So with this list, I will try not to overwhelm you with hopes and fears about the massive end goal. Instead, here are weekend-sized projects that allow you to build up confidence, have relatively speedy success, keep the dream alive, and achieve small steps toward freedom.
Whether you live on 40 acres in Idaho or a bitty slice of land in inner-city Chicago, all of the projects can offer you more autonomy from systems that are beyond your control.
Off-Grid Projects to Consider
When it comes to off-grid living, one of the first systems that should be established is your water supply. Of course, that water is only useful for consumption if it is potable.
Dealing with your own waste may not be considered a palatable topic but the fact is, we all do it and most of us depend on a mysterious flush down mysterious pipes to mysterious locations to handle it. When you go off-grid, however, the responsibility of handling your own waste falls squarely in your lap. Thankfully, with proper management, what was formerly labeled “waste” can instead be converted into safe-to-handle fertilizer, as these plans show.
Setting up a composting toilet can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, as we detailed in anearlier article.
If you have the space for the composting system, a composting toilet is simple to set up, and offers you a place to relieve yourself whether or not there’s a sewage hookup. Of course, even if you don’t plan on using a DIY toilet system in the long term, it’s a great skill to have prepared for emergencies, small house living, traveling, or RV camping (as long as you have a place to compost it at the end of the trip).
When folks talk about food preservation, freezing and canning are probably the first methods that spring to mind. The strange thing about these methods is they are some of the most fragile to depend on. Most freezers only work when they are connected to that lifeline of electrical power, and the lid-and-ring canning process only works if you have enough of those lids.
Before a freezer or canning jar was a glimmer in an inventor’s eye, there was dehydration — a dependable method of preserving a harvest that requires nothing other than good ventilation. You can use these plans to create a modern, off-grid dehydrating chamber by upcycling an unwanted stand-up freezer or refrigerator into a solar dehydrator. You keep a giant hunk of material out of the garbage and get some shelf-stable food: win-win!
Rain barrelsof all sizes are the gift of foresight for dry times. In several regions, if you plan ahead and gather the spring rains, you can ensure that you’ll be able to water your animals and gardens during a dry spell. And even if you don’t live in a drought-prone area, a rain barrel by the garden or chicken coop can give you super easy-to-access water so you can get the chores done with relative ease.
I know they sell cutesy premade rain barrels at the garden store, but you can make your own custom-fit rain barrel for far, far less. Give a 55-gallon plastic barrel or a some 275-gallon IBC totes a new lease on life with the simple addition of a spigot (and a custom paint job, if you’re feeling artistic).
In our modern world, the idea of washing laundry by hand has become synonymous with hardship, crisis, or so called third-world conditions of living. But for the off-grid experimenter, it’s one of the many benchmarks for securing self-reliant success.
有许多不同的小工具和设备都被认为是优秀的离网洗衣系统，但在尝试了其中几种后都失望了，我宁愿向你提供我个人使用的系统——廉价、可靠、有效的洗手盆搭配一个活塞。I detail the process in full here对于那些有兴趣。
You can also build a more complicated unit, if you’d like.
The benefits of raised beds are many — they allow you to start growing your own food, make for excellently shaped root vegetables, save you a backache, and they look nice, too. But for those who don’t want to commit to the permanent change they make on a landscape, who rent their property, or plan to move in a few years and don’t want to customize the backyard too much, consider the strawbale garden as a workaround. Easy to set up, customize, and remove, strawbales offer you all the benefits of a raised garden with the bonus of being easy to take down and convert to compost.
Drying clothing with the free power of the wind and sun can be a game-changing first step in switching over to an off-grid lifestyle(it was for me, anyway). Setting one up can be as simple as stringing a sturdy line between the posts on your porch and a tree, or as refined as building a stand-alone structure. There are kits you can buy, but there are also plenty of online plans for the DIY crowd.
Once you’ve enjoyed sleeping on a sun-dried pillowcase, you’ll understand why dryer sheets are always trying to mimic the experience with their fakey “line-dried cotton” scents.
Farmer and author Joel Salatin is probably responsible for making this moveable chicken system famous, but it’s for good reason. It works well. Chicken tractors give your birds the benefits of free-ranging with the predator protection of being under cover.
Fellow off-grid homesteader Doug has a simple design featured on his YouTube channel where you can quickly assemble a decent tractor for around $50. Considering some small coops at the feed store are hundreds of dollars, the savings of a DIY job like this can’t be beat.
Cooking food with the sun? Absolutely. You can convert bright, sunny days into bakery, bread, and slow-simmered goodness with a bit of reflective material and some patience.There are several plans to be found online, from tinfoil-covered pizza boxes that look like a (vaguely) successful middle school science project, to downright professional-looking builds that will last you for many meals.
For full disclosure, the Sun Oven I have pictured here isn’t a DIY job. I cook with the sun so often during the summer that I wanted the heft of this very well-built model. From my experience cooking, I can tell you what the photos online don’t. You need to be very present when cooking with the sun.
The original off-grid cooking system also happens to be a great conversation starter, a source of cozy heat on a starry night, and an ideal location for midnight storytelling. Setting up a fire pit in the backyard gives you all this and more. A fire pit also allows you to clean up windfallen sticks and dried brush trimmings, converting all that unwanted woody material into ashes for the garden or used to dust chickens with a parasite problem.
The fire pit I have pictured here was built solidly with bricks and a sawed-in-half metal barrel, and I use it for cooking through much of the summer. If this isn’t quite your style, the options for the DIY warrior are endless.
Don’t give up on your hopes of going off-grid even if you can’t figure out where you’re supposed to do it yet. I hope this article has given you ample fodder and plenty of helpful links to keep the dream alive. These are just my own ideas. If you have other projects that have helped you become more independent, let us know in the comments below.