Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tiny Home Village Potential

I think I've found a beautiful site for a Tiny Home Village. It has 183 acres, waterfront access to both a river and a private lake, and an open minded municipality that might be open to a Tiny Home Village. There is a house and 4 cottages, with potential for adding 38 more cottages, or Tiny Homes. Just under 200 km from Toronto and located in the Northern Kawarthas, this land appears to have everything I am looking for and costs only $895,000. Imagine if 10 people committed to purchasing this land together, and building a communal Tiny Home Village. Wouldn't it be a great place to retire and get old together? Let me know if you're interested! 

Tiny Home Village Potential

Siding is Completed

Where oh where did the summer go? We finally got the siding completed at the end of spring. Just in time to turn our attention to our big house renovations. I visited this Tiny Home a few times over the summer, and was pleased how cool it was. The circulation blows between the back door and the screen door, make for pleasant summer breezes. Great for sleeping and just hanging out, even during heat waves.

I enjoyed being totally off the grid with no need for hydro at all. My little solar panel and power bank generated enough power to keep the lights on and my tech toys powered. I enjoyed cooking outside on a propane camp stove. I did have one harrowing experience when I lit the stove (outside) and went inside to grab the coffee. Suddenly I heard a poof sound and ran outside to see the propane making a blow torch out of the piping. Seems the old piping had dissolved and caused a leak from the propane. I turned off the stove and decided to use the indoor electrical stove top till I could get home to replace it. Ah, the dangers of propane stoves!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Just relax

It's so damn windy and rainy this spring. We really need to move ahead with finishing the outside of the Tiny Home, to keep the neighbours happy, but it keeps raining. We tried to attach the steel roofing, but the wind kept nearly blowing us off the ladders. So we gave up.

Instead I went back to just sitting and enjoying the space. In fact, that's why I purchased the Tiny Home, so I would spend more time just resting and thinking. And maybe being more creative.

So if you've been wondering if we're making any progress on finishing the home... well, hopefully soon. The beautiful thing is how easy it was to get to this stage. A beautiful work in progress that isn't all work. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

My First Solar Panel!

So I got the 400W Power Bank working as one of the electrical sources. It was time to add a true off-the-grid Solar Panel to this system. Unfortunately, my brain doesn't get electricity. And I just didn't have it in my to try to learn. Every time I looked up solar systems, they had about 85 different pieces to put together. Like inverters and electrical wire and alligator clips and controllers. Really, it's totally incomprehensible to me. I felt like such an environmental loser but it just looked too complicated to learn.

And then I discovered the Goal Zero series at MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop). They make them as easy as plugging in a electrical plus. And so I bought one of the Boulder 100W Solar Panels. (I had to special order it, as they don't keep ones that big in stock, even in Toronto.) There is one cord from the Solar Panel that connects to the power bank. Easy peasy. And then the Power Bank has an LED display that lets you know how fast it's charging. This make it lots of fun. You can move the Solar Panel around and it lets you know how fast it's charging. It's so exciting to see the charging number going up.

So this one panel can charge about 40 watts per hour in the middle of winter on a good sunny day. The numbers mean something when you do the math. 40 watts per hour means the full 400 watts of the power bank could be charged in 10 hours. Obviously, there's not 10 hours of full sun in winter, so it's impossible to get a full charge per day if you use the full charge in one evening. But I also realized that for lights, charging phones and computers, and even my electric blanket, I don't need close to 400W in 24 hours. If I would buy a larger Power Bank that I could also use for cooking or heating, I would definitely have to buy more Solar Panels as well. But for starters, this is the easiest possible way into the Solar Panel world. I also learned that it's hard to keep Solar Panels charged in the winter, because almost as easy as the energy goes in, the cold also drains the battery, so you have to grab the Power Bank as the sun sets or the power simply drains back out. So much to learn, and you gotta just play around and figure it out like me. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Tiny Flush Camp Toilet

You would not believe how many people ask me about the toilet arrangement in my Tiny Home. Like they're obsessed with thinking about their poo and what to do with it. And they can't believe when I tell them I take care of business in a corner behind a screen.

You see, we built our Tiny Home in November, just before the coldest winter in history. So my first weekend, there was no way I wanted to go outside in 2 foot snow just to use a loo. We considered composting toilets, and will probably purchase one this spring and build some kind of little house around it beside our Tiny Home. But they aren't cheap ($800), and more importantly, they don't work in the cold. We heat the Tiny Home when we visit, but not when we're not there. So in the winter, composting toilets aren't a great solution for us.

Instead, we purchased this little camp toilet. It's a Dometic toilet purchased at Canadian Tire in the camping section for $170. It has 2 reservoirs - one on top with a special RV Plumbing antifreeze liquid for flushing and one on the bottom to gather the pee and poo plus flushing liquid. This bottom container is sealed off, so there's really no smells between uses. We empty it out on the farm with the other animal manure when needed, depending on how often we use it.

We don't have running water, but we keep hand sanitizer handy, and really it feels quite civilized and convenient. It doesn't take much room, but gets the job done for us. (And don't you adore the little floor rug to keep our feet warm that my great grandmother made from rags many years ago?)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

400W Power Bank

It's really hard to know one's power needs up front. There are plenty of websites that have calculations, but unless you're electrical-minded and can figure out your personal devices, it feels like a shot in the dark. Certainly beyond MY skills. So I just jumped in. That's my basic Tiny Home strategy. Start small and jump in, and learn experientially.

So we started out by purchasing this 400W power bank made by Yeti and purchased at MEC. It cost $800, so it did feel like a bit of an investment. But the best part about it is that it is EASY. You use it like an electrical unit in a house. It's a little dark in the picture, so maybe you can't see exactly. This one has 2 AC plug ins, 2 USB plug ins, and a DC cigarette lighter-type plug in. If you plan in advance and use your power bank only on weekends like us, it can be easily charged using an electric plug at our house.

400W is a good size to power LED lights, computers, and phones. In fact, one charge can easily last 2-4 days, depending on usage. However, this size is too small for our 1500W heater (I kinda guessed by the numbers), the electric kettle, or our electric 2 burner stove. So that means it will work well in the summer time when we don't need to heat the home and when we can use our propane stove and cook outside. For those 3 items, we use the single plug in provided to us from our friend's barn.

I do love how there is a digital display and you can see how much power is going in and how much power is going out. For example, I can see that the LED light we use at night to brightly light up the whole room uses only 27W per hour to use, whereas the cord of LED lights I brought for ambiance lighting uses up 39W per hour with way less light output. I can also plug in my electric bed pad at night and use less than 100W for a night of warmth, rather then using the electric heater for the room as often. Next is hooking it up to solar panels!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Tiny Bit of Condensation

How humid does this Tiny Home feel? Well, on a super sunny winter day, there's a bit of condensation on the north facing window. But really, only a bit under these specific circumstances. The weather was -17 C. outside, and 30 C. inside. That's a 47 degree differential. Pretty wild numbers, aren't they. (And did I mention again that this took no heating source to maintain while the sun was out? All free passive heat for 8 hours.)

One of the main reason that we bought and built this particular Tiny Home was that we wanted a well insulated home that would feel like a home and not a trailer. We wanted it to be air tight. We visited several other Tiny Homes, and we heard that condensation can be a big problem. One owner told me that water ran down her walls and soaked all her clothing and articles. She had built the home herself, and it had insulation. That freaked me out and made me understand the difference between a cheap shack and this Zen Shed. The air quality needs to be good to feel good in a Tiny Home, and love my choice.