Tiny House Off Grid
Kenton Zerbin Tiny House Workshop Presenter


Off-grid living is a rosy idea in most people’s minds, but you need some reality checks to live off-grid.

You have seen the Pinterest and Hollywood “house porn” of cozy crackling wood stoves, sexy sleek solar panels, and cute houses nestled into the countryside…

Don’t be fooled. Behind the scenes are complicated systems, hard work, and many many pennies. So I’m here to help you chase your dream home with a shot of reality…

Here are 3 reality checks to live off-grid:

1) Cost

An off-grid home costs more up-front in exchange for savings over time. Be prepared to drop cash on these more complicated systems. I highly recommend you go high quality and over-engineer your utility systems, after all, these are your lifelines for your house! This is what I did – every system is efficient and backed-up.

The cost to live off-grid? My utility systems cost $30K. Now I save on utility bills every month, am anti-fragile with every system backed up, and am proud of my impact.

2) Work

Off-grid systems are always going to have extra work. Take wood heat for example… chopping wood is basically like going to the gym, but instead, you are using a sharp dumbbell.

Chores will come in all shapes and sizes like brushing snow off solar panels, changing water filters, or checking on your batteries. But don’t worry, if you design your systems well you can design work out. Spend more time kicking back while you feel invigorated about your independent house.

I spend maybe 10 hours a year servicing my systems. This includes cleaning my panels, flu-pipe, & water-tanks, as well as maintaining my batteries (once every other month).

3) Education

While it’s empowering to manage your home, educating yourself is key to keep your money in your pocket and reduce stress.
Every house needs maintenance. To life off-grid, you need to educate yourself to be a pro-active manager and troubleshooter, or else you may not have a house! Huffington Post interviewed me about this.

You don’t need to be a bonafide plumber or electrician. Just as you educate yourself to be healthy before you need a doctor, you are going to educate yourself to keep your house healthy before you need anyone to help you. Feel wise, in control, and that you truly own your house and life.


There are many different motivations to drive the decision to live partially or fully off the grid, and it is up to each of us to decide if we value the benefits enough to take the plunge. Those who properly invest, who understand the work involved, and who are willing to take the time to learn their systems are the ones who fall in love with their off-grid home.

If you enjoyed this be sure to subscribe to the newsletter to keep following along! Or you join us for the 2.5-day crash course on how to design and build your own tiny house. Check out what you learn in the workshop.

Happy off-gridding and tiny housing!

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