What Resources Do You Need to Live Off Grid?

Wondering what resources are needed to live off grid? Check out this brief guide for an overview of what you'll need for off grid living.

Alicia C. Nelson


Alicia C. Nelson


Mar 22, 2024

What Resources Do You Need to Live Off Grid?

What Resources Do You Need to Live Off Grid?

So whether you want to live off the grid full time, or just prepare yourself and your family for an "off the grid" moment in the middle of a disaster, below we break down the resources you need to confidently live off grid.

Living off-grid requires four fundamental elements:

1. Shelter

2. Power

3. Water

4. Food

1. Shelter: Off the Grid Homes

The first step towards off-grid living involves securing a reliable shelter, such as an RV, a cabin in the woods, or a tiny home away from civilization.

Options run the gamut from a cabin in the woods to a fully-equipped eco-compounds depending on your personal preference and budget.

If you're just preparing for an off-grid moment in your current grid-connected dwelling, then you can skip this step. The only reason you might want to consider an additional dwelling is if a flood or fire threatens your current shelter, in which case some form of the above option would be ideal to procure as a backup.

For a more in-depth guide to how to set up your Off Grid Home (along with a case study on the subject), check out our ultimate guide on "How to live off the grid."

2. Power: Off Grid Solar

The most vital resource for off-grid living is energy, which you'll need to replace with some form of renewable or sustainable power source. These systems require solar panels or wind turbines to capture energy and portable power stations, such as generators or battery storage systems, to store that power for later use. A well-installed solar panel system can generate enough electricity to power your entire household.

While the need for power generation off-grid seems obvious, the need for generators or battery systems will also be an essential part of your off-grid toolkit that you don't want to overlook. This is especially if you're only preparing for situations where the central grid goes down, as you'll need a back-up energy source to power your home while you wait for the grid to come back online.

Solar panels with battery storage, generators, or even solar powered generators have emerged as a reliable power source for off-grid homes, enabling the running of various electrical appliances. And in a pinch, an EV like a Ford F-150 Lightning could supply your home with enough power for three days (at a rate of 30 Kilowatt-hours of electricity per day).

For a guide on the "best batteries for off grid living" to pair with your solar systems, check out our article on the subject.

3. Water: Off Grid Water System

Water is another resource you will need to secure when living off the grid. You need to ensure access to a consistent stream of potable water for bathing, drinking, and cleaning. This could be from a nearby water source or a well-equipped filtration system.

To get the water you need for drinking, irrigation, and bathing, you can use systems such as rainwater harvesters, private wells, or natural water sources (like rivers and springs, but these are location dependent).

Water purification systems are critical to ensure the water you source is safe to consume. Amazingly, researchers have discovered how to make incredibly cheap desalination and water purification systems using solar power.

There's more details on this topic in our guide on "How to Live Off The Grid."

4. Food: Off Grid Food Production And Storage

Once you have your water and power situation figured out, it's time to think about food. Off-grid living will involve obtaining your own food through gardening, foraging, farming, or fishing.

You can plant a garden and learn the basics of permaculture, i.e. cultivating an ecosystem designed to be sustainable and self-sufficient. We're talking seasonally growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs depending on what your region will allow.

Foraging the nearby plant life could work too. If you're close enough to a grocery store, that's not exactly off-grid, but that would count as foraging.

Raising livestock, like chickens or goats, can provide you with a source of fresh eggs or milk.

And depending on your location, you can apply sustainable hunting or fishing options. We say sustainable because you don't want to over-hunt or over-fish and lose access to your local supply of meat. That would be a problem for going off-grid long term.

For those who aren't blessed with a green thumb, don't have the land to cultivate crops and livestock, or don't live near a grocery store, the ability to store non-perishable food items is a must. This is also the best course of action when trying to survive in a grid-disrupting disaster-situation. Invest in a well-insulated pantry to stockpile dry goods, canned foods, and other long-lasting provisions.

Waste Management: Off Grid Septic System

Living off the grid also means managing your waste without relying on municipal waste systems. Composting toilets, waste recycling, and responsible waste disposal practices are critical to maintaining a clean and environmentally friendly off-grid lifestyle.

While you might not need this in a disaster-related grid disruption, it's safe to have a plan for how you will handle waste management if you're trapped inside for days at a time due to a deep freeze or similar event.

And Don't Forget: Off Grid Communication

While living off the grid implies a degree of disconnection, communication with the outside world is still essential. Satellite internet, mobile phones, and radios are all useful for staying connected - especially in disaster related situations.

RC connector types, such as XT60, Deans, EC3, and JST, are used to connect batteries, motors, and other components in radio-controlled devices. In off-grid living, these connectors can be crucial for DIY projects involving the customization and repair of renewable energy systems, like solar panels and battery packs, due to their reliability and ease of use.

How to Go Off the Grid

Now that you understand the basics, here's a rundown of the steps towards off-grid living:

  1. Find the Right Location: Your off-grid living location should offer easy access to soil, water, open space, and trees. A natural water source can be an additional benefit.
  2. Build a Small Home: Tiny homes are efficient and need less water, are easier to heat/cool, and require less energy.
  3. Secure Sustainable Shelter: Once you've identified your needs and finalized your location, it's time to secure a sustainable shelter, either built or pre-purchased.
  4. Set Up a Water System: Install a rainwater catchment system, drill a well, or collect water from nearby water sources.
  5. Generate Your Power: Solar systems or generators are popular for off-grid energy production, and are available in various sizes and types to suit your power and space constraints.
  6. Grow Your Own Food: Create a garden, plant crops, and raise livestock. Alternatively, you could stock up on non-perishable food items, but that won't last you as long.
  7. Learn Essential Skills: We're talking everything from plumbing to gardening and animal husbandry (like we just discussed). You can consider attending workshops to enhance these skills. Knowledge of preservation methods, such as canning or dehydration, is also useful for storing food long term.

Adequate planning, preparation, and commitment can help you build a self-sufficient and sustainable life, achieving your off-grid living aspirations.

By taking a step-by-step approach, you can slowly but surely build an off-grid existence that suits your needs and aspirations.

For more, check out our ultimate guide on "How to live off the grid" here.

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