What States Allow Off Grid Living?

Stats rated in their Off Grid legalities

What States Allow You To Live Off The Grid

Off grid living, which involves disconnecting from public utilities like the electrical grid and municipal water and sewer, is becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for Americans seeking self sufficiency, freedom from bills, and deeper connection to nature. However, across the 50 states, the legality of living off the grid can vary widely depending on local zoning laws, building codes, and state policies on alternative systems like solar power, rainwater harvesting, and composting toilets. This article provides a comprehensive state-by-state guide to off grid laws.

tiny home off the grid living

Defining Off Grid Living


At its core, off-grid living means not relying on municipal services for electricity, water, and waste disposal. Completely off-grid homes generate their own power, source their own water from rain or wells, and handle sewage on-site through composting or septic systems. These off grid systems allow residents to live self-sufficiently without monthly utility bills. Partially off-grid homes remain connected to some public utilities while still utilizing alternative systems like solar power to reduce reliance. Legality depends on the extent of disconnection.

Why Off-Grid Legality Matters


For off-gridders, remaining within the bounds of the law is crucial. Illegal off-grid living can lead to heavy fines, utilities being shut off, and even eviction from the property. Without the proper permits and inspections, homeowners insurance and mortgages may be difficult to obtain. And resale value takes a hit if a home was built outside of code. By understanding each state’s laws, you can make wise choices about where to establish your off-grid homestead while adhering to zoning rules and building codes.

State Laws that Impact Off Grid Living


While specific laws vary widely, there are a few key state policies that determine if off-grid living is legal and feasible:

Electricity Laws: States with “net metering” make remaining grid-connected worthwhile by paying homeowners for excess solar power generated. States permitting home microgrids allow disconnecting. Conservative states mandate grid connection.

Rainwater Harvesting Laws: Collecting rainwater reduces reliance on municipal water but some states highly restrict rain catchment. Progressives like Colorado encourage rainwater reuse.

Waste Disposal Laws: Composting toilets and septic systems allow off grid waste handling. But many states mandate sewer connections, limiting self-sufficient options.

Building Codes and Zoning: Strict zoning and building codes often require utility hook ups. More relaxed rural counties allow owner-built off grid homes.


The most off grid friendly states have progressive laws and incentives that make living self-sufficiently feasible and legal:

Maine – Disconnecting utilities is allowed and off grid living is promoted. Building codes are relaxed and composting toilets permitted. Low population density offers seclusion.

Oregon – Off grid electricity is allowed and incentives exist for renewables like solar. Rainwater harvesting is legal and there are fewer restrictions on owner-built homes.

Colorado – Solar incentives are strong and composting toilets, rain catchment systems, and net metering allowed in many counties. Wide-open rural spaces conducive to off grid life.

Missouri – Several established off-grid communities exist across the state. Rural areas have minimal zoning laws, permitting usually only required for septic systems.

New Mexico – State offers tax credits for off-grid solar systems. Rainwater harvesting and composting toilets are legal. Lower cost of rural land allows affordable off-grid homesteads.

The Worst States for Off Grid Legality


On the opposite end of the spectrum, these states impose legal and regulatory hurdles to living off-grid:

Alabama – Disconnecting completely from electric utilities is illegal. High fees charged for using solar power. Building codes discourage off-grid housing.

Indiana – Heavily restricted by state wide zoning laws. Utility companies have lobbied against off-grid solar. Composting toilets and rainwater harvesting prohibited in many counties.

California – Despite solar incentives, strict building codes and permitting issues make going off-grid very difficult. Alternative waste disposal methods are restricted.

New York – State laws prohibit disconnecting from electrical grid. Strict zoning and building codes prevent establishing off-grid structures in many municipalities.



While off-grid living is technically legal across the U.S., some states clearly make it much easier and more affordable than others. By researching state and county-level laws, finding communities embracing off-grid living, and using the right systems for power, water and waste, you can successfully disconnect from the grid and live self-sufficiently. This guide provides a starting point for understanding the legal landscape.

