Connecting Propane To Your Tiny House

Propane. Can’t live with it. Can’t stop talking about it. I like to call it the “friendly flammable.” But what is it exactly?

Propane Tiny House

WHAT IS PROPANE?

Also known as liquid petroleum gas, LP-gas, and LPG, propane is produced in roughly equal amounts from both natural gas and crude oil sources.  Propane is nontoxic, colorless, and odorless.

(WARNING: technical talk coming) To make propane from crude oil, the oil is separated at a refinery using a fractioning tower.  It is refined into different levels of purity depending on what height of the fractioning tower the propane is pulled from.  The higher the point on the fractioning tower, the higher the purity, or quality, of the propane.

According to the US Department of Energy, the southern states sell propane with more butane, which is at a lower cut point, in the fractionating tower.  In the colder states, the propane sold is from a higher crack that is more pure. All of this to truly say that if you are taking your tiny house from a warmer climate to a colder climate you should either use up your propane before reaching cooler weather or simply exchange your tank at the new climate center. However, the quality of colder weather propane is better, so if you are toting propane from cooler to warmer climates you should be okay.  Rule of thumb: use propane from the climate you are in.

The use of propane is one that can all at once seem like common sense and like rocket science. It has been used by campers for years. However, it is relatively new to the tiny house community since the modern tiny house movement itself is rather new. If you consider the use of LP-gas for sticks ‘n bricks though it only makes sense. Propane keeps water hot, it makes stove burners blaze, and it allows furnace air to be toasty. Put those items on the road and you have a need for a system both new and old. But before going into those areas it is most important to know how to hook your propane tanks up in the first place. The process can be scary for some and even a bit perplexing.

In the next three minutes or so I hope to show you how easy hooking up a propane tank to your tiny house or recreation vehicle can be and even how safe it can be. Just click on the standard YouTube play button on the screenshot below. When you’re finished watching be sure to subscribe to the Tiny r(E)volution YouTube channel.

Click the button below to subscribe to the Tiny r(E)volution YouTube channel for up-to-date tiny house videos and access to all archive videos.Subscribe_Button

-OR – Subscribe to the Tiny r(E)volution via this link for a weekly video uncovering more topics of tiny houses and life on the road.

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

Note: “What Is Propane” section paraphrased from Ask The Expert.

Properly Hitching A Trailer To A Tow Vehicle

Before building our tiny house I gave very little thought to what we’d do after it was built. I knew the land we intended to settle on was in a different state and that somehow we had to get the tiny house there. But at the time we drove a Dodge Caliber sport wagon so I rested easy knowing I would just find someone to tow it for us. When it came time to relocate I practically begged my father to use his Chevy 2500 extended cab to do the towing for us. He agreed but on one condition. I had to help drive. That meant I had to learn how to tow our 7,800 pound tiny house.

Towing_Odom

What I have learned since that time is that perhaps one of the most important parts of building a house on wheels is knowing how to transport it safely and effectively once complete. This includes the use of safety chains, stabilizer bars, a sway bar, coupler locks, and trailer brakes. While it doesn’t take a rocket scientist it does take a few minutes and an idea of what needs to happen to safely move down the road with your tiny house in tow. I invite you to spend the next 3 minutes watching this short video on how to properly hook up your THOW or travel trailer to your town vehicle. Just click on the standard YouTube play button.

Click the button below to subscribe to the Tiny r(E)volution YouTube channel for up-to-date tiny house videos and access to all archive videos.Subscribe_Button

-OR – Subscribe to the Tiny r(E)volution via this link for a weekly video uncovering more topics of tiny houses and life on the road.

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

Entertaining in a Tiny House

xmas in the islands-1

The cruising life often takes us to far off places away from our families and our closest friends. We sail off into the sunset with our compass pointed toward paradise. We enjoy the sunsets and sip on tropical drinks with brightly colored straws and little umbrellas. We travel to places only accessible by boat or where air travel can be costly. We take a lot of pretty pictures and make magical memories, though there are also many moments where boat life isn’t easy.

