few small solar lights that don't need the help of an installer.

There are many ways small solar lights and systems can be used within a home. Are there rules against the use of independent solar power in Dubai?

Nicolas Ray from Stamford, CT on February 01, 2015:

Great article and one that I will have to investigate a bit more. Have started the off grid research process and have started designing my tiny home. Will use a combination of solar and gas to run everything. Thanks again for the information, more to think about.

mamamikks from Dubai, UAE on February 01, 2015:

I wish I could have solar lighting at home, too. I tried to contact an installer for solar lighting, I almost fainted because he quoted an astronomical amount, even if I would be paying a big electric bill every month, it would take me at least 15 years to use the money he was asking. So, no, this is impractical where I come from.

But I salute you for being able to make it. Thumbs up!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on December 01, 2014:

Hello prairieprincess. We added insulation to our walls and ceilings when we bought this place. I have no idea how the previous owner lived in it for so long without insulation.

One of our current projects is extending one side of our house a little and constructing a new wall of rendered strawbales. Not only will it provide more effective insulation against the cold in winter (and heat in summer), but it will also be more fire resistant in the event of a bushfire.

When that part's finished we have to decide whether or not we want to build a whole new strawbale house on our property, or whether we'll just extend the rest of this place. (I quite like the idea of having a spare house for visitors to stay in - but I'm kind of settled in this little house.)

Maybe you could construct strawbale walls and render them to improve your home's ability to retain warmth. Although of course there's a few other more simple remedies you could try first. For instance, have you tried leaving a window open just a tad in the cold part of the house to try and draw some of the warmth through? (The size of your woodburner stove, plus security and wildlife problems might deter you from this option, but it is worth considering.)

Good job cutting, splitting and stacking your own wood! We have about 150 acres of trees adjoining our place, a great supply of dead wood. Instead of 'burning off' to reduce bushfire danger every summer, we just burn fallen trees and branches to keep us warm throughout winter. Sounds like you're doing a similar thing.

Another quick thought ... Have you covered all your windows with thick curtains? You can lose a lot of heat through glass.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on November 30, 2014:

LTM, I loved this hub, too. So much practical information. Right now, the main thing we are doing to be off grid, is to burn wood, and not turn on the electric baseboards. I am trying to figure out a way to heat the outer parts of our house, too, because the heat doesn't quite seem to make it to some parts of the house. This year, half of our wood was wood we cut, split and stacked ourselves, and that was such a good feeling!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 11, 2014:

Hi Ruby. It sounds like you are becoming more self-sufficient. My husband and I continue to make modifications to our home and property. It is exciting to harness what nature offers. We now harvest lots of rainwater .... which allows me to continue expanding my gardens.

I'm not sure how you clean your wood stove, but because it is coming into your winter I'll offer you a couple of tips from my experience.

Stay warm and comfortable. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 11, 2014:

Make sure you get storage batteries connected to your solar panels, Heather. It is the only way to take full advantage of free power. In California you should have plenty of sunshine.

Good luck with finding the perfect property!

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on November 10, 2014:

In our northern climate it is exciting to see all the progress being made for wind energy, solar lighting, collecting rain water and other off the grid ideas. We heat with our wood stove all through the winter and use energy saving lighting. Collecting water now during the raining season. Thanks for the great information on solar power.

Heather Ann Gomez from Monterey, CA on November 10, 2014:

When we buy our property I would like to use solar power as well. I've been fascinated with this idea for years.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on November 05, 2014:

Thanks Besarien and JeanAnne Sunny. Today I returned home after an interstate visit to one of my adult children. To make the airport process quicker, when I left home I packed everything into one small carry-on bag.

What does the x-ray scanner reveal in the bag of an off-gridder like me? A few glass jars filled with dried herbs from my garden (home-grown, organic and medicinal - a great gift for my kids), the parts required to assemble my colloidal-silver generator (easier to buy pure water locally and make some fresh colloidal silver to top up their supply, instead of taking bottles of colloidal silver on the plane), my big old-fashioned SLR camera plus an extra long lens (can't visit my family without taking a few photos) and a flashlight (with rechargeable batteries). One change of clothes (enough to safely wrap the items that might break) and a toothbrush. lol.

