Disconnecting from Your Utility: From on the Grid to Living Off Grid

Disconnecting from Your Utility: From on the Grid to Living Off Grid

Cabin Living Off Grid

Want to disconnect from your utility company and switch to living off grid? You are not alone!

The thought of permanently ditching a power bill and living a dreamy off-grid life with free power from the sun appeals to many, especially when your power choices on the grid feel limited. But as we like to say, “If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Off-grid power systems make sense for cabins or homes that are so far from the utility lines that power can’t be brought in, or where the cost to bring in power is prohibitive. For people already connected to the grid, it’s easy to have a rose-colored perception of what life would be like when you don’t have to deal with a utility. However, off-grid power is not recommended for those who are already connected to the grid because there are many more practical, convenient, and financially beneficial options that can fulfill your desire for lower power bills and increased independence, without cutting the lines.

Ready to Discuss Off Grid Power Options?

Why not dump your utility?

It May Not Be Legal

First, disconnecting your home may invalidate the certificate of occupancy for your home. Even if you can legally disconnect, you’d miss out on the convenience that utility power offers. Being off grid essentially means that you are your own electricity provider for better and for worse. For example, if in the middle of the night you use more power than you have stored in your batteries, you will be without power until your batteries can be recharged – either with your solar panels or with your supplemental generator, because you can’t just buy more power from your utility.

Kohler Generator and RELiON BatteryThe Cost of Off Grid Solar

Second, the initial costs of going off grid is often higher than you think, particularly if you want to live off grid full time. It’s usually only worth living off the grid financially if you don’t already have utility power, and the cost to bring it in is more than $75,000. Yes it is true that once you go off-grid you have no more utility bill. But it is a misconception that when you go off-grid you purchase your equipment and never have to pay for electricity again. By choosing off-grid renewable power you don’t have a utility bill anymore, but you will have ongoing costs associated with powering a home off the grid – mainly fuel for your supplemental generator (a must for almost all off grid applications) and battery replacement costs. Off grid systems also may require planned equipment replacements that could outweigh any “savings” seen by removing a bill.

Off Grid Power Maintenance

Third, most off-grid systems require regular maintenance. Even if you opt for a cutting-edge lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) solar battery, which eliminates the need for regular battery maintenance and extends battery life, it is still essential to regularly monitor your batteries and system. And remember, if your power system goes down for any reason, you are responsible for getting it back up and running again, not your utility. If you’ve ever been without power in the middle of a nasty storm and been glad you’re not the one out in the weather fixing the issue… well, you get the picture.

Power LoadsBeing Energy Conscious Off the Grid is Very Different Than When On the Grid

And finally, living off the grid means changing your energy use habits – usually a lot. When you’re off-grid, every appliance you use matters – every light bulb, every cell phone charger, every movie you watch on your TV. Off-grid living requires a substantial shift in your mindset and habits regarding powre use, and the willingness to make choices about what you can and can’t operate, based on the status of your system and your ability to recharge your batteries. Oh, and when you go out of town, you won’t be able to just “set it and forget it”. Leaving an off grid home for any period of time takes planning so that you don’t come home and find all the food in your refrigerator and freezer spoiled because your home used too much power in your absence and didn’t recover without your assistance.

Does that mean you’re stuck?

While off-grid may not be right for you, there are other power options that give you more control of your power.

Want a reduced utility bill? Grid tie solar can help! By properly sizing a solar power system for your home, you can offset your power bill by however much you want, and use your utility as a “bank” for excess power you might produce at certain times of the year through net metering.

Want backup power when the grid goes down? Consider adding batteries or a generator, with or without solar. This way you can power your essential loads so that you have power even when your utility power is out.

Will it cost tens of thousands of dollars to bring power out to your remote cabin or vacation home? Going off-grid may very well be right for you. Our team at Fire Mountain Solar has helped countless people find the right solution to make off grid living convenient, comfortable, and cost effective.

You have options when it comes to your power system goals and we are here to help you choose the right choice for YOU!

Want to Know if Living Off The Grid is Right For You?