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11 Tips for Living Without Electricity (Survive & Thrive Off-Grid)

The need to live without electricity isn’t easy for many people. Understanding how to create energy, store food and water, and stay warm can be daunting. But it’s not impossible.

This article will offer tips to help you get started on your journey to off-grid living.

Living Without Electricity Cabin

1. Stock Up on Essential Items

Off-grid living can be challenging, but being prepared can make it a lot easier. These are just a few of the basics:

Batteries

There are different batteries you can stock up on for off-grid living. The most important ones are:

Lead-acid

They are commonly used in cars and trucks; they’re durable and relatively cheap.

Lithium-Ion

With a high energy density and lighter weight, lead-acid batteries are more expensive but last longer and deliver more power.

Nickel-cadmium

These are cheaper than lithium-ion batteries, but they don’t last as long. They also have a lower power output.

Solar batteries

Solar batteries store energy that is captured from solar panels.

Water Purification System

There are several types of systems you can use to purify water. A few options are chemical disinfectants (chlorine or iodine), ultraviolet light, filters (carbon or ceramic), and distillation.

picture of water purification

Fuel

This is necessary depending on what you will need to power. Propane and butane are efficient and clean-burning. They can be used for cooking, heating, and lighting and be stored indefinitely.

Kerosene and white gas are used in lanterns and stoves and have a shelf life of up to five years.

Back-Up Generator

The generators to choose from are gas-powered, diesel-powered, solar-powered and propane-powered generators.

Sun Protection

Protecting yourself from the sun when you’re off-grid is essential. This is because the heat and UV rays can negatively affect your health if you don’t take precautions like wearing sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.

Food Preservation System

One of the most common food preservation systems is pressure canning to preserve it from going bad. Other standard preservation systems include drying, pickling, and fermenting.

Toiletries

Stock up on toiletries like soap, shampoo, toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, and toilet paper.

Medication

Stock up on prescription and over-the-counter medication for at least six months. 

Tools

The tools and supplies you stock up depend on your off-grid lifestyle. A hunter will need to pack lots of hunting knives and other supplies, while a gardener will need plenty of seeds, soil, and other gardening equipment.

Emergency Kit

Have an emergency kit on hand with the supplies you may need during short-term wound care. At a minimum, it should include:

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Bandages
  • Butterfly closures
  • Gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Sterile saline solution
picture of a first aid kit

Vehicle Maintenance Kit

Keep a vehicle maintenance kit in your car at all times. It should include the following items:

  • Spare tire and jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Torch
  • Multi-tool
  • Jumper cables
  • Compressor
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Duct tape
  • WD40

2. Learn to Eat Foods with Long a Long Shelf Life

Learning how to prepare foods with a long shelf life will ensure you always have food on hand, no matter what happens.

Some foods that have a long shelf life include:

Canned Foods

Fruits, vegetables, beans, meat, and fish.

Dried Foods

Fruits, rice, pasta, vegetables, legumes, grains, and nuts.

Dehydrated Foods

Fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish.

Jarred Foods

Pickles, olives, and jams.

Other foods that will last a long time include powdered milk, coconut oil, ghee, vinegar, and alcohol.

Honey, sugar, and maple syrup are also good to have on hand to improve food taste. Bouillon, soy sauce, salt, dried herbs, and spices are excellent additions for the same reason.

Store food in a cool, dark, dry place where it won’t get exposed to sunlight. That way, you’ll retain their nutritional value and lengthen their shelf life.

Also, keep your food supply rotated by consuming the oldest items first.

3. Find Ways to Collect and Store Water

One of the easiest ways to collect rainwater is to install a gutter system. Gutters can be attached to the edge of your roof to direct water into a holding tank or barrel.

You can also install downspouts to help funnel the water away from your house and into a designated area for storage. The storage is typically a blue barrel, oil drum, or a large plastic container.

Another way to collect and store water is to dig a hole in the ground to create a solar water sill. This is a long, shallow trench covered with a tarp. Water from rain and other precipitation will gradually evaporate into the air overnight.

The result is clean, potable water you can collect and store in a container for drinking or cooking.

If you have a stream or river nearby, a seep well can be dug to collect water. Seep wells are dug in the ground next to streams or rivers, then a watertight container is placed within. The water seeps out of the bottom of the stream and into the container to be collected for storage.

Once you’ve collected your water, you will need to filter and treat it before using it.

picture of home water storage tanks

4. Use Alternative Lighting

There are many options available for lighting. Here are some examples:

Candles

Candles are inexpensive, provide good lighting and a minimal amount of warmth. The best materials for candles are beeswax or tallow.

Oil Lamps

Most oil lamps can be run off vegetable oil, lamp oil, kerosene, and diesel fuel.

Solar Lights

Solar lights provide good lighting to key areas in your home, such as the front door, backyard, and walkway. Some have motion-activated sensors that will turn on when someone walks by them.‚Äč

Lightsticks

Lightsticks give off light through chemiluminescence, so they don’t require energy, unlike an electric light bulb.

Lanterns

Many lanterns run off of kerosene or other liquid fuels, while others run on propane gas. Lanterns provide good lighting for large rooms.

You can also purchase electric lanterns with built-in rechargeable batteries for lanterns.

