There are many people who live off the grid and choose to do so without power, we decided not to do this for a few reasons.
1. Without power we would not be able to easily keep in touch with our children or grandchildren as our phone is internet based. Having decided we didn't want the expense of a cell phone we found it troublesome and worrisome when we were only able to contact them if we went into town and used a pay phone.
2. I like to use the internet to do research, write and keep in touch with friends. I wouldn't be able to write this blog without power!
3. We like to listen to the radio but since we live so far away from anywhere the best radio we get is over the internet.
4. I like having a refrigerator. While we really only need one in the summer, living without one isn't easy although we did it for over a year.
So, I think it's safe to say the biggest reason we have power is in order to keep in contact with our family and friends. Maybe for some this is not reason enough to put in a power system but for us it was. One thing I have continually said is; if you choose to live this lifestyle do it your way. Just because someone else may choose to do it differently doesn't make it right for you. For us a small power system is essential to our happiness and contentment.
When you live on a small solar system you are very conscious of the amount of sun you get each day and out of necessity must be careful with the amount of lights turned on at a time and the amount of tools used. There are also numerous items you can not run off a solar system. A few of these are: electric stove, clothes dryer, hair dryer. Now if you live like us and have a small power system there are a few other things you can't have. For instance; a toaster and coffee maker. I also don't use a blender or food processor although with my new interest of making my own soaps and lotions I might have to see if a hand held blender will be too much for our system to handle. I think it might work.
Now, just because I don't have those items doesn't mean we suffer. Clothes are easily dried summer and winter by just hanging them up. Coffee is made using a percolator and toast is easy. Just throw the bread on the wood stove top and flip it after a bit. Yum! Also, there are times I want to do my hair and while I don't use a hair dryer I have found I can use a straightener as it doesn't use much power.... go figure!
If the batteries run low due to lack of sunshine we start the generator to charge for about an hour. This is not ideal as it uses up gas and costs money, however, an hour of charging will give us about five or six hours of power so I can't complain.
One thing we found difficult when deciding on a solar system is all the conflicting information on the internet. We are still learning what works and what doesn't and have made many mistakes along the way! While making mistakes is part of the learning process I wish at times we weren't so isolated and would have had someone to help us. But then we would be living in a much more populated area and while I love to keep in contact with everyone I also love the solitude out here. It's all a matter of perspective.