Going Off-Grid: What Does it Mean?

We chat with a lot of people who want to know more about building a HUT that’s off the grid. This idea of wanting to get away from it all seems to have become more popular as of late. And, depending on how far away your building site is from a town or how remote the setting, you may not have any choice but to go off-grid. But, what does going off-grid actually mean in terms of your relationship to utilities.

Adios, Grid!

Basically, going off the grid is living in a home without any reliance or connection to public utilities. This includes electricity, municipal water and sewer. While the benefits of sustainable living are numerous, it’s important to be well informed and prepared. Luckily, there are a lot of references available by those who have already taken on the challenge and are happy to share both snafus and solutions, like this one from An Off Grid Life.  Here are just a few considerations for creating a smaller environmental footprint if you want to take your HUT off-grid: 

Solar Energy

When you decide it’s time to get off the electric grid and begin providing your own power using solar, keep in mind that this will include considerable upfront costs and planning. Many people don’t realize that solar power is not collected at certain times – like at night. You will need to buy a specially designed off-grid solar kit which has a component to store the extra energy that isn’t being used when energy production is high, like during a sun-filled day. This way you will still have access to electricity when there is no energy being produced. There are myriad solar kit options available and the research can seem a bit daunting. But, luckily, there is an entire industry of renewable energy experts who can help you navigate the range of possibilities and realize many long term cost saving benefits. 


Sourcing plenty of clean water is obviously a top priority for everyone. But, if you are thinking about the off-grid lifestyle, this priority will begin to take on some new challenges. The most common method is tried and true throughout human history: well water. Although the upfront cost can be high, building your own well will provide a constant source of freshwater. You will want to research local regulations and licensed well drillers, as well as types of well pumps and any possible commercial drilling in the area that may damage your well shaft over time. Another option is super DIY with a rainwater catchment system that can divert water from your roof directly to a storage system. This is generally extremely clean and a free water source if you live in a climate with plenty of moisture. 


When hooked into the city sewer system, you don’t have to think much beyond the flush. But when going off-grid, you’re going to have to start thinking a lot more about your wastewater – which also makes for great dinner party conversation. The best method is to install a septic system. This is basically a big metal tank that collects and releases wastewater. Bacteria in the tank break everything down so it separates naturally and is then released into a series of buried pipes and eventually a leach field  The tank will need to be emptied and serviced yearly. 

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