What it is really like living off the grid

Sherry Thomas and her partner Barrie live off the grid at their Lowden property. Photo: supplied
Sherry Thomas and her partner Barrie live off the grid at their Lowden property. Photo: supplied

South West couple Sherry and Barrie Thomas have been living off the grid for over a decade and shared their experiences at the Critical Horizons Powering the Future of WA conference.

The pair run their home, bike repair business Cycletrek and an eco-friendly accommodation facility from their property all from the power of solar energy. 

Ms Thomas spoke at the event about her experience of what it is like living and working off the grid. 

“It is really easy to live off grid, there are no power lines or maintenance required of power lines, we have no bills so why wouldn’t you?” she said.

Since 2007 the couple have lived off the grid.

“We moved out to the cabin that we had been building over many years in our spare time, which we had already set up as solar-powered because it was too remote from the grid, so we had a tiny power system and that was our holiday place.”

Ms Thomas said initially they looked at connecting to grid when they built their house but the quote from Western Power was expensive because there were no existing power lines on the property. 

“We looked at connecting to the grid but it was going to cost us over $80,000 just for bringing the line up and that was if we dug the trench ourselves for underground,” she said.

“To bring it up the most direct way was through bush land, which had a conservation covenant on it, which means you’re not allowed to clear it.

“We looked into a stand alone solar system, which was before the photovoltaic panels started to come down in price, so it was still very expensive.

“But the system was still only $50,000 as compared to the $80,000 from Western Power.

“Now you can get the same system for about half of the cost.

“We wanted to do the solar system at the house before we started building so we could use the power tools  without having to run the generator,” she said.

Ms Thomas said in all the years they’ve been living there they’ve only ever had a blackout once. 

“We run a very normal household, in all the years we’ve been living here we have only ever had a blackout once,” she said.

“So the blackouts with Western Power numerous times a year, we just don’t have them.”