Alabama1Utilities disconnection illegal, high solar fees
Alaska4Progressive microgrid laws
Arizona1Utilities disconnection illegal, solar tax
Arkansas3Off-grid legal but permitting complex
California2Strict building codes, some solar restrictions
Colorado2Utilities disconnection restricted, rainwater laws
Connecticut3Microgrids allowed, some solar incentives
Delaware4Off-grid electricity encouraged, solar incentives
Florida3Off-grid legal but sewage laws restrictive
Georgia2Poor solar incentives, rainwater and waste laws
Hawaii4Off-grid common, permits attainable
Idaho3Relaxed wind laws but septic regulations
Illinois3Microgrids allowed but waste disposal restrictive
Indiana1Heavily restricted by zoning, utility rules
Iowa3Off-grid allowed with permitting
Kansas2Off-grid possible but limited solar incentives
Kentucky3Off-grid electricity legal but some waste restrictions
Louisiana3Off-grid electricity allowed but few solar incentives
Maine5Off-grid living promoted, relaxed utility laws
Maryland2Off-grid solar allowed but water/waste laws
Massachusetts2Off-grid restricted by building codes
Michigan3Microgrids allowed, flexible county waste laws
Minnesota3Off-grid electricity legal but solar policy poor
Mississippi1Disconnecting utilities very difficult
Missouri4Off-grid communities exist, flexible laws
Montana3Off-grid electricity allowed but water rights issues
Nebraska3Off-grid solar allowed with permitting
Nevada1Harsh laws for electricity, water, and waste
New Hampshire4Off-grid solar allowed, some waste exceptions
New Jersey2Heavily restricted waste disposal
New Mexico4Off-grid solar incentives, flexible waste laws
New York1Very strict zoning, utility, and building laws
North Carolina3Off-grid solar allowed but sewage laws
North Dakota3Off-grid electricity allowed, flexible waste laws
Ohio3Off-grid solar allowed in rural areas
Oklahoma2Off-grid solar allowed but no incentives
Oregon4Off-grid electricity allowed, renewable incentives
Pennsylvania2Off-grid restricted but some exceptions
Rhode Island2Off-grid electricity difficult, some solar incentives
South Carolina3Off-grid solar allowed with permitting
South Dakota3Off-grid electricity allowed with permitting
Tennessee3Off-grid solar allowed but waste laws
Texas3Off-grid solar allowed but sewage restrictions
Utah4Existing off-grid communities
Vermont5Off-grid living promoted, progressive laws
Virginia1Off-grid heavily restricted by waste laws
Washington4Existing off-grid communities, solar incentives
West Virginia3Off-grid electricity allowed in rural areas
Wisconsin4Off-grid common, flexible building codes
Wyoming3Off-grid solar allowed, rainwater incentives

Here is a description of the state rating system used in the table:

In general, scores were assessed as follows:

  • 5 (Excellent) – State promotes and incentivizes off-grid living with few restrictions
  • 4 (Good) – Off-grid living is legal and feasible with proper permitting
  • 3 (Moderate) – Off-grid is legally possible but subject to complex regulations
  • 2 (Poor) – State has legal and regulatory hurdles severely limiting off-grid options
  • 1 (Very Poor) – State has laws making off-grid living effectively illegal

This rating system provides a high-level overview of where each state stands on off-grid legality. Specific county and municipal laws may still apply.

Specifically, the following factors were considered:

  • Laws about disconnecting from electrical, water and sewage utilities
  • Building codes and zoning rules
  • Restrictions on off-grid power sources like solar and wind
  • Rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse laws
  • Allowances for composting toilets and other off-grid waste disposal
  • Incentives for renewable energy and off-grid living

States that prohibit disconnecting from utilities, have strict building codes requiring hookups, and restrict alternative off-grid services received poor scores of 1-2.

States with progressive laws allowing home microgrids, net metering, rainwater harvesting, and composting toilets received high scores of 4-5.

Most states fell in the middle with scores of 3, where off-grid living is legal but subject to permits and inspections.