Our Off-Grid Water System

In the off-grid world, there is one luxury that nobody can live without. Water! Having a reliable water source is the most important element to off-grid living. There are many systems that can collect, filter and deliver clean water to your homestead, but every property is different and you need to figure out what works for your land.

We were lucky enough to find a property that had an existing well, which didn’t work initially, a stream that is over 1,000 feet away and down a steep embankment, and an old hand dug well that doesn’t provide the cleanest water.

After contemplating our options we decided the best step forward was to pay to have our well pump fixed so we could pump clean water wherever we needed it. A thousand dollars or so later we had a working well, and what a luxury that was after living for a few months on water systems I created that worked but were not ideal. From collecting rainwater from our RV awing, to a gravity fed system from the stream that was then pumped up to the RV.

After we built our cabin we created this following system that we have been using for the past year.

The challenges:

  1. Our cabin is 500ft uphill from our well
  2. Winters are cold here and freezing lines and tanks are an issue
  3. We live off a small solar system for power so a big on demand house well system with pressure thank was not an option

Our Water System

Our water system consists of our well, 500ft of 1/2 inch pex pipe, a 250 gallon water storage tank, a 12volt RV water pump, propane on demand hot water heater, and the piping system within the cabin.

A 250 gallon tank lasts us about a week and a half if we are conservative but I normally fill the water once a week. I like to keep the tank as full as possible, especially in the winter freezing temperatures.

I chose pex because we do not have a straight run from the well to the cabin, I had to go around large rocks and trees. Pex also doest crack if it were to freeze.

The 12 volt water pump that is linked below in the tools needed section is the quietest 12 volt water pump I have come across, and I’ve tried many of them. We were pleasantly surprised the first time we heard it running. It has a lower frequency tone than other pumps I have tried and it makes a big difference in loudness.


The storage tank is located outside behind the cabin, in the elements, so I needed a way to keep it from freezing in winter. I decided to build an insulated box for the water tank using pallets, r13 insulation, house wrap, and scrap lumber I had lying around my chainsaw mill. The insulation slid nicely between the boards in the pallets and anyone who has built with whole pallets before knows how quickly things screw together.

I then drilled through the cabin wall and ran a 2 inch pvc pipe from behind the wood stove into the insulated box. The PVC pipe was then insulated using the R12 insulation and tape. I wrapped the insulation in a plastic bag to keep the rain off of it. Next I ran the 1/2 inch pex line that enters the cabin from the tank output through the middle of the 2 inch insulated PVC. Finally I installed a small computer fan that pushes warm air from behind the wood stove, into the 2 inch PVC and into the insulated box that houses the water tank. The small 12volt computer fans draw almost no electricity, which is great when living off solar power. This fan has ran all day and night for 2 winters now and it’s still going strong.

The 500ft of 1/2 inch pex that runs from the well to the water tank is not buried. So in the winter, after I’m done filling the tank, which takes about 45 minutes, I drain the lines and blow them out with an air compressor to minimize the risk of freeze up. Initially I didn’t blow out the lines and I had some issues with the parts of the pex freezing, mainly if I had a dip in the pipe on the path downhill to the well.

So far, this system has worked successfully for 2 winters. Although not a conventional system, off-grid living forces you to think creatively to solve problems, and this was how we solved our water issues. If you’re looking for an easy solution that doesn’t require digging lots of drainage trenches and burying lines, this may be a solution for your off grid oasis.


Watch this video to see the process of filling our water tank.

If you want to learn more about how we live check out these other related posts

How we built our cabin

Our Story

Tools Needed

Water Tank –

Pex Pipe –

Hot Water Heater –

Water Pump –

Insulation –

House Wrap –

Computer Fan –

Hitachi Drill –

Air Compressor –

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