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The misses and I are wanting to migrate off the grid lifestyle. We are just beginning prepping and was wondering what first steps you must take to pursue this route??
 

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I would first start out with getting enough supplies and learning how to use them. Like tools and your basic stuff that doesn't run on electricity. If you start out with full blown solar and wind, then you will get into a huge learning curve.
 

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Agreed, look up stuff on Youtube, or if there is a company that installs solar and/or wind turbines and talk to them about the whole process. The people installing it should know how it works pretty darn well. But as Bandofbroz said, that's a large learning curve.

If you are wanting to get off the grid, the first thing you should do is secure a well or water source. This will be gold if SHTF hits. After water is secured you can play around with some small solar panels to run little devices, like a pump to run the well water off of. Gradually getting into larger items like solar for the house.

At least that is how I would start, if you get on Youtube, look up Southernprepper1 he will blow your mind.
 

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You don't have to spend tons of money installing off grid stuff, there are lots of ways to do it yourself.

If you know how to solder or don't mind getting muddy.

If your property isn't sitting on bedrock you can drill your own well first one costs about $300 but after that you have all the tools to make more for friends or who ever helps you takes two people.

Find out if your zoned against having a well, before you put one in..

My gal turned me onto TheSurvivalMom and it's a great site for getting the family involved explains a lot, articles on preserving food and bugging out with kids - great if you have a family.
 

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How about if we start by defining your idea of "off grid" and then we can talk about in more at length.
 

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What are your goals off the grid? Are you going to have alternate power, or just no electricity? Several appliances, such as laundry washers can be replaced with antique gas powered washers. Originally they were powered with the famous old hit and miss engines, yet would operate even better with more modern small engines. Remember that if the washer is gas powered that you need to operate it outdoors in a very open area to avoid carbon monoxide. The obvious replacement for the drier is the close line. A wood fired cook stove can produce great meals. I have even baked bread in the oven. Did you happen to catch my earlier posts about absorption refrigeration. It uses LP or propane to power the refrigerator and freezer. By heating a mixure of chemicals till they are absorbed the resulting composition is relieved of part of it's heat energy. When this heated mixture reaches the evaporator the chemicals seperate, allowing one of them to absorb heat. There is no mechanical compressor, that is what uses most of the electrical power in your household refrigerator. Today there are units of these refrigeration systems made for campers, but in the day they were constructed for household size. They do use a small 12v control circuit which is where I am at in the process of this. Water can be hand pumped. There is no air conditioner, and wood heat. Battery powered radios and let's be real about the liberal propaganda that is television. Is that something that is going to be missed, anyway? I would suggest that many foods that you now freeze get canned, where possible. A generator is a good way of providing for those times that power is needed for various reasons, I prefer a welder generator.

The next level is lighting. I prefer a battery bank of 12v batteries wired in parallel. The batteries can be recharched from the generator in short time. You can run a 12 volt circuit through the house and use automotive headlights for lighting. I recommend the older lens and bulb style headlights. A basic toggle switch is enough to turn the lights on and off, and I would instal a battery disconnect switch for when things are shut down for the night. I would shut the battery bank off at bedtime. A small diameter (3' and a half to 4' radial blades with a medium pitch), high speed windmill and a good automotive alternator should almost keep up with the demands of the battery bank. I would set the windmill between 80' and 100' to get the best use of the winds. That is measured from the ground to the center of the hub and not the top of the highest blade. How many batteries you put into your battery is up to you, but the more you use the longer the lights will run without recharge. You will have to monitor your lighting use, but you will have lighting. I would grab the biggest can ceiling lights, remove the working members, replace them with the wiring plug for an automotive one piece lens and bulb light.
 

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I should think that the first thing to do would be to buy a piece of land. After that , what do you want to do and do you have any funds to do it with ? Don't put the cart in front of the horse, think, write it down and talk it over with your spouse. After you have formulated a plan, then you may be ready to the off grid thing. I wouldn't just drive out to a piece of land and set up camp unless you are a glutton for punishment.
 

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You seem to want to take on the responsibility of protecting numerous other people by building a huge bunker complex. All you need is the bunker to house yourself and family and that can be achieved by one the size of the footprint of a two car garage. It could be built and then a garage and or a guest apartment/cottage built over the top. These are created for the extreme condition, rampaging marauders or foreign troops attacking, nuclear war or chemical attack is a whole different story. No need to rummage through the country side if you have a working vegetable garden and can hunt for meat. One must learn to grow vegges. and learn to hunt successfully though. One cannot just walk out into the wilderness and shoot meat. Training is required in both areas. Running spring water is also required. The ideal site is land adjacent to National Forest or BLM land with a running stream. Solar end wind can provide electricity as needed. Underground root cellar can refrigerate food along with smoking the meat. Septic tanks can be built rather than bought.
I am a general contractor and am ready to move to any Rocky Mtn. state location to build with any Prepper who would work with me and other Labor to accomplish this goal. I have built a home Palm Springs, CA, one in MX., near Cabo San Lucas, by alternative methods, other room additions and re-models. I have constructed entire Wal-Mart roofs and framing packages on two stores simultaneously in Northern Calif. as well as a Sams Club in Yuba City, CA. I have the know how to build a simple self-sustaining underground shelter. I myself would love to move to Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho or Utah if I can become self-sustaining also. If anyone is interested, call E-mail me, [email protected]
 

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Self sufficient, Food, water purification techniques, power generation (solar + wind + other), and security. I'd also consider holding precious metals to store your wealth off the grid and a bit of fiat in case you need to "jump on and off".
 