We don’t get to see our families as often as we’d like. Out on the water we are fittingly “all in the same boat” and as cruisers, we all understand the importance of sticking together. Close friendships form quickly and we bind together a new kind of family where everyone is welcome.

This year, we were lucky enough to have my Dad fly into the Virgin Islands and spend the holidays with us on the boat. He got to experience first-hand the different kind of life we’ve been living this past year and he celebrated a very merry Cruiser Christmas with us too!

christmas2014-2

On Christmas Eve we hosted a lobster feast on our 42′ sailboat for 9 adults, 2 kids and 2 big dogs. We have a spacious center-cockpit style boat where we all ate dinner and spent most of the evening. The dogs and kids stayed down below where there was more room to play and go to sleep early.

Parking is never an issue on a boat. Everyone travels by dinghy and can tie up to any point on our boat. There were 5 dinghies tied up to the back of our boat – the most we’ve ever had before. The most accessible place to climb on and off is at the stern where we have a heavy-duty ladder. Up and over can be a challenge for some, but this crowd had no problem.

christmas2014-1

Here are a few tips I’d like to pass on for entertaining in a tiny (floating) house:

  1. Take It Outside – Weather permitting of course, there is better ventilation and stretching room if there is enough seating for everyone outside. The design of our boat makes this a breeze.
  2. Where’s The Restroom? – Keep a clear path to the restroom and make sure everyone knows where it is. On a boat it’s important to know how to operate the toilets too. In a small space, you probably don’t want to announce your business to everyone so include this in the tour upon arrival.
  3. Stow Your Breakables – Tiny spaces make it hard to not bump into things or brush up against everything near you. Play it safe and stow away any breakable items that might accidentally get bumped or broken. On our boat, most everything is always stowed away at all times.
  4. Decorations – Keep it simple. We normally like to go crazy with holiday decorations but on the boat we try to keep it simple. Instead of spending hours hanging and displaying decorations, we used ‘warm’ LED outdoor lights to add a little festive feeling. They don’t clutter up the space and add just a little bit of cheer. We actually keep one string up inside our enclosed cockpit 24/7 just because we like the warm glow in the evenings!
  5. High Five For Finger Food – Go heavy on the appetizers if you don’t have enough seating for everyone. All that’s required is standing room, fingers and a napkin. This also saves on the amount of dirty dishes created too!
  6. Keep A Tune – A little bit of background music can lighten up any space, even tiny ones. It raises spirits and keeps the focus off of the physical surroundings. Play something appropriate for your guests and keep it on a low volume. This time of year we had a good internet access and we were able to play Christmas music on Pandora through our cockpit speakers.
  7. Finish The Food Prep – If possible, have almost all food prepared before your guests arrive. There’s probably not room for helping hands in the kitchen and no one wants to see the craziness of food prep with less than desirable counter space ;) I know my galley doesn’t fit anyone else but me!
  8. Dinner is Served – Skip the buffet style dinner and have one person dish up the plates and pass them out to the guests. There’s always room for seconds but it’s much easier to keep everyone seated instead of creating a line with nowhere to go.
  9. Drinks Are On Me - Keep all the ice, pop, juice, beer and booze in one place. Designate one person to play bartender to mix and refill drinks. Same with the food, it’s easier to have one person within reach of the drinks instead of having each person climb around just to get a refill.
  10. Do The Dishes – Take dirty dishes away from your guests as soon as possible. When there is barely enough room for people in a tiny space, there is even less room for dirty dishes to set down. Instead of letting them pile up in the *tiny* sink, wash dishes and silverware as they are brought in. I keep a mix of large and small plates and a full set of silverware. This is enough for one meal for a big crowd but everything needs to be washed and reused for serving dessert. Staying on top of the dishwashing before it piles up is well worth the effort.

What are your favorite tips for entertaining in a Tiny House?

