How to Prepare for Winter

How to Prepare for Winter

Matthew Davies image of a road sign waring of cold weather ahead

In just over a month, it will officially be winter. That does not mean that people living in northern states or higher elevations will not experience winter conditions before that time. For those of us living off the grid, we have begun to prepare for awhile. I, Matthew Davies, started preparing for the winter season at the end of August. That being said, if you are still not ready for winter, I have collected a list of things you need to complete before the temperature drops or the snow starts to fly.


Anyone that has lived off-grid for more than one season will tell you that having multiple generators is essential. It is even worse in the winter when cold nights take a toll on mechanical equipment.

For starters, you should either make sure that your generators are in peak condition or take them to a professional to verify they are. As time goes on, you will be able to make any standard repairs on your equipment, but for now, if you are not sure, take it to someone that knows what they are doing. You don’t want to end up without a generator during the coldest months of the year.

For those wondering why we need a generator, the answer is simple – energy. During the summer months, we have more than enough power. We can even store energy in our batteries. However, when winter comes, a cloud cover often prevents solar panels from fully charging the batteries. Couple this with the reduced hours of sunshine, and you will quickly be left in the dark if you aren’t prepared.

Solar Panels

Speaking of solar panels, it is crucial that you adjust them for the winter sun. Meaning, the sun will be lower in the sky, so you need to position them so they can capture as much light as possible.

Don’t just arbitrarily adjust them to point lower in the sky. There are mathematical equations that you must consider. For example, I am currently situated around the 37th parallel. That means I do not have to adjust my panels that much from season to season. However, if you were living in Alaska on the 62nd parallel, your adjustments may have to be biweekly or monthly.

The more sun that you can catch in your solar panels, the less you will have to rely on alternative energy sources. Some sources like wind or water may be possible for you, but that depends on where you live. If you are surrounded by trees or the temperatures drop below freezing, these sources are out for you as well. These alternative sources aim to minimize the usage of the generator. Most people are off the grid because they want to reduce their carbon footprint. Running a generator 24/7 for three to six months isn’t making much of an impact.

Fill Your Tanks

Living off the grid means that you need to be prepared for anything life throws at you. That means you are going to need to make sure you have all your fuel tanks filled.

I suggest you start with your propane tanks first. Since your propane tanks will likely be fueling things in your house to cook and keep warm, they are a priority. As with everything, ensure you have enough for the entire season. You never know what kind of weather mother nature is going to throw at you. Even though meteorologists predict what type of winter we are going to have, that doesn’t mean they will be right.

Next, make sure your gas and diesel tanks are full. These should be used to power your industrial equipment and cars. You will likely not be using them much during the winter, but sometimes trees come down, and you have to spend hours cleaning up the downed tree.


For those living in more temperate climates, propane heat is sufficient to keep us warm through the winter. However, people living in colder climates may find that wood heat keeps them a lot warmer.

If you are living in very cold climates, make sure you have your wood ready to go. I know not everyone is able or likes to chop their wood. In those cases, make sure you get your order in before it is too late. If you are cutting your trees, make sure you get the proper permit. It doesn’t cost anything, so there is no excuse not to get your license.

Either way, you look at it, you might need to have wood. Even for those living in warmer climates, it is always good to have a second, third, or even fourth backup.


No matter if you use a stove to heat your house or heat your food, the wood will leave a residue in your pipe. This residue is known as creosote. A small amount of it won’t do much to your pipe, but it can become dangerous after a season of buildup.

Except for electrical fires and tree fires in the home, the number one cause of fires in the winter is chimney fires. When the superheated gases raise the creosote to its flashpoint, it ignites. As more become inflamed, the hotter it starts to burn. Before you know it, the chimney is so hot it ignites the wood surrounding it. It isn’t long after that before the house becomes fully engulfed.


Winter can be rough if you don’t take steps to ensure you have the energy you need to stay safe and warm. If you follow the list I, Matthew Davies, have provided you above, you will be more than sufficiently prepared. If you haven’t started your winter preparations, start today to ensure that you can achieve everything on this list before the weather dips to below freezing. Remember, the earlier in the year that you start preparing for winter, the more time you have to complete the numerous projects that need to be fulfilled before the cold days of winter are upon us.

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