The Best Off-Grid Water Systems For Your Homestead

It is a common thing for a lot of people in the off-grid community to use water from wells, ponds, springs and rivers. Is that what you choose to use on your homestead? If not, what is your alternative? Well, if these sources are not adequate for your needs or if they are too far away from where you plan to build, what do you do then? In this article, we will talk about how you can make water systems for your homestead off the grid.

How much water do you need per day?

If you have young children or elderly people in your household, it’s crucial to be able to provide at least 1 gallon of clean water per person per day for drinking, cooking and hygiene purposes. But if everyone is healthy and there are no infants, one gallon should be sufficient for cooking, showering and flushing toilets. Most off-grid homes use around 200 gallons of water per day (for drinking, cooking, showers and everything else) but if you can manage to stay below 100 gallons per day including usage for flushing toilets, it means that you are not using water excessively.

Off-Grid Water Systems

Here’s a list of some different kinds of water systems:

– Rainwater catchment system

– Solar stills or evaporation pond / low tech distillation unit

– Energy-efficient pump powered by renewables (wind or water turbine)

– Water from a far distance by using plumbing and pumps.

You can also get water via gravity flow or pressure if it is possible on your homestead site. There are many other ways to get the water that you need, but for this article, we will talk mainly about collecting rainwater and making solar stills. The first one is easier to do than the second, so let’s start with rainwater catchment systems.

Rainwater Catchment Systems For Off-Grid Homes

It’s good to know how much rain falls in an area before installing a system like this because some areas receive more than others. You may want to consider putting up several tanks instead of just one big one if there isn’t enough rain to fill it. 

The advantages of using a water catchment system:

– It’s usually very cheap and easy to install

– They can be made from old materials, so you don’t have to spend anything apart from the time you invest in making them.

The disadvantages: 

This method doesn’t work if there isn’t much rainfall where you live or if there is just one big tank that collects all the water. If this is your plan, you should consider buying several smaller tanks instead of one big one. As I said before, even though it seems like a good idea because it would be easier to install and you wouldn’t have to do maintenance every once in a while, it is no good if there isn’t enough rainwater to fill all of them. A system like this can collect about 20,000 gallons in one year when there are at least 50 inches of rainfall in the area. And if they are properly designed, they can work with less rainfall per year too. For example: If you live in an area with only 30 inches of rainfall per year but your tanks are well-positioned and you add gutters around houses and other structures so that they drain into the tank when it rains you could collect even 5 times more water, or about 100,000 gallons per year.

Low Tech Solar Still For Off-Grid Water

This system is known as the “Poor Man’s Still” because it produces water but needs some skill to make. It is not exactly solar still, but it does use solar heat for evaporation. This method seems more challenging than getting water from your roof or catching rainwater in tanks, but there are many good things about using this method too:  

– You can build them anywhere you like and they don’t need electricity to make them work

– The materials needed are easy to find; most of us already have what we need at home (plastic sheeting, barrels,). If you don’t, bigger storage holds more water, which means longer periods between collecting rain and filling up the tank(s). But having several small tanks makes it easier to transfer water from one place to another. If you have a long way to go with your water containers, this may seem like a better option for you.

How To Make Your Own Solar Still In 3 Steps:

1) Dig a hole in the ground about 30 inches deep 

2) Put a container in the middle of it that is open on the top and has at least an inch or two of air space below its bottom (the container can be anything as long as it’s not fully submerged). That’s usually done with a wooden box or any other type of waterproof material. 

3) Cover the hole with clear plastic sheeting, making sure there are no bubbles or other openings. It should be sealed tightly against the edges of the hole, weighed down with rocks or dirt so that the plastic is in constant contact with the moist soil.

The water contained in the soil evaporates and condenses inside the container. You can also add greywater to it so it has more humidity, which speeds up evaporation. A homemade solar still works anywhere you are, provided that you have sun and soil. The amount of water it produces depends on both of these conditions: when there is plenty of heat and sunlight, you get more water; when there is less of one or the other, less water will come out of your still. If you live in an area where this method does not work (for example where it’s too windy), I suggest you check out rainwater catching or water purification methods.

