According to common knowledge, going off the grid means giving up on state-owned public utilities (such as water, electricity, natural gas, and sewers). Although the reasons for going this route can be different for many people, the primary reasons can be classified as follows:
- Economic reasons: There are times when going off the grid is more economical than opting for public utilities. This may be because of the distance of the home from the main water and electricity generating hubs or the general utility of the dwelling. For people living in remote areas or in third world countries, alternative energy generation is more of a necessity than an option. Most of the time, holiday homes, river homes, or log houses do not have access to public power and water lines to keep the overall cost of maintenance down. Since these houses are inhabited only for a few weeks in a year, the occupants draw water from nearby water resources such wells, lakes, streams, or rivers and indigenously generate whatever little electricity they may require.
- Environmental reasons: At a time when “saving the planet” and “going green” seem to be the buzzword, a lot of the pop culture is adopting this mantra. Living in eco-friendly homes are a surefire way to win environmental brownie points. Homes generate their own power and electricity from renewable sources such as the sun and wind, rather than being dependent on non-renewable sources such as fossil fuel.
Some think that producing your own electricity means living a minimalist lifestyle without the comforts of modern living. While others who do live off their own power tell you that you do not have to give up anything, the wonderful thing about renewable energy is that when you have the proper power systems in place, you can live your dream lifestyle on free power.
Again, contrary to popular belief, producing your own electricity doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. With the help of some readily available guidebooks and manuals, one can make their home or property free of the oppressive grid and in the process save yourself thousands of dollars. The first step is the most critical and that is to identify and locate the various components that you will need to set up the renewable energy power system.
In order to put together your very own hand made electrical power system for your home, it would be useful to go through the classified section of newspapers or websites like Craigslist or Ebay and see if someone is selling the parts you need for cheap. If not, many of the items you need are readily available in consumer electronics and electrical stores. Some arts and crafts stores carry power cells for your use.
The hardest part of putting together your own system is finding the PV cells needed. These collect and convert energy from your solar panels and turbines.
One needs to remember that being energy independent actually means combining one or more sources of renewable energy generation and that each of them should complement each other. As you start to build your own power generating system, you’ll find that it gets easier to build and expand on that system.
Before embarking on your quest for free and independent power, you should understand the advantages and disadvantages of both solar and wind power. Solar panels are are economical, easy to setup, easy to manage, and generates large amounts of energy. The drawback is it can only work when the sun is out. If it gets cloudy or rainy, you might end up with no hot water for your morning shave. Similarly, wind generators are tricky to set up but once they are up and running, they can produce plenty of energy. Their disadvantage is also their dependence on the moods of nature. Motor magnet generators however, are free from any such natural dependencies. Yet they are not very popular because they are not able to generate as much energy as solar panels or wind turbines.
Should you decide to get off the grid, know that clean, independent power is yours for the taking but it will require a lot of knowledge and effort on your part to get it.