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LISTS

Developing lists with priorities is pretty important, and everyone's opinion will vary. Water is always at the top of my lists cause you dont' live long with out it, food next, shelter third and then power.
 

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One thing that I often see when folks start deciding to go off-grid is that they don't really mean it. By that, I mean that they want to do an alternative grid for their own use, but not go truly off-grid. For that, one would need to return to pre-grid technology, food production, and storage techniques, all easily duplicated, and actually less expensive than trying to duplicate the grid on one's own property. Also, the non-grid efforts are immanently sustainable!

Think in terms of the three necessities of life: Shelter, water, food. Think also of the "3"s for each, i.e., a man can live 3 hours without shelter from the elements and from whatever comes one's way, protection wise (which includes protective clothing), 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food (all assuming that he just lays there in a lump, not working hard!).

Then, start thinking in terms of, "How do I provide for each of these necessities of life in turn, so that they are SUSTAINABLE, preferably without much effort (read that labor hours) on my part?"

Obviously, first choice is a piece of land that can be productive and provide the necessary ingredients for life. That choice alone eliminates a lot of potential places one might live, for much of what is now populated is done so only because of the grid and a self-sustaining effort to live there without grid support would be a death sentence. One easy clue is, "Where did the earliest settlers to America build and thrive before they moved on to settle other less hospitable places?" Find those spots -- villages or rural areas that have been settled since the early 1800s, and get to one -- do what you have to do to support yourself being there, for there is the only true hope of survival long term if the grid goes down.

Once you find that land, then I would be looking to make sure that there is a water and food source on it. I say this before shelter because one can always live somewhere else during the building phase and a sustainable food and water resource MUST be in place before moving in and starting with shelter plans. Is there a creek that runs all year on the property? How could you manage that to provide both water resources and if directed through some piping, a source of cooling for a true root celler? Or, conversely, is there a spring on the property? Could you build a spring house over it to help manage your water supply and also provide cooling for food items? If you need a well, know what you are up against and plan on how you will get water out of the ground without grid support (and that includes using batteries, which WILL fail eventually). Collecting rain water? That too is good, but is there enough and can you collect it clean enough to use? Plan on planting every sort of perennial (returns on its own year after year without re-planting) food plant that you can grow in your land, in double the quantity that you expect you will need to provide for your family. Excess goes to feed animals and in lean years to keep you and yours alive. This includes nut trees, fruit trees, asparagus, berries of all sorts, rubarb, herbs, and a host of other plants that return year after year. There are great books on the subject.

Then, finally, start thinking shelter. I'd think something with thick walls, plus insulation. The cordwood houses are attractive for non-grid homesteading as they offer low cost to build, and might even stop bullets. If clad outside in metal, they would also be rather fireproof. I would also probably insulate under the steel siding. The idea is that the thick walls help to heat and cool the building. They could be 24" thick! When building, plan on keeping windows in the proper place, not just to let in light, but also to add solar heating during the winter. Think "thermal mass" in the center of the home with winter-angled windows directed to shine on that thermal mass. That could be a big X huge stone fireplace (preferably with a true stove insert in place of an open fire!) and with the chimney ducted throughout the mass to warm it, thus radiating heat throughout the home. Think about how you are going to manage getting water inside the home during bad weather without grid-connected plumbing and definitely think about bathroom needs. How would you or your wife react to porta-potty smells inside your home every day of life? Most people who are accustomed to grid living cannot deal with the rawness of true natrual things like bathroom waste, so plan accordingly. There is a reason that people were early adopters of indoor plumbing, but it takes some means to make it continue to work.

There are, of course, a million other things -- difficult to teach things -- that one discovers first hand by actually living off-grid. Some can be fatal, prayerfully not...
 

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Pastornator, do you have any ideas for comunication off-grid? I have a solar powered emergency radio. How 'bout being able to comunicate w/ neighbors, if TSHTF and you don't feel safe leaving your little slice of Heaven? Is there such a thing as wind-up walkie/talkies like there are radios and flashlights?
 

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Oh one more thing I would add is that small hygiene products will be very useful as well (hand sanitizer, toothbrush, bandage etc), as you will find after SHTF that disease will become the number one killer, not dehydration, guns or starvation
 

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Pastornator, do you have any ideas for comunication off-grid? I have a solar powered emergency radio. How 'bout being able to comunicate w/ neighbors, if TSHTF and you don't feel safe leaving your little slice of Heaven? Is there such a thing as wind-up walkie/talkies like there are radios and flashlights?
Communications will always be a problem. In the old days (and I'm old enough to remember first hand) we just went over to the neighbors to talk to them. No one used the phone for much and it was a rare man who had any sort of radio (and those were mostly licensed HAM operators who at that time did morse code).

