There is a certain charm in having an off-grid property, maybe it’s the great feeling of independence?
Knowing that you can provide for yourself and your family at all times, without relying on the grid, is a reassuring feeling.
For me, it easily beats the overcrowded city feel. It’s where I can go back to the basics and connect with nature.
I am a firm believer that connecting with nature really elavates your mental health.
First, you need to think about this: Are you setting up an off-grid property and live there permanently or just to use it as a vacation home?
The main goal is to set it up as a vacation home first and slowly with time, turn it into an all providing 4 seasons off-grid home.
What are the most essential things on an off-grid property?
There is more to it than you may think, there are many small needs we have that will require its own shed, tool or technique.
Let’s dive right into it:
1. Land & Home
A good piece of land with a forest on it is a good place to start. The forest will later become very handy to forest farm a variety of plants for food and income.
Having a forested land also gives you the opportunity to clear trees for lumber and farm your own trees with a plantation.
Look for ponds, streams, lakes, or rivers: Having access to a source of water for irrigation and all your gardening activities can be very beneficial.
Alternatively a good acreage can be a wonderful place to have stables for husbandry and fields for farming.
2. Garage with Workbench
A garage with a good workbench should be your no.1 priority. It’s essential because when you start building everything else, you will need some tools, somewhere to store your tools and a surface to work on.
Let’s be honest, isn’t it every handyman’s dream to have their own garage filled with their favorite tools?
3. Water Cistern
Water is your most essential need, if you have access to clean water from a river, lake or stream, great.
But that’s not the only way to collect water, you can set up your roofs with rain collection systems that will fill a big cistern like the one above.
Water is essential for drinking, for washing yourself, your clothes and your food. It’s also essential for growing vegetables in your garden and providing water for your farm animals if you have any.
Certain water filtration system can be installed before the water reaches the cistern, giving you clean water.
Alternatively, you can fill up your cistern with clean city water at a price when it’s empty.
4. Toilet & Sewage System
Sewage systems are a very important part of an off-grid system, you won’t be legal unless you have a sewage system.
Think about it, if you’re living there for a prolonged period of time, the waste you produce will go somewhere, either polluting the land you’re on or reaching the rivers and groundwater.
Septic tanks work by separating your wastes into three: solids, effluents, and scum.
Underground you will have a big concrete tank where your waste is first directed.
The solids will drop to the bottom and decompose, the oily greasy scum will float at the surface and stay in the tank. What comes out out of the pipes and into the drainage field is the effluents, the remaining wastewater that will get filtered by the rocks, sand, and gravel in your drainage field.
This is why a proper septic tank is essential, ask your local city authorities on more information regarding the sewage system regulations in your area.
Septic tanks should be emptied about every 2 years.
5. Solar Energy
Electricity is another necessity on your off-grid property if you want to greatly increase your productivity and have access to many modern tools.
Solar energy is a great idea and can cover your entire electrical need if you have a big enough set up.
Solar systems work like this:
- First, you need the panels directed towards the true south, where you will get the most amount of sunlight.
- Second, you need to have wires running to a charge controller, where the electricity will charge batteries, without overloading.
- Third, you need to have a battery bank, made up as many batteries as you need for your electrical needs.
- Fourth, you need to have an inverter to convert the power into the right kind of power for your appliances.
For precise instructions, check out this DIY Off-Grid Solar System.
6. Energy Storage Shed
Batteries for your solar system won’t be so cheap, and it’s primordial to protect them from the elements.
A good idea is to build a shed strictly dedicated to the storage of your solar batteries.
Don’t attach it to your house, have a safe distance between your home and the shed in case anything goes awry.
Your shed should be 100% dry, there can’t any be leaks getting into this shed that will damage your valuable batteries. Proper waterproof floor and roof are important.
Plants are an essential need if you plan to live off-grid for the long term. Building a good size garden is one of your top priorities.
Depending on your hardiness zone, you might also want to build a greenhouse to go for a greenhouse to have a longer growing season for vegetables.
These are our two favorite techniques to farm plants:
1. Permaculture garden
Permaculture is where you use all the land and water as efficiently as possible. You farm plants in a thought-out matter, combined in a way where they best interact with each other.
2. Forest Farming
Forest Farming is where you use your forested land to farm. We specialize in this at Eco Friendly Income, these are the three ways we’ve learned forest farm:
8. Compost Bin
When you’re off-grid, you want to recycle as much as you can, with a compost bin you can do just that.
You’ll save money by making your own organic fertilizer for your garden and plants from you own home wastes.
Dealing with waste when you’re off-grid is important and a compost bin will help you deal with almost all of your organic food waste.
9. Chicken Coop
Having a chicken coop to raise chickens is one of your best bet as a source of food.
Chickens will lay eggs every day, which will give you great protein and amino acids.
Building a chicken coop is relatively easy and raising chickens is as well. Chickens are quite friendly and can make good companions too.
Periodically you can also eat your chickens for a great and easy source of meat!