Solar disinfection is another method that uses solar heat for killing microorganisms in water so it’s safe to drink.  It takes more time than boiling but doesn’t require firewood and is, therefore, a good option if you don’t want to chop extra wood or use gas or electricity. It’s also cheaper and better for the environment than using bleach, which uses chlorine that pollutes water and breaks down into dangerous compounds when mixed with organic materials like soil and vegetation.

Ultraviolet disinfection is another process that does not rely on firewood, sunshine or chemicals. Instead, it uses UV light from certain types of bulbs (including LED) to kill microorganisms in water so it’s safe to drink. This can be more practical than other options because these kinds of lights are cheap, they last for years without needing replacement and they can be used for many applications: purifying drinking water while camping, hiking or even travelling; or disinfecting water for other uses like showering, laundry and flushing toilets.

Energy efficient pump powered by renewables 

If you have access to a river or stream, the best solution for off-grid water is to use a pump powered by renewable energy sources like wind turbines or small water turbines. Whether you are using the electrical one or hand pumps, this option allows you to collect as much as 25 gallons per minute of pure water coming straight from nature’s tap rather than rainwater that could contain noxious chemicals. The amount of electricity these pumps consume depends on how deep the well they are attached to is and how far upriver it is located (the higher it is, the more current it needs). But even if your pump works nonstop for 24 hours, getting enough power won’t be that difficult because there are solutions that can provide all the energy you need with just a small wind turbine or water turbine.

If you can afford it, solar power is also an option to consider.  Even though only about 20% of the world’s population lives in places where there are enough sun hours to make solar power practical (more than 5kWh/m^2 per year), if you do live in one of these places like southern California, Arizona or Australia, this system will allow you to get rid of your electrical bill and your dependence on public utilities for good.

Water from a far distance by using plumbing and pumps.

At the end of the day, water is life.  When living off grid it can be hard to find a good solution for clean drinking water, especially if you don’t have access to a river or stream of any kind. In these cases, plumbing and pumps are your best options. Even though they might seem unattractive because they use electricity or gas, in fact, their usage depends on how much water you need and how far from freshwater sources you live. If there is no other way to get what you need, these systems can help a lot by providing pure drinking water with little effort on your part.

Final Thoughts

One last option that could come in handy during emergencies is having enough water stored to last at least 2 weeks. This can be either in the form of bottled water or tanks/barrels where you keep water safe for drinking, cooking and other needs.

If you are looking for a perfect off-grid homestead that provides clean water because you enjoy being completely self-sufficient, I hope this article will help you decide what type of system fits your needs best. But no matter which one you choose, always remember to preserve water as much as possible so it doesn’t go wasted. And if someone in your household is sick or elderly, have enough extra water on hand so they won’t have to suffer the consequences of not having access to clean drinking water during emergencies!

Any of these off-grid water systems can make your homestead more self-sufficient and easier to maintain (especially if you live in an off-grid location) but they also produce different results, so it’s important to understand their advantages and disadvantages before settling on the one that works best for you.


How do you get running water off the grid?

The best way to do this is by using either gravity or pumps.

What size water tank do I need for off-grid living?

There is no one answer for this because it depends on your family size and the number of people living in your household. If you are looking for an off-grid homestead, make sure you have enough water storage for at least 2 weeks (because emergencies cannot be predicted).

How do you get running water without a well?

One option is using plumbing and pumps which can be either solar powered or gas-powered. Another one is to install a cistern where you’ll use gravity to push the water from it to your house when needed.

How do you keep water from freezing off the grid?

You can use water tanks heated by passive solar energy. If you don’t want plastic tanks in your yard, bring the water inside and keep it in a container in your house so it doesn’t freeze.

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