Electricity on the homestead farm is a necessity for various reasons. The biggest reason is that most of us are so accustomed to having and using electricity that we do not know how to live without it.
Here are a few homesteading tips you can use from a person who has lived off the grid since 1999 on a 40 acre farm. One soon learns how dependent we are on electricity when the power is in short supply.
Homesteading Tips: Use The Power Line
This may seem obvious or atrocious to you. I live off the grid and the nearest power line is a full mile away. So bear with me.
The reason I did not have the power line brought to me is they want $30,000 dollars to do so, plus the monthly bills, and I cannot fetch the return on my investment if I sell. Privatization made getting the power unfeasible!
Therefore, I had no choice but to go solar and wind with backup generators and I did not have the budget to do all that was needed up front. So I used generators and a lot of fuel to get what I needed at first. I wore out or had four generators fail on me at a huge cost to me.
Most of the generators failed due to something going wrong on the electrical generator portion and nobody seems to know how to fix or find replacement parts for them. Most of the generators on the market are considered throw aways.
Generators are mechanical with electrical components joined together. If one fails, they both fail. They are costly and require a lot of maintenance which makes them a nuisance.
From this perspective I say use the power that is readily available. It Might Be cheaper than generators and the fuel needed to operate them.
Having said all the above, I am still very much in favor of solar, wind or alternative electricity.
Homesteading Tips: Go Solar and Wind
While it may seem that I am wavering, I really am not. The weak link in my original system was not having enough cash to buy solar panels and windmills.
After a period of time I acquired my first four 125 watt solar panels and they were a great blessing.
Later, I added a home-made windmill and it also was a blessing on certain days and evenings.
I also purchased an expensive windmill only to find out that it performed no better than the one I built.
Once again, this fall I added eight more used 75 watt solar panels.
During the transition I purchased a used Sunfrost refrigerator for $500 and took out my very old propane fridge. I immediately saved $200 dollars a month on propane and it paid for itself in two and one half months.
Right now, I only need to use the generator in the winter months due to short days, and living in a low wind area.
We are also over-expending ourselves on using large TV’s and satellite receivers for the TV and internet. Soon I will be converting to smaller LCD TV’s and laptops to save even more on power.
Having said all the above I can emphatically state that I love living off the grid. There are times when the power goes out in the whole community for hours due to storms or scheduled maintenance and we are living our lives uninterrupted.
My neighbors are also now complaining about the increased costs of the electricity. They are being charged for environmental, delivery, monthly service charges, and then taxed on all that before they are charged for actual usage. The total charges for all of that is almost $100 dollars. The monthly bills for modest homes are well over $200 a month on equalized payments.
Homesteading Tips: Shift To Solar Electricity
Even if you have a power line into your homestead it would do you well to install a grid connect inverter, and a few solar panels along with some batteries for storage.
While this may cost a lot up front analysts predict that energy costs are going to rise even further and a grid connect will at least reduce your monthly bill.
In addition, you may discover that you can live without the power line by being frugal. Solar fridges and freezers on the market today use so little power that you maybe pleasantly surprised.
Having used both wind and solar I am suggesting solar for these reasons:
- No Moving Parts
- No Towers or Guy wires
- No Climbing
- Wind Turbines only produce the rated power output in high winds.
- Solar Panels are more cost-effective per watt.
A Wind Turbine is useful for additional power on windy days but not nearly as reliable as solar panels on sunny days, or maybe even cloudy days.
Most people want both for redundancy.
Homesteading Tips: Shift To Alternative Electricity
There are a few people who are exploring new ways to generate alternative electricity. This method also requires the use of magnets and the ability to assemble purchased parts together. While this field of study is new its holds great potential for those already living off the grid or planning to live more remotely on homestead land.