Off-Grid Heating: Propane VS. Wood Burning

If you are looking to heat your tiny home with an off-grid heater, the two big power players are 1). PROPANE and 2). WOOD BURNING, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Let's compare the most popular off-grid heaters for tiny house RVs: the Dickinson Marine P9000 and the Kimberly Wood Stove

1). PROPANE: Dickinson Marine P9000

The Dickinson has been the leader in tiny house heating for some time because of its sleek look and compact size.

Advantages:

  • Space Saving. This tiny heater can be installed directly into your wall. The body of the unit is only 8.5" wide x 14" high x 5.5" deep. 
  • Affordable. Off-grid appliances, especially those made for boats, are expensive. The Dickinson P9000 is $1145.15, including the chimney. Cost of fuel is not included.
  • Beauty. No one can deny that this is a good looking appliance. The glass door allows you to watch the flames flicker as the heater warms your tiny space. 
  • Venting. Can be vented through the wall or ceiling.
  • Lightweight. Weight is always an important consideration when it comes to tiny house RVs. 

Christopher Smith from the film TINY installing his Dickinson in his Colorado tiny home. Photo credit here.

Disadvantages:

  • Fuel Expense: This stove burns 1 pound of propane every 5-7 hours. A 20 pound propane tank will cost about $15-20 to refill. Depending on your climate, this can be a huge expense.
  • Running Constantly Not Possible: This stove needs to be used under supervision. Which means turning it off while you sleep or when you leave the house may cause your home to return to a frigid temperature, depending on your choice of insulation.
  • Fan Requires 12v: Wiring needed for the fan to spin and heat to circulate.
  • Lower BTUs: Depending on where you are located, this heater may not be enough. On HIGH the heat output is 4,500 BTUs.
  • Doesn't Dehumidify: Propane stove tops produce excessive moisture, which can be difficult to maintain in a tiny space. If you already have a propane stove planned for your tiny home RV, you might want to purchase a dehumidifier or use a heat source that acts as a dehumidifier. Wood stoves will dehumidify as well as heat, where as the Dickinson will not act as a dehumidifier. *As a note, the Dickinson will not produce extra moisture because it is a vented appliance.

Brittany's Bayside Bungalow with the Dickinson in her Washington state tiny home. Photo credit: Chris Tack

2). WOOD STOVE: Kimberly by Unforgettable Fire, LLC

The Kimberly is compact, burns extremely clean for a wood burning stove and vents through the floor, making it the most popular choice for tiny home owners who prefer wood burning heat. 

The Kasl family heating their Minnesota tiny home with the Kimberly

Advantages:

  • Dehumidifier: Wood burning stoves act as dehumidifiers, which is a good thing for tiny spaces that often struggle with moisture control.
  • Fuel Cost: Wood is easily obtainable and if you have your own wooded property, it can be free. Also check Craigslist for "free firewood."
  • High BTUs: This wood stove can burn up to 42,200 BTUs. On low, this stove can burn up to 8 hours on a single load of fuel, providing a good night’s sleep without having to refuel. 
  • Beauty: Like the Dickinson, this stove is also very attractive and provides a glass window for fire viewing.
  • Cook top: As an added bonus, you can cook on top of this stove.
  • No additional power needed. This stove is operational without the need for 12V.

Ella & Zach with the Kimberly in their Northern California Tiny Home

Disadvantages:

  • Space Requirement: Although the Kimberly takes up far less space than most wood stoves and allows the use of a 3-inch pellet stove pipe, it will still require more space and clearance than the Dickinson and cannot be installed into the wall.
  • Cost: At $4,495 for the stove, pipe and floor pad, the Kimberly is an investment.
  • Too Much Heat: Depending on your location and climate, this stove might be too much for your tiny space, even when on low. 
  • Weight: The Kimberly weighs 56 pounds, which isn't very heavy for a wood stove but heavier than the Dickinson.
Jenna & Guillaume's Kimberly wood stove in their traveling tiny home

For our tiny home, we went back and forth between the Dickinson and the Kimberly. Eventually we decided on the Kimberly. We plan on taking our tiny home to ski resorts, so an efficient high BTU heat source was necessary. We also have a three burner propane cooktop, so moisture control was a factor in our wood stove decision. The extra money and space requirement was worth it to us. 

