One of the advantages to tiny houses is flexibility when it comes to utilities such as electric, water and sewage. When designing or building you can choose to have traditional utilities or off-grid utilities. Many tiny houses are built with both options.
Choosing an option will depend on several factors. Will you be stationary or mobile? A stationary home has the additional option of hooking up to the local community utilities. If it is a grandparent home in the backyard then it can just be connected to the resources of the main house.
A mobile home may have utility hookups similar to an RV. Or it can have off-grid options as well. Take some time to think about what is the purpose of your tiny home and how you want to design it to meet your desires.
Standard Grid Utilities
Some people choose to buy land and build a tiny home on a foundation. These homes will attach to the utilities just like a “conventional” home. They will simply use much less of these resources because of there smaller size.
If the tiny home is an additional structure that is located in the back yard then utilities are quite easy. Water can be provided through a white garden hose and electric through an extension cord similar to an RV.
Extension cords should be sized according to your power requirements and amp service. Most RV’s use 120 amp but if you are stationary and need more power you might upgrade to 240 amp.
Sewer can be a bit complicated due to local county or state ordinances. However, many homeowners find that they are allowed to splice a line into the existing sewer system.
Off Grid Utilities for Your Tiny Home
Being off-grid will not only save you money but will give you the knowledge that you are being socially responsible in preserving earth resources.
Being off the grid is very popular within the tiny house movement. After all many people choose the tiny house lifestyle because they want to live sustainably. Big Tiny co-founder Adrian Chia, says: “People are downsizing their houses to simplify their lives”. His company Big Tiny builds sustainable houses that come with solar panels, a rainwater collection system, and a composting toilet.
Your tiny home can easily be fitted with gutters and a tank for collecting rainwater. Gravity can then bring the water into your home. Rainwater is very efficient. However, it does rely on climate and nature. A tiny home located in Arizona, USA or South Australia where there is low rainfall will need another way to get water.
Both solar and wind energy work well with tiny houses. The method you choose may depend on your local.
Solar energy works great. You will need to calculate how much power you need by using a solar calculator.
Solar panels are lightweight and easy to install on your roof. Placement of the battery bank and inverter need to be considered carefully as they are heavy, bulky and some inverters make noise. In fact, some tiny designs have them mounted outside the house in a box.
However, many travelers prefer to place their solar panels in a portable location such as a truck bed. They then use cables to run power into the battery bank. In this way, they can move them to a sunny location if need be.
Wind turbines have made big advances in technology in recent years. Micro-turbines are smaller, portable and often have the ability to fold up for safety when traveling.
RV and marine designed wind turbines can be mounted to your roof. Combining wind with solar can help the traveling tiny house meet its energy needs in different climates.
There are two types of sewage; grey water, and black water. Grey water comes from your sink or shower. Black water comes from your toilet. These two types of water should be handled separately if you are mobile.
Grey water is easier to deal with and can be disposed of up through a drainage system.
Black water has more regulations and is harder to dispose of. If you are mobile you can store waste in a sewage tank and dispose of it at a camping ground that has RV waste facilities.
Many tiny homes have a composting or incinerating toilet. Composting toilets are easy to build.
Internet and Cable
Many people consider the internet to be a necessary utility. In fact, many tiny home travelers have freelance or remote jobs that they do while traveling.
If you are located on family or friends property you can most likely hook right up to the house via a cat 5 cable. You can also buy a booster to reach a signal you are not in close proximity too.
If you are traveling you have several options. Many RV parks and campgrounds have WiFi as do public libraries and restaurants.
Satellite may be an option depending on where you are traveling. And of course, your Smart Phone will provide you with internet options.
Author, Ame Vanorio is a big fan of living tiny. She lives in a 860 sq ft “green” cabin that she and her son built themselves. Ame is a freelance writer who specializes in environmental issues and is the director of an environmental education center.