Off the Grid – Why?

off the grid home

“My ultra-rugged off-grid kitchen!”

“RD, why do you live off the grid?” That is a question I am often asked. My short answer is a simple one: “Because I want to.” My long answer however, has a little more detail in its delivery.

I’m usually a bottom line kind of guy (especially, when I’m sitting with my goddam accountant!) so here is a quick overview of how this article is going to play out. If you live on the grid and the power grid goes out, you won’t have any power, obviously. But, I will. If your municipal water system either fails or becomes unfit for human consumption, I will have plenty of water. If the furnace in your house fails, I will have plenty of heat. If the food supply at your grocery store or market runs out, I will have plenty of food.

I don’t believe in relying on others to get by. Here’s a ridiculous example, but it will clearly make my point. I’m an atheist, so I don’t pray or “thank the Lord for the food I am about to receive.” But, if I did pray and thank anyone, I’d thank myself for working my ass off and providing the “food I am about to receive” thank you very friggin’ much!

I do not wish to rely on anyone for my basic needs. There are three critical things that we human beings must have in order to survive: Food, water and fire. And, actually, fire provides two essential things – a way of cooking food and a way of keeping us warm.

Off Grid Living

“There’s always food around”

I need to make a heavy-duty statement here… just so none of you think I’m one of these weirdo, antigovernment survivalist dudes with a bunker full of guns and ammunition, safety supplies, food and water, because I’m not. Not even close. But, I do believe, I honestly do believe, that sometime in the next 15 or 20 years, the world’s major grid systems will collapse. The Internet will fail… no-one will have electricity, fuel for the cars, water systems will fail and stores will be out of food.

Sorry to piss on your pizza, but as the world populations keeps exploding the way it is, something has got to give. In 1960, there were 3 billion people on the planet. In 2016, there are 7.4 billion. We made more people, but we haven’t made any more land for people to live on. Over population, I believe is the biggest problem we face today, as the human race.

If things ever got really, really, really bad… I will still have water, warmth and food. I wouldn’t have fuel for my truck, but I’d have the main essentials.
Now, that I have your attention…

You may remember the ice storm of 1998, where people in Ontario and Quebec lost their power for weeks and even months in some cases. Parts of northern-eastern USA were effected too, especially, the state of Maine, who really got nailed. 35 deaths were attributed to the storm. Many homes sustained damage from falling trees and branches. Living off the grid would not have prevented a tree from falling on my house, but living off the grid would have prevented my pipes from freezing. Living off the grid and woodstoves go hand in hand. This is just one example of why I live off the grid. Regardless of what happens, my house will always be warm (provided I have dry firewood, which I always do.)

When I look around me, at society in general, I see a world full of people who have become 100% reliant on others for their daily existence. When I say others, I mean the government, most times municipal (for water) or provincial (for electrical power.) Most people I know, regardless of their age, could never live the way I do. They’d lose their goddam minds. Most people these days take having an unlimited supply of electricity for granted. They often complain about their bills though. And, if they do not pay those bills, they won’t have any electricity at all. Me? I have an unlimited source of electricity by way of solar power. And, it’s free. Well, kind of free. It did cost money to buy and install my system, but once that’s paid for… your power source is basically free. The sun will not send you a bill for shining.

Rugged Off Grid Living

“This baby keeps my onions warm!”

Let’s take a look at some of the modern conveniences that most people have in their home. Then we’ll contrast that with how I have my house set up. I should start by saying that if you want to spend a pile of cash, you could feasibly have enough solar power to handle all of the typical modern conveniences, but for the sake of being realistic, let’s not go to that extreme. Let’s use a modest, middle of the road system and we’ll spend $15,000 on it. At this point, I must turn on my heavy-duty sarcasm switch… okay, it’s on. So, here I go… First, how could any modern family possibly live without an automatic dishwasher? I mean, come on… wash dishes… by hand? What has this world come to? My God! Okay, sarcasm switch – off. Dishwashers are for lazy people. I can wash a pile of dishes faster, using far less water and they’ll be far cleaner when I’m finished than any dishwasher can. And, there will be none of this bullshit like, “hmmm, can I put this in the dishwasher?” And, I would imagine that a dishwasher uses a lot of power to run it. So rule one, off the grid – no dishwasher. Hey, tell your lazy kids to get their asses off the couch and wash the dishes!

Next, enter the microwave oven. Ah yes, that useless piece of shit that nearly every single kitchen has today. Do you really need one of these? Sure, it uses less power than a full sized electric range does, but living off the grid means you’ll probably not have one. Believe me, you’ll get used to it… after all, your wood burning cook stove will solve a lot of problems in that area. I haven’t had a microwave for twenty years. We’ll talk a bit about that a little later in this article.

