There's an incredible amount of freedom in unplugging from the grid and plunking down a compact cabin, cottage or modular home in the most beautiful setting you can access. These 14 dwellings are examples of the sort of homes that can be taken off the grid, including colorful sustainable beach houses in Uruguay, a cabin built for just $2,000 and a floating egg-shaped home base for a researcher studying an estuary.
Tiny Off Grid Hawk House
The gorgeous Hawk House is a cabin with raw bark siding and a green roof, located in the mountains of central California. The house measures just seven by nine feet and features three fully operable walls so the interior can be almost completely opened up to the outdoors. Built into a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it's well-insulated and oriented to catch a breeze so it doesn't need additional heating and cooling.
Homeasteader LaMar Alexander built this 400-square-foot, off-grid cabin for just $2,000, and he shares the plans and other ideas for self-sustaining lifestyle at his website, Simple Solar Homesteading. The cabin is powered by a 580-watt solar panel system and a 400-watt wind power system and can sleep up to six people comfortably.
Exbury Egg House
This floating egg-shaped house provides a sustainable, off-grid hoe base for researchers studying the estuary of the River Beaulieu in the UK. Tethered to a dock to rise and fall with the tide like a boat, the egg was designed by a team consisting of a boat builder, a naval architect and an artist. It features a hammock, a small stove, a desk and a wet room.
Tiny Orange Cabin
The Orange cabin by Oregon builders Vagavond measures just 150 square feet, and was built with sustainable and non-toxic materials. The cabin includes a small kitchen, sleeping loft and bathroom and is completely solar-ready with highly efficient appliances, some of which are human-powered.
Rustic Pump House
Originally designed as storage space for a water pump and farm equipment, the Pump House by Branch Studio Architects is a compact, off-grid dwelling overlooking a lake. Constructed on a tight budget using economical materials like Colorbond iron, low-grade plywood and rough-sawn timber, the house has a rustic feel with a contemporary silhouette. It's equipped with rain barrels to capture water, solar panels for energy, and a wood burning stove for heat.
Tricycle House: Off-Grid Living for the Landless
For many people who'd love to live off-grid but just don't have a lot of money to get started, the biggest obstacle is a lack of land. This concept by People's Architecture Office may not be a realistic option for full-time living, but it's an intriguing idea. The Tricycle House is a dwelling pod on a bike that's lightweight enough to wheel around. It's made of folded polypropylene, which is translucent enough to illuminate the interior with daylight. It contains a collapsible sink, stove and bathtub as well as a water tank and transforming furniture.
Charming Surfer Abode
A Uruguayan surfer built the off-grid retreat of her dreams in the Punta del Diablo fishing village, consisting of three thatched-roof cabins. Overlooking the sea, the complex was constructed using renewable materials and traditional building techniques and is entirely powered by the sun and wind.
Inexpensive Off Grid Housing for Africa
This prefab, off-grid living pod could provide safe, durable shelter in remote areas of Africa. The low-cost structures can be assembled by three people in less than a day and fit two bunk beds each. Reflective siding and lots of insulation ensure that they don't get too hot during the day.
Self-Sustaining Cabin in Maine
A writer built his own remote, off-grid retreat on an island 20 miles off the coast of Maine with the help of his daughter. The solar-powered cabin features Eastern White Pine siding throughout the interior, a sleeping loft, and floor-to-ceiling windows that take advantage of the incredible views.
Villa Verde B&B
The Villa Verde is an off-grid bed and breakfasting Uruguay operated by a pair of journalists. The solar-powered retreat at Punta del Diablo offers laid-back accommodations to travelers who want to enjoy the gorgeous coastline.
The modern, portable Chamfer House is a tiny self-sufficient shelter with an open-plan living space and floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the natural surroundings wherever you may want to set it down.
This 201-square-foot, modern off-grid cabin is an award-winning tiny house with a surprisingly spacious feel inside. Among its highlights are a 960-watt solar array, a 290-gallon rainwater treatment system and all LED lighting. The interior features a ten-foot galley kitchen, a bathroom and lots of large windows.
Le Tronc Creux
This incredibly odd-looking little structure is a tiny cylindrical home that's made to blend into the forests of its surroundings in Bordeaux, France. The 'Tronc Creux' is conceived as a hollow log, offering low-tech lodging for hikers on local trails. The insides are packed full of beds to accommodate as many as nine people at a time.
The Metapod microhouse is a 125-square-foot getaway with a surprising number of amenities like in-wwall speakers, iPod connectivity, surround sound and intercom, yet it can easily be adapted as an off-grid housing alternative. Built by artist and designer Jerome A. Levin, the backyard retreat features handcrafted collapsible oak furniture, including a loft bed.