1 Year of Off Grid Living
I’d honestly hoped to have some important lessons we’d learned this year to write about, but honestly, there isn’t. Maybe that’s the biggest takeaway, that off-grid living isn’t that different from “normal” life. There’s been a few bumps and adjustments, but getting used to life up here has gone pretty smoothly.
Check out my previous post, Lessons from Our First 3 Months Living Off-Grid, for a rundown of our initial set up. Since that post, we’ve made a few additions, which I’ve added to the list and will discuss below.
- Gutters and a 2500 gallon tank to collect water from our roof.
- Berkey water filter for drinking water. We’re not affiliated with Berkey, but we love our filter.
- Six 190 watt solar panels and eight lead acid, deep cycle, 6-volt batteries power lights, computers, a water pump, and small tools/appliances.
- Backup candles, oil lamps, and re-chargeable battery-powered lights help conserve energy if we have weeks of overcast weather.
- Propane instant water heater provides hot water to our sink.
- Woodburning cookstove heats our home and food during the winter.
- Propane two-burner camp stove heats food when it’s too hot to use the woodstove.
- A mud/cob rocket stove to cook and can outside.
- Backup kerosene heater to provide additional/emergency heat.
This fall, we added two more 190 watt solar panels for a total of six. We’ve had a super cloudy winter here so far and have been thankful for these panels helping to top up the batteries faster whenever it is sunny.
We have plans to add three more panels soon. One will serve solely to run our water pump, which is typically one of our most significant daily electric uses.
We also swapped out one component of our water system, the pressure tank. We switched from a 5-gallon tank to an 86-gallon tank, so the pump kicks on to fill it less often.
Food Storage & Cooking
We purchased a small chest freezer, which we mainly run during the summer. This winter, it has been out on our porch, and we’ve been using it as a fridge and to keep food from freezing. During the summer, we fill the bottom with jugs of water and place refrigerated items towards the top. We run it a bit each day to keep the water jugs cold or frozen but not enough to freeze things on top.
We’ve also made some progress hand digging a root cellar under the house, which will be a great addition to our food storage.
Lastly, Scotty built a cob rocket stove using straw from wheat we grew this summer and clay we dug out of the ducks’ pond. It was a great addition and allowed us to cook and can outside without propane. It uses surprisingly little fuel. We also have covered the hole on top with some old tin and used it to bake bread and pies. However, it isn’t perfect for this, and we still have a larger cob bread oven in the plans for this summer.
If you make yourself do hard things, it gets easier to do hard things.
I touched on this in the last off-grid update when I said, “comfort is largely what you’re accustomed to,” but I think it’s too important not to mention it again. If you stick with it, even the more challenging parts of living off the grid get easier. For example, we use an old wringer washer. It’s a bit more involved than a modern washer, but we’ve gotten used to it. It no longer seems like extra work. It just seems normal.
We’re feeling extra grateful in 2021.
It has also been, in some ways, a huge relief to have chosen this life. Though we did okay financially during the past year, we know that many folks struggled to make ends meet. We’re grateful to be as fortunate as we have been and to have gotten to a place where we have minimal bills.
We wish you all a healthy and happy 2021!