A Guide to Tiny Houses When Living Off-Grid
Off-grid living is the goal of every serious prepper. When you're off the grid, you're responsible for all your home utility needs. That means you will need to work out a system for water, as well as ensuring your home has the power it needs to keep inhabitants safe and secure. But with this high level of responsibility comes many great benefits, including not being privy to the whims of the power companies where you currently live.
If you're considering going off-grid, a tiny house can be just the way to do so. Tiny houses are typically under 400 square feet and promote frugality and minimalism, two essential components of a survivalist lifestyle. There are a lot of decisions that go into creating an off-grid, tiny homestead for the first time. While the reward is more than worth, it's crucial that you're properly prepared for all the obstacles and challenges.
While your tiny home can absolutely be made out of wood, much like a traditional house, it doesn't have to be. Wood is a heavy material, which can be problematic if you plan on hauling your tiny home around. Wood also has a less favorable r-value (which indicates how well a material resists heat flow) when compared to other types of tiny home materials. There are other options that may be a better fit, including steel and aluminum.
The r-value of steel and aluminum is much better than wood. This will keep your home temperate all year long, which reduces your energy usage. These materials also have greater weather-resistance, which means the elements won't cause as much damage over time. And if you plan on transporting your home via a trailer, aluminum and steel weigh a lot less than a home constructed from wood.
Solar panels are the go-to off the grid choice for powering your tiny home. You must make sure you use the right amount of solar panels to ensure your home has the power it needs to run appliances. While it can vary based on the size, most tiny homes require 1,200 watts for optimum livability.
Depending on where you plan to set up your tiny home, you may need additional heating options during winter. A wood stove is ideal in this case, provided you're using the proper venting system to allow smoke to flow up and out of your home. If you're living in a rural area, you'll find an overabundance of logs and wood to keep your wood stove burning all night long.
Water is another crucial consideration. There are a few different options to supply water to your home. If you plan on staying in one place, it's recommended that you drill your own well and setup up access to your tiny home. You can also pipe in water from a nearby lake or stream. You'll need to take additional steps to ensure water is properly purified if you use this option. You should also set up storage tanks so your tiny home will have continued access to water.
Don't fall into the trap of believing that you must use traditional appliances within your tiny home. Consider purchasing a stand-alone freezer instead of a freezer/refrigerator combo. This is the best way to efficiently preserve foods well into the future, which is vital when storing meat and other perishables. When it comes to cooking meals for your family, a candle-powered oven is surprisingly effective. These ovens work with tea lights, which are placed into a special compartment, where they disperse heat throughout the oven evenly.
In terms of lighting, natural light is the way to go. When designing your tiny home, make sure there are ample storm-resistant windows to allow in plenty of natural light. Of course, you'll need to make allowances for night time after the sun has gone down. Look for solar-charged LED lights, which can be placed throughout the home as needed.