YOUR TURN! Which would you prefer for your tiny home: the Dickinson or the Kimberly?

*Other ways to heat your tiny home

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — February 03, 2015

Filed under: best   Dickinson   heat source   heating   heating a tiny house   Kimberly   Marine Stove   propane   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tumbleweed   Wood burning   Wood Stove  

The Advantages of Tiny House Dormers

A dormer is a structural element in architecture that protrudes from a sloped roof and allows for additional space. If you're a tiny house enthusiast, the words "additional space" in a tiny house article might seem oxymoronic. Yes, owning a tiny home means that you are "okay" with small spaces, but there is no reason that you should have to sacrifice comfort in your tiny house RV.

So let's learn a little more about dormers and what they could do for your loft. 

A Tumbleweed Elm or Cypress loft WITHOUT dormers (keeping the gable roof line throughout) and a skylight.

Some tiny housers love the coziness and lightweight option of the un-dormered loft (keeping the triangular gable roof line throughout), but most prefer to have a little more headroom. Dormers provide extra space for comfort and additional windows, while keeping the lovely visual aesthetic. 

Tumbleweed Cypress WITHOUT dormers. A lovely gable roof line throughout.

 

Tumbleweed Elm WITH Dormers. Space is gained. The visual aesthetic is not sacrificed. 

How much space do you really gain by having dormers? In order to visualize how much space is actually gained by adding dormers, you will need to have a basic understanding of roof pitch.

Roof pitch is described as the vertical rise divided by the horizontal span of a roof. The gable roof in our Elm and Cypress models have a 12:12 pitch, while our lofts with dormers have a 3:12 pitch. It is important to maintain some roof pitch for weather runoff. 

Examples of roof pitch. Photo credit: Wikipedia

An older Tumbleweed model, where the 3:12 pitch returns to 12:12 for the last few inches of the loft.

If you peer into the back of this older Tumbleweed's loft, you can see where the 3:12 pitch returns to the triangular gable roof line (12:12 pitch). This is a great way to visualize the difference between these two roof pitches. 

If the above loft DID NOT have dormers:

  • The roof pitch would be that triangular slope throughout
  • The four windows that line the sides of the bed would be lost
  • The space on either side of this queen bed would be lost
  • A king bed would not be possible (only possible with dormers)
  • The use of a staircase would be rather difficult (a ladder would most likely be used instead)

Due to costumer feedback, in all of our current models and plans, the dormers extend all the way to the back of the loft. By doing this, the above Tumbleweed loft has gained even more space. Starting this year, we will also include dormer plans with our Elm and Cypress plans, free of charge.
Steve Weissmann (President of Tumbleweed) is 6'2" and can comfortably sit up in bed in this Cypress loft with dormers. 
By adding dormers to your loft, you will also gain valuable wall space, not only on the sides of your loft, but also in the front and back. Consider the cheek walls: the walls that are formed between your dormers and gable roof. Below is a photo of my loft and, as you can see, we've chosen to add an outlet to our cheek wall. My future plan is to mount a television there one day. I could also add a cabinet, shelving, additional lighting or hang decorations / plants / photographs in this additional space. 
Tiny House Giant Journey's loft with dormers. 
So what do you think? Do you want dormers in your tiny house loft?

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — January 26, 2015

Filed under: Cypress   Dormers   Elm   Loft   Tiny home   Tiny House   Tiny house Giant Journey   Tumbleweed  

Q&A with Tiny House Experts

We asked three of our tiny house experts to answer a few Frequently Asked Questions:  

ART CORMIER

Art Cormier / Tumbleweed Workshop Presenter

Background:

In 2012, Art completed his Tumbleweed home using SIPS and reclaimed wood and even posted some videos on YouTube explaining how he did it  And that's how we connected - we asked him if he wanted to partake in our Tumbleweed Construction Video and Art obliged. One thing led to another and today Art is traveling the country teaching others the benefits of owning a tiny home. Read more on Art's blog.

Art's modified Tumbleweed Elm

Question: What is your favorite part of your tiny space?

