When deciding to live Off The Grid, one of the main concerns (other than a water source) is generating energy to supply your electrical needs. The first thing we all think of when thinking of green energy is solar. There are other viable energy sources out there that may be better suited for you. Here are our Top 6 Energy Sources when Living Off The Grid.
With all of the power outages in the recent year, even those that live in the city need to think about alternative energy sources. The power grid is not always a reliable source of energy. I think we take for granted how delicate our power grid actually is. It’s time to think of a backup plan.
Power outages in the United States have increased significantly in the last decade and continue to rise.
Natural Energy Resources
Now more than ever, it’s wise to invest in a backup or an alternative energy source for off grid situations or power outages.
There are many natural resources that can help us produce energy that don’t rely on crude oil or nuclear power plants. These energy resources can be our primary electrical resource, or used as a backup in emergency situations. Natural sources include solar, wind, hydro, passive, thermal, and biomass. Which can be harvested to provide for our electrical needs.
At our off grid homestead, our primary source of electricity is solar energy. Our solar energy produces enough electrical power to supply our entire home. Provided we pay attention to our energy consumption.
First and foremost is solar energy. It’s the number one source for energy for those living off the grid is solar. One advantage to solar is that most people can install a solar system themselves. Not to mention the price reduction in solar systems over the years have made them a viable option.
Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available.
The U.S. has some of the richest solar resources in the world.
Modern technology can harness this energy for a variety of uses, including: generating electricity, providing light or a comfortable interior environment, and heating water for domestic, commercial, or industrial use.
If you have 7 hours of daylight per day, solar would be a great option for an alternative energy source.
Learn More About Solar
- How Does Solar Work? by Green Energy
- Calculate My Solar by Sun Badger Solar
- Selecting A Solar Electric System by Homestead Honey
For the most part, our solar power does an amazing job at providing for our electrical energy needs. However, there are times when the sun isn’t shining and we still need energy. We’re hoping to add wind energy this year as our backup energy resource.
Wind power is the process by which wind is used to generate electricity. The two main sources for generating wind energy are windmills and wind turbines.
Wind turbines are classified into two general types: horizontal axis and vertical axis.
Wind turbines, like aircraft propeller blades, turn in the moving air and power an electric generator that supplies an electric current.
Simply stated, a wind turbine is the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity.
If your property receives an average of 9 mph of wind, wind energy may be a good option for you.
Learn More About Living Off The Grid With Wind
- Most Frequently Asked Questions About Wind Energy by Culture Change
- Urban Wind Trees by Curbed
- DIY Wind Turbine by Mother Earth News
- Wind Power Your Home by Wind Energy Foundation
We’re fortunate to have a couple of year-round creeks that flow constantly on our land. In addition to adding wind, we would love to have a backup of hydro in the future. If you have a flowing water source close to your home, hydro electricity would be a great option.
Hydro energy is generated by flowing water that is captured and turned into electricity- hydroelectricity. Hydro-energy is a clean energy source, it doesn’t pollute the air, no fuels are burned, and it’s renewable because it uses the Earth’s water cycle to generate electricity.
As little as 100 gallons per minute (GPM) falling 10 feet through a pipe, or 5 gallons per minute falling 200 feet through a pipe, can supply enough power to comfortably run a small household.
Learn More About Living Off The Grid With Hydroelectricity
- DIY Hydroelectric Generator by The Green Optimistic
- A Hydroelectric Plant Powers A Homestead by Mother Earth News
- A Small Creek Provides Power For This Off Grid Home by Backwoods Home Magazine
Although it may be new to us, thermal energy has been utilized for thousands of years. Archaeological finds prove that North American Indians utilized geothermal springs several thousands of years ago.
Thermal energy is the energy that comes from heat.
This heat is generated by the movement of tiny particles within an object.
So, the faster these particles move, the more heat is generated.
Geothermal energy, heat from the interior of the planet Earth, has been utilized by mankind since its existence. We have Hot springs and hot pools locally that are used for bathing and health treatment, but also for cooking or heating.
Harnessing geothermal energy to supply all of your energy needs, can be quite expensive. Instead, you can use it for smaller demands. For example, you can use it for heating the floor or cooling your home instead of your total energy needs.
Learn More About Geothermal Energy
- Learn More About Geothermal Energy by How Stuff Works
- The Guide To Home Geothermal Energy by Popular Mechanics
- Geothermal Heating and Cooling by Green Passive Solar Magazine
Biomass is fuel that is developed from organic materials, such as plant and animal material. It’s a renewable and sustainable source of energy used to create electricity or other forms of power.
Biomass power is carbon neutral electricity generated from renewable organic waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfills, openly burned, or left as fodder for forest fires.
The way it works is when burned, the energy in biomass is released as heat. If you have a fireplace, you’re already participating in the use of biomass as the wood you burn in it is a biomass fuel. See? You were green and didn’t even know it.
Learn More About Biomass Energy
- What is Biomass? By ReEnergy Holdings
- Learn to DIY Biomass Gasifier by Treehugger
- Make a Biogas Generator to Produce Your Own Natural Gas by Mother Earth News
Last but not least, Passive solar energy. Passive solar energy utilizes building constituents such as: walls, floors, roofs, windows, exterior building elements, and landscaping to control heat generated by sun.
Using the right building materials and proper placement of your home, you can utilize Passive energy to heat and cool your home.
If you’re looking for an easy solution, Passive energy is something you can do to structures already built by simply painting your roof white.
Passive solar design takes advantage of a building’s site, climate, and materials to minimize energy use. A well-designed passive solar home first reduces heating and cooling loads through energy-efficiency strategies and then meets those reduced loads in whole or part with solar energy.
A useful tip for designing your home for passive energy, is to protect south facing windows from the summer sun. You can achieve this by extending your roofline.
Learn More About Passive Energy
- Passive Solar Basics by NREL
- How to Convert Your Home to Passive Solar by Off Grid News
- An Optimally Efficient Off-Grid Passive and Active Solar Home by Green Passive Solar Magazine
- Passive Cooling by Your Home
Do you use any green or renewable energy? We would love to hear about your system!