When I think about off-grid living, I think about getting back to basics and having to save every penny. But, does taking your home off-grid mean that you must give up on luxury altogether?
Going off-grid can be expensive, so it can be necessary to make tough decisions about what you need. However, recent developments in technology mean that many off-grid items are cheaper and more efficient. With careful planning, your off-grid life can be both affordable and luxurious at the same time.
Living a life of off-grid luxury isn’t about penny-pinching, it’s about spending money on the right things. With enough attention to the essentials like power, water, and sewerage, you can find that you are not restricted in the way you expected. This list has some great ideas of which items will have the most significant impact and allow you to enjoy a luxurious off-grid life.
You may also be interested to read: 11 Challenges of going off-grid and how to overcome them.
The essentials for luxury
Believe it or not, luxury starts with the basics. One of the main things that can immediately kill any sense of luxury is not having enough essential items. Here are three things that if you get right will pave the way to greater freedom later:
If you are continually running out of power, you will never feel ready to kick back and enjoy life. A solar panels system is essential to luxury life.
Click here for my recommendations of best solar power equipment.
Sizing your system
When planning your solar panel system, don’t size it up for the minimum amount of electricity. Do a realistic assessment of the life you want to lead. What will you need to be comfortable? Then add an extra margin of 20%. Price up this system and see if it is affordable. It is much better to install a system now that will meet all of your needs than realize after a year that you need more.
My article ‘How many solar panels do I need to run my home off-grid?‘ will help you size your system.
Take your time researching the most efficient panels, inverters, and battery storage. The more efficient your system is, the less you will need to spend later on maintenance or extra panels and low power versions of your appliances.
There are also several innovations that can increase the reliability and efficiency of your system. High-quality single-unit battery storage like the Tesla Powerwall2, will provide useful storage without having to take care of over 30 individual batteries.
Related reading: What is the best battery for a solar power system?
When selecting an inverter to convert the DC from your solar array to AC for your home systems, consider a micro parallel inverter. It is a new development and allows you to isolate individual panels if they are shaded or damaged.
Wifi-enabled solar inverters are also a great way to keep on top of your system’s production, schedule necessary maintenance, and make changes to increase efficiency. All of these small gains across a solar system can result in significant improvements over the long term.
Related reading: Guide to off-grid solar inverters.
Other ways to produce enough power
If you only have enough space for a small solar power system or you don’t think you will be able to provide enough electricity, there are many affordable ways of supplementing your main energy supply.
- Small solar panel systems– Small panels can be used to charge batteries, power packs, or your mobile devices. This will leave more power in your primary system for other appliances.
- Generators – Running a generator to charge more batteries for emergencies or for luxury items, can prevent you from running low on power.
- Wind turbines – Adding a small wind turbine is a great way to add to your power supplies and act as a backup for cloudy days when your panels aren’t working as efficiently.
- Heat exchange pumps and solar heating systems – By installing an independent system for heating, you will take a massive load off your solar panels.
For equipment, recommendations try: Best solar power equipment for your off-grid home.
Having a well installed can cost between $10,000 to $40,000, it is a substantial initial cost but is worth it in the long run. There are other effective ways to provide your home with enough water, but a well is a method most likely to cater to all of your water needs. If you don’t have enough water, how are you going to fill your hot tub and your extra-large whirlpool bath?
You may be interested to read: How to get an off-grid water supply without a well.
Sewerage and waste management
If it’s luxury you’re after, you’re not going to want to spend too much time in the company of your own feces. Installing an aerobic septic system is the best method to store and break down human waste without nurturing a funky green fog that permanently hangs over your house.
An aerobic system uses 6 or 7 chambers to completely treat the waste and then release it underground where it continues to break down. Septic tanks are also good, but an aerobic system breaks waste down more entirely before releasing it.
Related reading: The complete guide to off-grid wastewater management.
7 Luxury items
Now that you’ve got power to spare, water coming out of your taps, and your bowel movements have been successfully incarcerated below ground, its time to add that touch of luxury:
1. Outdoor kitchen area
Making the most of your natural surroundings is one of the joys of an off-grid lifestyle. Even if you’re off-grid in an urban environment, an outdoor cookout area can be a creative way to make use of the space, whatever the size.
You can go as simple or luxurious as you like, but you will need some options for weatherproofing the equipment and the sitting area. If you have lots of rain and colder weather but want to be outside all year round, you could look at outdoor heater and weatherproof covering.
A good quality grill can take pride of place in your outdoor kitchen along with a pizza oven. To take things to the next level of luxury, why not run some power out to your cookout sanctuary or install a separate solar panel system to run lights and a small refrigerator.
If you prefer to keep power usage to a minimum, you can stay with the luxury theme with a Go Sun solar-powered oven.
For the Go Sun solar-powered oven and other incredible off-grid gadgets, visit: Best gadgets and useful tech for your off-grid home.
2. Hot tub area
A correctly situated hot tub can be the height of luxury. They can be placed nearly anywhere, but pleasant surroundings will enhance the experience. The best spot will depend on your outdoor area, your tastes, and how easily you can get water to it.
If you’re using an electric hot tub, don’t forget to consider how you will run power to it. If you’re considering sinking it into decking or digging it into the earth, you must ensure that you can access any maintenance panels or power inlets.
Whatever your location, making careful use of screens, fencing and trellis can add a sense of privacy and make the environment more relaxing. Why not plant your herb garden nearby, aromatic plants and shrubs can add to the atmosphere.
