Pulling the plug or making the decision to go 100% off the grid comes with some serious challenges. People taking that dive, hopefully, come prepared with a notion of how much things will change. Many of the comforts of modern day living disappear. The good news, of course, is that many are replaced with liberation and new found freedoms.
The off-grid life takes light. It takes light to build, wash, and prepare things from raw materials. Now for most of the day, the generous sun will offer its light. What about those tasks that must be done inside or after the sun goes down? In the days of old, we were limited to fire as our only light source.
Our best plan of attack is to utilize modern technology, and we should do so in a very informed and planned approach. By recognizing several different light sources and assigning them to various locations or tasks, we will begin to develop a lighting plan. The very best way to accomplish your off-grid lighting goals is to create a holistic lighting program that addresses how each area of the home and property will be lit by off-grid technology.
In this article, I would like to explore some alternate light sources. We will look at modern tech as well as old world knowledge. By the end of this list, you will have a better idea of the options for lighting your off-grid home.
Easily the stealthiest light source is sitting on your porch or in your driveway right now. The cheap solar lights we set outside light up each night with nothing but reserved power from the sun. You need only bring them inside at night!
These lights are cheap and they are everywhere now. If you are looking to outfit an off grid property with a renewable light source, get your hands on these lights. Light up every path on your homestead and when the need arises, just bring a few inside for the night.
The only thing that could fail on these are the rechargeable batteries. They are cheap and won’t stand up to a lot of abuse. Though I am sure there are more costly options that provide greater durability.
2. LED Lanterns
To replace lamps at your bedside, I would highly recommend these powerful LED lanterns. I keep one at my bedside for power outages. These powerful lanterns are an incredible resource. I have linked the title to the model I am referring to.
Most are battery powered so you must consider the stockpile of batteries or rechargeable batteries. In my opinion, these lanterns work so well and are so convenient that it’s worth managing the extra resource.
This ancient source of light should not be disregarded. They have lit our way throughout the ages and will do so for years to come. There is something special about the dance and flicker of a flame.
I also like the fact that many people still make candles in rural areas. They could be had for a barter. That should always be the goal of off grid living.
4. Oil Lamps
These lamps and heaters are another ancient method of heating and lighting civilization. Of course, your dependence on lamp oil and sourcing it becomes an issue. Also, storing large amounts of lamp oil must be done carefully to ensure you don’t start a huge fire in a shed somewhere on your property!
When it comes to kerosene there is no denying its effectiveness. The oil lamp got us this far, right?
5. Glow Sticks
Though they are not a renewable energy source, these powerful camping glow sticks can be a huge help. They can be stored very easily all over the home and many brands even come with a small string for hanging. The ones featured in the link above glow for 12 hours.
These are not a great option in exclusivity but they can be very useful, quick and easy as part of a holistic off-grid lighting program.
6. Natural Light
Any and all attempts should be made to harness that great natural light from the sun. You should either choose an off grid location that lends itself to this natural light or make renovations to your current property. Here are a few renos that will increase your use of natural light.
- Cut Skylights
- Add More Windows
- Build a Sunroom
If you commit to the sun, it won’t let you down.
7. Solar Power
I left this topic for the bottom of the article because it is a no brainer. I am sure there are numerous off grid homesteaders making their way on solar and wind power. This technology has made some serious advances and with the right equipment, you can find yourself in a comfortable position.
What I would like to mention is the upfront expense and investment that goes along with solar power. Many people are stifled by the cost of the expensive panels themselves. This can be a huge cost if we are not prepared for it. In this type of a situation, you want to commit in a way that makes sense.
Rather than first getting the solar panels and spending big money, maybe consider making smaller purchases that accompany a solar power system–cables, connectors or inverters that all may be needed. By making these purchases, you are committing to a move towards solar even if it is a costly goal that will take time to achieve.
A real game changer in the solar power game has been the Powerwall by Tesla. The latest models are capable of powering a small two-bedroom home for a full day. The units are stackable, compact and come with built in inverter.
For a 3-bedroom house burning 30 KW per day, you are going to be spending about 13,000 dollars. It may sound like a lot, but these units can also be charged to act as backup power as well! No matter how you feel about the Tesla brand, the Powerwall is a modern-day marvel that links with solar power perfectly.
No matter how independent we wish to be, we can never discount the power of light. Build a powerful light program for your off grid property and outfit it with some of the options above.