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

Adjusting To Simplicity

st kitts scenic-22

When Peter and I first started dating, we would take weekend trips to the Eastern Sierras to go camping. We would look up at the stars and talk for hours about how we wanted to live a simpler life. We talked about one day living on a sailboat and traveling around to all the most beautiful and remote islands, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life we had grown so accustomed to. We were both tired of living life according to what society thinks is normal. We wanted something different.

Just last year, circumstances aligned and we had the opportunity to buy a boat and leave our old jobs behind. We found our tiny floating home on the West coast of Florida and moved full steam ahead downsizing and preparing our belongings to move across the country, towing near everything we own in a small gutted pop-up trailer.

With excitement spilling out of us, Peter and I and our two big dogs spent a few days getting familiar with our new tiny home. All the storage spaces are irregular shapes and it was like a giant puzzle trying to make all of our belongings fit. Although thoughtfully engineered, each and every space on the boat was much smaller than we were used to. We stubbed our toes and hit our heads daily. Our muscles ached from climbing around like monkeys. Living compactly inside a sailboat with comparably 360 square feet of living space definitely required an adjustment to the way we function on a daily basis.

Suddenly, the reality hit that we were now living with significantly LESS STUFF. The items we couldn’t part with were stored on the other side of the country back in San Diego, and we only had the few items we brought with us. Gone were the days of walking into a closet to pick out clothes for the day, or walking out to the garage for the exact tool needed amidst a lifetime collection of useful things. We had brought the bare minimum we thought we would need to sail away for an indefinite period of time.

Immediately our boat began to feel like home. It was as if a huge wave of relief had come over us. We were less overwhelmed by superfluous space and stuff. If there was a mess on the floor, it’s because we were actively working on a project and needed those things out. There is exponentially less room on a boat for clutter and the kind of stress generated from having ‘too much’ just magically disappeared. We became more focused on the present moment and our every day experiences.

Although Peter and I had zero sailing experience, we knew that a sailboat was the most economical way to travel around to all the places we wanted to see. We didn’t let the fear of the unknown scare us away from our primary goal. We chose a simpler life and took on the challenge of learning many new skills in order to make it all happen, regardless of how scary it sounded. We learned how to generate electricity from the sun and the wind, how to make fresh water from the ocean and how to propel ourselves with the sails. We learned how to navigate with charts and communicate with long range radio signals. We learned how to read the weather and how to rely on ourselves to harvest food from the sea.

It has been amazing to see how little we actually use, and subsequently how little we actually need. We get by just fine with what we have, without being left wanting for more. We have a small home to call our own, filled with all the things that really matter and it allows us to appreciate those things even more. Sentimental items and favorite belongings carefully placed throughout our tiny home provide emotional comfort apart from the outside world. We love our little home, more than we ever thought we could.

It has been an amazing journey that is teaching us to appreciate the world and ourselves in a new way. We are growing stronger both mentally and physically, and experiencing things we never thought possible. Choosing a life less ordinary and getting back to basics has proven to be the most rewarding and amazing opportunity I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

IMG_5540

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN ADJUSTING TO SIMPLICITY

  1. PURPOSE – Take a moment to remember why you chose to live a simpler life. After making a major life adjustment like downsizing or moving to a smaller space, it can be difficult to adjust to such a radical change. Remind yourself on a daily basis of why you chose simplicity in the first place. Was it to eliminate stress? Was it to acquire more time for the important things? Was it to allow yourself more freedom to move around?
  2. PATIENCE – Be patient with yourself. Try to avoid getting frustrated with this new way of living. It can often be a challenge to complete a common task with fewer tools or less space than you’re used to. Just try to do your best. It will get easier with time.
  3. INTIMACY – Allow yourself to become familiar with your belongings and your home on an intimate level. Appreciation and gratitude will grow in you for both the small and large things that make up your life.
  4. CREATIVITY – Get creative with your actions and find new and innovative ways to do more with less. Challenge yourself to use what you have instead of feeling like you need to buy something new.
  5. INSPIRATION – Find inspiration from others who are successfully living a simple life. Learn the possibilities and dream big. Share your inspiration with others too. In sharing your joy and helping others find simplicity, you will ultimately find more appreciation for your own new way of life.

