I didn’t start out with any intention of being off-grid or any particular interest in it; it just happened that in 2010 my wife and I bought a house that had never been connected to mains electricity, and rather than pay a substantial sum to spoil our view with overhead wires, we decided to go down the off-grid route.
My intention in starting this blog is to talk about what I’ve learned about the technology of off-grid electricity, and the economics of it. Ideally I’d like it if the blog attracted other people in a similar situation and we could exchange ideas.
The term “off-grid” does have, I am aware, a wider philosophical meaning: the idea of being independent of society’s infrastructure in a more general way; of a more self-sufficient existence. That doesn’t interest me: I think that self-sufficiency (not to mention its wilder cousin, survivalism) is a pure fantasy. No man is an island.
In fact, being off the electricity grid does not make us more self-sufficient at all. We are dependent on regular supplies of diesel; and we are dependent on complicated electronics which I could not possibly mend if they broke. And while I am very keen to be environmentally friendly, I am not under the illusion that being off-grid is necessarily particularly “green”. It might be or it might not be, it depends how you do it.
My definition of a good off-grid system would be where you visited the house and didn’t know they were off-grid. In other words I want to be able to live a normal life-style with televisions, mobile phones, computers and so on, and I want my system to be sufficiently well-automated that most of the time it will just look after itself.
In my next post I will give a high-level overview of our setup.