Today, we can get MURS, GMRS, all the HAM bands (which include the former two listed here), FM, and CB (which includes simple walkie talkies, most of which broadcast on chanel 13 or 14). They can all be charged with solar chargers. Eventually, the batteries and/or the charging system will break down, but they would buy one years of service in the mean time. Most of the options I listed are only available to distances around 20 miles (with peak sight-to-sight conditions) except true VHF/UHF sets with proper antenna setups, which under proper conditions can reach hundreds of miles if not more. I am currently looking into HAM as a means to remain in contact with my sons, both of whom live hours or more from me. I want us ALL to live should the case come where survival is the idea.

Best thing I can advise is first, READ, READ, READ, then READ some more. Then, find a local club and be a good friend to the club members. They know their stuff, even if they come off as the dudes with the pocket protectors full of pens, too many stickers on their cars, etc. Then, plan on investing to get what one needs based on the best decision one can make. Also, consider how to keep that radio gear safe and alive should some grid-altering event like an EMP or solar storm take out electronic items. (On that note, I'd also plan on storing an old laptop with hard drive filled in some safe manner until the day as well.)
 

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Sorry for the late reply, this thread just got recycled, I inquired to this company and they sent me a really informative book for free

Backwoods Solar Electric Systems

Lots of good info on the web site as well, their "suggested systems" seem to cost about twice as much as the web site suggests.
 

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Sorry for the late reply, this thread just got recycled, I inquired to this company and they sent me a really informative book for free

Backwoods Solar Electric Systems

Lots of good info on the web site as well, their "suggested systems" seem to cost about twice as much as the web site suggests.
No surprise there. I've been looking into smallish solar applications to keep my pellet stove and a few other items running. The "front page" deals offered by most solar outfits are simply not sized large enough to actually run much more than a few lights for any length of time. A truly usable system is going to run into bucks, no way around it! Also, I've looked into REALLY CHEAP solar panels made by taking cells and joining them into a panel myself. Some advocate that, but once I learned more about it, I dedided on a manufactured panel instead. Problem is the high heat and the amount of electrical energy that goes through those cells once tied into a system. Open voltage can run 3X system voltage and temps can run hot enough at joints, especially ones not soldiered well, to cause fires. Then there is the right glass, frame, etc. In the end, just get a decent designed panel and go for it.

I like this one:

Amazon.com: Grape Solar GS-S-250-Fab5 250-Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel: Patio, Lawn & Garden
 

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One of the first things I would do is rain catch & water storeage system with a water purification system. Be able to use the rain water for garden or filter for human & animal use. Ths will highly reduce or even eliminate use of a well & pump.

Solarblvd almost always has some great deals on panels. Also critical you follow the 12volt wiring chart for any length wire you run. Proper size wire & that wire won't get hot. With the solar panels, to be efficient, you have to make them adjustable as the sun is at a different longitude threw the year. You can easily loose 20% if you can't adjust them monthly.
Just like a breaker panel has multiple breakers, you can set up solar the same way. Presently I have 520 watts threw a 30amp controller to three 125AH batteries and a 1500watt inverter though many of the items attached to the batteries are direct 12VDC. Next solar system will also be about 500watts of panels to a 30amps controller but four 125AH batteries. And already have the 1500watt inverter for it & controller on order. This whole thing is about being expandable.
 

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We will be leaving for Montana soon. We are almost packed up and about ready.. We will be living on grid until we can get set up off grid as much as we can. Our goal is to build a 600-800 sq ft cabin and run as much as we can off of solar power. We also have a nice running stream that has excellent flow all year. It is right behind our place and I am hoping to use it as a power source also. I have also been reading a lot about geothermal heating/cooling and am liking the things I hear about it. We have an artesian well that has very good water too.
Our garden will be started as soon as we get there. We will be planting about 30 varities including potatoes,carrots and sweet potatoes. We also have several nice root cellars set up on the property already. I am interested in possibly raising some pheasant and quail. That is on top of the beef and dairy cattle,sheep and hogs.. There are a few stocked ponds (they call them resorvoirs in Montana..lol) on the property as well with a nice supply of trout and panfish..
I am from a small town called Okeechobee,Fl and grew up around the Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale area. I love South Florida but is has just become to crowded and crazy. Most of the people are to busy worried about the cars they drive or the purses they have.. Seems like everyone is trying to keep up with the Jones'. We have been going to Montana for quite some time and it is just a whole different way of life.. You hear people in cities talking about survival. Out in Montana, it is just a way of life. We have grown to love it out there and want to try to live off grid as much as possible.. We will be leaving in the next few weeks and are going to post everything on our blog. There will be pics and tons of videos. We are also going to give survival and prepper classes. Have students come out to the Missouri Breaks of Montana and teach survival and prepper skills. Maybe even do a few hunts come hunting season.. We will see..
 

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Prepconsultant I've been watching your post for a couple months, what is your web site?
I am interested in your blog as you are going from a highly populated tropical state to a low population arid/artic state.

I covent your deer hunting possibilities, (hell the elk possibilities are even better) it will be interesting to see how your survival skills morph when your faced with REAL survival conditions hehe
 
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