How to Take Your Property Off-Grid

Owning a property is the first step to self-sufficiency. Generating your own power and managing your own water source on that property is the second. Reducing your reliance on municipal power and water sources can allow you to keep the lights on and the water flowing on your terms. You might even save a few dollars doing it. 

Here are some tips on how to get started on your journey to self-sufficiency, off the grid.  

Off-Grid Basics: How Far “Off” Do You Want to Go?

The term “off-grid” means different things to different people. Its common usage has changed as more people disengage from modern life. When homeowners talk about going “off the grid,” they are generally referring to these three pillars of self-sufficiency. 

Lighting and Power

At its most basic, going off the grid means unshackling your home and property from the municipal power grid. This means generating your own electricity, often through solar panels or wind power installed on your property.

Water and Plumbing

For many, off the grid also means disconnecting from the city or regional water supply and getting water from a local source, whether that’s a well, pond, spring, stream, or river on your property, or even rain water. 

Food Production

Those who have already disconnected from shared power and water supplies often go a step further in their off-the-grid journey to focus on food production. While we won’t cover that topic in this article, here are some recommended tilling attachments for planting and seeding. You can also get tips on how to jumpstart your indoor seed starting here.   

Producing Your Own Power 

The first step to cutting the cord with the power company is to determine how you’ll generate your own power. While there are options like fuel-powered generators, these options are expensive. Fossil fuel sources are also subject to supply chain disruptions. Most people going off the grid choose to invest in solar power or residential wind turbines, which are becoming more popular and more affordable, too.  

Solar Power

The easiest and fastest way to disconnect from the power grid is to replace your utility power supply with solar panels. These can be installed by a reputable solar installation company or self-installed, depending on your level of skill or comfort doing this kind of work. Solar power installations have become more cost-effective recently, making this a popular option. 

However, before you plan your installation, you’ll want to consider a few things: 

  • Solar power doesn’t work at night on its own. You’ll want to install batteries to store excess solar power during the day. The cost of battery installations isn’t as expensive as it used to be. 
  • Shorter days mean less power. If you live in an area with very short winter days, you won’t generate as much power during the day. While batteries can store enough power to get you through some periods without sun, installing enough to get you through a winter is cost prohibitive. This means you’ll want a backup power source during the winter. 
  • Rainy, cloudy, or snowy days reduce solar power generation. Check out the average number of sunny days that your location receives. When the sun doesn’t shine, power generation can be reduced by up to 25%. On these days, you’ll want to moderate your power use or use a back-up power source. 

If you want to make a few extra bucks, homes running on solar power can remain connected to the existing city power grid. The city may then buy extra power from you at a set rate, or provide you with a credit for usage. While this isn’t as satisfying as “cutting the cord,” it can be a good compromise for those who appreciate passive income or those who live in areas with short winter days or long stretches of bad weather. 

Wind Power

Humans have harvested the power of the wind for thousands of years to propel grain mills and fuel sailing ships. The cost of wind power generation has become more efficient over time. Wind power installations—while not often as cost-effective up front as solar—are a great option for those in locations that don’t see as much of the sun. It can also be a good back-up source for those already using solar. 

Wind power relies on the installation of a wind turbine. There are more residential options out there than ever before. However, wind turbines may be subject to more zoning laws than solar installations, depending on where you live. 

Before you plan your wind turbine installation, here are some things to consider: 

  • Wind turbines are best for properties of one acre or more. To generate enough power for the average home, a residential wind turbine requires at least one acre of land
  • More wind equals more power. Just like solar power generation is more efficient and practical in sunny locations, wind turbines are best for areas that get a lot of wind. Landowners near the coast, great plains, or midwest regions of the United States are more likely to have success with wind power. 
  • Turbines require some infrastructure. Turbines cannot be mounted to the home, like solar panels, and will require the installation of solid concrete foundations. 

As with solar, homes generating wind power can remain connected to the existing city power grid. The city may then buy extra power, or provide you with a credit.  

Energy-Saving Tips 

Generating your own power means taking more responsibility for your power usage. While some of these tips are applicable no matter where you get your power from, they are especially important when you are working on limited supply.   