My husband was laughing that I might get arrested on the way there for looking like a drug-running, bomber granny. But no. It was all legal and they just let me through. :)

I find myself reflecting on how different my life is now that I've settled into a lifestyle that focuses on the simple essentials of life. On the way home I had one of the emptiest bags on the plane. lol.

Cleaning Experts from Franklin, Massachusetts (USA) on November 03, 2014:

i love it... it's a tremendous and informative Hub!!!!!!!!

Besarien from South Florida on October 31, 2014:

I love your tremendously inspiring hub! Congrats on your years off the grid. Really enjoyed your sage advice about saving energy and getting more self-sufficient.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 30, 2014:

That's good news, Snakesmum. The more self-sufficient you can become, the better. Second-hand equipment can be tested to establish how effective how it is. Every solar installer would have the appropriate technology to test panels and batteries. They should be able to tell you when they have second-hand gear worth buying. :)

Hello Tashaonthetown. We can all make small efforts to make our lifestyles more sustainable. For most people, it is a transition rather than a sudden change. :)

Natasha Pelati from South Africa on October 30, 2014:

Thats incredible and would never have imagined it possible in our days. Wouldn't it be great if we could all do that to save our planet!

Snakesmum on October 30, 2014:

Really enjoyed reading this hub. You've inspired me to get in touch with a solar energy company to see if second hand equipment is available, as I'm thinking of enlarging my solar system. Can't live off grid, unfortunately, but do try to recycle and reuse as much as possible, and now am trying to grow more fruit and veg.

Voted up.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 29, 2014:

Hello Vianopower. If you have a question about living off the grid, I'm happy to answer it. However when it comes to blogging etc, there's authorities on forums and people who write about seo etc who would know much more than I do. :)

I just write about aspects of my life, and if people are interested they find it. Good luck with your blog.

Vianopower on October 29, 2014:

Interesting! Thanks for the article... I have a question: How do I get viewers on my blog? I started about 2 hours ago and I don't know if my hub has been published.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 27, 2014:

Hello Kenneth. I hope you are well. :)

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on October 16, 2014:


Hi. I was in the neighborhood and thought I would drop by and say hello and I know that you are continuing to write great hubs like this one.

Have a Great Friday. C'Ya soon.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 16, 2014:

Hello JeanAnne Sunny. Now would be a very good time to purchase your first solar lights. The electricity grid is not as reliable as we used to believe. :)

Cleaning Experts from Franklin, Massachusetts (USA) on October 14, 2014:

thank you for the sharing solar power it is so informative and rich ...

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 06, 2014:

Hello, JeanAnne. Thanks for visiting. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 30, 2014:

I suggest you contact your local solar supplier, Jodah, and ask if they ever get decent second-hand systems when people upgrade. Those of us who start small, ultimately upgrade. We've now upgraded twice. :)

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 30, 2014:

Because of the solar panel rebate , and the Government removing the feed back payment. It was 44c per kw then reduced to 8c, now nothing...a lot of people are going off-grid completely. The power companies are not happy saying the spent millions on infrastructure that isn't needed with customers leaving. We still only have two main panels and batteries (and two smaller ones for some lighting and recharging phones etc) but desperately need to upgrade and rely less on a generator.

Should have the land paid off completely in a year, than we can afford to do what we need.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 30, 2014:

Thank you for your kind words, erorantes. I wish you the best of luck in reducing your own power bills. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 30, 2014:

Hello lrc7815. Some goals take longer to achieve than others. Don't let go of the dream. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 30, 2014:

Hi Jodah. This is just one of a growing number of my off-grid articles. I recall seeing at least one comment from you elsewhere, thank you. It is a long time since I lived in Qld. I've not heard about the Govt dropping all feed-back payments. I do recall when the Qld Govt first encouraged solar installations by offering subsidies - but insisted users could not have batteries. People could use solar power during the day, buy power from the grid at night, and sell any excess power their panels generated at a price set for (maybe four) years.