Solar lamps are a great way to light a hot tub area. Place them around your tub, and they will charge during the day and give you a pleasant glow in the evening. If your tub is a short walk away from your house, lighting the way with flickering solar lamps is a nice touch.
Even if you’re on a budget, you can create your own woodfired hot tub:
Or if you’re keen on woodwork:
3. Climate control system
Air conditioning (AC) units can use large amounts of energy. Even when you’ve got abundant power, they can still be a significant drain on the system. However, you needn’t give up on the idea of living in comfort through the hotter months. Several mini-systems have been explicitly designed to run on solar power.
A small solar AC unit is designed to provide cooling with lower power usage efficiently. They can also be bought with dual DC and AC input; this allows you to set up a smaller dedicated solar system that powers them directly with no need for an inverter. Because they run straight from the panel, there is less loss in the system, so you get more cooling for less power. For times when you’re low in solar power, you can run AC from a generator or your main inverter.
LG has developed a full-sized air conditioner called the ‘Solar Hybrid Air Conditioner’. It runs from a combination of your home’s AC power supply and a small 70Wsolar panel attached to the top of the unit. The solar power reduces the amount drawn from your home system. This is a great start for larger systems but there is still a way to go.
4. High-speed internet
Just because your off-grid, you don’t have to be entirely cut off from the rest of the world. A growing number of people who chose to live off-grid combine their lifestyle with jobs that can be done from home.
This is wonderfully convenient and allows them to fit their work around daily tasks that may need doing to keep things ticking over. However, now, a significant part of working from home involves communicating with colleagues or submitting work via an internet connection.
For this reason, some people disconnect from the grid but keep a physical landline connection for convenience. If your off-grid home is more remote, this may not be possible. Fortunately, there are several other ways of connecting to the internet.
Fast internet is synonymous with progress and luxury; not only does it facilitate working from home, but it gives you access to movies, social media music, and shopping. You have several options to get internet off the grid, but ensuring you have fast connection depends on your location and surrounding terrain.
The best way to access fast internet off-grid in the US is via fixed wireless broadband. There are now over 1,500 providers of this type of connection across the country. To be eligible for this type of access, you will need a line of sight to one of the towers of a local supplier.
If you contact a local provider, they will check what towers are in your area and visit your property to establish a line of sight. A receiver is then set up on your property, which is then connected via a cable to your wireless router.
5. A useful vehicle
Having the right vehicle can have a considerable impact on how you find off-grid life. A robust, comfortable car does so much more than get you from A to B. This may not immediately seem like a luxury, but when your off-grid, anything that has the power to halve the difficulty of a job is the ultimate in luxury.
Depending on your lifestyle and needs, I have three suggestions for a vehicle that will supercharge your off-grid home:
- Pickup truck -This gives you the best of both worlds, its heavy-duty, gets the job done, but also looks after you on a long journey. If you need a vehicle to be your off-grid workhorse but also hit the road every now and then, you need a pickup.
- All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) – An ATV is ideal if you want something to run around your land without needing to hit the road. It’s small and compact and can do a surprising number of useful jobs like plowing snow, pulling logs, and other bulky items with a winch, plowing, mowing, and transporting loads.
- Utility vehicle (UTV) – A UTV is similar to an ATV but has two side by side seats instead of one and is designed as a work vehicle. The great thing about UTV’s is that they are so versatile and have many different formations and options.
Either of these vehicles is going to bring a touch of luxury to your off-grid experience. Not only do they get the job done, but you’re going to have tons of fun too.
6. Home automation system
With the growing popularity of systems like Alexa and the Google Home Hub, its not surprising that thousands of examples of compatible technology have now hit the shelves. Previously, automating your home to respond to your voice, the click of a button and movement was futuristic, expensive and required large pieces of complicated equipment.
This video is from 2015. You can see how quickly things have advanced from the bulky tech here to the sleek home hubs of today:
Now, you can get your self some simple gadgets that will work together to control TVs, set-top boxes, fans, and plug sockets. A home that responds to your every request is the height of luxury, but it can be achieved relatively easily off-grid.
Many of the devices used to automate a home require very little power, and many can be bought for between $20 and $40. This video will give you an idea of what can be achieved with Alexa on an Amazon Echo and some other small pieces of technology:
A system like this has greater relevance to an off-grid home than any other; these systems allow close monitoring of safety, power usage, and even water economy.
7. Abundant permaculture garden
A permaculture garden is one where every plant, creature, and feature has a role. Every system is carefully designed to interact with each other and provide numerous useful functions. It is an incredibly productive method of getting the best out of your land, whatever its size.
Related reading: How much land do you need to be self-sufficient?
However, because of the complexity of the systems involved, the designing and building of a permaculture garden can occasionally need the guiding hand of an expert. Hiring a permaculture expert to design and build your super productive garden is the ultimate in outdoor luxury. In addition, one of the best features of permaculture is that there can be very little maintenance or digging required once it is in place.
It is possible to design and implement a permaculture garden yourself, but hiring a designer will get you off to a great start and soon having you living off the land.
I recommend Gardener’s Supply Company for any extra equipment or information you might need. SeedsNow is a great place to visit for all your vegetable seeds and NatureHills has you covered for plants and fruit trees.
Luxury doesn’t have to be expensive; quite often, it is, but if you desire a luxurious off-grid life without constant compromise, it is possible.
Some of these ideas require large amounts of cash, a few require the careful use of the money you were going to spend anyway, and others require very little at all.
Check out my recommendations for equipment that will help you take your home off-grid.