By Wil Burlin, Off-Grid Specialist Unbound Solar
When I first moved off the grid it was because we bought property where there were no power lines yet. I didn’t know what I was getting into.
I also didn’t know that I was about to go on the biggest adventure of my life. Or that I would become a solar enthusiast, off grid system designer and installer. From those beginnings, I have developed a lifelong mission to be as sustainable as possible while living a comfortable “normal” life.
We raised our 16-year-old daughter off the grid in a handmade adobe house, and a few years ago I purchased a new off grid straw bale home. Our daughter has learned to conserve, to problem solve, to become self-sufficient and to appreciate things that would be expected in a typical American home.
I have even had friends ask to come stay with me during an extended power outage, and I was thrilled to help. We fired up the wood stove, baked a casserole and had plenty of electricity for lights, charging phones and laptops, watching movies, and using power tools to cut wood for the fire.
Winter is one of the most rewarding times to live off the grid. When snow and ice are pulling power lines down and leaving the town without power for several days, all I have to do is sweep the snow off my solar panels and it’s business as usual at our house.
Sure, after enduring a week of blizzard conditions, we can run out of power from time to time. Rather than getting annoyed, it makes me appreciate how well the system works 99% of the time. You can always use a generator to charge your batteries, but my family likes to conserve and live within the means of our system. If we run out of power, we run out of power and switch to candles and gas lamps if we have to.
What could seem like a nuisance to some, actually feels good to us, like we have stepped back in time. Living life as our forefathers did, with natural supplies, waking and sleeping with the sun. Cuddling for extra warmth. Connected to the planet and all the animals that live outside and subject to extreme weather conditions. It makes me appreciate life to the fullest.
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Wil B. is a PV system designer and sales technician for Unbound Solar. He lives off the grid in Taos, New Mexico.