Art: My favorite part of my tiny house?  The love seat when I want to sit,  or the shower when I want to get clean.  Or do I have those confused?

Art's love seat, which can convert into a bed.

Q: Do you have any space saving or downsizing advice?
Art: See video!
 
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Art: If I built it again I would have dormers, got to keep up with the neighbors!
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EDDIE LANZO
Eddie Lanzo / Tumbleweed Workshop Host
Background:
Eddie and his girlfriend Lacey have their almost complete DIY Tumbleweed Cypress parked in a campground in Austin, Texas. Eddie's background is in real estate and he also recently joined the Tumbleweed team as a workshop host. More about their house and build here
Eddie's DIY Tumbleweed Cypress
Question:  How are you decorating your tiny space for the holidays?
Eddie: We have perched a very wintery wreath on the wall for the holidays. That should do it for us. Next year if we're more ambitious, we want to do a stick christmas tree.
Q:  Clever storage ideas / space saving ideas?
Eddie: We plan on adding loft beam storage, installing a leaf table, and putting our compost toilet on tracks that slide out from under the storage stairs.
Eddie's loft with dormers
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Eddie: We would've finished plumbing before moving it to the RV park. It’s all “roughed out” but ABS piping still needs to be finished so we can install our sinks.
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GUILLAUME DUTILH
Guillaume Dutilh / Tumbleweed Workshop Host
Background:
Guillaume and his girlfriend Jenna finished their DIY modified Cypress since September 2014. So far they've traveled over 7,000 miles with their tiny abode, from California to Nova Scotia to Atlanta, while hosting countless open houses and Tumbleweed workshops. Learn more about their tiny house journey here. 
Guillaume's traveling DIY Cypress
Question: What do you do when you and your partner need... space?
Guillaume: We usually just take the dog for a walk since the front door is never that far. 
Q: What is biggest benefit of having a tiny house?
Guillaume: Being able to pursue my passion for photography while traveling.
Q: What would you do different in your tiny home if you could build it again?
Guillaume: If I could do it again, I'd have my corner porch on the sidewalk side or I would build a full porch (the Elm). Porches are awesome!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — December 10, 2014

Filed under: Art Cormier   Cypress   Elm   Experts   Holidays   SIPS   Tiny Home   Tiny House   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny SIP House   Tips   Tumbleweed   Workshop  

10 Tiny House Tricks to Declutter Your Kitchen Counter

Tumbleweed Linden Kitchen

In a tiny kitchen, counter space is a luxury and clutter is your enemy. Bare counters are pleasing to the eye and functional for folding laundry, unpacking groceries and food prep. Bulky appliances such as microwaves, toaster ovens and coffee machines will quickly consume your counters.

So how do you declutter your counters in a tiny kitchen?

1). Eliminate any gadget that isn’t essential to your daily life. Ask yourself, do I really need a microwave? Do I need it enough to sacrifice the counter space? Do I need it enough to power it with electricity, which might limit my ability to be off-grid? Or, would it be simpler to warm my food on the stove? Key word: SIMPLER. Tiny living is about living a simpler, more fulfilling life. So keep it simple, and try not to overfill your space.

kitchen

Tiny House GJ's Kitchen, which consists of a sink and a 3-burner stove.

2).  Own gadgets / appliances that serve multiple purposes. For example, choose a pot lid that doubles as a strainer. Do you really need a tea kettle (an item that only serves one purpose), or will a pot of boiling water suffice?

3). Consider alternative appliances that consume less space. For example, this AeroPress can be used to make coffee instead of a standard machine. The AeroPress uses zero electricity and is only a fraction of the size of regular coffee machine. As a bonus, the paper filters are tiny and more compact for storage. Consider a french press too!

4). Store “pretty” items high. Having high shelves or hangings baskets can clear your counters and harness the underutilized space above your eye-line. Put your “pretty” items, such as festive plates, wine glasses or Grandma’s pasta maker on a display shelf to double as art. Store your fruits and veggies in a hanging basket. Mount a floating dish rack over your sink. Hang your pots and pans from ceiling hooks

Brittany's Kitchen. Notice the use of the ceiling space & open shelving

5). Hide “ugly” items. There’s no room for the word “ugly” in a tiny house. Place large or ugly appliances under the counter when not in use - such as blenders or toasters, unless they are beautiful to you!