10. Brick Cooking Range
You cannot underestimate the value of a good outdoors brick cooking range, especially when having people over and cooking large feasts.
Load it up with firewood and take advantage of the fact that you can cook anything outside while enjoying the weather, without the need for propane.
Since there is no electrical component, it can be built anywhere without worrying about weathering.
And if you’d like, you can build a little roof over it so that you can cook under any condition.
11. Outdoor Processing Shed
Whether you fish, hunt, raise chickens or cattle, you will have to process your meat yourself.
A good kitchen outdoors with a cutting board, good knives, and a freezer for your meat are essential for hunters.
This way you can butcher wild game separately from your house and avoid the possible bacteria, dirt, and smell.
12. Wood Stove
If you’re living off-grid all year, depending on where you live, you will probably need a wood stove inside your home to heat yourself up during winter and save on electricity.
Apart from keeping you warm, a wood stove sets such a nice vibe in your home. You can also use it to boil water and even cook certain things. Not bad!
Granted you harvested lumber for firewood in the last seasons, everything will be fine.
13. Granite Laundry Sink
I personally learned about this one while living in China. Granite laundry sinks are amazing alternatives to power-hungry washing machines.
They usually have a washing board on the left side where you scrub your clothes and a big sink on the right where you can rinse.
You can easily wash smaller size clothes with this kind of sink and save your electricity. Alternatively, you can use it to wash vegetables.
Granite laundry sinks are best set up outside.
14. Outdoor Shower
Having an outdoor shower on an off-grid can be quite essential especially during summer.
You will likely get dirty doing daily tasks on your property, getting cleaned outside without getting the house all mucky and dirty is a real benefit.
They can also be quite romantic, imagine having a nice hot shower with your lover on a starry summer night.
Outdoor showers are essential when you have a coastal off-grid property, it’s really convenient to use after going swimming or fishing.
Finally, there’s just something about taking outdoor showers that makes us feel quite special and free.
15. Tractor & Storage Shed
You want to get your hands on a tractor as soon as you can. Tractors are extremely versatile, you can use them to move any dirt, rocks, wood, or snow around.
They are essential when it comes to property maintenance such as cutting grass and clearing snow.
It will quickly become one of your most useful assets while you’re building your off-grid property.
Having a shed for your tractor will ensure it remains in good condition, away from the elements.
Additionally, you can use the shed for other purposes such as storing firewood for the winter.
16. Back-up Generator Shed
In case a storm takes down your solar or wind system, or any other electrical problem occurs, a back-up generator is an essential on your off-grid property.
Sometimes you might just need a bigger load of power and the generator will do the trick. It’s also great to use when operating tools in your shop.
Back-up generators always seem the save the day when things get serious.
Just build a good weather-proof shed away from your home (keeps the noise away) with the generator inside.
17. Gates & Solar Lamps
Having a gate to the entrance of your land is essential to keep out any intruders.
Using solar lamps to light up your entrance gates is very handy to give visitors a warm welcome.
Solar lamps also light up your property for your security system and allow you to keep an eye out at night for any predators or intruders.
18. Solar Powered Security Cameras
When you’re pretty hardcore off-grid and put a lot of money into getting top performance tools and machines, it’s only natural to want to protect them.
Solar-powered security systems allow you to keep an eye on your property for any intruders.
You can also use gaming cameras around your land to keep track of what animals and birds are going trough.
19. Wooden Fences
Sometimes you will use wooden fences to keep things in such as cattle, other times to keep things out such as intruders.
Wooden fences are essential to any off-grid property. A good postal digger and workshop are great to produce fence posts from lumber on your land.
Fences also become quite handy when wanting to grow vines, they will provide food for yourself and periodically even cattle.
20. Water Wheel
A common use for waterwheels is to mill flour, but the mechanical power they give you can also be used in many industrious ways, such as sawing wood and producing textiles.
In modern-day, you can retrofit a generator to a water wheel to produce electricity from the streams around you.
Using water wheels like that is a combination of old-school knowledge with modern technology. Not Bad!
It’s cheaper, more aesthetic and realistic than building a dam on your land.
In any case your solar system and your backup generator fails, water wheels are your ultimate back-up.
Docks are an essential part of your off-grid property if you are on a lake or river.
It’s ideal to dock your boat and even casually catch fish. It also comes in handy when you want to go for a swim.
Having a dock can help you easily get water for your needs on the farm. They’ll even allow for airplanes to dock whenever necessary.
They will come in quite handy as well to shock your spawn logs while forest farming mushrooms.
22. Boat Shed
While you have access to a river or a lake, having a boat shed becomes essential.
Boats are quite valuable and you want to protect them from the elements. Building a nice boat shed with a gravel road makes for easy ins and outs.
Nice elevated wooden boat sheds like the one above will do a great job keeping your boat dry.
Living off-grid starts small, but when you have a clear idea of what you need, it’s all about putting extra effort every day to keep adding to your property.
Everyone lives their own unique experience on different styles of land, over the years you will find even more essentials to add to this list.
Got any essentials that we missed?
Comment them below!