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5. Use Alternative Heat Sources

Popular methods for alternative heating sources are solar thermal collectors, solar ovens, wood stoves, pellet stoves, and biomass cookstoves.

Wood Stove

These are inexpensive, relatively simple to build or purchase, and easily regulated. Many people who live off the grid use wood stoves for heating and cooking.

Pellet Stove

Like wood stoves, but use pellets made from compressed sawdust as their fuel source.

picture of a pellet stove

Biomass Cook Stove

Biomass stoves use agricultural and forestry wastes, such as wood chips and nutshells, and other biomass materials for fuel.

Each of these options has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to do your research before selecting the best option for you.

Keep in mind that many alternative heat sources require more maintenance than traditional grid-powered heating systems. You’ll need to budget time and money for regular cleaning and repairs.

6. Figure out How to Stay Cool

One of the biggest concerns when living off-grid is how to stay cool during the hot summer months. There are a few different ways to do this.

Fans

Box fans work great for cooling smaller indoor areas, and solar ceiling fans can help pull heat out of a room. Both work best when used with open windows and screens to allow airflow.

Cross Ventilation

Take advantage of the natural airflow of your home by opening windows and doors to allow for cross ventilation.

Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative cooling works by blowing air through a wet pad, which causes the air to cool as the water evaporates. You can make one powered by a water pump that functions as a portable swamp cooler. 

Use a large plastic container with some screens or mosquito netting draped over it. Add ice and water to the bottom of the container.

An old fan and strategically placed ducting will direct cool air into your living space.

Another evaporative cooling method involves using wet towels or sheets hung in front of open windows. The breeze will blow through the damp fabric to cool your home.

Shade

Trees provide shade and natural airflow if you live in an area with lots of foliage. Strategically planting trees around your home will help keep it cooler in the summer.

picture of a house in the shade

There are many ways to stay cool when living off-grid without electricity. By combining these methods, you can keep your home comfortable during the hottest months.

7. Use Alternative Cooking Methods

There are different ways to cook food without electricity, and each method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Some of the most popular methods include:

Solar Ovens

Solar ovens are very efficient and can cook food indoors or outdoors. Solar ovens are perfect for cooking large quantities of food, and they can also bake bread, cakes, and other desserts.

Rocket Stoves

Rocket stoves are very efficient and produce a lot of heat using wood or charcoal. They are also very portable, and specific models can be used for indoor and outdoor cooking.

Portable Stoves

Portable stoves come in many shapes and sizes, and they can cook food indoors or outdoors, depending on the type of fuel used.

In addition to the above, charcoal or propane grills are options. Food can also be cooked on pellet and wood-burning stoves or over an open fire.

8. Consider an Alternative Toilet System

There are several types of alternative toilet systems available, so you can choose one that best suits your needs.

Composting Toilet

A composting toilet collects human waste and uses natural processes to break down the waste and compost it. This compost can then fertilize plants or gardens.

Incinerating Toilet

An incinerating toilet burns human waste, which destroys any pathogens and reduces the amount of waste that needs to be disposed of.

Outhouse Toilet

An outhouse toilet is a simple, bucket-style toilet and is a good option if you have limited or no running water.

Honey Bucket

It is similar to an outhouse toilet, but it uses a larger receptacle for human waste. This alternative toilet system can be used if you don’t have sewage hookups or a septic system.

Septic Tank

If you are not interested in using an alternative toilet system, you can also use a septic tank. A septic tank is a large container that collects and stores sewage. 

Bacteria and enzymes break down the sewage in the tank, and the liquid is then drained off and used as fertilizer or disposed of.

There are several factors to consider when deciding what alternative toilet system is right for you. 

Maintenance is one aspect; some alternative toilet systems require more maintenance than others. You’ll also want to know how to dispose of the compost or septic waste.

Also, be sure to check local building codes for any standards related to alternative toilets and laws about disposal methods.

9. Use Daylight as Much as Possible

One way to take advantage of daylight when living off-grid without electricity is to use natural light as much as possible.

Opening up curtains and windows, using light-colored paint or decorating with light-colored furniture, and installing mirrors are ways to bring light into darker areas of your home. You can also install skylights or solar tubes to bring in more natural light.

10. Figure out How to Stay Entertained

The challenge of living off-grid without electricity is staying entertained, especially if you have always relied on the television or electronic devices.

Here are some ideas to help you stay entertained:

  • Read books or magazines
  • Play board games and card games
  • Play musical instruments and dance
  • Go for walks or bike rides
  • Host potluck dinners
  • Start a garden and grow your own fruits and vegetables
  • Brew your own beer, wine, or cider
  • Make your own soap, candles, lotion, and other personal care products
  • Bake your own bread, pizza, and other treats
  • Collect rocks, feathers, shells, and other natural objects
  • Create art and crafts projects
picture of a board game monopoly

11. Consider Solar Panels (Both Large and Small)

Solar panels come in both large and small sizes, so you can choose the best fit for your needs.

Large solar panels are best for people who have a lot of space. These panels are typically more efficient than small solar panels, but they are also more expensive.

Small solar panels are best for people with little space or a limited budget. They are less efficient than large solar panels, but their low cost may make up for that, depending on your situation.

When choosing between small or large solar panels, make sure you understand the differences in cost and efficiency before you make your decision.

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