In what ways have you adjusted to simplicity? Leave a comment and share your inspiration!

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

Helpful Tips For Downsizing: PART 3

PART 3: Take Action

downsize-part3-13

In PART 1 you learned to START EARLY before you actually need to downsize. If possible, don’t wait until you’re forced to make decisions about keeping or getting rid of your things. You also learned some helpful tips to keep in mind while you REDISCOVER your belongings.

In PART 2 you learned some questions to ask yourself when making a decision on what to keep and what to get rid of.

Now what?

TAKE ACTION

Remember that you have choices.

While choices can be overwhelming for some, it’s reassuring to others. This isn’t the part where I tell you ‘okay, now chuck it all!’ or, ‘you have to donate everything because it’s the right thing to do.’

An action that is right for one person may not be the best choice for someone else. Do what you feel comfortable with and what you’ll feel happiest with at the end of the day. If selling something on Craigslist is more important to you in order to get back part of your hard earned money, then by all means spend the time and effort to get the price you want. If you aren’t strapped for cash or if you’re short on time, consider donating so that your things could end up bringing joy to someone less fortunate.

If you’ve decided to GET RID OF IT, consider the following options:

  • Trash or Recycle: Some things simply come to the end of their usable life and it’s time to say goodbye. When possible, seek out local recycling or compost options before chucking in the trash.
  • Upcycle or Repurpose: Many of the items you might want to throw away could probably be repurposed into something useful or more appropriate for your living space, saving you money in the long run. If you think an item can be upcycled, put it on a new priority to-do list to change its current form and repurpose it into something else. This doesn’t have to be done on the spot but make a point to take action as soon as you have time instead of letting it sit around unused for any longer than it already has. Turn those old t-shirts into rags or move those old photo albums and stacks of papers into the cloud!
  • Donate: Find a local shelter, church, or non-profit agency that is accepting donations. Often times these organizations are even willing to come pick up the goods from your home or office. Another way to donate is by giving your unwanted items directly to local families that are less fortunate and may be interested in taking the items off your hands. This could quite possibly bring more joy to them than you will ever know. Take a photo of the item you want to donate and post it on Facebook or email it to some friends asking if they know anyone who may be interested. Another great idea suggested by one of our Tiny House Blog readers is that animal shelters will sometimes accept old blankets that may not be suitable for donation anywhere else. Most donations to non-profit organizations can also qualify for tax deductions so be sure to ask for a receipt.
  • Sell: A good rule of thumb for selling items is to hold a garage sale for items under $20 and list them on Craigslist or eBay for items over $20. I’ve been extremely successful with selling items on Craigslist. It’s amazing how there is always SOMEONE out there actively searching for the exact thing you are trying to get rid of, and they’ll pay for it! Let the wonderful powers of the internet help you through this process. Remember to always use extreme caution when selling goods over the internet.

 

If you’re not sure what to do with a particular item, it’s okay to DECIDE LATER and store these items somewhere for the time being. Maybe you’re not willing to get rid of something yet, but you don’t necessarily want it out in your everyday living space. Consider the following:

  • For the items you don’t want to store away, keep them in a pile in plain sight, promising yourself to reanalyze them within a few days or a period of time reasonable to you.
  • Pack the items you want to store in an airtight container to keep out mold and bugs.
  • Try to use space-saving containers and organize them as tightly-fitting as possible.
  • Make a mental note of why you are keeping these things or write it down on a note and keep it with the items.
  • Put a piece of masking tape or duct tape on the outside of the container or the back/underside of the item, writing in permanent marker what’s inside or who you’re saving it for.
  • Let a friend or family member borrow it on a long-term basis. Chances are you’ll realize that it’s not as important to you five years down the road. The good news? Someone else is getting joy out of something that you once did.
  • Remember to rediscover the items you put away in storage every few months to see if you’re ready to make a new decision.

