Off the grid is a very interesting trend happening in the ranch real estate business. The first category of off the grid land buyers and owners are challenged with the basic need of water and electricity. Underground water in and around the ranch may be limited, contaminated, or very costly based on depth of water beneath the surface. City or county electricity may be a quarter mile away or 10+ miles away, but regardless of the distance owners always feel they are literally “burying” their money, rather than making a visual improvement to the land. Usable water and electricity for buyers is perceived more as a checkbox to check rather than adding significant value in a lot of cases. If a property does not have these basic utilities in place, it can definitely be a deduction on price per acre.
The second category is what we in the ranch business refer to as the “enders” buying up ranch property. “Enders” are people that believe civilization, as we know it, is coming to an end. It might be for religious reasons, political reasons, the zombie apocalypse, giant meteorites, Donald Trump or a number of other factors. However, these buyers want to buy a ranch that can sustain itself when the whole thing goes commando or whatever! I am hearing more and more “I want to be able to live off the grid…when the power company is no longer producing electricity and the water company has dried up, I want to be able to sustain and protect my family on the ranch.”
I myself am a very middle of the road kind of guy that has a great interest in history. I believe that as bad as some people think the world is right now….It has been much, much worse in history. However, I also love to sell ranches so while in Rome, right? I am not here to judge, just to help the buyer and seller reach their objectives, whatever that might be. Therefore I wanted to study the different aspects of this new buying trend. Can you have a ranch that creates its own power and water supply? How does one make this happen? Can I become the “go to guy” for the end of the world?? Let’s hope not, but If you happen to fall into this category of a buyer looking to live “off the grid”, then this article is right up your alley.
First, let’s look at this from the beginning. A seller with a ranch that has access to rural water and electricity marks the price up for these benefits being included. So as a buyer, a ranch not having access to water or electric is less expensive, or can at least be negotiated down on price for not having these benefits. (Water and electric are two of the main four items most buyers ask about when looking at a ranch.) But as we will get into later, it may not really matter anymore. There are many beautiful ranches out there that just can’t ask top dollar for the simple reason that they are too far away from a rural water line and/or have not installed electricity on the property. This equals pure savings for you, the buyer and makes any location a possibility with off the grid technology.
Now that you have your beautiful ranch at a great price, how do you begin to create your “off the grid” piece of heaven? First let’s begin with water. Some counties have an excellent underground water supply. Depending on the area you are in, there are companies that specialize in finding an underground water source, drilling a well and setting up a water pump system to help you access it. However, there are many counties that do not have underground water available. If this happens to be the case, water catchment systems are the new way to give you access to plenty of water for your ranch home. Eddie Craig from Clyde, Texas runs a company called Texas Rain Catchers (325-260-6980, www.texasraincatchers.com). Eddie has been in the business of helping ranches catch and use rain water for many years now and his business is booming these days.
Basically using the roof of a home and/or a barn along with a gutter system, you can harvest massive amounts of water for your own personal use. “For every inch of rain that falls on a catchment area (roof) of 1000 square feet, you can expect to collect 600 gallons of water. Ten inches of rainfall will produce 6000 gallons of water.” So let’s say you live in an area that will get 20 inches of rain per year, you can expect to capture as much as 24,000 gallons of water to use! These systems are being used today by companies like Starbucks, but the benefit to you is even greater. Access to water is now available anywhere with a water catchment system.
The second stage of our freedom from “the grid” is electricity. Ted Long out of Weatherford, Texas runs a business called Win-Gen Power, (817-304-2418, www.wingenpower.com). Ted has been in the business of helping people produce their own electricity through wind and solar power for years. These methods have been decent in the past with average results but the new day is finally here. Solar power is the big winner for personal home use thanks to Tesla. Yes, the same company that produces the Tesla electric car has created “The Powerwall”. Powerwall stores electricity from solar energy gathered during the day for use 24 hours a day. It has a 6.4 kWh energy storage capacity, sufficient to power most size homes evening long. Powerwall can also be installed in multiples for bigger homes with greater power needs. The Powerwall even looks great. Like a modern art piece. One of the great things about Tesla is that they know how to make a sharp looking product…Just look at the car! Also, solar panels today are mounted on a single pole, not on the roof like before, and have an internal GPS tracking system that follows the sun as it moves through the sky. They come with a dirt resistant face to keep power gathering at a maximum and a life span of 20+ years. The poles they are attached to can now be placed out of sight and away from the home, if desired. The problem before was basic, no sun-no power. Nighttime energy was very difficult. Now with Powerwall, you can have electricity in the house day and night. So with multiple solar panel poles with multiple Powerwall units, you can now build and sustain any size home, anywhere, anytime.
So no matter your motivation of necessity or dooms day, off the grid technology has become a viable solution to get water and power to your beef herd, hunting camp, barn, home, or ranch estate.
Congratulations, you’re off the grid!