This scene shows a typical “Utilities” for a home that is truly Off-Grid. The term “off the grid” or simply “OffGrid” traditionally refers to the electrical grid only.
Notice that this one has propane, two 2,500 water storage tanks — in this case for hauled water. There are also a couple of windmills running generators. The solar system in this picture is one that is provided by Arizona Public Service (APS) this unit is completely modular. The batteries and controls are enclosed in the metal cabinet which is used to support the solar panels. Some of these are leased by APS. Note that there could be a meter as part of this installation.
In rural areas, the cost of extending electric power does not make economic sense due to the distance and high cost involved. The return to the power company in the form of payments from homeowners is too small in relation to the high expense of installing power distribution lines. This situation is especially prevalent in areas where the lots are large and homes may be far apart. APS now provides financial help in the form of paying for around 750 feet of line extension from their distribution lines.
A bigger picture of these properties near Seligman, Arizona is explained on my FAQs page.
OffGrid does not necessarily mean no cell phone service. In fact, there is usually no “land-line” phone service. In most of the areas I serve, Verizon is the most reliable cell phone carrier.
OffGrid homes frequently have solar or wind power. If you plan to be there part-time, a Motor-Generator could be your best choice for power.
Being Off-Grid or OffGrid does not necessarily mean no connection to the outside world. It also does not mean there is no water well, although many off-grid properties may rely on water hauled to the home. One can buy a LOT of water for what a well costs. Hauled water is avaiable as a service just like propane.
In most areas, septic systems are required by law when there is no connection to a sewer system.