Off-Grid Basics

Off-Grid Basics

Matthew Davies image of a circuit board with the words Off Grid

Lately, an increasing number of people are becoming fed up with the rising prices of living on the grid. Their responses range from cutting the cord on cable and satellite companies to full-blown zero investment in any paid services or utilities. Where you fall within that scope is entirely up to you. If you have been considering living off the grid, then I, Matthew Davies, am going to provide you with some advice doing just that.

You may think that living an off-grid lifestyle involves countless hours of work. While it’s true that it takes more time to grow your own lettuce than it does to purchase the triple-washed bag of romaine from your local grocer, the amount of time you’ll need to invest in an off-grid lifestyle reduce over time. Don’t get me wrong, it is not all fun and games, but the benefits outweigh the costs. Over time, you will most likely find that your mind is much clearer as you escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

How well you adjust to living off grid depends to a large extent on your personality and your willingness to commit to a new way of life. My biggest piece of advice? Give it a fair shot. At the very worst, you’ll come away with a whole new outlook on modern conveniences like electricity.

And with that, here are five tips that will help you adjust to the off-grid lifestyle.

  • Be patient while you learn how your new system operates

No matter how well your off-grid system has been designed and installed, there will inevitably be problems. For example, you will need to learn how to use a voltage meter to determine how well your system is performing and diagnose any problem it may have. You can no longer call the power company when something isn’t working, because you are the power company. Although you may be able to contact the installer if you did not install it yourself, they might not be available immediately. All the while, your food in the freezer is thawing, there’s no running water for showers and clean up, and your spouse is upset because his or her alarm didn’t go off and now he or she are going to be late for work.

TIP: Here is where having a $10 meter, and a little knowledge of how to use it comes in handy. A meter allows you to analyze the problem quickly and efficiently in order to make the required repairs sooner. You will not only save time but money and a lot of aggravation as well.

  • Be flexible when the weather necessitates

After many cloudy or windless days, your use of electricity will have to be restricted. This may require using fewer lights and far less time on the computer. You may have to suspend doing laundry as well. In a culture that has become accustomed to having what we want, when we want it, it can be a challenge to delay gratification. Sure, you can always run a generator, but generators are deafening, smell awful, and use fossil fuels.

Learn to use downtime to your advantage. Cloudy weather turns out to be an excellent time to fix your tools, organize the pantry and closets, cut and stack firewood for winter, or simply clean out the barn. Once the chores are done, you can use this time to play a board game, cook meals for the week, or possibly catch up on some reading. You may soon find that cloudy, windless days become a favorite part of off-grid living!

  • Be observant

If possible, situate your battery state-of-charge meter where it can be seen from the kitchen or other room with access to the outside. Make a habit of peeking at it numerous times a day until it becomes second nature. Take note of even the slightest variations in voltage, as they could indicate a failing system or unanticipated electrical load. Before heading off to bed, walk through the house and make sure everything that draws power has been shut off. Being attentive can thwart system failures. Being observant can save you time and money. Being vigilant can save you frustration!

  • Be stubborn when defending your choice

Friends and relatives may not always be tolerant of your lifestyle. Some people feel anything less than a large house, with all the amenities, is a form of unnecessary deprivation. You need to be comfortable enough with your off-grid life to either disregard their opinion or kindly explain the benefits of your choice. 

But with that said, remember that choosing to live off-grid is not just about you. The needs and desires of other household members will have to be taken into account. Does your spouse want an all-electric home, complete with an electric stove, electric clothes dryer, and central air conditioning? Make sure they will not be resentful of the choice that you are making.

Stubbornness can be a good thing when you are trying to achieve a goal in life. Stubbornness can be harmful if you are inflexible, selfish, or narrow-minded.

  • Embrace living lean

Friends will relish showing you their new big-screen television, their colossal refrigerator, and their brand-new home theater system. You may feel a little pensive when seeing these things, as they may not fit into your monetary budget – or your energy budget to boot. A significant advantage of living off-grid is that, over time you will feel less pressure to own more stuff. You will gain the ability to carefully examine your purchases and only buy the things you need or want. Since it is no longer enough to consider whether you have the money to afford it but also always determine whether you have enough power to support such a purchase, it’s important to take the time you need to evaluate it thoroughly. When you carefully consider your purchases, you will realize more often than not that you really can live without that thing you thought you needed. Remember, living lean doesn’t mean doing without. It simply means that you are going to be using, maintaining, and appreciating the things you do have.


I, Matthew Davies, would like to remind you that living off-grid is not for everyone. Some people truly enjoy their modern conveniences and do not want to give them up, and why should they? There is no shame in enjoying material things, just that there is no shame in a minimalist lifestyle. When people question your decision to live off the grid, just remind yourself of the benefits, skills, and strengths you will gain – and the reasons you chose that lifestyle in the first place. If you do choose to live off-grid, I wish you the best of luck as you embark on this new, adventurous way of life.

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