by Caroline Stilwell
This is our 24 x 14 foot shed being pulled up the narrow mountain road. It is paved, barely, and about the width of one good truck. The final resting place was a former potato field (1940-1950) and our little house was dropped in place with minimal damage. The house was placed on a gravel pad which we later reinforced with concrete footers and 4 x 6s.
We had purchased the 24 x 14 foot shed the winter before and had the inside modified. We enlarged the windows and added French doors in the back long wall of the cabin. The interior, walls, floor, and vaulted ceiling are wood.
We considered solar, but after much debate we decided to go on the grid for power. We did not a well, which would have been very expensive. So we have baseboard heat, lights, and an electric composting toilet. We bring water in for the kitchen, which has not been a problem, and supplement for washing and showering with a rain barrel. We built an outdoor shower, great for summer, but a bit too cold when it snows!! Winter showering is done at our friends’ house just up the road.
Above all we wanted the cabin to be easy and accessible to us as we aged. We were almost 65 when we bought the cabin and we want to be able to come and stay here as long as possible. So a loft was out and an outhouse might be a little uncomfortable at 80! The composting toilet, which has a fan to speed up the process, is working great and a source of wonder to our visitors. We are close to the road so we feel that we have years to look forward to enjoying the cabin.
We installed a kitchen counter and sink, which drains outside so we do not have any messy sloshing of waste water. We have a small fridge under the counter, a two burner electric hot plate and a much used electric skillet. Everything fits in the base cabinets or hangs on the walls.
The cabin has a living area at one end, dining area in the middle and kitchen, bathroom and sleeping in the other end. The sleeping area is currently a fancy electric air mattress but we are considering switching to a built in with a full size mattress. It will take up less room and allow storage underneath.
We have adequate storage with a cedar chest, storage in and above the bathroom and are going to add a storage box of sorts outdoors. Our next project is a deck to sit on and enjoy a view of those beautiful Appalachian mountains.
by Wes Nave
Being from the era where we take a lot for granted, one thing constantly stands out in my mind. Why don’t we take advantage of our naturally occurring resources to provide for us?
I remember my grandmother telling me about the early pioneer days when building sod houses (a common practice during the early 1900’s for people coming west) over a creek worked as a refrigerator to keep milk and butter cold – and probably great grand dads home brew cold as well! She also told me they would orient the house to catch the morning sun, but be away from the afternoon sun to help keep the house cool.
During my career I have taken an interest in understanding these practices and helping other people understand how to use natural resource to live more sustainable lives.
I’ve chosen a career in Solar Energy. I am not an expert and certainly I do not pretend to be one, however, I successfully help people understand and take advantage of solar energy, primarily in the lower voltage arena used primarily for the RV and Marine, Agricultural, and Light Industrial Industries.
We have now ventured into the realm of off grid power for remote cabins, tiny houses, cottages, outbuildings, and any other place where the minimalistic lifestyle comes into play, not by accident, but purely on purpose.
Our understanding of lower voltage systems has enabled us to excel and be somewhat of an industry leader in bringing new and imaginable battery charging systems to market to help solve one difficult problem at a time.
In the following weeks I would like to help you understand how Solar Energy, used in the right way can, help the Tiny House Market solve some very important energy and power restriction issues that plague mobility, home location and cost.
I invite you to ask me questions and I will do my best to help answer those questions. Please keep in mind that my education is in the area of re-charging battery banks and not in providing ways to “put power back to the grid” that my friends I must direct you to the residential and commercial side of Solar Energy. We believe in keeping it simple and affordable.
The name brand Solar Panels are Zamp Solar panels with Solar Cells manufactured by Bosch in Germany.
Our 3000 watt inverter is our own brand and it is one of the only complete Pure Sine Wave inverters that contains an adjustable 90 amp battery charger, built in 60 Amp MPPT Solar Charge controller, and many more standard features that are listed on our website, or I would be more than happy to distribute.
Our kit is designed as a simple plug n play system. Mount the panels, plug them into the weather proof combiner box with built in fuses and fuse block, then twist on the terminal ends to the supplied cabling to your batteries. Its that simple.
You can certainly save money by buying individual components and shopping around, if you can ill afford the luxury of buying a custom designed, self contained complete kit with 25 year warranty, the largest wattage panels with the smallest footprint A+ Monocrystaline panels available today.
You can check out our products at Solardealz.com and get a special 10% discount using the coupon code tinyhomesolar for the cabin systems.
More and more young people seem to be ditching the typical suburban “first home” for a tiny house and Erin and Dondi Harner in Colorado are no exception. Their 100 percent off-grid tiny house has just recently been completed and contains all the necessities for a totally self-contained 181 square foot home on wheels. The couple named their home “Soleil” because it runs off the sun.
Dondi is a civil engineer who works in Fort Collins and Erin is a nutritionist, author and business owner who is working on her second master’s degree in nutrition. Their home is 29 feet long and 8 1/2 feet wide and contains a shower and bathroom sink, composting toilet, six solar panels and a 300 gallon water cistern for fresh water. Water is heated with an on-demand heater. The home also has a loft with a small staircase for quick access, a kitchen and dining space, an office, a closet and even a sofa that converts into a guest bed.
Some nice details of the home include lodge poles on the deck and by the stairs, tongue and groove aspen paneling on the walls and bright red panels on their kitchen cabinets. You can read more about their build and traveling adventures by visiting their website. Continue Reading »
MorningStar home, built by the Penn State Center for Sustainability has been around since 2007, but it will hopefully be the home of the near future. The 799 square foot building is a net-zero home that produces more energy than it consumes, and it has been used for educational and research activities on the university campus. It will also serve has a home for one lucky graduate student who will test the house systems in real life conditions.
The MorningStar not only has solar panels on the roof, but on the east- and west-facing sides of the home. The south-facing windows have sliding exterior shelving to regulate solar gain and the home has a sliding wall of liquid glass containers that, when filled with water, can retain heat during the day and release the warmth into the home during the night. Continue Reading »