This is not a typical instructable because I have been off-grid for over 15 years and there is no way I could put all the many many projects I have built to live a sustainable life into one Instructable (it took a 355 page book). This is an overview with many pics and videos of my projects over the years and you are welcome to watch the videos and visit my website to get plans for each of the projects or the entire library.
A little about me: I went off grid after a divorce and illness left me homeless and broke. I owned a small piece of country property and I had a small truck and camper and no electricity or water on the property. That started a life style change that at first I did not appreciate. I liked my TV and stereo and just flipping a switch for instant power but I did not like a house payment, utility bills and having companies control my sustainability.
So I decided to make a homestead where I could build my own small energy efficient cabin, solar and wind power systems, water and septic systems that required no power and to grow at least 50% of my own food. I was raised on a homestead as a kid so I did have some skills and knowledge but it was still a steep learning curve and there was no real plans or info out there. So it was a lot of experimentation and some projects were successful and others failed miserably but I learned and adapted and overcome until I now have a homestead that I can live very comfortably in with most of the same features of a modern house but none of the expense and outside control and I have my FREEDOM to do what I want when I want!
There is no one right way of sustainable living and this way worked for me and I am proud of my work that has been featured in Mother Earth News, GRIT magazine, Treehugger, Inhabitat and in Lloyd Kahns book "Tiny Houses Simple Shelter. I have 12 million views on my youtube channel and 75,000 subscribers and numerous plans and ebooks that have all been a result of my change in lifestyle and sharing what I learned with others.
I have also had the privilege of helping many other folk like me to design and build their own sustainable off grid cabins and homesteads and helped many people that were homeless. Here are just a few of the off grid cabins built from my designs: http://www.simplesolarhomesteading.com/clientcabin...
So here are my most popular video lessons and projects and I hope you can learn from what I have done and maybe avoid some of the mistakes I made along the way.
Look through the steps and there are free instructable plans for cabins and projects I built.
All plans are available on my website: www.simplesolarhomesteading.com
Over 100 instruction videos on my Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/solarcabin
Step 1: Just a Few of the Off Grid Cabins Built From My Designs
You can see interiors and construction pics here: http://www.simplesolarhomesteading.com/clientcabi...
Many more client cabins on my website for ideas.
Most of these off grid cabins/houses were built for around $2,000 as was my own cabin.
Instructable for Quixote Cottage: https://www.instructables.com/id/Quixote-Off-Grid-C...
Instructable for Thoreau Cabin: https://www.instructables.com/id/Thoreau-Off-Grid-C...
Instructable for Stealth Cabin: https://www.instructables.com/id/Off-Grid-Stealth-C...
Step 2: Salvaging and Recycling Supplies and 12 Volt Apliances
I am a scrounger and dumpster diver. Most of my appliances were salvaged from my old camp trailer or structures being demolished to save money. Some appliances like the ARB fridge are expensive but worth the money for the amount of power and reliability they provide. Spend wisely on fridges and heating sources.
Step 3: Gardening and Raising Your Own Food
I garden and raise chickens and other animals. I can at present produce about 35% of my own food and when I get the orchard and more animal pens built I hope to reach 50%. That is an ongoing goal.
Step 4: Solar Evaporation Composting Toilet and Barrel Washing Machine
A couple of my most successful projects now used by people all over the world.
Instructable for Solar Composting Toilet: https://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-Assisted-Com...
Instructable for barrel washing machine/composter:
Step 5: Solar and Wind Power Systems
My present system is 400 watts and I run mostly 12 volt appliances and lights. LED lights, water pump, range hood, laptop, TV, radio, and many gadgets all work off 12 volt just fine and allows you to have a smaller affordable system. The wind turbine is a commercial model but you can now get the parts on Ebay to build your own however, wind is fickle and I recommend using solar first.
Step 6: Alternative Heating and Cooling Systems
I use minimal propane as a backup system for heating and cooking. I have a wood cook stove and I am a huge fan of passive solar heating. I use a solarium porch in winter I designed that helps heat the cabin. Put more effort into super insulating and sealing your houses and cabins and then it won't take much to cool and heat them.
Instructable for natural cooling methods: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-cool-your-h...