My hubby and I live 100% off grid, we have lived this way since Dec 2007, we get a lot of questions about how we live, about the costs of living this way and such. I ran across this article on line a little bit ago and found that it answers many of the questions I receive.

This series of articles will chronicle our journey into living off grid at the least cost, and as comfortably as possible. As with all things in life, the comfort level you enjoy will be directly proportionate to your available budget. This level can be raised massively using your knowledge and abilities. Our desire was to create a sustainable lifestyle using a minimum of investment. The wish now is to convey some of what we have learned along the way, and identify some of the mistakes that were made. I am not an expert in any field, nor do I hold a list of degrees. My sole qualification to write this is the fact that I am living it daily.

This story is not a how to guide. Off grid living is much more complex, as you will discover, and unique to each individual family. Every detail of one’s daily life, both current and future, must be given utmost consideration. I cannot stress enough that last statement. Actual cash outlay will also depend heavily on the exact amount of work you can do. Ninety percent of the work was performed by my two hands. We will not go into every detail, with the hope that you will come away with a clear understanding of what was done and why, what was successful and what was not. Our approach was far from common, but a lot of this information is quite adaptable.

A myriad of topics will be covered, including the purchase of land, obtaining materials, use of alternative energy, and utilization of alternative techniques. Standard construction methods were used, with few exceptions. Components will be critiqued. Certain products and procedures exceeded expectations, while others did not measure up. These are only our results. Yours may differ, and probably will.

Legalities and building codes vary widely with location. Please check with local officials before action is taken. Demolition and rebuilding are vastly more expensive. Do it right the first time, and only once. Since we were not connected to the grid, an electrical inspection was not required. This does not mean that electrical codes could be ignored. How sad it would be to build a structure, only to see it burn to the ground! Saving a few dollars to cut corners is not worth the result. Sustainable, remember?

Read the rest of the article here:

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14 Responses to “Living offgrid affordably: before getting started”

  1. Jeff Chaney

    I am Jeff Chaney. Thank you all for the compliments. You can go to the website homepage, then click on Living Offgrid Affordably to access the entire collection of articles to date. Although this site has published the first article in violation of copyright law, I am glad that they provided yet another venue through which to spread this information. Thank you so much.

    • Wretha

      Hello Jeff, thanks for writing, I’m glad you enjoyed our compliments. We do not intend to violate any copyright laws, I copied only the first few paragraphs of your article, not the whole thing, and I gave full credit including a link to the original article. If you wish for us to remove the partial article, just let us know and we will be happy to remove it fully.

      I write quite a bit online and often find my articles copied on other sites, I certainly don’t mind as long as they don’t claim the work to be their own and they give a link back to the original article.

      I appreciate the work you do and what you write, keep up the good work.


  2. DiAnn

    exploring this lifestyle (living of grid) compared to living in a foreign country where I can get more bang for my bucks, like Panama or Thailand

  3. Marie

    I have appreciated the comments made. Wondering if anyone can recommend any sites or books, re: building a simple, small off-grid cabin?

    Marie, of the Northestern region

  4. Chuck

    I have really enjoyed the articals I’ve read today. This is my first visit and won’t be my last. I’m building a small totally off grid cabin in Mid-Tennessee at the begining of 2012. I have researched the web for over a year now and have found some very fine companies for Solor and Wind Power. I’m not affiliated with them so I guess I can pass their web address along. ( I learned a lot about Wind and Solor from Youtube. Thanks for a great site

  5. cj

    found five acres in sunny florida, hard to believe
    there’s a better place for solar; quonset there which we need to service trucks for business. Pwr
    Co. want’s $12,000 to electrify, so considering
    solar at least for lights, maybe fans. Can use
    generator temporarlily for well pump, power tools, etc. But we’re not paying some for-profit
    manufacturer of solar panels, cause I’ve seen their prices. There’s some guy’s been on web will
    show you how to build your own for a small fraction of what you’ll pay for store-bought. Is
    that what this site is about — selling solar panels?
    Cause if so, then you are of no use to me, yaar?

    • Wretha

      Hey CJ, glad to hear you found a good place, it is expensive to put in power especially of there aren’t any utilities there already. Nope, not selling solar panels, but I will tell you to be careful about plunking your money down on the website that sells info about building your own solar panels, haven’t heard good things about those sites, of course it all depends on how handy you really are. Honestly for the money you would put out on buying the components to build your own panels (and they usually fail after a few years because of water leaking in) most people are better off buying commercially build panels and installing them yourself, it’s usually not the cost of the equipment that kills your budget, it’s the labor costs, so the more you can do yourself, the better off you will be money wise. The costs of the panels have come down so far anyhow, it’s not that expensive, especially if you piece it together yourself and don’t buy whole systems. We put our system together ourselves, and believe me, we did everything very much on the cheap.


  6. elnav

    Yes it does and I’m mindful that Jeff Chaney did say to begin ith it was notgoing to be how to article. I guess I was expecting more of an article along the lins of this is what we did including our mistakes. Learn from it!
    For over 10 years my clients have been living in what is essentially off-grid conditions. They live on boats or yachts that are self contained. I just heard from one guy advissing another guy abbout living in the Carribean. He say he eends out anchoring out most of the time. He hass to make his owwn drinking water and haas to store all hisfood supplies. The cost of buying them ashore is very exxpeensive so he generally sails bacck stateside or someplac wher food is not so expensive. If a piece of machinery breaks they hve to order it from stateside and in many places the customs tariff doubles the price of whatever repair parts they have delivered. Okay so they are generally not out plowing the front or back forty to grow crops but in other ways it can be quite stressful dealing with officialswho have their handout at every turn. Most of them have learned to do their own maintenance including howto unclog a plugged toilet. thta is just as much fun as digging a new latrine or outhouse.
    Energy conservation is high on their priority list. Because a boatis constantly moving solar panels areproblematicand wwind generators are noisy. If they don’t object the wind noise morethan likely their anchorage neighbors willand may take some definitie steps to silence the wind turbine. In other words wind and solar is not always an option for alternate power.
    People who live on boats full time face as many challenges as someone going off-grid ashore. I know of some liveaboards who grow herbs in pots. The problemsaaresimilar Howto storefood safely how to getsfedrinking waterhow todealwith sewage disposal and how to generate enough energy from day to day. Unlike ssomeone ashore they usually have to deal with inspectors or insurance surveyors. They must always maintain their boat in compliance with Coast Guard safety equipment regulations. It’s just as challenging as going off-grid ashore. And ass Jeff chaney says it requires lots of planning and preparation ahead of time

  7. Wretha

    The second link doesn’t seem to take you anywhere impressive, but the whole article has some good info.


  8. elnav

    Jeff Chaney maks some good points in his introduction. Build to code even if you are of grid. Not only is it safer but should you change your mind later it will be easier to find someone else to pick up on the dream and continue. He also mae the point about buildding a house will either strenghten or break a marriage. How true.
    built a house and can relate stories first hand. While building I read everything I could find and they said the same thing. Living under construction is very stresful on personal reelationships.

  9. elnav

    I did and the last sentence says:

    You may access the Living Offgrid Affordably article archive at

    Photos by: Jeff and Kathy Chaney
    Clicking on their link brings me back to your post and clicking on your link only seems to bring up the introduction. It is a circular process.

  10. Wretha

    Just click on the link at the end of the article to read the full article.


  11. elnav

    Am I doing something wrong or is the remainder of the article not published yet?


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