 

Last but certainly not least, you will end up with a pile of items you have DECIDED TO KEEP. I’m a firm believer in the old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” If you’re in a tiny house, a house on wheels, or even a tiny floating home, you know the importance of making sure that everything is put away and kept tidy. Here are a few ideas for organizing all the things that matter in your home:

  • Placement: Put each of these items in a place where you’ll see them every day, where you will use it frequently or where you will know how to find it when you need it in a jiffy.

downsize-part3-1

  • Reorganize often: The traditional spring cleaning once a year is just not enough for most things. Reorganizing often keeps your living space fresh and it keeps you honest with your motives for buying new things or storing old things. It also keeps the important items accessible. Try to downsize or reorganize EVERYTHING in your house once a month or every few months. You’ll be amazed at how differently you will begin to feel about the things you discover!
  • Consumables: Try using up your cooking, cleaning, beauty and craft supplies without replenishing until you feel you have cleared out enough space. If it’s still important enough to replenish, go ahead and buy a new supply.

downsize-part3-4

 

STILL HAVING TROUBLE?

Here are a few examples…

  • Recipes: I love flipping through my recipe box filled with all my favorite hand written recipe cards lovingly covered in flour, spice stains and sugar. For new recipes I haven’t tried yet, it’s easier for me to collect them electronically in a series of pdfs and links. Even though I live on a boat, I decided to allocate a little bit of shelf space for some of my favorite cookbooks. Regardless of where I keep them, I do my best to organize my recipes by category to make it easy to find them when I’m looking for something specific.
  • Tools: These are some of the most essential items in my home. Living on a boat requires constant maintenance and repair. Knowing where to find the right tool at the right time is literally a “sink or swim” matter. We have a workbench and toolbox within easy reach containing all of the most commonly used items. It’s also essential to carry spares of just about every working part on the boat, including duplicate sets of sockets, screwdrivers and the like. It’s not practical to keep them ALL within reach so the uncommon tools and spare parts are stored carefully in compartments that are less accessible. Ziploc bags are the most practical way to organize, label and protect parts and tools stored in a boat. They don’t take up any more space than the tool itself and they help protect our belongings from the corrosive marine environment. A very helpful tip we’ve discovered is to utilize the back side of doors. Our boat came equipped with a removable vice on the inside of the engine room door which has come in very handy a number of times. When not in use, it’s out of the way and not taking up valuable space.

downsize-part3-2

  • Fishing Gear: There’s not too many places to store 30 fishing poles on a boat. One very helpful solution was to clip them to the ceiling of our engine room. This way they are always accessible and they stay out of the way. Installing hooks on the back side of doors or inside closet doors is also a great space saving technique.

downsize-part3-3

  • Clothes and Shoes: It’s different for every home I live in but on the boat my clothing storage is limited. There are a total of three tiny hanging lockers big enough to fit maybe 7 items each. To maximize space, I fold the items I don’t wear as often and store them below and behind my hanging clothes. Shoes are stored in a homemade organizer with pockets that hangs on the back of my bathroom door. My everyday items are folded neatly into the tiny shelf next to my bed. On that shelf, I like to use a wire basket for easy access to hold my swimsuits (which happen to be the clothing item I access most on the boat).

