Portable Solar Camping

We spent most of last week camping at Big Bear Lake in Southern California. We were celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday and also my folks 60th wedding anniversary that actually happened back in June. Also it was the first time in a couple of years that all of us were able to get together. My two brothers and my sister and all our kids and their spouses. It was lots of fun. My uncle and his wife live down the road from where we camped so we did go to their home as well.

My wife and I also celebrated our 32nd anniversary on this trip so that was fun also.

80 watt solar panel

This was my first chance to use the Zamp Solar 80 Watt panel that I featured back a few months ago in a post in a test based at our home. I am happy to tell you that it kept up with our usage of electricity. Though we really just used the power for the water pump for the kitchen and toilet and lights at night I was happy to find out that the 80 watt solar panel could easily keep up with that type of use. Each day I would connect the panel and within two or three hours it would top off my battery. It is exciting to use the sun in this way. I did not have to turn the generator on once during our four day camping trip.

To learn more about this panel visit my previous post called the 80 Watt Zamp Solar Portable Charging System.

The Family

The Family

Janelle and I

Janelle and I


Green Valley Natural Builders Tiny House

For their first tiny house, Green Valley Natural Builders in Sebastopol, CA decided to build something very small, but beautiful, using only natural, unprocessed and re-used materials. What they came up with is a delightful tiny structure on wheels that cost only $1,500 to build. Because the small company is used to creating houses out of straw bales, cob and wood, they didn’t want the materials for their first 6 foot by 10 foot house to come from the lumber yard.


The group used an old trailer frame, separating and recycling the aluminum and priming the trailer with metal paint. The walls were framed with rough cut 2×2 pieces of wood. The rough cut of the wood varied in thickness by up to a quarter inch and because of this the house began to take on its own dimensions and character. Various sizes of 1/8 inch plywood were used for strength and rigidity and the roof was decked with 1/2 plywood for strength and lightness. The exterior siding was rough milled cedar and fir and recycled blue jean insulation was used inside the walls. The windows came from the old trailer and the door was cut from a slab of 2×12 redwood. Metal roofing was purchased for the roof.



“It was fun to build, although definitely one of the more challenging and time consuming projects I have worked on, due to the variability in the raw material we used and the unplanned natural nature of the design,” said Ganesh of Green Valley Natural Builders. “Tens of hours were spent planning and edging and fitting non-standardized materials. What we saved in material costs we definitely made up for in labor, but the end result is unreplicable making it worth it for me.”

Green Valley Natural Builders is a local builders cooperative with over fifty years of accumulated experience in construction, carpentry, landscaping, heavy equipment operation and forestry. They construct and sell tipi poles, handcrafted furniture, play cabins and dog houses, floating cabins, sweat lodges, saunas, solar water heaters and they are currently working on several collapsible vardos.

The build process of the tiny, tiny house is available on Instructables.


Photos by Green Valley Natural Builders

By Christina Nellemann for [Tiny House Blog]

Pammie’s Tea House

The Tiny House Blog has profiled Dayton Taylor and his vintage trailer builds and restorations before, but Dayton also constructs small structures and introduced me to a tiny tea house he recently built for his decorator wife, Pam. After working on vintage trailers and “Man Caves” for himself, he promised his wife that her tea house would be a place just for the ladies.


The house, which sits in a tea garden in the couple’s Temecula, Calif. backyard, took three months to build and Dayton made up the design as he went along. The house is five-sided and 14 feet by 14 feet. Dayton said he built it as a pentagon shape for good luck and Pam has decorated it with soft colors, chandeliers, vintage hardware, a Dutch door and bead board on the walls. The house has air conditioning and a small sink.

“The women love it,” Dayton said. “Surprisingly, the men love it too. This was my first attempt at building anything “estrogen injected” so it was a challenge. For a while the pendulum swung WAY too far to the “girlie” side of the equation so then I had to reel myself back in and find that middle ground.”

The next issue of the Tiny House Magazine will be featuring Dayton’s Woodie Love Bug and you can view more of his trailer restorations at Vintage Trailer Crazy.







Photos by Dayton Taylor

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]