How to Get Off the Grid
As people grow more and more fed up with fossil fuel use and production—and the companies that deal in them—they increasingly want to know how to get off the grid. Fortunately, the answer to this question is simple. The best way to get off the grid is to use wind or solar power, or a combination of both.
Don’t think it’s that simple? Consider this. The sun produces enough power in one day to meet global energy demands for 27 years. Of course, it’s not just the availability of the sun’s energy that is important. We also have to know how to use it in practical, efficient, and cost-effective ways.
And the same is true for the wind. It blows all the time in some areas, but can we convert its power into electricity in practical and cost-efficient ways? The answer in both cases is yes. The technology for both is currently available, and many people have learned how to get off the grid using one or both methods.
If you would like to see pictures and videos of how to make your own solar panels, head over to my How to Build Your Own Solar Panel page. Likewise, if you would like to see how to make a wind turbine, head over to my How to Make a Wind Turbine at Home page.
By the way, if you would like to know who you are talking to here, please stop by my about page and allow me to introduce myself. Thanks.
Okay, back to wind power. The key to utilizing wind energy, of course, is having a suitable place to put up your blades. Wind energy is suitable for you if you live in a somewhat windy area and if you have about an acre of land. Yes, you can just put a wind turbine on your roof.
Those wind turbines, however, are generally pretty small and do not produce enough energy to get you off the grid, not on their own anyway (you could use one in combination with solar panels). If you want more information about complete wind power systems, including things like battery systems and control chargers, check out my Home Wind Power Systems page.
Solar panels can be used anywhere the sun shines, so they are generally more popular than wind turbines. The size of the solar power system you would need depends on how much energy you use. If you have a large, older home, it will take more energy to heat it. If you have a small, efficient home, you will use much less energy.
Figuring out how much energy you will need to produce is not difficult, and I have written a detailed plan for you to follow. You can view it over on the Completing a Home Energy Audit page.
Some people want to learn how to get off the grid because they think renewable energy is totally free. This is not totally true, however. It’s true that once you get off the grid you never have to pay for electricity again, but there are costs associated with setting up wind turbines and solar panels, and those costs shouldn’t be ignored.
Of course, I can’t really discuss those costs with you because everyone’s energy needs are different. My advice is that you follow the plan on my Completing a Home Energy Audit page. Then, once you know how much energy you need, start pricing a suitable renewable energy option.
And don’t forget that there are great ways to offset the initial costs of setting up wind turbines and solar panels, mostly in the form of state and federal tax breaks and subsidies. Check with you state government to find out what is available for you.
Also, while the technology used in these systems is complex, constructing a solar panel or a wind turbine is something that any DIY enthusiast can do in a weekend. Doing it yourself is fun and greatly reduces costs.
Also remember that many people who are “off the grid” actually stay on the grid because they sell their excess power back to their local power companies. Again, do your home energy audit, check the numbers, and then see how much power you need to produce.
There’s more. Those who learn how to get off the grid, and who use their knowledge to install solar or wind systems, see great increases in the value of their homes. The reason for this is that people desperately want off the grid but are afraid to make the change themselves, meaning they’ll pay a great premium if the work has already been done. To get solid figures about this, just call your local realtor.
By now, you’re probably eager to get started on a solar or wind power project. Before you do, though, go through one important step. Perform an audit of how much energy you use each month. Then takes steps to lower it. Is your house well insulated? Do you use energy-efficient appliances? Do you have energy-efficient habits, like turning off appliances when not in use?
The less power you use, the smaller, and cheaper, the wind or solar system you can build.
Leaning how to get off the grid is a fun and challenging project, and when you succeed at ridding yourself of fossil fuel dependence, you’ll feel freedom and a great sense of pride in your work, and you’ll be contributing to a cleaner, greener planet. Good luck, and enjoy your project.