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Off-Gri(n)d Tiny House

Post in 'The Green Room' started by jebatty, Mar 29, 2013.

  1. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Jim - where do you plan to place the water storage? Without a basement or outbuilding, it will obviously need to be inside the building envelope.

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  2. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Seasoned Oak: at 12' width, the house would be transportable but not mobile/trailer frame size. I don't intend to haul it around, but it might be relocated.

    Another approach to the heat would be to simply use the storage as a radiator and not have any other radiant, which for this small size structure should also work. I'm thinking a sliding foam door to the storage, using a linear actuator and a controller, which would open/shut the door incrementally to maintain a target interior temperature. This also would save electricity by not needing a radiant pump. I did this before in my old shop with my roughly insulated 1000 gal hot water storage tank for my gasification boiler. I exposed more or less of the tank as needed to keep the shop warm, not sophisticated, but worked.
  3. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Jags: the storage will be inside the structure, about 4' x 6' by 4' high, open storage. I can make this out of wood with EPDM lining.
  4. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    By open, do you mean open air? Wouldn't this cause a humidity issue in such a small place?
  5. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Open (to the air, but limited air exposure) storage is used by many with wood gasification boiler systems, and in addition to home-made storage, there are several companies that right now market open storage tanks/containers.

    But ...

    I was just blown away by a phone conversation with an expert at design concepts, sizing, installation, etc. in the solar thermal industry. Although I may be jumping a bit to a conclusion, I am of the impression that what I was thinking about, while interesting and even fun as a do-it-yourself project, is already commercially available and could be fully solar powered with hot water collectors and solar electric, even in the northern Minnesota climate. I need to do a lot more, obviously, to flesh this out. But if so, then I need to rethink the proposal I want to make, because if a fully livable structure, up to several hundreds of square feet, could be built, that probably is the way to go, and data collection, reporting, and educational instruction all could proceed simultaneously through the building period as well as the living experience period.

    I guess when a person drops a hook with bait into the water, the person never knows for sure what might bite. This thread is likely to push me into a new area of learning and experimentation.
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Cool. Keep posting as you learn.
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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  8. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    This place is close to me and they make a nice log cabin im considering to replace my aging cabin in the woods. You can buy most of these structures 500*600 SF as you see it in the pictures but with inside unfinished for less than 10K. Id finish the inside myself .
    http://www.hillsidestructures.com
  9. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    One big attraction for the tiny or small house is getting rid of excess and simplifying life. As I give thought to that, I'm asking the question of why I can't do that now with my larger house, 1500 sq ft + basement. My wife and I are getting better at ridding of excess and simplification. Our current mission is a one month trial of minimizing electric usage. I think the biggest drawback here is the electric dryer, and my wife does not want to hang clothes outside to dry.

    The second attraction is energy independence, solar electric, hot water, and space heating. Size of a house is a big factor here due to the cost of moving to all solar (or wind) with a larger house vs a small house, but we are doing some small solar projects to get a feel for this, and we are getting a bid on a grid-tied system. The wood stove probably should be considered solar as well, and almost all of our space heating comes from wood. Moving to solar dhw currently makes no sense due to the very low rate we pay for off-peak dhw electric. Also not easy to replace the electric cook-top and oven.

    Moving thought to action, modifying behavior, is the key to real change.
  10. Circus

    Circus Member

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    The idea of two people stuck in a building the size of an average bedroom is scary. 1500 sq. ft is just about the minimum to avoid murder. Besides, size doesn't alter energy use as much as people think
  11. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Depends on the climate and setup.....and the people!
    We lived for 3 years in a 12x20 army tent with a floor and windows.....but we were younger.
    More recently we spent a month in an 850 sq. ft bungalow and I can report that it was definitely more than big enough to avoid murder. The key, IMHO, is having two bathrooms - however small they are - and various separate spaces. This bungalow had plenty....it had a tiny kitchen which is OK, as well as no real duplication of rooms (just one living area, but two closed in porches which, in the warm climes, are actually living areas).

    I think it does change with the climate. Up north I would not want to stuck in a small cabin with anyone.....
  12. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    As people get older they may want to spend less time cleaning ,maintaining a large home.Or they may want to travel. I get calls from empty nesters who want to sell their large home and lot and rent a small townhouse or half a duplex so they dont have to deal with contractors,grounds keepers as they age. My home is 3000SF but i dont need near that for a cabin in the woods to spend the occasional weekend.
  13. GaryGary

    GaryGary Feeling the Heat

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    The 12 by 16 (192 sf) house has a heat loss area of (12+12+16+16)(8) + (2)(192 = 448 walls + 384 flr/ceil = 832 sf

    A 33.6 ft by 44.7 ft (1500 sf) house has a heat loss area of (33.6 + 33.6 + 44.7 + 44.7)(8) + (2) (1500) = 1253 walls + 3000 flr/ceil = 4253 sf

    So, the floor area is 7.8 times larger and the heat loss area is 5.1 times larger.

