Living Offf the Grid: the Tiny House Revolution

Written By The IPS Team

On May 21, 2015

At a Glance:

The tiny house revolution is made up of an exponentially growing movement of tiny house enthusiasts who are concerned about the environment and sustainability and not so concerned with the square footage of their homes.

The tiny house movement, also known as the small house movement, is a popular tag for the social and house building movement that vouches for simple living in small, off the grid homes. The small house movement is made up of an exponentially growing movement of tiny house enthusiasts who are concerned about the environment and sustainability. They are not so concerned with square footage of a home in order to feel like they are living some type of successful life; in fact, they think small is beautiful.

You might think that tiny house living would be almost impossible, but actually options for tiny house users are increasing. As a matter of fact, tiny house villages are now being tried as a solution to combat homelessness. Within this movement are a group of users who are taking the simplicity, freedom and sustainability of tiny houses to a whole new level by constructing their houses completely off the power grid. These people are known to use renewable forms of energy such as solar energy, wind power and micro hydropower to run their homes.

Living in a tiny house, off the grid, is an excellent way of reducing your ecological footprint and saving a lot of money while you are at it. One advantage of living in a tiny house, is that you free up a lot of energy, money and time. Such resources would otherwise be used in paying rent, mortgage or in running a house. There is no consensus on the cost of setting up a tiny house, as it depends on several variables. These include the amount of money you spend on the off-grid energy source you opt for, the option you choose for heating the house, whether you construct the house yourself or professionally and whether you choose simplicity or luxury.

The cost of building a tiny house can run anywhere from $8,000 to upwards of $50,000 depending on the materials used and the size.  For those who have a tighter budget, recycled materials may be used and the labor may be done by themselves.  A pre-made solar unit may cost approximately $5,000. However, if you choose to build your solar unit yourself, a pair solar panels, batteries, a charge controller and an inverter should cost around $3500 to $4,000 depending on their quality, efficiency, and the place of purchase.

The solar energy unit is an investment with no recurring costs. In fact, solar panels are known to have a lifespan of over 25 years (many exceeding 40 years). The batteries may need to be replaced every 5 to 10 years though, depending on your use. Living in an off the grid tiny house ensures that you pay no monthly electricity and water bills. Some minor costs may come up here and there, however, paying no energy bills goes a long way in offsetting these costs. If you work at home, you may incur some phone and internet bills, you may also have to purchase alternative fuel like propane or butane.

If you opt to be a minimalist tiny house owner, you can live without electricity, phones, internet or propane. This means that you will use wood stoves and lanterns. Wind is a good alternative for solar energy, but buying wind turbines can be an expensive affair. In addition to this, they only work when sufficient wind blows. If you choose a location near a river or a stream, you can look into using micro hydro power to provide your energy requirements.

It is important to find a water source before you decide to purchase the land for building your tiny house. Most localities require the use of an approved source of water. These include a cistern tank with a delivery system or a professionally drilled well. Drilling a well is expensive, so a cistern would, therefore, make great economic sense. If you use rainwater to fulfill some of your water requirements, it has to be filtered and treated to guarantee its safety. A standard water filter should set you back by about $300.

Tiny house living is already changing the world and is expected to continue to increase. In 2006, about 100,000 American houses were tiny, off the grid houses. Off the grid tiny house living is not about competing with other people, as it is about opting to live a lifestyle that you believe is comfortable and suits you. With the economic crisis and Mother Nature taking a toll due to all of the energy pull from mass consumerism and the abuse of natural resources, the tiny house movement ought to be welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people against the movement because when people downsize, the economy can feel the effects over the long haul.

If you’re interested in the tiny house movement and off-grid solar energy living, continue to research the tiny house movement.  Some cities have workshops that help men and woman learn how to build their own tiny house.  Simplicity is not to be shunned, as we have all come from simple living that stems back centuries.  For those embracing the tiny house movement, there is much celebration and joy in doing so.

If you need assistance in choosing, and setting up your off-grid energy system, give us a call or email today.

ground-mounted solar system
Reed Crossley

About Independent Power Systems

Independent Power Systems (IPS) has been designing and installing premium solar and energy storage systems for residential and commercial customers in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Montana since 1996. Our team of highly skilled engineers, electricians, and installers is committed to innovation in energy resilience and sustainability as well as helping the community achieve energy independence, do right by the environment, and save money in the process. To date, IPS has installed thousands of grid-tied, off-grid, remote wind, and microgrid systems including several challenging international projects for large commercial clients and the military.

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