Next comes the classic big screen TV with all the bells, whistles, sub woofers and 300 remote controls to operate the son-of-a-bitch. Do you really need this just to watch a friggin’ movie? If you do, stay on the grid and keep paying those ridiculously over-inflated power bills every month. But, don’t whine when the power goes out because it’s windy and a tree blew over the lines in your area. I have a small TV (by today’s standards) and yes, it’s a flat screen. They use less power than the old type of set with the big tubes in the back.

Lights… sure, I have a few electric lights, one for each room. But, each is a small simple light designed for um… lighting the room so you can see what you’re doing. None are anything fancy or built for eye appeal. And, I often use kerosene lamps in the evening. I do have to buy the kerosene, but a big jug is about $23.00 and one usually lasts all winter.

I have a washing machine for my laundry but I do not have a dryer. I hang my clothes outside in the warmer season (just the like old days, eh?) In the winter months, I hang them inside the house. The woodstove does not discriminate when it comes to warming things up or drying clothes. I hang my wet clothes and in a few hours, or when I get up in the morning, they’re dry. And, that little rope clothesline costs nothing, doesn’t use any power, never breaks down and I never have to clean out that stupid lint screen thing before I use it. The only lint I ever have to clean out is the stuff in my belly button.
You’re welcome…

RD In the Kitchen

“Off the grid? Get a wood burning cook stove!”

Cooking… here we go! This is the part I love talking about. Living off the grid means you can kiss your huge ass electric range goodbye. Propane is one option, but the only problem with a propane range is that you have to buy the propane. But, it doesn’t cost a lot to buy enough propane for a stove for one year. I do most of my cooking on my wood burning cook stove. If I’m in a hurry or if it’s very warm in the summer, I’ll “cheat a bit” and use my propane stove. Again, I guess you could use an electric range if you have enough solar power to run it. The point I’m trying to make here with this stove, is that living off the grid does mean a lifestyle change that will be necessary for 99% of people who are considering making the change. And, I just love my old cook stove. There is another article on this site that gives you some pointers on how to use one, and believe me you’ll get used to it pretty quick. They’re great to cook on and don’t use any power.

Rugged Food - Wild Mallard!

“I can always cook food on my old wood stove”

For your plumbing needs, a modest solar power system will handle things like your water pump and hot water set up. There are so many options these days that will give you plenty of hot water at very little cost. You can have a bath tub, shower and laundry machine, all run by way of the sun. For free… Propane is an option that some “off-gridders” decide upon, but again, propane must be bought and paid for. Back to the wood burning cook stove for a minute… I always have a couple of large kettles full of hot water on the stove, ready for action. And, I’ll often use this water for washing dishes, even though I could simply turn on my hot water tap. Living off the grid means you save power where you can. It doesn’t cost you any money to have a couple full kettles sitting on the stove.

One of the biggest concerns for people considering living off the grid, concerns the Internet. I call it “the Google.” You can get the Google easily these days, pretty much no matter where you are on the planet. In my case (quite handy) there is a tower about 4 miles away from my house. So, I simply plug this little thing (looks like a memory stick) into my laptop and bingo, I have the Google. If you’re thinking about building a home in an area where there isn’t a tower close by, you can always get satellite Google. This is 2016 and there are many options for getting the Google, so don’t shy away from making the big move on account of the Google. Laptop computers don’t take much power to run, so your modest solar power system would work just fine.

For telephone needs, cell service is so much better than it ever was and in most areas you’ll get good reception and service. I just have a little flip phone and it works great. People who visit me are often impressed that they get “full bars” on their fancy I Phones or whatever they have. And, they get the Google on their phones too.

Off Grid Living

“My water source… no charge”

Living off grid means that I never have to pay for water, power or heat. That could easily be $800 per month for some families. In the first part of this article, I also mentioned that, if there ever was a major crisis, I’d always have food. If you live off the grid, it’s very likely that you’d have room to grow and raise most of your food. You’d only need a couple acres… I have a chicken coop, garden, greenhouse… and I raise a hog or two every year. I can and preserve a lot of stuff too, which lasts throughout the year.

And, if things ever got really bad, I’d go outside and shoot a goddam deer. Or, a rabbit… or a duck… or a goose.
Try doing that living in town…

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  1. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words.

    It isnt an excentric survivalist thing. Its a practical bottom line thing. Providing for my grandchildren so they don’t end up in a situation like Ont, Que and eastern US. Its making sure they have a safe place and an option and know how to ‘make it’. If/when “the grid” falls apart.

    You ARE The Dude!

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