Solar Power for Tiny House RVs

Modified Tumbleweed at the Solar Living Institute 

Can You Rely On Solar Power For Your Tiny House RV?

The short answer is - YES, but you'll need to determine which solar system will work for you. Do this by calculating: 1) Your energy needs, 2) Your expected sun hours based on your geographical location, and 3) The optimal weight and size of your system

 Ariel's Solar Powered 172 square foot Tumbleweed Cypress

How Can I Calculate My Energy Needs?

First, try using a solar calculator to determine your current electrical usage. You can also calculate your energy needs using this appliance chart. Next consider energy efficient or alternative powered appliances for your Tiny House RV to reduce your electrical usage and the overall size of your solar system.

Can you use an energy-star refrigerator or a propane refrigerator?

Can you switch your lights to LEDs?

Can you heat your space with a wood or propane stove?

Can you heat your water with propane?

Can you cook with propane instead of electricity? 

Do you need a blender? A coffee machine? A microwave? A washer / dryer? A big TV?

"Tiny The Movie" Colorado Tiny House RV, powered by Sol Man Portable Generator

How Can I Calculate My Expected Sun Hours?

If you do not plan on moving your Tiny House RV, use this chart to determine your average daily sun hours. Keep in mind, you can expect less sun in some seasons. 

Ryan Mitchell's Tiny House RV Solar Panel Set Up in North Carolina

If you plan on traveling with your Tiny House RV, it may be difficult (or impossible) to determine your average sun hours. You may want to purchase a larger solar system or reduce your electrical need. If you are caught in bad weather on your trip, and your solar system can not keep up, you can rely on campgrounds for an electrical outlet. You may also want to carry backup power - such as a gas generator. 

"Tiny House Giant Journey"'s Goal Zero Yeti Solar Generator

Weight & Size of the your Solar System

Solar panels, batteries and inverters are usually heavy and bulky. This is an important consideration when determining the preferred system for your Tiny House RV. If you do NOT plan on moving your Tiny House RV, you can build an external shell for your batteries. You can then park your Tiny House RV in an ideal sun exposure location and mount solar panels to your roof, or mount your panels on a swivel rack that can turn for optimal sun exposure.

If you intend on traveling with your Tiny House RV, you will need to take care when considering the weight and storage of your solar system. I'm going to speak from my personal experience, as I travel with my solar powered Tumbleweed Cypress. 

My Portable Solar System

I use the Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Solar Generator with four solar panels (two 100 watt panels and two 90 watt panels). I have one panel mounted to each side of my Tumbleweed for transport and the other two are stored in the bed of my truck. The panels in my truck charge my Yeti Solar Generator as we travel down the road.

You can see one of my panels mounted to the side of my Tiny House Rv in the above photo. The mount  is also a hinge, and I add telescopic legs to prop the panel for ideal sunshine

I do not suggest mounting solar panels to the roof of your Tiny House RV if you intend on traveling, for two reasons: 1). You may not always park in an area with optimal sunshine. Having my panels separate and portable allows me to position and clean them easily. 2). Damage may occur from low hanging branches to panels mounted to your roof. 

What I Love About the Yeti Solar Generator:

- It's an all-in-one system. The inverter, batteries and charge controller are combined to create a "solar generator." *Note: the Yeti generator cannot generate power without solar panels.

- It's extremely portable. It's on wheels! We store it in the cab of our truck when we are on the road.

- I can recharge it from a regular outlet if there is no sun.

- It weighs only 103 lbs. That may sound like a lot, but lead-acid batteries are heavy.

- It's affordable. $1599 for the Yeit Solar Generator. That's cheap for solar! 

- It powers almost everything in my Tiny House RV. The Yeti can keep my computers, phones, and cameras charged, as well as my LED lights and water pump powered forever, as long as I have sunshine. It's a small system - only 1250 watt hrs, so I cannot use my hair dryer nor my space heater. I use alternative appliances to lower my electrical need: propane water heater, propane stove top, propane refrigerator, and a wood stove heater. 

---------------------------

Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Follow their informative blog. 
 
     

Skirting your Tiny House RV

Kasl Family Tiny House RV skirt: Concrete Panels & Straw Bales. Photo credit. 

It's that time of year again when we begin to discuss preparing your Tiny House RV for the cold weather season. Previously we've featured articles on:

Today we're going to discuss Skirting for your Tiny House RV. Stay tuned for future articles on: fresh water practices, greywater practices, and additional insulation tricks for cold weather climates. 

What is "Skirting" and Why is it Recommended? 

Skirting is insulating material tucked around the bottom of your trailer, reducing the amount of cold air flowing under your trailer, therefore protecting exposed utilities and increasing heat efficiency. Even though the Tumbleweed trailer allows for 3 1/2 inches of insulation in the floor, trailer skirting is still recommended in extremely cold climates. It's a great way to reduce your heat bills!

