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Living off the grid

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Posted by R on January 26, 2009, 5:37 am
The shortage of power, the rapid consumption of non-renewable energy,
the ever-increasing demand for power supply, the daily warnings about
our environment are enough signs to tell us that its time we do
something. So, what can we do? For starters, how about living off the
grid? If I have startled you with that proposition, let me tell you
that living off the grid not only helps the environment and helps save
power; it also cuts down our electricity bill substantially. Now,
thats a tangible benefit apart from all the good you will do to the
world. Trust me, you will feel good doing this.

Let us first study the advantages of living off the grid.
 Reduced dependability on exhausting resources: Who wants to depend
on public utilities all the time? Living off the grid helps you rely
only on your resources and not the ones supplied by governments or
corporations. How often have you cursed when faced with a power outage
in the midst of some important work or a party? Wouldnt you like to
take charge of such factors affecting you life? With alternate power
solutions, you can.
 Freedom of usage of naturally available resources: How would you
feel when you dont have to pay for the power you use? Wouldnt it be
delightful to use as much power as you want without worrying about the
electricity meter? You can make use of the abundant power available in
the nature to light up your home and make your food. The solar power
solutions and the wind power solutions are the answers to your power
quest (well, literally!).
 Reduced power costs, helping save your money: How would you feel if
the electricity bills stop coming in your letter box? The alternate
power solutions give you a return on investment very soon, thus making
the power supply to your home eventually free!
 Making way for a healthier environment: Dont you bless the people
who planted trees years ago not expecting them to miraculously grow?
They planted those trees for the future generations. Make the future
of your future generations secure by giving them a greener, healthier
world. Cut down on the usage of non-renewable sources of energy. Try
to use water minimally. There is not much drinking water left for the
next generations.

If you are thinking it is not very feasible to live off the grid, look
for alternate power solutions and you will be surprised to learn that
they are not only cost-effective but also extremely feasible.

Make power at home with solar and wind energy to eliminate your power
bill. Get a complete guide at http://www.EarthEnergyToday.com/

Posted by Robert Scott on January 26, 2009, 4:24 pm

You may feel good doing this, but it is not a tangible benefit.  A 5kw solar
electric system, complete with battery storage and controls, will cost about
$0,000.  My house in Michigan is all electric, including ground-source heat
pump and hot water.  I pay about  $200 per year for grid power.  Even if
electric rates rise at 5% per year, I won't break even for 13 years.  And if you
count what my $0,000 could have earned in a 3% CD, I would not break even for
much longer.  You should also count the fact that a solar electric system
requires more maintenance and floor space than grid power.  That floor space has
to come from somewhere - even if it is only a utility shed or a basement.

Who?  Anyone who has a stake in society and wants to see it flourish.  What you
are advocating is a return to the rugged individualism that is glorified by
stories of the American pioneers.  But you forget that such a lifestyle is only
possible with a low population density.  If you want to starve out 90% of the
current U.S. population and re-distribute all the best farmland from its current
owners, then maybe the remaining 10% can live as rugged individuals, off the

It is the moral implication of this position that bothers me much more than the
cost-effectiveness argument.  It is the basis for our poor mass transit system
in the U.S.  People getting "off the grid" of trains and buses, and opting for
their own cars.  Rugged individualism in that case leads to more pollution, not
less.  The idea that I'll meet my needs with a wind turbine and solar cells and
to hell with everyone else is not one that I can stomach.  If  you want to
propose something useful, try to think of something that at least 85% of the
people have the resources to do.

I have a hard time cursing my situation in a power failure when I hear about a
whole family in Detroit who dies from carbon monoxide poisoning because of a
malfunctioning kerosene heater.  You go tell the grieving relatives that they
should have installed a $0,000 off-grid supply.

When you are off-grid, you have to be even more careful about how much power you
use. You have to monitor the state of your batteries during stretches of cloudy

I would rather see those bills in my letter box if it meant paying $0,000 to
make them stop.

Robert Scott
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Posted by Rob Dekker on January 27, 2009, 12:09 am





Excellent summary Robert ! Thanks.

Economies typically run best if everyone does what they are best in, and shares
their work in an open, free market place.
Since electricity can be transported at low cost over decent distances, the grid
can be seen the ultimate free market place.
A diverse portfolio of providers keeps the competition alive, and providers'
competition keeps the price of electricity low.
Rugged individualism like living off-grid leads to inefficiencies, and as you
very clearly point out will almost always lead to
extra cost overall.

Besides this, utility companies often provide the option for users to tap into a
specific (green) resource for their power supply,
by using (paying and charging) different market prices for different power
sources. Want to go green with your electricity supply ?
Ask your utility company for their 'green energy' option. It is very likely that
that is much cheaper and certainly much more
effcient and reliable than installing your own off-grid electricity system.


Posted by Blue Cat on January 28, 2009, 2:33 pm
The concept of green power and emergency power are two different animals.
I've been through 2 major power outages in the last 20 years, and I relied
mainly on "non-green" power sources, such as natural gas, and power from a
car battery to get me through.

However, I have a small (150 watt) solar pv system, which I spent around
$00 (for the panels) to build. I use it to run lights, fans, radios, and
charge batteries. I've learned a lot on how to design with solar pv panels
just from managung my homemade system, and I get some green power that I
don't pay the local utility for.

Posted by Charlie on February 2, 2009, 2:40 am
 Rob Dekker wrote:











shares their work in an open, free market place.

grid can be seen the ultimate free market place.

competition keeps the price of electricity low.

very clearly point out will almost always lead to

a specific (green) resource for their power supply,

sources. Want to go green with your electricity supply ?

that that is much cheaper and certainly much more

One grid & only a handful of producers does not a free market make.
Also ignored here is the fact that grid distribution is relatively
inefficient, with as much as 15-20% lost in transmission.

Finally, being independent & self sufficient can be seen in a bigger
context than the individual. Multiple alternative energy sources (see
sentence one above & extrapolate) would mean real competition & improve
everyone's security.


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