There are so many off grid appliances to choose from that it can be hard to decide which one is right for you. But with a little bit of research, you’ll find the right appliance for your needs and lifestyle.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss some of the most important factors to consider when choosing an off grid appliance and some of the best options out there. I’ll also describe the appliances we use in our own off-grid home in Canada’s subarctic Northwest Territories. So if you're ready to go off the grid, read on.
What is an off grid appliance, and why would you want one?
An off grid appliance operates without being connected to the electricity grid. This can be useful if you live in a remote area or just want to prepare for power outages.
Off grid appliances can include anything from your fridge, stove, and washer and dryer to dishwashers and tankless water heaters. Some people include solar panels, wind turbines, generators, and storage batteries, although we consider them off grid home power systems.
While many off grid appliances may be more expensive to purchase than their traditional counterparts, they can ultimately save you money by helping you to avoid costly power outages.
In addition, off grid appliances can help to reduce your environmental impact by relying on renewable energy sources. And if you live off the grid like we do, they're necessary.
When searching for modern-day conveniences without being tied to the grid, off grid appliances might help you meet your self-reliance goals.
Factors to consider when choosing off grid appliances
When you're living off the grid, every appliance you use has a significant impact on your self-sufficiency. No two off grid setups are the same. So you need to carefully consider each machine, device, or appliance to ensure it fits your needs.
For example, a propane refrigerator is often an excellent choice for an off-grid home because it doesn't require electricity to run. However, propane can be expensive, and difficult to get, and store, depending on your area.
So it's essential to make sure you have a good supply and delivery setup before investing (or switch) to propane appliances.
We also found propane fridges to be very expensive and pretty small. That’s fine for smaller households, not so much if you’re a big family like we are.
A washing machine is another popular appliance for an off grid home. You can indeed wash clothes by hand. Yet as an off grid mama, I can tell you it's much easier and less time-consuming to use a machine.
I use a Kenmore electric model, but only run the 20-minute express wash.
However, you'll need to have a reliable water source for your washing machine, which can be a challenge in an off-grid setting. So when choosing appliances for your off-grid home, take the time to research all of your options to find the best fit for your needs.
And don't forget to make a plan to safely dispose of your used appliances too.
The best off grid appliances on the market today
If you're looking for the best off grid appliances on the market today, wood-burning cookstoves, propane or gas ranges, wall ovens, propane fridges, and DC refrigeration are all great options. Propane appliances are becoming increasingly popular for those who want to prepare for power outages or who live in areas where power is unreliable.
Here are some of the best off grid appliances on the market today:
Gas ranges are a great option for off grid cooking. They're relatively inexpensive and easy to use and depend on propane or natural gas for power.
Wood burning cook stoves
If your vision of an off grid life includes living cooking on a wood stove, consider getting a modern wood burning cook stove. Or do what we do at our other homestead property in northern Ontario.
We have an antique refurbished wood burning cook stove. It heats our log cabin and I can also cook and bake on it.
Propane fridges are an excellent option for off grid storage. They're durable and energy-efficient, and they can be powered by either propane or natural gas. Yet be warned, they’re expensive.
DC refrigeration is an excellent option for those who want to be able to store food for long periods. Batteries power it, so it's perfect for those who live in areas where power is unreliable.
Regardless of which type of appliance you choose, gas, propane, or DC refrigeration, all of these options are great for off grid living.
How to use and care for your off grid appliances
If you already live off the grid, you know that each decision requires careful thought and planning. You need to think about how each purchase will impact your budget and energy usage. Additionally, you must also take into account the maintenance and upkeep required.
Here are some tips for using and caring for your off grid appliances.
1. Choose appliances designed for off grid living. This may mean opting for a more simple design, but it will pay off in the long run in terms of energy efficiency and ease of use.
2. Be mindful of your energy usage. Off grid living requires careful management of energy resources. So be conscious of how much power your appliances use. Use them only when necessary, and unplug them when not in use.
3. Prepare to do some extra maintenance. When living off the grid, get proactive about maintaining your appliances. This may include regularly cleaning and inspecting them and repairing or replacing parts as needed.
Follow these tips to ensure your off grid appliances get used efficiently and stay in good working condition.
The challenge of living off the grid isn't for everyone. However, when you do your research, you can find appliances that best suit your lifestyle and off grid cabin.
Be sure to choose appliances designed for full-time off grid living. Prepare to do some extra maintenance. With careful planning, you can have all the comforts of home while living off the grid.
FAQs about off grid appliances
We get a lot of questions about off grid appliances. However, our number one question is “what appliances does your family have?”
As of May 2022, here’s what we’re using.
Kitchen: an electric Samsung fridge, dishwasher, and microwave. Though we rarely use the microwave. We only started using the dishwasher recently as we now have a Tesla 2 Powerwall and a new solar panel system. So we get a ton of solar power from April through September.
We also have an old 1980s model of a propane double wall oven - the brand is Woodward. I’d love a new propane oven one of these days as ours is too small. I can’t roast our large turkeys in it without chopping them into pieces.
In 2019 we replaced our old five-burner cooktop with a Unique brand 5 burner propane cooktop. We still also have a two-burner propane cooktop further down the counter.
Note: we have a large homestead-style country kitchen.
Laundry: we also have an electric Kenmore washing machine and a propane Kenmore dryer. It was converted to propane from a natural gas dryer.