At the time they promised to pay more to buy solar than it would cost residents to buy from the grid. I stood up in a public meeting and asked if they'd be setting the price for buying from the grid for four years as well ... because if not, we could all still end up losing money. They refused to answer my question.

I also had the speakers confirm that if there was a blackout, we'd all still be left in the dark. When I asked if we could pay extra to have storage batteries installed, and still accept their offer of feeding extra solar into the grid for their set price, they said no. So I stood up and left the meeting. Many others in my community remained, and committed to paying a small fortune to get connected.

So, I never received any government subsidy (federal or state). Instead, we decided to purchase a complete system including storage and began buying panels at first. Only later did we get our first inverter, batteries etc. We are now at our second upgrade stage. We are completely, and happily, off the grid. :)

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on September 29, 2014:

Thank you for sharing the solar power article. It is great to know how to save energy. You are fantastic. I am grateful to you for the remainder. You are wonderful miss longtimemother.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on September 29, 2014:

Great hub LTM. I thought I'd read this before but apparently not. Great information here for anyone considering moving off-grid. Apparently it is starting to become more and more popular here in Australia, especially with the Queensland Government dropping all feed-back payments to zero. Voted up.

Linda Crist from Central Virginia on September 27, 2014:

What an awesome hub! I have dreamed of living off the grid for years but life keeps throwing up roadblocks. I love that you not only provided solutions but explained the benefits too. Kudos to you for not only doing it but sharing it too. Great job!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 22, 2014:

Great hints you've given me OGL. I had hoped to get a chance to write back to you, but I've been busier this weekend than I'd planned. I'm thinking there's an easy option you could consider for your septic and I'll try to address that for you promptly.

I suggest you hang onto your $500 for the time being if you can continue with your current system. After all, you can't be a genuine off-gridder without an element of inconvenience while you are setting up, lol ... plus you'll have $1,000 saved by the time next Monday rolls around. You can do a lot with 1K.

I'm pleased you've signed up with hp. Because you've commented on this hub, you should automatically get an email when I post my next comment. No need to come back here checking. :) I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

OffGridLifestyle from Cape Coral, Florida on June 19, 2014:

We will have 500.00 on Monday to put into solar or whatever we may need. We already cut the main power and are using just the power from the barn for our needs right now so that we may save to get something really soon :) So, that means we have one tv/playstation for the kids up and running, a laptop and internet off of an extension cord.

We own our home. 3 adults and 2 children (12 and 13). My brother has lived with us since my mom passed away. We have a laptop and a desktop (and eventually an all in one HP desktop) totaling three. I only need the laptop and desktop up in the immediate though.

We get quite a bit of rain and collected about 200 gallons of rain water yesterday, letting another 200 go because we do not have enough storage yet. We also have a spring lake on our property. We have about 2.5 clear acres left on our property.

One concern is the septic. It is not a gravity system - it has a lift pump. My thoughts were to build a few solar fields. Then to designate one field to the washer, well pump and septic pump. They are in different areas but I don't mind unplugging/replugging them in. I don't use any of those all the time. We could use water for showers, say between 5p and 6p, then do a load of wash for a different hour and plug the lift pump in every other day for an hour. Would this work? Since I do not think the septic pump has to be on all the time, would it be better to get a wind turbine and designate that to the septic?

Also, the area of our yard that gets the maximum sun (about an extra 1.5 hours vs. close to the house) is about 100 feet from the house. Will I lose more power in cords than I gain from the sun if I go that far?

The best price I have found on solar panels is 243 for 300 watts. That is for a hyundai. I also found golf cart batteries for 129.00 for 6v. I understand that I have to use two at a time. I don't understand the ventilation part, or how to wire them really. I also don't understand how many per panel etc. I read it could be dangerous and we are a little afraid. Can I place the solar panels on a pallet for now, flat, until I get the casing/stands? Also, what inverters should I use? Can I tie into our electric panel if we are off grid?

