How to Live Off the Grid in Alaska


Living off the grid means never having to pay another electric bill. Getting to that point requires planning and preparation, especially in Alaska, where the weather can be extreme.

Things You'll Need

  • Solar panels
  • Pelton wheel
  • Battery bank
  • Composting toilet
  • Rainwater collection barrels
  • Well
  • Wood-burning stove
  • Wood


  • Consider whether to use solar or hydroelectric power. Solar requires an investment in solar panels, an inverter, and storage and backup batteries. Because winter sunshine is scant, battery backups should hold enough charge to last five days. Hydroelectric power is worth considering if a stream runs through your property. Some Alaska residents obtain free hydroelectric power by using a Pelton wheel, which is connected to an inverter. The Pelton Wheel, a water turbine that was invented by Lester Allen Pelton in 1870, is a wheel with multiple buckets shaped like paddles. The device is placed into the flow of running water. As water moves over the wheel, it spins and generates electricity. Excess energy from solar and hydroelectric power systems is stored in battery backups. Consider installing solar and hydroelectric so that you will have a backup power source.

  • Make your home sewer-free. Regular flushing toilets are heavy users of fresh water and burden the sewer system. Septic tanks, individual sewage containment and treatment systems require servicing and maintenance by professionals. Replace the toilets in your home with composting toilets, which use little or no water and can be used even when liquid water is scarce, which is typical in the Alaska winter.

  • Obtain your own water supply. One way is to drill a well on your property. You can also set up a rainwater collection system, using rainwater collection barrels to store the water. A gutter system can assist in draining water into your collection barrels. If you live on property with a stream, you can pump water from it into your home.

  • Alaska winters are extremely cold, so make sure that your home is well insulated and that all cracks are sealed. Install a wood-burning stove. Collect enough wood during the summer to last the winter. Keep your wood in a dry place that is easily accessible in the winter. To save wood and money, have everyone sleep in the room with the stove.

Tips & Warnings

  • Conserve energy. Do not use more than you can easily produce, especially in winter.
  • If you plan to use solar power, invest in high quality deep-cycle batteries for your solar battery bank. They are expensive but will store more energy and last years longer than cheaper batteries.
  • Being without electricity is especially dangerous in winter. Make sure that your solar or hydroelectric power system is ready before it is needed.

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