If you talk about living off the grid with someone who is not familiar with the concept, his first question will probably be: “Why do you want to live off the grid?“. Here’s a couple of good reasons that might justify living without usind public utilities.
First and the most obvious answer is: if there’s no grid, you can’t connect to it. In fact, this is probably also the most common answer. In most cases living off the grid is a necessity — one has to make his own electricity and pump his own water, ’cause he can’t buy it from the grid / water supply network. You can’t expect that every piece of land, even in most remote areas, is going to be connected to the utilities. This reason is less important in Europe, as we here don’t have much remote areas and most places in which you can build homes have access to at least electrical grid. But in Australia, United States or Canada you can easily build a farm or just a home in place so far from the nearest electrical cable that you won’t be able to pay for extending it to your place. That’s why living off the grid is much more popular in these countries than in Europe, especially in Poland, where I live.
The second answer is probably such that the energy you make is cheaper than the energy you buy. Well, I don’t mean cases which one has his own diesel powered engine generator (genset) and buys his diesel to make his own electricity. All renewable energy sources are free. If you have photovoltaic modules, wind turbine or that genset but fueled with SVO or biodiesel, you get the energy for free. Sunshine is free, winds are free, biomas that grows on your land is also free (if any expenses for tractor fuel, fertilizers etc. are not taken into account). Of course, before you can produce your own power, you have to buy that PV panel, wind turbine or genset. So that engine is free, but you have to spend money (and a lot of it) to harness it.
The third answer is valid for people that want to be environmentally friendly, or in some cases — carbon-neutral. Buying electricity from the grid means always some costs to the environment. Whether you electricity is produced in coal fired power plant, gas fired combined heat and power plant or nuclear plant, those costs may vary. But in every case they are present. If you make your own energy from renewable resources, you don’t leave any excess footprint on the nature. Of course, again, to make your energy, you have to buy a lot of stuff. And that stuff is made using energy, right? 😉
The fourth answer is only the case of people who are paranoid to some extent. I must admit that I am one of those people. I want to live off the grid, because:
- I don’t want to rely on any public utility as any unexpected event such as nuclear war, natural disaster or global economy collapse might disrupt it’s supply,
- I want to be prepared for all of those events mentioned before.
So now a question for you: why are you interested in living off-the-grid?