[before_listing id=435 images= youtube=null] I went off-grid when the utility company wanted 3 times the dollars that it would cost to install a small alternative setup. I went with solar. That was May 1998 and I’ve never regretted it.

I live in a very rural area of farming and ranching. I raise most of my own food. I have cattle, goats, chickens, and raise 1/2 acre garden each year.

I’m always happy to offer what little information I can based on my experiences.[landbuddy_listing id=435 youtube=null]

Buy our book - OFF THE GRID - a tour of American off-grid places and people written by Nick Rosen, editor of the off-grid.net web site

20 Responses to “Living off-grid since May1, 1998. offering help”

  1. Kathy

    Curley61, We live in a very old farm house and would love to go off-grid, but it would require converting this house at this time. Do you mind sharing where you got your solar system or who installed it? We would be interested in any other alternative method you could suggest. We raise a good deal of our own food, too. We have 15 acres here in Missouri. We have a deep well that we use for the garden and livestock, but the house is on city water. That’s the way it was when we bought it. We would like to switch over to the well, but that would require installing a septic system as well. Any suggestions you have for converting an existing dwelling would be greatly appreciated. You may email if you would like. ktyler44 at hotmail dot com

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  2. Leanne

    i live very close to your location by looks of the map and would love to see your set up and talk sometime.

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  3. Charles

    Are you looking for any help? I am looking for a place to call home for quite a while in exchange for labor. I am a honest, very hard working 45 year old man that wants to get out of the hectic life and settle down somewhere for a while. I look forward to hearing from you. If you are interested just email me your phone number. I have a good amount of cash as well too.

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  4. Curley61

    Anthony: I bought nothing locally. I deal only with one distributor.
    What kind of photos?
    If you do a solar/wind application, make certain that your solar is your primary source and wind is only your backup.

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  5. Anthony

    Curley,
    Greetings! I currently live in Topeka and am looking at building outside of town(as far away as I can get) My goal is build a hybrid wind/solar system. I would also be interested in seeing pictures of your setup as well. I am curious to know if you bought any of your solar equipment locally, and if so, where? Lastly do you have any sort of back up generators to supplement? Thank you you for your time!

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  6. Conor

    Curly, you’re a legend!
    I will be moving to the Kansas City area in early 2013 to live wth my girlfiend, she currently lives in the burbs but we want to find somewhere in the country (15-30 min the outside city) mainly so we will have little exposure to hamrful Electromagnetic Radiation, and we would also like to produce our own food as you do. This is another reason why we want to go off grid, as you may know the power companies are rolling out “Smart Meters” which are extremely harmful, rather than get into a fight with the power companies regarding this we would rather get our own electricity so we don’t even need they’re Dumb Meters.
    A few questions:
    1. Is your electric AC or DC?
    2. Can you shut off your power to your home when need be? ie a circuit breaker, we like to sleep with the electric off for health reasons.
    3.How many people in your home?
    4. Don’t you need to store electric in batteries? I’ve heard they are extremely expensive?
    5. Did you consider using a free energy device? I’ve been doing a little research into it, but if I thought solar could supply all my electric I would be more than happy.
    6. Do you have any pictures/videos of you home and the power set up?
    7. Could we come visit sometime?
    8. If we found a rental property do you think we could install solar (with the landlords permission) then take the equipment with us when we are building our own home?

    If its easier for you I would be happy to call you sometime, you can email me your phone number.
    I’m also on Facebook:
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/Irishaman

    Many thanks

    Conor

    Reply
  7. Curley61

    @sue: My little house is 24 ft x 24 ft. I built it myself from lumber that I got dismantling a hay barn and a dairy barn. My windows were bought at a farm auction for $1.00. I have less than $5,000 in my house including my small solar electric system.

    12v wiring is DC rather than AC which can be 110v or 240v.

