Did you know the average person uses around 80-100 gallons of water per day?
That is a lot of water!
When talking about off-grid living, it is usually electric systems which gets mentioned first.
But we can live without electricity.
It is WATER that we can’t live without.
Whether your goal is to become self-reliant by going off grid or you want to be more environmentally-friendly, water should be your first priority.
There are 3 main sources of water when living off grid.
Here’s what you need to know about each of them to start going off-grid.
Off-Grid Water Systems
Off-Grid Water System #1
The majority of the earth’s fresh water is below its surface. Digging a well allows you to access this fresh water.
Better yet, much of the contaminants have been removed from the water as it filtered through the layers of ground.
So, well water can be relatively clean (though it still needs to be tested and treated).
There are three main types of wells that you can use.
This is probably what you imagine when you think of a well: a hole in the ground with a cute little wall and roof over it. You throw a bucket down into the well and pull up water.
Dug wells don’t go very deep into the earth, so they must be over an aquifer which is close to the surface of the earth. The ground water could easily dry up leaving you without a source of water.
Because you won’t get much water from aquifers so close to the surface, there are only really suitable for drinking water and not for agriculture use.
This is a more modern approach to well water. Instead of digging the well by hand, machinery is used to dig a very deep, narrow hole into the ground.
Because the well hole goes down much deeper – up to 3000 feet – it goes through more than one aquifer in the ground. The deeper aquifer will have more water and the water will be cleaner.
To get the water out of the ground, you will need some sort of pump. There are both manual and powered pumps.
These types of wells are made by driving a special type of pipe into the ground. The pipe is perforated and has a pointy end to facilitate the drilling. There are numerous methods of drilling the pipe into the ground. Some of these include:
- Percussion driving
- Water injection driving
- Undercutting driving
To dig a well, you can’t just start digging and hope you hit water. Ideally you thought about this before you bought your property and know that there are “sweet spots” for water underneath it. You can find this out by consulting a geologist or the local state geological survey office.
DIY Water Well Drilling
Off-Grid Water System #2
A Hand Pump
In case you haven’t guessed, it is common for off-grid homesteads to have a well. And the reason is that it is a reliable source of water that comes straight from the ground.
But let’s say you don’t have the money to go solar or wind-powered. And all you have is an electric pump.
Yet, you are looking for a back-up in case of an emergency.
Well, you are in luck. Remember the old fashioned hand pumps? They still work!
And you can actually purchase a hand pump here.
But you’ll need to know how to install it.
Here is a great article that tells you how to add a hand pump to an electric well.
Honestly, this is something I hope to do very soon.
Because though solar panels are great for taking you completely off the grid, they can be very expensive to get into.
However, this option is much more budget friendly.
Here is a great video showing you how to build a Water Ram water pump from easy to find parts at any local hardware store.
The Water Ram can pump water uphill hundreds of feet higher then the source delivering the water to the pump.
Off-Grid Water System #3
My reasoning is that it helps save water on a daily basis.
However, as great of an idea as this is, it is not something that would last for permanent long-term use. But it could definitely provide water for your animals for a decent period of time.
Yet, it needs to be mentioned if you are going to try to drink rainwater yourself then you’ll need to do some research to make sure you do so safely.
And some off-grid homes actually collect rain water and then install a purification system so they can use it for drinking.
So though this idea would not be enough to sustain a homestead for long periods of time (in the event of a catastrophe or purchasing a dry piece of land) it could certainly help with the amount of water you use from an alternate resource.
To use rainwater for drinking and other home uses, you’ll need a bit more complex of a setup.
DIY Rainwater Harvesting System
Here are the basic parts that usually make up a rainwater harvesting system:
- Catchment: This is where the rain will hit. In home rainwater harvesting systems, the catchment is usually your roof.
- Mesh Filter: The mesh prevents larger debris like leaves from getting into the conveyance system.
- Conveyance System: This is the components which will carry the rain water. Your gutters and downspouts can serve as part of the conveyance system. The mesh filter goes between the gutters and downspouts to keep debris out.
- First Flushers: When it rains, the initial rain which comes off your rooftop is usually the dirtiest as it picks up any debris and dirt on the root. As the rain continues to fall, the water coming off the roof becomes progressively cleaner. First flushers are systems which divert the first spells of rain. After the first flush is filled, it will trigger a valve so the rest of the rainwater is carried to the collection system.
- Pre-Filters: These are the components which filter smaller debris from the water before it gets into the tank. There are many types of pre-filters. Sand filters and charcoal filters are two common options. If you only use rainwater for irrigation, then this is the only type of filter you need. Pre-filters are usually gravity-fed.
- Storage Tank: These are the tanks which hold your collected rainwater. They can be aboveground or underground and come in many different sizes.
- Post-Filters: Post-filtration systems treat water as it leaves the tank. They are usually pressure-fed (as opposed to gravity-fed pre-filters) and have a very small pore size to prevent bacteria, parasites, and algae from getting through. UV treatment can also be used.
- Distribution System: This consists of the components which will transport the water from the tank to where you want it to go. Advanced rainwater harvesting systems are connected to your home. A basic system might just have a spigot so you can put the water into buckets to carry where you need it.
And if you have other questions about rainwater harvesting here is a great video!
If you ever asked yourself... How do we filter the water? Other ways we harvest rain? How do we clean the gutters? Isn’t rainwater acidic? What about bird poop? Is rainwater harvesting illegal? Then this video was made for you.