Five Options for Tiny House RV Skirting:

    Engineered RV Skirting Photo Credit
    • Engineered Canvas / Fabric / Concrete PanelsThere are many companies out there that make custom RV skirts. Advantages: Proven efficiency, snug fit, low maintenance and often covered by warranty. Disadvantages: Can be expensive.
    The Kasl Family skirted their Minnesota Tiny House RV with rigid foam last winter. Total cost for their 24 foot trailer was $200 and two days of work. Watch full video here.
    • Rigid Foam: A DIY option. Purchase rigid foam boards from your local hardware store, cut to size, and secure around your trailer using tape.
    • Plywood sheets: Plywood sheets (cut to size) can be used in areas which do not consistently experience freezing temperatures, but still wish to improve heat efficiency in their Tiny House RV. Recommended in Pacific Northwest or windy locations. 

    Jonathan's Tumbleweed Cypress in the process of skirting with straw bales. Photo credit. 

    • Straw Bales: A cheap DIY option is to purchase straw bales and tuck them around your trailer. Tip: Wrap your straw bales with a trap or heavy duty trash bags for extra protection.

    Ariel skirted her Tumbleweed Cypress with snow last winter in Wyoming. Photo credit.
    • Snow: Free option, if you live in an area with a large amount of snow. Pile snow around your trailer. Dig out your vents / water systems. This option will require consistent observation and maintenance. 

    My Tiny House RV Skirt Plan

    My Tiny House RV is wintering in the Colorado mountains this year. It's October and we are already experiencing freezing temperatures and the occasional snowfall (see above photo). We are planning on skirting our trailer with snow, as there will be plenty and it's free! Another advantage of a snow skirt is that we don't have to transport it, if we decide to move. I'll let you know how it goes later in the season. Wish us luck!

    How will you prepare your Tiny House RV for winter? 

    ---------------------------

    Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Follow their informative blog. 
     
         

     

    Written by Jenna Spesard — October 22, 2015

    Filed under: cold weather   custom skirt   freezing   kasl family   rigid foam   rv skirt   skirting   snow skirt   straw bales   Tiny House   tiny house rv   Tumbleweed   Tumbleweed trailer   winter   winterizing  

    Inspirational Quotes for Tiny Space Design

    Above photo: Sarah from Tiny House on a Farm building her family's Tumbleweed 

    Tiny space design can be challenging. At some point during your build, you may feel overwhelmed. Take this anxious feeling as a signal that it's time to take a break. Visit a museum, go for a hike or watch a classic movie. Inspiration can come from the place you least expect it. 

    Jonathan Stalls in front of his custom Tumbleweed Elm

    "I'm not like most designers, who have to set sail on an exotic getaway to get inspired. Most of the time, it's on my walk to work, or sitting in the subway and seeing something random or out of context."

    - Alexander Wang, American fashion designer

    Above photo: Meg building her own Tumbleweed Linden design

    "Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication"

    -Leonardo Da Vinci

    Above photo: Miranda building "Big Art" her custom Tumbleweed Cypress 

     Share this page if you feel inspired by these quotes!

    ---------------------------

    Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Follow their informative blog. 
     
         

    Written by Jenna Spesard — October 21, 2015

    Filed under: design   inspiration   quotes   tiny home   Tiny House   Tumbleweed  

    Top 5 "Tiny House Giant Journey" Destinations

    Tiny House Giant Journey in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

    We traveled for an entire year in our customized Tumbleweed Cypress on an adventure we dubbed "Tiny House Giant Journey." We towed our tiny abode over 22,000 miles while visiting 34 US states and 5 Canadian provinces. We visited mountains, oceans, deserts and enchanted forests, and parked our tiny at campgrounds, breweries, farms, Wal-mart parking lots, rest stops and, sometimes, out in the middle of nowhere! 

    After a year of travel, we are currently relaxing in Colorado for the next 4-6 months. When I look back on the past year, I'm in awe of all the beautiful (and somewhat extreme) locations we visited on our Tiny House Giant Journey. I think we'll have to plan another trip next year!

    TOP FIVE "TINY HOUSE GIANT JOURNEY" DESTINATIONS:

    1). The Arctic Circle

    We towed our tiny 200 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska, on the bumpy Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle. The midnight sun didn't set over Tiny House Giant Journey that evening, as we spent one night in the Arctic before heading back south. I couldn't help but wonder: Has a Tiny House RV ever been to this circle of latitude before? I like to think we were the first! 

    For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to the Arctic Circle, click here.

    2). Florida Keys

    While the Arctic Circle was the most northern latitude we visited on our Giant Journey, the most southern was achieved by driving the Overseas Highway to the Florida Keys. While towing our Tiny House RV along this picturesque highway, which connects the key islands, we were completely surrounded by aqua-colored waters on both sides. 

    For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to the Florida Keys, click here.

    3). Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level)

    Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park actually rests 282 feet BELOW sea level! This was the deepest Tiny House Giant Journey has ever been, and currently we are parked at our highest elevation: 11,158 feet, in the Rocky Mountains. That's a big difference!

