All of these may not apply to you but most of them will.
Maybe the least obvious and most important is your partner if you have one. It is of utmost importance for you to be in unity. If you are not, it may work but it won’t be fun.
This will not apply to everyone but if it does, really check it out. I was in a local hardware store today and the clerk said that the next county over has passed a law that dictates that every house has to be grid tied. He claimed that no one could have a totally independent solar array. I will check that out.
Roads of ingress and egress. Some of us want to get really out there and therefore just getting there can be a challenge. I had to build a road and cross a creek that floods several times a year. Do you have to cross other peoples property? Do you have a deeded right of way?
Is your property in a flood prone area? Mine isn’t but I sure had problems with water draining across my property from land that was up the hill.
Septic system. Will this property percolate? Is it suitable for a septic tank and can you get a permit if it is required?
If everything else is a go, water is of utmost importance. In my opinion, a well is best but there are many other options. Rain catchment is certainly a possibility. Spring water may be a possibility if not polluted. Hauling water may be a short term possibility albeit a poor choice. Most of these except the well will require some type of filtration and upkeep.
This can be anything from a Home depot shed to a Mother Earth Ship. Tents, yurts, log cabins or shipping containers may be your choice depending on your finances, your tastes and what you have available.
This is actually what defines you as being off the grid (electrical grid)> Setting up a solar array can be very expensive expecially if you hire a company to do it. DIY is great if you understand solar and electricity. If you are doing a whole house system, do a lot of research, get help from someone with experience and ask lots of questions. One of your first steps should be to learn the vocabulary. Don’t just know the words but what they mean. You can do this before you go off the grid. Some of the parts are expensive. The panels are costly but you can find used panels at a fraction of the new price.
If you are off grid, you will probably want battery backup. The new lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo) batteries are very expensive but have advantages that offset the expense. Like you don’t have to have as many because you can discharge them deeper without damage and you can add more batteries later which you cannot do with lead acid batteries. I know that from experience. I had eight 100 amp hr AGM batteries. A year later I added 12 more of the same kind. A year passed and I lost half of them. That was a $2,000 mistake. And worse than that, I couldn’t just replace the bad ones or the same thing would’ve happened again. I had to get all new batteries!
Inverter. This is another expensive part of the system and there are several things to make sure you get. Pur sine wave. That means it won’t mess up your electronic equipment. Of course it has to be the right voltage for your system, for instance my system is a 48 volt system. Will you have and 220 volt appliances? If so, you will want to have both 120 volt and 220 volt output. You probably need a charge conroller and many inverters have them built in. Now figure how many kilowats you will be using. I originally bought a 12 kilowatt inverter but didn’t need one quite that large.
Wiring, connectors, DC breakers, cut off switches. Shome of these are hard to find. Home Depot doesn’t carry much DC stuff and you cannot use AC switches etc because the current will arc across the contacts and weld them together. The cables need to be “braided” for f;exibility and to carry more current. If you have a generator you will probably need a “double pole single throw” switch to change from generator to solar. These are hard to find so I will give you a link. Large buss bars will be needed to join strings of batteries together. DC breakers will be needed to isolate the panels and the inverter. I will try to leave links for the hard to find things.
I have left food to the end but it is so important. We have become so dependent on grocery stores but recent shortages and supply chain problems have me very concerned about having a dependable supply of food. Some people take care of that by buying hundreds of dollars worth of canned goods. That’s a good idea just make sure you rotate it. Frozen food is good but you have to be 100% sure of your power or you can lose it all. Freeze dried is nice and doesn’t require refrigeration. I recently spoke with a man whose religion requested that he keeps a two year supply of food. He said that it used to be one year but they just increaded it.
That brings us to something that is special to me. I love growing a garden and watching it produce food for us to eat. A good site with plenty of sun, decent drainage and fertile soil is needed. If the soil isn’t good you can fix it but it takes a while. I like to mulch my garden with leaves because that keeps the weeds down and helps hold the water in. It also builds the soil as the leaves decompose. After a few years, your garden will not require fertilizer.
My homestead is just over a year old and we canned over a hundred jars of food. Hopefully next year will be much better.
Can you sustain yourself on this property? Finances is a big part of that. Do you have a savings or job or some other form of income? Another aspect is skills and abilities. Are you able to wear the many different hats required to live off grid. When the power goes down you can’t just call the power company and report it, you have to troubleshoot it and fix it yourself. Handyman par excellence could be your title since you do carpentry, plumbing, electricity, gardening and all sorts of repairs. Another aspect of sustainability is your health (physical, emotional, spiritual). Pressures on a homestead may be different than in the city. The work may be more physical demanding like cutting wood or digging a ditch or hoeing in a garden.
This will add two more hats to your collection. One is that of veterinarian and the other is butcher. The last one is difficult for most people. Like a doctor making his first incision, it can be a very queasy moment. Only the most determined will be able to pass this test. I don’t like it but i do it because it has to be done.
Somebody has to protect the homestead from heat, cold, rain, wind, fire, predators, people and anything else that would bring harm.
When you think about it, that’s a pretty complex role for anyone to accept but at the same time, it is very fulfilling if you are able to succeed. Many are those who dream about doing it but never take the initial step. Those people will look at you with a great deal of admiration and respect.
If you take that step, odds are you will make mistakes and fail at something but it is a learning experience. You will probably get lots of things right. What matters is that you enjoy the experience and don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Most people who have been through this process are proud of their accomplishments and are more than happy to share their insights. May God bless you as you plan and whatever your decision, go in peace!