We are often asked if log cabins can make good off-grid homes. The answer to that question is a resounding yes!
By nature, log cabins are as close as it gets to nature. Logs come from well-managed forests and new trees are planted in exchange for the ones felled. Almost all construction materials going into a log cabin are natural and a log cabin rarely contains cement and other conventional building materials, nor any chemicals beyond log chinking and any stains and varnishes.
With the right planning and careful preparation, you can have an energy-efficient off-grid home that has its own energy and water supply. You can then enjoy your new home knowing you are fully independent and autonomous.
What Does Off-Grid Mean?
Being off-grid means you don’t rely on your city’s electricity supply and are not connected to the water mains. Your home generates the electricity needed to run your appliances and you have your own water supply, either from rain or from a well.
An off-grid home is also disconnected from sewage, so you need a septic tank where all dirty water pipes will lead to.
Being off-grid makes your home autonomous and adds freedom and security to your lifestyle. It is a great way to build a home even in the remotest parts of the country. Your log cabin can be nestled in the middle of the forest and still have all the modern amenities for comfortable living. As a bonus, you don’t face energy price hikes or other unpredictable expenses.
How to Plan for an Off-Grid Log Cabin?
There are, in fact, several approaches you can take to build an off-grid log cabin. You can, for example, be connected to the city water supply but have your own energy supply or vice versa. You can mix and match whichever services you like and still have a log cabin that appeals to your way of living.
Before picking the right log cabin floor plan for you, consider some variables. How much sun exposure will you get? Plenty of sunlight is great for installing solar panels on your roof. Otherwise, you will have to install wind turbines or a generator.
Will you have enough water, either through groundwater or rainwater? Does your land provide you with access to a river where you can get water and filter it before it enters your home?
Once you have established the type of installation you need, you must check the zoning laws and building codes. You need to adhere to specific laws and regulations regarding where you install your septic tank, how you handle composting, where you install any water tanks, and other matters.
If you are well-prepared and take care with all your planning, your log cabin building will be smooth and you will soon enjoy off-grid living.
A Log Cabin for Off-Grid Living
A log cabin is made of logs. Logs are highly insulating and shield your home from the cold. They have an impressive thermal mass capability and, the thicker the logs, the more insulated your home will be.
Good insulation will give you energy efficient log home. As you will be producing your own energy, it is good to use it efficiently without losing any heat to drafts and poor insulation.
For those who are worried about the impact of home building on the environment, logs are the most natural way to build homes. All logs come from well-managed forests. Log cabin businesses like Frontier Log Homes are particularly careful about the quality and provenance of their logs and they use as much of the log as possible to ensure sustainability and forest revival.
Colorado is blessed with almost 300 days of sunshine, so chances are you will find a plot that offers consistent sun exposure. To produce the energy you need, you can install solar panels on your roof. At the planning stage, you should ensure that the roof has the space and strength to carry the solar panels. You should also provide space for the batteries and the inverter.
If your plot doesn’t offer enough sun exposure, you can opt for wind turbines, which are slightly more expensive than solar panels. These, too, require the installation of batteries where you will store the energy produced so you can use it throughout the day.
Another option is to have a generator running on gasoline or diesel to provide electricity to your home. In this case, you need to ensure that you have a tank with enough gasoline or diesel for the generator to function for the duration of your visit to the cabin.
All these energy supply options are perfectly fitted to a log cabin and the log cabin lifestyle, although a generator requires you to regularly fill up the tank.
You have several options for your water supply. You can collect rainwater, particularly in areas where rainfall is consistent, and direct it through gutters to barrels.
Alternatively, you can install a well to tap underground water. You will need a well construction permit to do so, but a well can be a steady water supply, irrespective of rainfall.
Finally, if your plot is adjacent to a river, you could use the water from the river.
For all these options, you will need a filter to clean the water before you use it in your home, thus ensuring safe home use.
If you don’t connect your home to a municipal sewage system, you will need a septic tank where all dirty water will be directed. You will need a permit before you install your septic tank.
Since you are building your log cabin from scratch, you can plan ahead to make your off-grid home as comfortable and well-planned as possible.
You may, for example, consider a wood-burning or pellet-burning stove for your heating needs. It requires no electricity and adds charm and practicality to log cabins. Make sure you plan for a space to store your wood logs or pellets, ideally close to the stove itself.
You may also want to consider a water tank or other storage space where you can store water that has been filtered and is ready for home consumption.
Finally, if you are into homesteading, plan for a vegetable garden and a fruit orchard. Your log cabin will then be truly off-grid.
Contact Frontier Log Homes online or call us at 970-249-7130. Tell us your needs and preferences, and we will make all the necessary modifications for your off-grid living!