Living off the grid is primary goal for many people interested in homesteading. Getting free of monthly electrical bills takes ingenuity and the right equipment. But choosing to take responsibility for generating your own power also increases the number of chores you’ll need to do around the off grid homestead as spring arrives. Taking the time to do the right maintenance makes your off grid lifestyle more affordable by preventing damage.
Check for Winter Damage
Start each spring with a basic inspection of your solar photo voltaic system, hydropower generator, or home wind power equipment. Look for obvious signs of damage, such as cracks in PV panels or loose connections between cables and terminals. Call the provider of your equipment if you notice anything out of the ordinary. Ask the manufacturer to recommend a repair technician with training on the specific equipment you’re relying on for living off the grid. Most repairs can’t be handled by the homeowner, but you can remove tree limbs that may have fallen on your equipment to prevent damage from occurring. A timely repair from a repair technician can save you hundreds of dollars in equipment replacement.
Clean Out Stove and Vent Pipes
Most homeowners choosing to try living off the grid install a wood stove, pellet stove, or other solid or liquid fuel burning heating system. Solar panels don’t generally produce enough power for electrical heating, especially during winter. If you rely on wood, gas, heating oil, or other similar fuels, clean your pipes for spring. It’s always a good practice to clear out creosote and other build up as you stop using your heating equipment. Waiting until fall can leave you struggling to prepare your equipment on a cold day. Taking the time to clean out vents and pipes for all equipment on your off grid homestead ensures that you have much less work to do when all you want is a little warmth on a chilly day.
Cut and Prune Trees
Spring is also the best season for taking a critical look at the trees around your home and any power generating equipment, especially solar panels. Trees that need pruning to limit their growth on one side are best trimmed during the spring before their buds or leaves emerge. Spring is also a good time for removing entire trees. Reducing shade around your home doesn’t just help you produce more solar power. It can also reduce dampness that encourages mold growth and rot in wood structures. Living off the grid requires you to learn the basics of forestry. This knowledge allows you to make good decisions about which trees to keep and which to remove.
Care for Your Living Off the Grid Backup Generator
Whether you rely on solar panels, wind turbines, water-powered generators, or other equipment, you likely have a bank of batteries as well. But eventually even the biggest battery banks run down. When something interrupts your power supply, a backup generator is essential for most homesteads. Living off the grid doesn’t eliminate your need for running water or light. Spring is the time to check the fluids, clean the filters, and test run your backup generator system. Add fuel stabilizer if you’ve powered it up recently but don’t expect to need it for a few more months. Spring storms create a lot of demand for backup power in some parts of the country, so giving your system a tune-up early on can prepare you for the challenge.
Clean Solar Battery Terminals
Finally, take some time to careful clean the terminals on your battery bank for solar PV panels before humid weather sets in to increase existing corrosion. It’s especially important to clean these terminals annually if you live anywhere near a coastal area. The slightest amount of saltwater in the area can speed up terminal corrosion significantly. Use a mixture of distilled bottled water and ordinary baking soda to make a paste, then brush the terminals with the paste with a specialty brush designed for this purpose. A little cleaning each spring keeps your batteries charging as the sun’s strength increases and your total power generation rises each day.