The term off-the-grid (OTG) or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-the-grid homes are autonomous; they do not rely on municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas, electrical power grid, or similar utility services. A true off-grid house is able to operate completely independently of all traditional public utility services. The idea has been recently popularized by certain celebrities including Ed Begley, Jr.[1] who stars in Living with Ed[2] television show on the Home & Garden Television network. Actress Daryl Hannah also promotes off-grid living and constructed her home in Colorado according to those principles. As well as survival expert and co-star of Dual Survival Cody Lundin[3]


Electrical power

Electrical power can be generated on-site with renewable energy sources such as solar, wind or geothermal; with a generator and adequate fuel reserves; or simply done without, as in Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities. Such a system is called a stand-alone power system.


On-site water sources can include a well, stream, or lake. Depending on the water source, this may include pumps and/or filtration. Rainwater can also be harvested.


On 13 April 2006, USA Today reported that there were "some 180,000 families living off-grid, a figure that has jumped 33% a year for a decade," and cited Richard Perez, publisher of Home Power Magazine,[4] as the source.[5] Assuming the same rate of growth, there would be a quarter million off-grid households in the United States by late 2007. Because many Third World citizens have never had the chance to go on the grid, current estimates are that 1.7 billion people live off-grid worldwide.[6]

Environmental impact

The State of California is encouraging solar and wind power generation that is connected to the electrical grid to avoid the use of toxic lead acid batteries for night time storage.[7] Grid-tie systems are more expensive due to the extra hardware costs (such as a grid-tie inverter) especially when old car batteries that can no longer supply enough current to start a car are reused.[8]

Going off-grid can be done for altruistic reasons or to lower the environmental impact of living, as the typically limited amount of on-site renewable energy available is an incentive to reduce its use. But if energy usage is not reduced, going off-grid actually has a larger environmental impact versus using the grid, due to the lower efficiencies of the components. It is often done to residential buildings only occasionally occupied, such as vacation cabins, to avoid high initial costs of traditional utility connections. Other persons choose to live in houses where the cost of outside utilities is prohibitive, or such a distance away as to be impractical. In his book "How to live off-grid" Nick Rosen lists seven reasons for going off-grid. The top two are saving money, and reducing the carbon footprint. Others include survivalists, preparing for the collapse of the oil economy and bringing life back to the countryside.

Economic consideration

In situations where grid parity has been reached, it becomes cheaper to generate one's own electricity rather than purchasing it from the grid. This depends on equipment costs, the availability of renewable energy sources (wind, sun), and the cost of a grid connection. For example, in certain remote areas a grid connection would be prohibitively expensive, resulting in grid parity being reached immediately.


In Africa, small inexpensive Chinese-made solar electric systems became available, and as of 2010, they were being installed on mudhuts in villages in Kenya, and other countries. Inexpensive solar panels and LED lights make the systems affordable.[9]

See also

Sustainable development.svg Sustainable development portal



External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Off the grid — may refer to: Off the grid, housing not connected to public utilities Off the Grid (song), the first single from the Beastie Boys album The Mix Up Off the Grid with Les Stroud, a 2006 documentary of a family s building of an off the grid home… …   Wikipedia

  • off-the-grid — ˌoff the ˈgrid 8 [off the grid] (also ˌoff ˈgrid ; ) adjective (especially NAmE) not using the public supplies of e …   Useful english dictionary

  • off the grid — UK US adjective (also off grid) NATURAL RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENT ► not connected to the public supply of electricity, gas, etc.: »These are innovative green homes for an alternative off the grid lifestyle. off the grid adverb (also off grid) ►… …   Financial and business terms

  • off-the-grid — UK US adjective (also off grid) NATURAL RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENT ► not connected to the public supply of electricity, gas, etc.: »These are innovative green homes for an alternative off the grid lifestyle. off the grid adverb (also off grid) ►… …   Financial and business terms

  • off the grid — ˌoff the ˈgrid idiom (especially NAmE) not using the public supplies of electricity, gas, water, etc • The mountain cabin is entirely off the grid. • You can produce your own power and live off the grid. see also ↑off the grid …   Useful english dictionary

  • off the grid — Someone who is off the grid lives outside society and chooses not to follow its rules and conventions …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • off the grid — adj. Relating to a person, family, dwelling, or community that no longer requires connections to utilities, especially the electricity and water supplies and the sewage system. Also: off the grid, off grid, off grid. Example Citation: The… …   New words

  • Off-the-grid — Der Ausdruck Off the grid (OTG) oder Off Grid bezeichnet im Allgemeinen eine selbstgenügsame Lebensweise, die geringe Abhängigkeit von öffentlichen Einrichtungen aufweist. Im Deutschen lässt sich der Begriff am besten übersetzen mit… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa — For other uses, see Off the grid. Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa is a 2007 documentary written and directed by Jeremy Stulberg and Randy Stulberg. The film documents a loose knit desert community in the Mesa, five miles from the Rio Grande and 25 …   Wikipedia

  • The Knight on the Grid — Infobox Television episode Title = The Knight on the Grid Series = Bones Caption = Season = 3 Episode = 8 Airdate = November 20, 2007 Production = 3AKY08 Writer = Noah Hawley Director = Dwight H. Little Photographer = Guests = John Francis Daley… …   Wikipedia