    Gary
  14. Circus

    Circus Member

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    Quoting AboutDotcom Home Repair
    Loss of heat (AC)
    Infiltration / Air Leakage: 35%
    Windows and Doors: 18%-20%
    Floors and Below Grade Space: 15%-18%
    Walls: 12%-14% Ceilings: 10%
    People add attic insulation mainly because it's cheap and easy to do.
  15. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Don't you think that the idea of needing lots of space to avoid murder or reasonably live is a cultural experience? There are lots of people in the world who live in very small spaces. Right after WWII the average new home was around 800 sq ft, and family size in many cases was 4-6 children. Pre-WWII had even smaller homes and often even larger families. Asia, Africa, and even European standards for sqft/person are much less than in the US.

    I grew up in one of those 800 sq ft homes, two parents and 4 children, with 3 boys sharing one very small bedroom (bunk beds + a single bed). That was 133 sqft/person. No murder.
  16. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    I have been looking at land and planning to build a tiny house. My friend ordered a shed shell and converted it. I would like to do the same thing or else rehab a small barn. The major hurdles are land prices and regulations.

    That is why I am interested in small stoves.

    I think this is an awesome way to live. Good luck to you.
  17. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    For small stoves that probably would work for a tiny house, look at wood stoves designed for small boats, sailboats, etc. Where I live there is no minimum size for a home.
  18. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    You can order these "sheds" just about any size and also equipped with kitchens and a bath. Pre-wired or do your own. I plan to build a small log cabin on my land in the woods that way. Order the shell and wa-la instant "out of the weather " already. A 12 x 40 shell is only $6000 but i plan to get about a 18x30 1 story and put beds-cots up inside the roof area. Ill wire it myself and install a kitchen and a bath with either a composting toilet or some other type to avoid spending 20K on an elaborate septic system.
    woodgeek and DevilsBrew like this.
  19. Chain

    Chain Feeling the Heat

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    Speaking of elaborate septic systems, I'm waiting for someone to invent a relatively affordable septic system that is also a bio-digester that can create enough methane to generate electricity via a generator and/or be burned directly in a cook stove that also can heat a micro-cabin. Sort of as an auxiliary, back up system. And when not being used directly, stores the methane created for future use. Something in 8-10K range that will serve a family of 4 or less. A pipe dream I know, but maybe in my lifetime.
  20. DevilsBrew

    DevilsBrew Minister of Fire

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    That reminds me of the Poo Pot episode on Dirty Jobs.
  21. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    The Govt is just over the top with these elaborate systems,right now and old amish farmer living on a 140 acre farm is being forced to spend 20K+ on an elaborate system pumps,manhole access, a giant leech field simply because his house has 4 bedrooms. My solution for that would be to turn those 4 bedrooms into something else,walkin closets ect in order to qualify for a much smaller system.
    Down the road if a large family moves in they can deal with an upgrade then.
  22. billjustbill

    billjustbill Member

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    For the Murphy Bed idea, here's a new kit to build one and save some more dollars:
    http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=32550&utm_source=NL&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=V2356
    Good luck and keep us updated with your progress.
  23. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Your doin your homework bill. Is this thing Moveable? 12' wide is about the limit but it can go on the road at that size. THe ones the amish build are 12 wide and up to 40 long and will deliver them anywhere. Any estimate on the weight?
  24. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    The off grid (grind) tiny house I was thinking of wasn't just small or transportable, although both of those are good goals. But that critter has been created in the form of a small travel trailer. For really small see http://www.scamptrailers.com/ These are pretty nifty and probably the way I would go, pun intended, if small and transportable were the main goals. My thought, however, was extremely energy efficient and truly off-grid, winter included for heat and electricity, year-round, and able to accomplish this in the cold northern Minnesota winter. Cost always is a factor, but higher initial cost for a self-sufficient living space with near $0 energy cost can pay back that cost.

    For really small, I just got up from sleeping outside in my new 1-person tent, outside temp including a touch of frost. The tent, paired with an ultra light sleeping bag and self-inflatable air mattress, have a total weight of 10 lbs. The plan is for these to be my lodging on a planned 1600 mile bicycle trek around Lake Superior in September. Combine these with a rocket stove, thermal cooker, and solar rechargeable lamp, as well as an additional sleeping bag for cold -30F nights in January, and freedom of living space and transport has been achieved for about a grand. I was thinking about a solar oven, but after seeing the possibility of combining a rocket stove with a thermal cooker, I think the objectives of the solar oven can be achieved without need for the sun. And burning a few twigs also is solar energy in solid, renewable and sustainable form.
  25. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    No reason why some parts cant be expandable like a pop up tent camper. In fact you could start with a camper and add solar and other systems to it. THe newer ones are pretty well insulated.

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