I know I have a lot of questions, but you're right - the questions I have are probably questions other people just like me have. It would be good if they could read them :)

On a side note - the city that I live in (although I am in the rural part) has been harassing, arresting and citing a lady that went off-grid because she went off-grid. They have taken her dog away (she just got him back). They are really trying to deter people from going this route. For that reason, I am super antsy about getting at least the basics up and running ASAP.

Thanks in advance for your help!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on June 16, 2014:

Hello, Shannon. I will happily give you the tips you need to get set up. Instead of emailing you, however, I'd prefer to write them here on HP where others can also benefit. (I check my hp account daily for messages.)

Your specific circumstances will make a difference to some of the suggestions I make. We have established that you live in Florida (so you are now in your summer), and you've given me good clues about what you need to power.

Do you own your own home or are you renting? (That will make a difference to some of my suggestions.) Do you have kids, or just 2 adults in your home? Is your computer a laptop?

Most importantly, will you have a few spare dollars before you disconnect the power? If so, how much can you spend up front ... before investing your $600 per month? In other words, before the power goes off, will you have been able to spend $100 / $200 or more or less on replacement products.

Good on you for making the decision to stop wasting money on power bills. It is certainly achievable. I will begin writing now - and should have a suggested plan for you within a day or two. :)

Shannon on June 16, 2014:

I really need some guidance! We are trying so hard to get off the grid. None of our appliances are electric friendly and I happen to live in an area where the cost of power is through the roof! WE have decided that, rather than keep paying the electric company almost 600 U.S.D per month to keep electric that we are going to sacrifice and cut the power. We will then reinvest the 600 per month into solar products. My main concerns are the well pump, refrigerator, stove, hot water heater, some fans (we live in Florida where it is very hot - we are giving up AC for now), some lighting, the internet box and a computer. We really don't watch tv. We do not need heat. If anyone could tell me how to start inexpensively (for 600.00 or less) addressing my above concerns one at a time, I would be VERY grateful! We really are clueless but we are tired of the senseless waste produced by power companies and their unilateral control. We desperately want to be independent and self-sufficient! Thanks in advance! Please email me at anders02 at live dot com!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on May 04, 2014:

Hello Daniella. That's very exciting news. I hope you'll be adding batteries to store your power (instead of just feeding into the grid.) It is a great feeling to be one of very few people who never get an electricity bill. :)

Daniella Lopez on April 09, 2014:

Fantastic article! Thanks for sharing. My husband and I are planning on adding solar paneling to our tiny house we will be building. We live in Arkansas US, which has very long summers, so we're hoping it will work out well for us.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 29, 2014:

G'day, Ken. Trust you're taking care of yourself. :)

Kenneth Avery on March 29, 2014:

Thank you, LongTimeMother for caring.

God bless you my Dear Friend.


LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on March 29, 2014:

Thanks, GetitScene. Will do. :)

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on March 29, 2014:

A subject close to my heart as I live on a sailboat and live off solar power! Another great hub! Voted up, interesting, useful. Keep writing!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 20, 2014:

Hi Jean. Thanks for visiting me here. You may decide to make changes to your home sometime in the future to make the loss of power less of a drama. For now, however, I hope you concentrate on yourself and your healing.

I'll be watching for your writing, and will always remember 'Forever Autumn' as the song you shared with your husband.

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on February 14, 2014:

Wow, I admire your tenacity in getting off the grid. I live in a sort of isolated road in the woods, and like it. But with the changing weather patterns, we have lost power quite often in the last few years. I want to read some of these ideas better.

Yes, Forever Autumn is a haunting song. It always reminded my husband and I of our love of hiking in autumn, when we were first in love. He died unexpectedly a month ago, and I knew if I didn't use the song in something I wrote, or at least listen to it, I would be crying my eyes out if I happened to hear it at the wrong time. I haven't been adding content to HP in some time, so was having trouble with the changes until I logged onto Google Chrome. I ended up listening to it several times. Glad you enjoyed the hub about love. I'm finding it's productive for me to write. Take care.

