Living Off the Grid
Living off the grid makes me happy just to think about it. It’s a relatively new term that describes people who produce their own energy using alternative energy sources and live independent of traditional electrical power plants. Most people choosing to live this way are interested in protecting the environment, but they also get the added benefit of being able to control energy costs. This represents another way to “go green” and have the peace of mind from knowing non-renewable fossil fuels are not being depleted.
Off the Grid in the Wind and Sun
People have been living off the grid for many years. The original idea was mostly related to the need to generate power to homes or farms that were too far from the nearest power lines for cost effective hook-up into the grid. But today there are thousands of people who have chosen a life off the grid to save money or to make a contribution to the environment.
Fossil fuels are quickly becoming dangerously low due to exponentially increased usage. Burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas creates environmental hazards also that only get more severe as more and more people demand access to electricity. To make matters worse, the cost of energy continues to rise making it more difficult for households to control their budgets.
Living off the grid requires installing an alternative energy source. The most common systems are the following.
- Solar panels with photovoltaic cells
- Wind turbines
- Geothermal energy
There are others that are more inventive such as systems converting cow manure to power, but the sun and wind and earth’s constant temperature are the most popular and for the homeowner have the most options available.
Solar panel systems use the photovoltaic cells combined with a charge controller and an inverter that actually generates the electricity. While solar panels are widely recognized, thin film solar and shingle solar are quite popular in recent years. New technology in solar are being developed that offer homeowners solutions that are more cost effective and more efficient.
The wind systems rely on the wind to turn turbines powering electrical generators.
The options available for homeowners is much broader than in the past, a variety of sizes and shapes of turbines are available and with technological advances may be useful in areas previously thought impossible.
Geothermal energy requires a well to be dug to access the stable earth temperature just a few feet below the surface with a variety of installation options. Geothermal heat pumps are the most popular for homeowners and can be used nearly worldwide.
Earth Friendly Solutions
Dependency on fossil fuels is a lifestyle that will eventually come to an end at some point. There is a limited supply in the earth which is why earth friendly solutions are being sought. Of course, living off the grid is not feasible for everyone, but the growth in modified systems is growing by leaps and bounds.
In a modified system, the family may have an alternative energy system installed, but also has an electrical power backup. For example, there may be a photovoltaic cell system installed, but on cloudy or rainy days when the solar system cannot work, the household converts to the use of grid power. Still being connected to the electrical grid may give you the opportunity to sell surplus energy to the electric company via a net meter or receive a credit on your account. Seeing the electric meter running backwards is really exciting.
The important thing to understand is that any energy system that reduces reliance on fossil fuels also reduces pollution, cuts utility expense, and makes a contribution to the lessening of global warming.
Pros and Cons of getting off the grid
Click Here to Leave Living Off the Grid and Return Home