downsize-part3-7

  • Pictures: Before moving onto the boat, I decided to store all of my photo albums with printed photographs in them. Some of them are older than I am, and I never got around to scanning them into electronic format. They are safely stored away in plastic crates back in California for when I am ready to revisit them. When that day comes, I would like to dedicate several weekends to spreading out all of the albums and putting the photos in a chronological order to the best of my ability. There are most likely duplicates and some bad photos that can be trashed, and the rest will be fun to look through. Then, I will use a photo scanning app on my smart phone to electronically copy each photo. After they are all transferred over, I can back them up to Cloud Storage or an external hard drive for future use or sharing with friends and family. This is one of the most daunting organizational projects to tackle but I know that if I can get myself excited about what I might find, it will make the process a lot easier.
  • Important Documents: Documents are easy to store in the Cloud also. I already have my important documents backed up and stored electronically. Although internet in the islands is not always reliable, I’m never too far away from the internet if I need to access something important. For the sake of convenience, most of my documents are available at all times on a flash drive or external hard drive which takes up very little space.
  • Crafts: I like to store crafts inside plastic bins or crates to preserve them. On the boat it’s not as easy to do because my storage spaces are so small. Even though I’m short on space, I still keep my craft supplies organized and neatly tucked away for a rainy day.
  • Books: The previous owner of our boat built in some amazing bookshelves. The trend nowadays is to read all books on a kindle or tablet yet I can’t bring myself to get rid of some of my favorite hardcopy books. I’ve brought my favorites with me on the boat and I’ve stored a few bins full of classic books that I’d like to someday pass on to my own children. I’ve already decided those books are worth the storage space, so I’m happy to lug them around wherever they need to be moved to.

downsize-part3-6

  • Holiday Decorations: There are so many special and sentimental holiday decorations that I’ve collected over the years. Some of them are favorite decorations I remember from when I was a kid. Some of them were given to me by friends and family. Every season, I do sort through my decorations and decide if something really does mean anything to me anymore. Every year I discover a few things that I don’t care to hold onto anymore and it no longer remains in my home. This is another category of belongings where although I can’t bring them all on the boat, I am not willing to get rid of them so they will be stored until I decide otherwise.
  • Furniture: If you have decided to keep furniture items that may not fit in your house, consider loaning them out to a friend or family member for safe keeping. Furniture can be expensive to replace but make sure you really love the pieces you have. If not, get rid of them and wait until the right piece comes along. If you pass by a dresser in your room every day but no longer appreciate it, get it out of there and put something in its place that you love looking at every day. Your home should be a happy and safe place where you love every item you’ve brought into your home.
  • Kitchen Utensils: It may sound silly, but when working with tight spaces it’s incredibly helpful to have even the insignificant items organized. I’ve got three small drawers for kitchen items. The top one is used for the most accessed tools like a spoon, tongs and spatula. The second drawer contains all sharp things like knives, cheese slicer and a potato peeler. The last drawer contains baking items that get used every few weeks instead of every day. If I can train my brain to think in terms of categories, it makes locating the item I want much easier.
  • Kitchen Towels: Instead of taking up valuable counter space, I attached a piece of ribbon to a binder clip and hang my towels in front of my oven. This makes it super easy to pull a towel quickly from the clip and it keeps them out of the way.

downsize-part3-9

My tiny floating home of roughly 360 square feet is just big enough for me, my boyfriend and our two dogs. We are intimately familiar with every item we have on board which either serves a functional purpose or holds sentimental value. Either way, we are happy to have each and every one of our belongings on board and continue to value the space required to carry that item with us inside our traveling home.downsize-part3-5

It’s also by necessity that we regularly clean out every locker and storage space we have. We are constantly checking for leaks and bugs, not to mention every time we need one item, the entire contents of that space has to be removed to get it out. It may seem like a lot of work but it’s what we signed up for living in a space this small. It has definitely proven to be less stressful knowing every single item we have on board, rather than having a house full of items we might not even know we had.downsize-part3-8

Downsizing and organizing can be both intimidating and exhilarating processes. Hopefully this series has brought you a little hope and a little inspiration to clean out the clutter and focus more on the parts of your life that really matter.

Please leave a comment and share your favorite ways to get rid of the clutter! If you are feeling stuck, you’re welcome to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you ‘sort it out.’ If you enjoyed these tips for downsizing, please share them! You may help bring a smile to someone else’s face :)

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]