Propane or electric stove? Solar or generator power? Compost or sawdust toilet?
Customizing a tiny house is like a choose-your-own-adventure story; and the options are endless. You should first consider whether you want to be totally off-grid. This could save you money in the long run but may also be less convenient. For instance, do you already have a space planned out for your tiny house? Is it a parking space, a land share, or your own property? Do you plan on moving your tiny house often? What are your energy needs? Answering these questions will help determine what appliances and power options are best for your needs.
Fortunately, most builders and manufacturers offer a number of options for utilities. We’ve highlighted some popular choices to get you into the spirit of tiny living.
Solar electricity is requested most often and sounds like the right thing to do, but it’s not just a matter of plugging in some solar panels and collecting sunshine. Solar power is very hands-on. Tiny House dwellers will need to park their home in an area that receives optimal sunlight and be prepared to clean debris from the panels as often as needed. You’ll also need a battery bank to store the electricity. Batteries require regular maintenance, including adding water, cleaning and checking connections.
Propane heating is a great choice for off-grid living. You may already be familiar with propane if you use it to power your stove or fridge. We’ve heard great things about the Cottage Mini Soapstone Gas stove. This heater looks like a wood stove but runs on propane.
If your tiny house is on the go, you may not have consistent access to running water. A lot of tiny houses are built to include water tanks and greywater systems; why not consider a rainwater collection and filtration system to supplement your main water source. Rainwater collection systems can be set up on the roof of your tiny house to operate on gravity flow and use no electricity.
Space and weight are a common concern with customizing a tiny house. You can’t build a house without a foundation, walls and a roof, but how do you ensure that these remain minimalist while still providing necessary structure and insulation? We’re finding that Tiny House buildings are turning to standard SIPs (structural insulated panels) to build with. These panels consist of an insulating layer of rigid core (usually foam) sandwiched between two layers of structural board. These all-in-one panels are built to act as studs, insulation, vapor barrier and air barrier.
Can’t choose between off-grid and full plugged in? Don’t sweat it. Tiny Houses can be customized to accommodate both.