I have been looking around the website and the other forum posts and I tried to see if anyone had talked about this type of thing in other posts. I did find some information, but it was only small amounts here and there. I am bringing this up as I am currently looking to actually work in this field and I want to help others once I do finally get there.
My thoughts on this is that a comprehensive use of multiple sources can help someone live off grid. Now when I say off grid, I may mean the term slightly differently than others do. When most hear that term it means that they do not need to rely on the electric company for any of there power needs. This is true in the purest form, but as far as I am using it I actually mean self-sufficient living. It is shorter to write out and quicker to type for myself.
I have been thinking on this for quite some time on how to reach this goal and I would like to one day implement my plans. The first part of this would be the use of PV panels. this will power my home during the daylight hours in the sun. A lot of energy can be produced here and I would set my system up to provide at peak performance more than I would be using at that time. This would be to allow myself to charge a bank of batteries I would have in the system for those dark nights.
The next part of this would be wind power generation. Although I would not have quite the same extensive network of wind generation, I would use both horizontal and vertical turbines. This would allow a distribution around the property and backups for down times due to repair. With these power methods I would truly be off grid in the electrical sense.
For those people that live in the rural areas they most likely have a well of there own. All you need is a power supply and you can pump your own water. One thing that urban living can do to offset this is water collection. Rain water can provide a wonderful source of water that can be stored and used for anything you need it for. When properly filtered it can be as good as the city water, without the city water price tag. I would also implement water storage in a rural environment to conserve the water table and use it for my agriculture. Having a large enough tank should ensure a near endless supply of water.
As for food is concerned there are a couple of different roads one could travel, depending on space available for use. I would think that a basement of an urban home could be a wonderful site for in inside garden, considering all the lighting could be powered. With those with a little more space I would highly suggest some type of green house, as this would greatly extend your crop seasons for those things that can be grown in it. Of course those in a rural environment may have the space to farm some crops and have much larger stocks of food.
A couple of other things that come into play here is security of the home itself and medical supplies. Security of the home can be a huge benefit as it has been shown that in a disaster law breaks down and there may be some looting, but usually the easier targets would be looted. Also having medical supplies is a must as anything could happen and being able to fix an injury allows one to live another day.
Living off grid could really help in a disaster, where others are cold and dark you may be in the light. But not just for a disaster is this a good idea. Being green is a good thing as well and doing things local can help yourself and others in the area. Could you imagine an entire community that could weather through a crisis without the help of outside forces. That could alleviate resources to help those that were not prepared.
I know that I have not gone into specifics here as to how to accomplish each of these things, but just to throw out there what the big picture may look like. There may be some stuff that is needed to live a life without the needs of the grid, and if so please let me know. As I move forward with my own plans I am sure I will update with more specific plans on how to accomplish each of these things.