The idea of living in a cabin off the grid is appealing to us in our hectic world. The idea of being disconnected from the outside world has a certain appeal. The problem is that living off-grid would be difficult without an internet connection. It is easier to communicate with people online and better prepare for emergencies.
You can also use the internet connection to do simple, but very useful things like check the weather forecast. As someone who has spent time alone in the wilderness, I know how lonely it can feel. It is essential to understand the challenges and options of off-grid internet if you are planning on building or spending time in an off grid cabin.
First, realize that internet is not available everywhere. Some areas are far too remote for internet access or cell phone service. Don’t worry if you live in an off-grid area. These areas may have a solution.
Elon Musk founded SpaceX, a communication satellite network. It is currently in the final stages for launching Starlink, a global internet service. It claims to offer faster speeds than any other currently available.
Before you think about the internet, make sure that your cabin has a reliable supply of electricity. You can use a small solar generator or a large system that is powered by micro-hydro, photovoltaic, windmills, or photovoltaic cells to provide power.
No matter what off-grid power source, the next step is to decide which type of offgrid internet connection will best suit your needs and your location.
Consider using your smartphone to access the internet from an off-grid cabin if there is a good cell signal. It’s easy, requires no additional equipment, so you can get online as long as your phone is nearby.
You will need a reliable data plan that does not charge excessively per gigabyte. Many providers offer unlimited or unlimited data plans that allow you to access all of your data for a fixed monthly fee.
My wife and I do not live off the grid, but we do use the smartphone hotspot method as our only source of internet. We can use YouTube, Netflix, and other bandwidth-intensive websites without any problems thanks to our unlimited data plan.
Cell phone with signal booster
Although hotspotting from your phone is great, it won’t work if you don’t have strong signal. Cell signal boosters are the answer. They come in a variety of sizes, prices, and complexity. They are designed to amplify the incoming cell signal and give your phone more power.
Cell boosters can have mixed results, but I’ve had good experiences. My area, Northern Ontario, Canada, had poor cell coverage when I moved into my forest cabin. We had only two bars of service and sometimes had problems watching videos online and using Skype.
This signal booster made all the difference. We get 3-4 bars of signal every day, and have almost no problems watching videos or using video chats. Google simple methods to find out the signal strength of your phone in decibels. This was not something I needed.
Satellite internet is another option if you don’t want to be on the hot spot with your phone, or if you aren’t getting enough service from your cell provider. Ask around to see if there are any satellite internet providers in your area.
Satellite internet is often criticized for its high price and slow connection speeds. These connections are typically slower than fiber-optic connections in cities. Satellite internet is still better than nothing. If Starlink succeeds, it could also get a major overhaul.
Ham radio can be used to stay connected off-grid if you don’t want the fancy features like Netflix, Skype, YouTube etc. Ham radio licensees can transmit small amounts data. This allows them to send and receive emails.
This option doesn’t require a monthly fee. This option is also independent of internet satellites and cell towers, making it universally applicable. To get started, however, you will need a license as a ham radio operator and a reliable radio setup.