  • Choose efficient appliances, and run them during peak power times. A large percentage of a home’s energy usage goes to powering appliances like water heaters, washers, dryers, and refrigerators. If you’re running a home on solar power, shower and do the washing during daylight hours when you’re generating maximum energy. 
  • Unplug devices not in use. Computers and televisions are good examples of energy hogs that pull power even when they aren’t turned on. Any device with a power supply will pull a small amount of power even when shut down. Remove plugs from wall outlets when these aren’t being used. 
  • Turn off lights and devices when you’re not in the room. If you’re leaving a room, turn off the lights and any other devices that aren’t actively being used. 
  • Invest in adequate insulation and double-glazed windows. Before making the move off the grid, ensure your home’s insulation is updated. Heating and cooling costs account for nearly half of all home energy consumption. Address areas of your home where air from the outside is getting in. This typically occurs around doors and windows. 

Supplying Your Own Water 

It’s easier for the average homeowner to take their property off the power grid than the municipal water system. This is because a property must have a reliable water supply or enough rainfall to support a cache system. Raw water is usually contaminated, and must be further processed before it is safe enough to drink. Used water will also need to be disposed of on-site. 

Off-Grid Water Sources

If you live in an arid region without groundwater sources or sufficient rain, you will need to haul water in from a supplier. If your property is already hooked up to a municipal water system, it may be easier and cheaper to just remain on that system. 

Well Water

Tapping into a freshwater aquifer on your property is the most popular way to supply your own water. A shallow, affordable source located less than 100 feet below ground is ideal. While homeowners have been known to drill wells up to 400 feet deep, the cost of drilling a well is determined by the foot. So the deeper you have to dig, the more it will cost you.   

Spring, Lake, or River Water

Natural springs are great sources of water, but can experience fluctuations from season to season. If you’re looking for a property, be sure that you visit the spring source at several periods throughout the year. A free flowing water source in the spring and winter may dry up completely during the late summer and fall.

Other natural water resources include rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds. Before tapping into these resources, ensure you have the right to do so. Generally, sources located on your property are free to use. However, if you live in an area with complex water rights issues, this may not be the case. Water rights are regulated by the state, and some may be stricter than others. You will also need to account for the cost of hauling or pumping water from these sources to your home. 


Rainwater can be collected using a catchment or cistern, or diverted from gutters and downspouts. Historically, this is the easiest water capture method. These systems should be cleaned and maintained, and made from non-toxic materials. This water needs to be stored long term, so it requires on-site storage systems. Water storage tanks come in a variety of sizes and can be purchased online. Complete rainwater collection systems for residential use are available from commercial companies.

Off-Grid Water Filtration and Purification  

Water intended for human consumption must be filtered and purified before use. While you can filter your own water through the process of allowing particles to settle, then filtering the water through a strainer, boiling it, and adding small amounts of chlorine to kill off bacteria, this can be  labor intensive. 

Many types of easy, affordable home filtration systems exist. This can be as simple as a hose water filter or countertop, gravity-fed water filter.  Filtration systems work by removing sediments, metals, and contaminants using several methods, such as carbon filters, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis.

Off-Grid Water Disposal Systems

Municipal water systems not only store, distribute, and treat water supplies, but also collect used wastewater. Before you get started, determine where your wastewater will go. Check local laws around wastewater disposal. Toilet water can be collected in a septic system. Some areas will permit the use of a lagoon. Alternatively, many off-grid homes use composting or incinerating toilets to handle waste. 

Water used for showering and washing dishes—often called gray water—could be collected in a septic system or diverted to water an outdoor garden. If you are reusing this water, invest in non-toxic cleaning products that will not harm the surrounding environment. 

Connecting Your Personal Property Grid

Your new power and water systems should be able to work seamlessly together. For instance, while you can use a gravity-fed water system to supply water throughout your home, solar or wind-powered pumps can also be used to pull water out of your well and distribute it. 

Disconnecting from the municipal power and water systems is a big step in the journey to self-sufficiency. While cutting the cord can seem daunting, with a little planning and the right equipment, it’s achievable for many properties.

Connect With Yanmar

At Yanmar, we’re dedicated to providing customers and owners with the best experience in the industry. If you’ve just started your homesteading journey, check out our Landowner’s Planner to help you make the most of your property. Our expert team is here to answer your questions and share helpful insights as you build your self-sufficiency dream.

No matter your need, we’ll go above and beyond to meet it. Please don’t hesitate to connect with us online or give us a call at 678-551-7369.

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