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off grid house

Living Off The Grid: Privacy Through Resource Independence

by The Drifter on November 24, 2009

Reading time: 4 – 7 minutes

Some people might equate living off the grid with living similar to how Olympic Skiier Bode Miller did growing up, no electricity, no water, in a remote cabin like its 1099 CE. For some, the idea is romantic, but there are few who are passionate enough about becoming energy independent, reducing their carbon footprint, saving money, or privacy to sacrifice that much of their life, and I don’t blame them. Although Les Stroud chose to go off the grid by purchasing a remote property and supplying it with what he needed, an idea appealing to many, others who wish to vanish in plain site can easily go off the grid as wel

Going off the grid is becoming a much less intrusive process, even an average suburban home can go off the grid at the initial cost of a home renovation with no serious disruptions in their way of life. Not having to consume the products of the utility companies means not having to continuously disclose your location and compromise your privacy. Here are the main systems that you can replace.


Producing all of the elecricity that you consume is a function of many factors. The climate you live in, the appliances you have, your own personal habits, state laws, local zoning ordinances, and more can all affect your decision about how to produce all of your own electricity. No matter where you live, you will probably use a combination of solar panels, wind turbines, battery power, and a standby generator. Another component may be to use propane tanks or propane powered generators or appliances. Different combinations of these items can create more than enough power for the average household. Although some like to sell their excess power back to the grid, where possible, if privacy is your goal, severing your connection to the grid altogether is preferred.


Water is the most difficult modern service to produce more than your demand. Usually the best option to get your own water is to dig a well on your property. This can be expensive but, where possible, is a great way to be self sufficient in collecting water. This option is probably not even possible if you live in a suburban area. There is also the option of installing a rainwater harvesting system. The area of an average household in most of the US is sufficient to collect a significant amount of water. With a water tank to store the rainwater, you can take the rain that falls for a few months, weeks, or days per year, and make it last throughout the year. You might have to change the landscaping of your yard and install low flow fixtures to create a lower water demand, but the normal demands of a household can usually be met. In those areas that do not receive enough rain to supply your household with the water that it needs, a few deliveries per year from a bulk water delivery company to refill your tanks will probably suffice.


Many homes and businesses use septic tanks rather than a connection to the sewer line. With a septic tank installed, you can hire a private service to pump it on a regular basis, rather than make regular payments to the city for sewer service.


It is no longer necessary to give up most of the creature comforts that we take for granted in order to go off the grid. Adopting a lifestyle that uses less water and energy can make the process cheaper, but like Survivorman, I like to plug in my guitar sometimes. Expectations and needs of a modern household can now be met while still maintaining privacy from utility companies by going off the grid.  More compete strategy for using off-grid living for privacy can be found if you get How To Vanish the book.

What Privacy Issues Concern You?

I write articles based mostly on what I am thinking about and what I think other people would be interested in learning.  I have also been spending some time putting these ideas down in a very detailed and organized way in a book so that I can present it as good resource for everyone. I have also been asked to write about some topics that answer some of the questions of readers for other websites.  When those are published I will let you know, but I want to make sure that I am addressing all of the issues that you, the readers, are concerned about.   Leave comments and emails about what privacy concerns you have and I will do my best to respond to your concerns.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The Drifter is a California attorney. He holds a degree in Accounting from the University of Utah and a law degree from California Western School of Law. He practices civil litigation, domestic and foreign business entity formation and transactions, criminal defense and privacy law. He is a strong advocate of personal and financial freedom and civil liberties. This is merely one article of 129 by .
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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alan Harper January 11, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Havesting water is fine and in France the Government actually give you an incentive with agrant if you install a watrer harvestor. However I have learnt here in UK the Water authority actaully own all the wate even that which falls from heaven onto you property. How they are going to police that God only knows
I was going to import water harvestors from Malaysia to UK until I learnt of this UK law. Does anyone know the detals of this edict. Alan from Cornwall, UK

2 Ginnee January 23, 2011 at 10:42 am

We live off-grid on a rainforest mountain in Southern Costa Rica and have learned how to live with less electricity. For a while we live with no electricity. Every dinner was a romantic candle light event. We now make hydro-power, I have a tall skinny Euro style fridge, electic lights in every room, a gas stove, compost toilet, make methane with a biodigester, grow some food and cows, use LED bulbs, use rechargable everything (flashlights, drills, laptops, cellphones…)….and I am connected to the internet using my 3G Nokia E63 SmartPhone at this moment. Life is good off-grid. Yes it has been a learning curve. I don’t iron, don’t use a hairdryer, no dishwasher, but who needs that anyway? We were not looking to remake the old life, we wanted a new life, a new way.

3 Mark June 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Hello. Thank you for the valuable information. My concern is how to buy guns privately. I understand that going to a gun show and or buying from a non-federally registered dealer is the way to go. Does this match your research? Also I think it would be good to write an article about it for all your other readers who might not know.

4 jcb March 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Harvesting rainwater is great unless you live in Colorado, Utah or Washington now and later on in several other states now discussing making it illegal. In California many suburban areas have rules and maybe even laws against having a generator or at least requiring tons of permits and paperwork before putting up systems to generate electricity. It’s petty and dumb but that is how the bureau-rats make sure you pay them for water, sewer and power. As usual–follow the money.

5 Tom McCarey May 1, 2012 at 10:29 am

What about a Russian/Finnish stove for heat, and a small (20kW) hydro-electric generator (where there is flowing water with enough fall)? The electric options mentioned are all worse than nonsense r. They are high-tech, complicated, unreliable, and not cost-effective. Needing a back-up generator, propane, etc. isn’t my idea of being off the grid.

6 Sam June 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm

You dont say much about email, especially from others. I receive several newsletters about politics and would like it to stay private. Any ideas? Thanks, Sam

7 Trace Mayer, J.D. June 23, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Sam, Just like you can use a ghost address to obscure your physical address you can also use ghost email addresses. For example, you can setup an anonymous email account for all your newsletter subscriptions and then privately and securely check it using a VPN or TOR and a private browser within a TrueCrypt volume. Another solution is Mailinator.com but they will only keep the emails for about 24 hours.

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