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 13, 2014:

Your sense of humour will be a great asset as you make the transition, TarrinLupo. Things don't always go as planned and it helps to laugh while you set them straight. :)

Tarrin Lupo from Peterborough NH on February 12, 2014:

I am transitioning to going off grid, great stuff here. TY!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 11, 2014:

Hello Nadine. Explore my hubs for hints when setting up your new lifestyle. I've written about many aspects of our off grid life. When you find time it would certainly be helpful for others if you write about your own experiences. Good luck. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on February 11, 2014:

Hello PhoenixV. I am currently away from home, visiting one of my adult kids. We had seven big solar panels when I left ... but we might have more by the time I get home. My husband mentioned something about 'a good deal'. lol. How many watts? Don't know. Would have to ask my husband. I'll try to remember when I get home.

How do we heat our home? I touched on that in another hub called 'Top Tips for Living Off The Grid. There's a link in the hub above. :)

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on February 04, 2014:

Wow this topic is close to my heart. Loved reading your tips and progress. I have written several pages on Wikinut about our efforts to aim for living of the grid and how we started by allocating these ideas from the start of our renovations. I should rewrite this article for hubpages, but it all takes time.

PhoenixV from USA on January 27, 2014:

How many watts/solar panels (not counting the outdoor lighting panels etc) do you currently have that runs your appliances? How do you heat your home?

Amanda Littlejohn on December 04, 2013:

It look like paradise to me. :D

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on December 03, 2013:

lol. Thanks, stuff4kids. I have two mini pigs now and will be writing about them soon. I have so much living off the grid, I don't miss my former life at all. :)

Amanda Littlejohn on December 03, 2013:

Beautiful and inspiring hub! I was delighted to see that your first subtitle was 'Reducing Your Need etc.' as out of all three parts of the 'green mantra' of reduce, reuse, recycle; there's no doubt that reducing our levels of consumption, particularly of energy, is the most important in the long run.

I think what you have done is wonderful - and it was great to see what a great job your pigs are doing , standing in for the rotovator!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on October 24, 2013:

You might find it is easier than you think, Wacky Mummy. I suspect most people dream the dream ... but many just don't voice it. :)

Good luck!

Wacky Mummy from UK on October 24, 2013:

Very useful hub - one day we will hopefully get to this point but I need to talk my partner round first ;)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on September 30, 2013:

Thanks for the feedback, marcofratelli. I have my cordless 'walkabout' phone plugged into the aux hole in a standard telstra phone. I don't have to worry about power cuts as long as we're careful with monitoring the solar batteries (we put on the generator to top up the batteries when needed) but if I spend all day outside with the cordless phone in my pocket the battery in the phone itself can flatten and render it useless. The old fashioned plugged-into-the-wall phone often proves useful. :)

Sadly, the phone reception doesn't work if I wander too far from the house so it is a bit silly to be carrying it anyway. lol. My mobile phone is no better. Vodaphone, Telstra and Optus all fail to work reliably where I live. Their reception might cover 90% of the population (ie the cities) but it certainly doesn't cover much of the country. I am very careful where I step in snake season, particularly if I'm home alone because I can't be sure I could phone anyone for help.

We rely on gravity for meeting most of our water needs. I've started writing a hub about our off-grid approach to water. Thanks for reminding me to finish it. Tomorrow. Maybe. :)

marcofratelli from Australia on September 30, 2013:

I've always wondered what it would be like living off the grid. In the hills, we didn't have mains water, so when the power cut our pump didn't work, so we had no water either! I'm now in the suburbs and while I have (cold) water when the power goes, I lose my cordless phone (should have got one with a backup battery). It's also a time when books and acoustic instruments come in handy to help pass the time... Being as self sufficient as possible is fantastic - healthier and cheaper! Great hub, voted up!

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on July 13, 2013:

handymanbill, there are all kinds of little changes you can make to get yourself set up. I've written another hub about kitchens off the grid as well. I will, with time, try to increase my off grid hubs because there's so many things I had to learn through experience. Ideas in advance would have been very helpful to me. Glad you're finding my tips useful. :)

LongTimeMother (author) from Australia on July 13, 2013:

Hi FirstStepsFitness. Good luck with your move off grid. :)