    I don’t have a well. I use a rainwater catchment for all household needs. It is filtered, chlorinated and my drinking and cooking water has the chlorine filtered back out.

    My garden is somewhat irrigated. We average 42″ per year, but of course, this year has been terribly dry. My garden is below the dam of a 2-1/2 acre pond. The dam has a gravity flow hydrant the runs through it. I have garden hose that goes from that hydrant to the garden. I can water as much as I want without worry and without a water bill.

    The garden is roughly 1/2 acre. I mulch it very heavily with old hay to help retain moisture and keep from having to water the garden too often.

    Thanks.

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  8. sue

    Curley61, I was wondering how many square feet in your home? What did you mean about 12v wiring? making it short? Do you have your own well? Do you have to irrigate your garden or do you get enough rain to water it? Thanks! Sue

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  9. Curley61

    I ‘ve never been asked to give a talk, but would be happy to assist in any way I can. I believe in sharing knowledge and I’m happy to do so. You may ask here or email me privately.

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  10. Kim

    I am excited to read your posts. We are also wanting to go off the grid. It would mean retrofitting our existing home. Do you give turns or talks to people or small groups. I look forward to hearing back from you.

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  11. breck2

    ok you are way further along then me. i guess with my limited resources, i not quite sure where to start, its almost kind of over-whelming at times, plus i feel like im wasting time not knowing what i could be doing.

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  12. Curley61

    @Cynthia: I don’t recommend making your own. In the long run you won’t save anything. There are a lot of places you can order the components if you still wish and some of those can be found on auction sites. However, you have issues such as longevity (life of the product), quality, etc that cannot be matched by the commercial panels. Other issues such as sealing, type of face (glass, etc) that won’t yellow or cloud with age… Too many factors. There are many forums where this has been discussed at length and the consensus from those of us with experience is that you are better off buying good quality panels with warranties.

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  13. Cynthia Tobin

    I would love to find a reliable design and the best source of pv cells to make our own panels to tie into and eventually get off the grid, we do have power at this time to our house but would like to cut down on our use of power and make our own with solar panels. what do you recommend?

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  14. Curley61

    @Linda: I heat with wood in an Ashley wood stove. Yes, it can get cold and blustery.

    @Deb: It depends. I will say that it is much easier to do new than to try and “retrofit” an existing house. If you are going to keep most of the house as 12v, then the wiring is in shorter runs, and has to be a larger gauge wiring. Personally, I’m glad I built new and designed it the way I wanted.

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  15. Deb

    Congrats! I have been dreaming of going off grid for about 3 years. My electric company tripled my electric costs and they cannot explain why. I have thought about converting my existing house or just selling and building one to be off grid from the start.

    What can you suggest?

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  16. Linda

    My grandparents came from Holton/Soldier Creek area and I’ve traveled there to do genealogy research. You can get some cold weather there. What do you use for heat?

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  17. Curley61

    @David: Actually, I’m about 90 miles from Manhattan. What I did was out of necessity. The Rural Electric Coop wanted to screw me. Since I had planned to gradually make a transition to off-grid, I just told them I didn’t need them and did it all at once. The cost was 1/3 of what they wanted for running grid power to my new shack. lol

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  18. David

    That is totally neat! You’re doing what I’ve only been dreaming of doing. At what point did you go from ‘thinking about it’ to doing it?

    I see you’re near the town I was born in (Manhattan, KS).

    Reply
  19. Curley61

    There is a Google map showing my location. My ad says that I am off-grid. That means that you are NOT tied to the grid in any way. If you are using alternative energy and tied to the grid, it is called grid-intertie. Off-grid is just that… off-grid. The reason I chose to be off-grid was for the independence. I feel that grid-intertie does not give me that independence.

    Yes, I produce all my electricity from solar.

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  20. John

    do you get all of your electricity from solar? are you tied into the grid? if you are connected to the grid, can you or do you ever “sell” power back to the power company? and what part of the country are you in?

    Reply

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