Discover these off-grid power sources so you can prepare for power-grid hiccups or living independently.
When it comes to long-term power sources, your main options will be an electric generator running on natural gas or a solar generator system.
In theory, micro-hydro energy systems can work too but it is not always easy to find good machines and suitable locations.
Similarly, there are not many people who will find wind-powered generators the best option for their situation.
For more short-term and smaller energy needs, a portable power station which is basically a battery with outlets could be good enough.
Keep in mind that you can also combine multiple of these off-grid power sources to compensate for the downsides of certain options.
1. Portable generators on fuel
While multiple types of generators run on some type of “fuel”, this first category focuses on the ones running on gasoline, propane, diesel, and especially natural gas.
The main benefit of these machines for off-grid situations is that they can generate relatively high amounts of power in a short amount of time.
This can be useful for more power-hungry devices like a heat pump, AC, or hot water heater.
Additionally, the portable aspect can be important if you want to be prepared for situations where moving to a different location is necessary (although the bigger models do weigh a lot).
You do want to keep in mind that many popular types of portable generator fuel are not always available.
Propane does last relatively long but will ultimately run out too.
Natural gas is likely the best long-term fuel option but is location-dependent too.
Another option if you want to stay flexible is a tri-fuel generator.
So while many portable generators have their downsides for long-term use due to fuel requirements, they can be useful for generating a lot of power in the short to medium future.
2. Solar generators
Solar generators aka solar panel systems are a relatively popular off-grid power source but they do still have both their upsides and downsides.
An important upside is that your “fuel source” is the sun which is free to use and comes up consistently every day no matter what is happening on earth.
In simpler words, you get a relatively consistent source of energy throughout the day.
On the other hand, you do want to keep in mind that solar generators do not have the highest power capacities unless you get a really big setup.
Especially in certain locations and seasons where/when the sunlight is not as intense.
You will not have access to new solar power at night either.
To run more power-intense off-grid living essentials, you may need to combine solar with the other electricity source types on this list.
You also want to keep the initial cost of the solar panels and installation in mind.
This upfront investment is not always possible or preferred over investing in other off-grid gear.
Another thing to note is that solar power systems are generally not the most mobile.
There are portable solar generators too but these are not the most impressive in terms of power capacities.
3. Power stations
Power stations are basically batteries with built-in outlets to make powering your off-grid devices easier.
As you may already understand, that means even the best power stations don’t actually produce power themselves.
In turn, the electricity from these devices will be relatively short-lived.
Especially if you consider the power capacities which are not the most impressive compared to portable generators and some solar system setups.
On the flip side, power stations do have the benefit of being relatively budget-friendly compared to many other off-grid power sources.
They also tend to be a lot more portable which can be valuable in certain situations.
In short, power stations can be useful for short power outages or trips but don’t expect too much power from them for too long.
4. Micro-hydro energy system
Micro-hydro energy systems are machines that use flows of water to generate electricity.
This is similar to the power generation systems in dams but on a consumer-friendly scale.
At first sight, this may sound like a good off-grid power source.
In practice, micro-hydro energy systems are still lacking in many ways.
First of all, you would need to be in a location with a suitable water flow to make these devices work.
And even in a situation like that, you would not be that mobile.
It is also fair to say that micro-hydro energy systems are currently not the most well-developed machines.
You will have to do some digging to find models that are quality enough to provide a good consumer (and off-grid) experience.
5. Wind turbine power system
Generating electricity from the wind with turbines is another off-grid power source that sounds great but is not ideal in a few ways.
First of all, you need to be in a location with enough strong wind to make a turbine worth the investment.
Additionally, this wind needs to flow in more or less the same direction to generate power consistently.
Even if your location checks off these boxes, the investment required for a wind turbine power system is relatively high.
You would be stuck in the same location with an eye-drawing tower in your backyard too.
In the end, it is hard to imagine many off-grid situations or locations where you would prefer wind turbines over some of the other options on this list.
This article was written and submitted by Mats Claes.