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Why Some Californians Are Opting to Live Off the Grid

Energy Efficiency

Why Some Californians Are Opting to Live Off the Grid

California residents are leaving cities in droves to try out affordable and energy efficient off the grid lifestyles


March 16, 2022
Off the grid home
Image: Stock.adobe.com

Frustrated by rising home prices, hefty electricity bills, and blackouts and wildfires caused by failing utilities, a growing number of Californians are migrating away from major cities to live off the grid. A fully off-grid home setup in California can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $100,000, and a recent decline in solar and battery costs is making it an even more affordable option for residents, particularly those priced out of a supercharged housing market.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) predicts that by 2031, most California homeowners will ditch city living for off the grid lifestyles, a trend which could also catch on in the Northeast over the coming decades, The New York Times reports.

Most current off-grid systems rely heavily on solar panels because their cost has fallen to less than $4 a watt from about $11.40 a watt in 2000, not including state and federal incentives, according to the California Solar and Storage Association. Lithium-ion batteries weighing as little as 30 pounds, requiring minimal maintenance and costing $10,000 to $20,000 have replaced banks of lead acid batteries that used to cost tens of thousands of dollars, could weigh thousands of pounds and needed regular upkeep. 

Off-grid systems are particularly attractive to people building new homes. That’s because installing a 125- to 300-foot overhead power line to a new home costs about $20,000, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. In places where lines have to be buried, installation runs about $78,000 for 100 feet.

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