    For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to Death Valley National Park, click here.

    4). Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

    Eastern Canada blew us away with brilliant fall colors, mouth-watering lobster and delicious maple syrup. We fell in love with the lighthouses while visiting Nova Scotia, especially the iconic lighthouse located at Peggy's Cove just 40 miles south of Halifax. 

    For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to Nova Scotia, click here.

    5). New York, NY

    Navigating the streets of New York City with our Tiny House RV was the most challenging maneuvering we encountered on our year long road trip (and that's including the time we squeezed out of a narrow Los Angeles driveway and carefully maneuvered the twisty and steep backroads of the Smoky Mountains). Surprisingly, NYC locals weren't phased by our tiny rolling cabin, and we're used to a lot of rubbernecking. I guess they've seen it all!

    For more on our Tiny House Giant Journey to New York City, click here.

    WHERE WOULD YOU TRAVEL WITH YOUR TUMBLEWEED? 

    ---------------------------

    Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Follow their informative blog. 
     
        

    Written by Jenna Spesard — October 21, 2015

    Filed under: Arctic Circle   Badwater Basin   Death Valley   Destinations   Florida Keys   Giant Journey   New York   Nova Scotia   Road Trip   Tiny House   Travel   Tumbleweed  

    Designing a Tiny Kitchen for BIG Meals

    Are you concerned about maintaining your culinary passions in a Tiny House RV? Well, don't worry! Cooking in a tiny kitchen is the same as cooking in a large kitchen - you just need the right tools! 

    Tumbleweed offers full range and four burner stove tops (propane or electric) in all of their Tiny House RV designs. For more information on Tumbleweed kitchen options, click here. We've also written an informative article listing the Top Refrigerators of Tiny House RVs

    5 Tips When Designing a Tiny Kitchen for BIG Meals: 

    1). Go BIG on Your Counter Space. When designing a tiny kitchen that will be used for cooking BIG meals, make sure to allocate plenty of counter space for food prep. Folding countertops can provide additional space that can disappear when not in use. Remember that counter space is multi-functional, and can be used as a dinning space, work space or for organizing groceries. 

    For more countertop tips, check out: 10 Tricks for Decluttering Your Kitchen Counters

    2). Purchase Space-Saving Kitchen Tools. Purchase space-saving kitchen tools, such as multi-tools, that are storable. For example, this set of nesting bowls comes with up to nine pieces, but takes up the same amount of space as one large mixing bowl. Research other space-saving and multi-functional kitchen gadgets that will allow you to declutter your tiny kitchen without sacrificing essential tools for cooking big meals.

    Ella's Kitchen in her 18 foot Tumbleweed Cypress

    3). Go Compact with Appliances. If you're unable to combine appliances, try finding compact alternatives. Purchase a compact microwave instead of the regular or industrial size. After all, this appliance is not called a micro-wave to consume you're entire kitchen! Choose a compact rice maker, compact blender, compact coffee maker, etc. Check out this website for a full list of compact appliances. 

    Photo credit: Amazon Sink Cover

    4). Go Big on Your Kitchen Sink. Many tiny kitchen owners choose to install a small sink to save counter space, but if you're an avid chef, a small sink is not practical. Instead choose a large, deep sink (or double sink) and purchase a cutting board sink cover to expand your counter space. Install a retractable faucet so that you can clean dishes with more flexibility and fill pots with ease.

    5). Choose Your BIG Meals with Your Tiny Kitchen in Mind. Challenge yourself and your culinary abilities by cooking BIG meals in a simple way. Create your own recipe book specifically geared towards your tiny kitchen. Check out Martha Stewart's "One Pot Cookbook" for ideas. Oh, and purchase the kindle version cookbook (space saver)!

    Three BIG Meal Cooks & Their Tumbleweeds:

    Ariel's Tumbleweed Kitchen

    Ariel's Tumbleweed Kitchen

    Ariel & her 24-Foot Cypress - Ariel often cooks BIG meals in her tiny kitchen sourced from the food grown in her garden. Check out her website for kitchen photosyummy tiny kitchen recipes!

    Mario Loves to Cook in his Tumbleweed

    Mario & his 20-Foot Cypress - Mario's appliances are top of the line, and he loves to cook BIG meals in her tiny space. Check out his Instagram for pictures of his top-notch kitchen & delicious meals! 

    JT & his 18-Foot Elm- JT is a baker by trade, and designed his tiny kitchen to accommodate his passion.

    ---------------------------

    Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently living and traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop host. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting an open house. Follow their informative blog. 
     
        

     

    Written by Jenna Spesard — October 19, 2015

    Filed under: chef   cooking   cypress   kitchen   tiny home   Tiny House   Tumbleweed  

    Tumbleweed Models


    Tumbleweed Galleries



    Recent Posts

    Categories

    Recent Comments


    Sign Up For Our Newsletter

    Design Yours

    Customer Showcase

    Photo Gallery

    Free Catalog

    Take a Video Tour