6). Create counter space. Purchase a sink cover, such as a cutting board, that will expand your food prep area. Eliminate the counter space allocated for a stove top by using a portable hotplate that can be stored under the counter when not in use.

Ella's Kitchen. Notice the high corner shelf, the hanging pans and alcohol stove which can be tucked away when not in use.

7). Mount items to the wall. Use hooks to hang your cutting boards. Magnetize your knives to a wood magnetic knife holder and use magnetic spice holders on your refrigerator.

JT's Kitchen. Notice the pots and pans hanging high from a wall mount.

8). Custom containers. Food packaging can be cumbersome and ugly. Why have a box half full of sugar on your counter? Store your flour, sugar, cereal, etc. in small containers or decorative bags that can reduce in size as the food is consumed. Refill as needed.

Mica Kitchen. Notice the small containers that can be refilled.

9). Utilize cabinet doors. An old trick, but a good trick. Mount flat or small utensils to the inside of your cabinet doors instead of using a counter utensil rack. If you have a counter skirt, sew pockets into the material for storage.

Utilize in the inside of cabinet doors. Image credit: here

Tiny House GJ's Kitchen. Sew pockets into your cabinet skirt. 

10). Keep Organized. Keeping your kitchen counters bare and organized should be part of your daily routine. Every new appliance or gadget needs to have an appropriate place in your kitchen. Share your own counter space declutter tips below!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

Written by Jenna Spesard — December 04, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Dining   Tiny Home   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny Kitchen   Tips   Tumbleweed  

Thanksgiving in a Tiny House

Thanksgiving 2013 in Tiny House Giant Journey (under construction)

Can you have dinner guests in a tiny house? Yes, of course. Can you have Thanksgiving Dinner in your tiny house? Well, that depends. When designing your ideal tiny home you’ll need to plan ahead for such occasions.

Kitchen Space and Appliances.

When designing your tiny kitchen, appliances tend to be compact to save space. This might mean that your oven is a wee bit too small to hold an enormous turkey! Of course, you can choose to have full size appliances in your tiny kitchen, but consider the infrequency that you’ll be hosting a large dinner party before cramming those items into your cozy kitchen. Bottom line, your tiny kitchen should be designed for everyday use, not for special occasions.

I suggest asking your dinner guests to bring a dish pre-cooked or try cooking outdoors! Have you ever tried deep frying a turkey outdoors? It's a lot of fun and delicious! You can rent large deep fryers at your local party rental store. Or how about roasting your bird on the BBQ? That's what we did last year.

You might need to get creative, but anything is possible.

Seating.

As with any home, you are limited on the amount of dinner guests you can seat comfortably. In a tiny home your number will be more intimate than the average home, think party of four. We’ve managed to put on a dinner party for five, but it was tight! Our dinning area has a fold down table, a bench and two ottomans. We pulled in one of our lawn chairs for the fifth seat.

Photo credit: Guillaume Dutilh

Embrace your lack of space by making your dinner party informal. It can be fun for some of your guests to eat upstairs, with plates on their laps and feet dangling from the loft. Make your dinner party unique and it will be an event your guests will not forget!

With the above open floorplan there’s enough room in this tiny house for three to eat comfortably at the folding table, while three others can eat in sitting area of the great room!

You can always host an outdoor dinner party (weather permitted). Appetizers and pre-drinks can take place in the standing room of the tiny house and the main course can be served outdoors at a comfortable picnic table. How lovely!

 Photo credit: Outdoor Thanksgiving 

Dinnerware.

Another obstacle you may face is a lack of dishes. After all, being a tiny houser means being a minimalist! Not to worry, you can always ask your guests to BYOB or BYOP (Bring Your Own Bowls of Bring Your Own Plates) and because they’re about to eat dinner in a tiny house, they’ll surely understand.

Have you ever hosted Thanksgiving in a small space? Please share your stories and tips below!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 27, 2014

Filed under: Cypress   Dining   Dinner in a Tiny House   Dinner Party   Thanksgiving   Tiny Home   Tiny House Giant Journey   Tiny Kitchen   Tips   Tumbleweed  

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