Water heater: For many years we had an old water hot water tank, and an ancient boiler. When the boiler gave out in 2018, we replaced it with an NTI propane combination boiler and tankless water heater.
The reason we have several “regular” electric appliances is size. We need a large fridge and washing machine as our home sometimes has as many as five adults (plus two children) living in it. And in the summers, when our family visits, we can have as many as eight-to-10 adults staying here.
How much do off grid appliances cost?
The cost of an off grid appliance depends on its type and size. A propane fridge, for example, can cost between $500 and $2,000.
How often do I need to replace my off grid appliances?
Appliances should get replaced when they no longer work efficiently or safely.
What are the benefits of using off grid appliances?
Off grid appliances offer many benefits, including the ability to save money on your energy bill. Additionally, they can help you become more self-sufficient and reduce your reliance on the power grid.
Are there any disadvantages to using off grid appliances?
One potential disadvantage of using off grid appliances is that they require you to have a backup plan in place in case of an emergency or breakdown. You need to either know how to fix it yourself or know a knowledgeable repair person. If you live in a remote area as we do, good repair people are extremely hard to find.
What types of off grid appliances are available?
Some common types of off grid appliances include cooktops and ranges, ovens, fridges, washing machines, and clothes dryers.
What are the most popular brands of off grid appliances?
Several brands offer off grid appliances, but some popular ones include Unique, Goal Zero, and Coleman.
In addition, Sun Frost makes a range of energy-efficient refrigerators and fridges that suit off grid living.
Prometheus Lights offers a wide variety of LED lighting options designed to work without grid power.
And don't forget wood-fired cookstoves for cooking and heating. I have a Pioneer Princess wood burning cook stove on my wish list!
These are just a few of the most popular brands of off grid appliances.
Where can I buy them?
The best way to find the appliance you need is to identify your needs and then search for a brand that meets those needs. You can find the brands mentioned above at most major retailers that sell outdoor and camping gear.
Look for off grid appliances at camping and outdoor stores. Also check out online retailers like Amazon.com, or our favorite online homestead store, Lehman’s Hardware.
What is an off grid stove?
An off grid stove is a stove not connected to the electrical grid. ropane, natural gas, wood, or solar energy power off grid stoves.
Gas ranges are the most popular type of off grid stove, as they are relatively efficient and easy to use. However, solar energy appliances are becoming increasingly popular as they are more environmentally friendly.
Off grid stoves are an essential part of many households. They heat a home and also provide a way to cook food. Off grid stoves should only be used in well-ventilated areas, as they can produce harmful fumes.
What appliances can you run off propane?
Many people who live off the grid choose to use propane appliances. Propane is a clean-burning fuel that is relatively inexpensive and easy to store.
Some of the most common propane appliances include heaters, stoves, and water heaters. However, propane can also power other appliances such as refrigerators, generators, and even some types of vehicles.
If you consider using propane appliances, first figure out how much power you need.
Propane costs vary depending on your location, the type of appliance, and the size of your propane tank. However, propane is generally less expensive than other fuels such as gasoline or natural gas. As a result, propane appliances are popular options for those of us who live off the grid.
What are the benefits of using off grid appliances?
Off grid appliances offer several benefits, including energy efficiency and saving money on your energy bill. They’re usually more durable than “regular” appliances and can withstand even extreme conditions.
Finally, off grid appliances can help you live a more sustainable lifestyle by reducing reliance on grid power sources.
Note: We use a wood-burning cookstove at our homestead down in northern Ontario, which is still ON-grid. (Spoiler - we may have a new HUGE project in the works…)
What are the options for an off grid refrigerator?
If you're looking to live off the grid, one of the challenges you'll face is how to keep your food fresh.
Typical refrigerators require a constant supply of electricity, which can be a problem if you're not hooked up to the grid. However, there are a few different ways to keep your food cold without relying on electricity.
One option is to use a propane fridge. These fridges work similarly to traditional refrigerators, but they use propane as their power source.
Another option is to use a DC refrigerator. These refrigerators run off of deep cycle batteries, making them ideal for off-grid living. Whatever option you choose, make sure to do your research so that you can find the fridge that's right for you.
How do you make an off grid refrigerator?
There are a few different ways to make an off grid refrigerator.
One popular option is to simply use a propane fridge. Propane fridges are powered by propane gas, and they don't require any electricity to run. This makes them ideal for people looking to live entirely off the grid, like we do. (But we don’t have a propane fridge. More on that below.).
Another option is to use a DC refrigerator. Batteries power DC refrigerators, and they're often used in RVs and boats. However, they can also power off grid homes. In fact, until last year, we had a battery bank and inverter system. We still use this system to power our garage.
If you're interested in making your own off grid refrigerator, keep these things in mind.
First, make sure to ventilate your fridge properly.
Second, choose the right-sized fridge for your family.
And finally, make sure that your fridge can withstand extreme temperatures. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your off grid refrigerator will be safe and reliable.
What are the challenges of using tankless water heaters?
The biggest challenge is that they require a lot of power to operate.
Although tankless water heaters typically use less power than tank-type water heaters, they still require a lot of power.
Another challenge is that tankless water heaters may require direct current (DC). If you use an AC grid, you will need to use a converter or inverter to convert the AC into DC.
Tankless water heaters can be a good choice for people who want to reduce their reliance on the grid. However, it is crucial to understand the challenges before making the switch.