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When Off-Grid is Tough: What to Expect

February 17, 2015       Building Block
When Off-Grid Gets Tough
 Grow your own food, No fridge 24-7, 
Manual laundry, Light when there's sun.

If you are used to living in an urban grid that has power and food supply chains, going off-the-grid into some remote rural geographical relocation site might be a test of of faith as you reorient yourself into a new way of life.  If you live in a small cabin with some land like a homestead, your place might not have the comforts and services available from the grid such as electricity or tap water or gas, and even something mundane like media entertainment 24-7. is one amazing YouTube account and website
dedicated to showing how easy it is to build small, affordable
housing even off-grid.
All Rights Reserved to relaxshacksDOTcom and You Tube

Should you choose to raise a family or spend the rest of your good days off-the-grid.  Keeping it simple is tops on your list. Learn alternate methods of preserving food.  How to cook on a wood stove.  How to entertain ourselves without TV or video games or movies.

Consider the challenges and solutions in dealing with energy needs over the years.  Portable solar power or portable wind power is always a smart option.  It ain't that bad to use traditional rural life staples like a kerosene lamp and tallow candles. Many chores can take longer and be more difficult without electricity.

Off-Grid, The Tough Live Smart:


Once off-grid, lighting becomes a concern..or else you can only work and live productively when you can see: when the sun's up.  Starting with just steampunk gear, you have propane lamps (gas is expensive), kerosene lamps, candles, and natural light from windows during the daytime.  Avoiding accidents that may burn your home down is a constant awareness and careful vigilance is advised if you have to use flammable material for lighting your lamps.

Adapting to off-grid living would force you to make best use of natural light:  Place your work areas near the windows.  Then adapt your habits to daytime light.  Avoid eye-straining work like sewing or mending your shirt at night.

Survival LED lanterns are life-saving gear for when storms arise
for safety at night
off-grid.  Video of a survival lantern review.
All Rights Reserved to EverydayTacticalVids and YouTube

Alternative power sources are always an option:  solar and wind or even microhydro if you can set up one near a good stream.  LED bulb tech and lighting is becoming cheaper and is a very good choice for electricity powered lighting using solar or wind.  Remember that solar is not available when the sun isn't out, wind power is slightly better, and if there is no stream you cannot use microhydro power.


Life without ice, or refrigeration might be hell for most.  Keeping perishable food without a fridge requires some smart indigenous tech like Zeer Pots. 

A Zeer Pot made of indigenous crude materials.  There are prefabricated
stylish versions of the clay pot cooling system
DIY custom made
by survivalists too.

You may keep liquids cool in earthen ware containers kept in cool dry places.  You can build an insulated pantry to keep things cool and store food long enough.  The best thing about off-grid living is that you grow your own food and get to enjoy picking fresh ingredients from your garden or from the sea, and preserve surplus harvests or catch in jars or use canning tech.

You might want to get a solar powered refrigerator but these are expensive.  There are plenty of DIY non-electric refrigeration options that you can also try.


Cooking ‘off-grid’ is the best part of living in a homestead.  You always get the best tasting meals with relatively little work. 

Simple cooking equipment can still provide you with amazing grub
and comfort food, the best foods to prepare off the grid.

Your cookstove can use fossil fuels or even firewood for quick hot meals, or a cup of good coffee.  A rocket stove just using bricks and a steel can (like hobos do) will work like the best of designer ranges for cooking comfort food like soups and stews--the best meals of off-grid living.  Camping gear is extremely useful for outdoor cooking too and can double as emergency carry-all if you need to bug out from your off-grid station.

A cross section of what a rocket stove design generally looks like

If you cook, prepare several meals at once, always eat together, and use only well-seasoned wood. If you want to eat as good as you do when you were on the grid, if might take some time to prepare food using just cook fires or rocket stoves so be patient and enjoy the ritual.  Avoid leftovers if you do not have cold storage 24-7. 

Fixing-Up & Building

Learning to use hand tools is your survival skill if you decide to live off-grid.  Without power tools, find a good craftsman to teach you the trade. Learn woodworking skills using commons hand tools.

Woodworking Tools                     from the Minnesota Historical Society:    
WikiCommons  CC BY-SA 2.0

If fully equipped workshops are available near your place, it is still good to have your work done there than making a mess of everything.  Work and repair take a lot longer without power tools so be prepared to have your off-grid home in a constant state-of-building over the course of you living there.  Keep spare stuff like reclaimed wood, PVC pipes for your waterline, LED lighting replacements, glass or plexiglass for windows, galvanized iron roofing sheets, and other easy to purchase materials that can be used as quick and easy solutions for emergency repair and back-up for when things wear out and need to be replaced.


You can survive without TV or electronic media entertainment if you live off-grid.  Rediscover board games!  Indulge to your heart's delight with collectible card games, crafts like sewing or pottery, learn musical instruments, enjoy your books.  Reading a book to young kids will be special.  Playing together in the evenings with just cardboard stuff still adds up to a lot of good times.

When bored, your kids get to devise their own games and play, using their own imagination and being on their own helps them think for themselves which helps them be responsible later in life.

If you can't live without watching TV or movies, get a media player box and stuff it with entertainment media when you're in the urban grid part of town.  You can watch your favorite shows over and over. Remember to back-up your media on DVDs or thumb drives and keep these in a Faraday cage to keep them safe.  A monitor for watching media entertainment might be too much of a drain on your power resources, so you may choose to augment your alternative power with extra batteries or schedule times when you use your electronic media entertainment.  One more caveat is that your equipment breaks down eventually and you either choose to repair it, toss it out, or get a worthy and low cost replacement.

What to Expect

Living off-grid is not a throwback to a simpler or 'better' lifestyle.  You actually do a lot more physical work to get through the day but that work keeps you healthy, supplied with your own food, and you don't become a cannibal or looter when the food supply grid goes out permanently elsewhere.  Growing your own food, and being self sufficient in spite of the limited gear is the one constant of homestead communities.

Fresh Off-Grid Farm Vegetables                    WikiCommons  CC BY-SA 3.0

Off-grid communes survive with different degrees of self-generated electricity.  Keep things simple when you start.  Some people have wind generators, others have solar arrays or micro-hydro runs on small streams that provide their power needs. 

Rely on each other more--when watching over the backyard garden or harvesting at just the right time for fresh food so it won't go to waste.  With recent advances in energy efficient and compact appliances and technologies, “off-grid” living CAN STILL BE THE SAME living anywhere else.  It just costs more to keep the stuff you use--appliances, TV, fridge--battery arrays for power, more wind turbines, a bigger micro-hydro setup with  battery arrays too.

Living Big in Tiny Houses  shows you can still live grand off-grid
with whatever stuff you want, you just invest in more off-gird power.
All Rights Reserved to Living Big in Tiny Houses and You Tube

Learn how to build things by hand just like when people did in the old days.  The rat race creates a person who can't really survive when extreme situations hit, so a throwback to a more practical lifestyle keeps you alive when emergencies arise.  If anyone sniffs at you for off-grid living, don't worry.  They  become the desperate and unprepared mob stuck in a ticking urban deathtrap when the shit hits the fan.


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