Every year, more and more people are converting to what is known as 'off-grid living'. 'The grid', of course, refers to the power grid.
Technically speaking, living off the grid is living without any of the main utilities provided by society, namely electricity, water, sewage, and gas. While this may seem like an extreme scenario, it has a certain appeal to it; self-reliance, peace and quiet, reduced fossil fuel use, and a safe place to hide in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
Off-the-grid living comes in many forms, and while there are certainly many people that choose to forego the conveniences of modern society and live in a cabin in the woods, it is in fact possible to have all the comforts of technology – electricity, hot water, waste management – in an entirely off-grid location.
Now that you're removed from the mains electricity, solar power will be your primary source of energy. Modern solar technology can easily provide enough electricity to power a residential home.
Exactly how large of a solar array you will need depends on the size of your home and the number of residents. Since the solar energy system outputs DC electricity, you will also need an inverter, which converts from DC to AC (so that your house can use it).
While solar technology tends to be expensive, it is a one-time cost, and there are many government incentives that provide financial assistance to people installing renewable energy systems.
Now that the electricity's on, it's time to use that power to indulge in perhaps the greatest invention of modern society – the hot shower. Water is everywhere. It seeps through the ground, and it falls from the sky.
Installing a rainwater tank, depending on the local conditions, could be the only thing you need to meet your water requirements. However, there is also the option of installing a private well, to harness groundwater. Groundwater is present mostly everywhere, and it simply takes boring a deep enough hole into the ground to find it.
Private wells are popular amongst people living off the grid, as they provide a consistent, clean source of water. A well will usually cost anywhere from $4000 to $10000 to install, depending on how deep it needs to be.
Waste management mostly has to do with the treatment of grey water (shower and dishwashing water), and black water (sewage). The best and easiest way is to install a septic system, which consists of the house's plumbing running to a septic tank which treats all the waste. A septic tank uses bacteria to treat wastewater, which then is filtered into the surrounding soil and absorbed as nutrients.
For more information, check out companies such as Accord Electrical.
Jonathon here. I am currently completing my electrical apprenticeship and I have to say, it has been a challenge. Before I started, I didn’t realise that there was so much involved in wiring a house or building. Safety, efficiency, aesthetics and costs all have to be taken into account. My boss is so patient. One customer asked us to leave electrical wires exposed because he wanted an “industrial effect”. My boss explained that it would be illegal and they compromised. I have really learnt that electrical installation is one area in which people should not take short-cuts or undertake home handiwork. This blog should help you to gain a little more insight into electrical installation and its intricacies. I hope you find it enlightening. Thank you for stumbling into my corner of the blogosphere.