Tiny House RV Fresh Water Practices for Cold Climates

You can RV in the winter, but you'll need to prep your Tiny House RV for cold climates!

Continuing our "Winterizing Your Tiny House RV" series, today we're going to discuss fresh water practices for cold climates. See our previous article on Skirting Your Tiny House RV

Fy Nyth's water inlet. The left connection is fresh water tank fill, right is city water hookup.

Fresh Water Practices for Cold Climates

You have two options for getting fresh water to your Tiny House RV in cold climates. 1). Fill your internal water tank, or 2). Heat/insulate your fresh water hookup. 

Option 1: Fill Your Internal Water Tank

If you are interested in being off-grid, you've probably already planned on having an internal fresh water tank for your Tiny House RV. I'm referring to the tank as "internal" because it's a good idea to store fresh water inside the insulated part of your Tumbleweed so that it doesn't freeze in cold climates.

To fill your fresh water tank, you'll use the water inlet located on the exterior of your Tiny House RV. To run fresh water to the inlet, you have two options: 1). Potable Water Hose, or if you do not have access to a spigot, 2). Fresh Water Jugs

My potable water house with pressure regulator used to fill my 46 gal fresh water tank through my water inlet. With two people, we fill every 3-4 days during winter. More info here.

As long as there isn't any still water left inside your potable water hose, it should not freeze when stored. That being said, it's a good idea to store your hose in a warm, dry area (such as under your RV skirt in a closed container). Take it out when it's time to fill your tank. 

Fy Nyth's water jug & hose system. She transports water in from a nearby well.

If you do not have access to a fresh water spigot, you'll need bring water to your Tiny House RV from an external source using a few water jugs. You will then physically pour fresh water through the water inlet into your tank. 

The main advantage to filling your fresh water tank is that you save money, electricity and you can be off-grid. The disadvantage is that it requires you to physically fill the tank (which can be a chore in cold weather). 

Option 2: Heat/Insulate Your Fresh Water Hookup

If you are parked in an area where city water is available, you can bypass your fresh water tank and directly hookup to a water spigot. This means your fresh water hose will be constantly exposed to cold weather elements, so you'll need to protect it (and the spigot) from freezing. 

Brittany Yunker uses a heated hose & insulated spigot for fresh water during the winter months 

Purchase a heated drinking water hose. This hose will require constant electricity and will replace your normal potable water hose. Next, it's a good idea to insulate your spigot by wrapping it with foam insulation. You can also wrap your heated hose around your spigot to ensure it doesn't freeze.

The main advantage to heating and insulating your fresh water hookup is that you won't ever need to fill your tank or use your water pump (pressure will come from the city water). The disadvantage is that a heated hose can be expensive, will require electricity, and you will have to store/transport it during the warmer months. 

Which method will you choose for your Tiny House RV?

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Tumbleweed Elm in the snow: Photo by Jack Journey

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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 Tiny Homes and their adventure. Follow their informative blog. 
 
     

 

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 10, 2015

Filed under: cold climates   fresh water   fresh water tank   heated hose   tiny home   tiny house   tiny house RV   tumbleweed   water tank   winterizing  

Trailers: What Style Are You?

Did you know that there are now THREE different Tumbleweed trailer designs? It doesn't matter if you're building a classic Tumbleweed Elm, a modern Mica or a custom design of your own, Tumbleweed has the right trailer for you!

The Original Utility Trailer

The Tumbleweed Utility Trailer design now comes in four lengths: 18’, 20’, 24’, and 26,’ and is the perfect trailer for a Tiny House RV design with a loft, such as the Linden, Elm and Cypress, because it maximizes interior height.  

The Utility Trailer floor framing allows for insulation, saving you an extra 3 1/3" of headroom! With 5,200 lb axels the utility trailer is outfitted with two axels for trailer lengths of 18' and 20,' and three axels for lengths of 24' and 26.'

By building between the wheel wells, the Utility Trailer design allows for exterior eaves that will extend to the maximum legal width of 8'6." Eaves are gorgeous aesthetically, but they also protect your siding from rain and snow damage. 

The Deck Over Trailer

The Deck Over Trailer is the ideal trailer for single-story Tiny House RV designs, like the Tumbleweed Mica. The Deck Over has maximized trailer width by building over the wheel wells. This trailer comes in three lengths of 20', 24' and 26,' all outfitted with two 7,000 lb axels. 

*Eaves are not recommended for Tiny House RVs built on the Deck Over trailer because the trailer is already at the maximum legal width of 8'6."

The Low-Wider

NEW!!! Interested in building lower AND wider? The Low-Wider trailer maximizes interior space (height and width) in your Tiny House RV by building around the wheel wells. This trailer comes in lengths of 18', 20’, 24’, and 26,’ all outfitted with two 7,000 lb axels. 

The Low-Wider trailer is a good fit for custom Tiny House RV designs, as there aren't any Tumbleweed designs for this trailer (yet). 

*Eaves are not recommended for Tiny House RVs built on the Low-Wider trailer because the trailer is already at the maximum legal width of 8'6."

Why I Chose the Tumbleweed Trailer

Whenever someone asks me what are the most important pieces to "splurge on" when building your own Tiny House RV, I always say: "Your trailer, windows and roof." When I built my Tiny House RV, I had zero building experience and renovating an old trailer requires welding - something I was not prepared to do. By purchasing one of the first Tumbleweed trailers, I saved myself hundreds of work hours and I knew I was getting a quality product.  

Other reasons why I recommend purchasing a manufactured Tiny House RV trailer - 

  • By purchasing a Tumbleweed Trailer, I felt safe towing my house over 22,000 miles. I knew the heavy duty 5,000 lb axels and radial tires were able to withstand the load, and they did. 
  • Tumbleweed trailers are tested to be perfectly balanced for Tiny House RV designs. 
  • Brakes, lights and flashing are included and designed specifically for Tiny House RVs. 

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If you want more information on delivery, pricing and specs for any of these trailers, click here to download your free study plans. 

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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 Tiny Homes and their adventure. Follow their informative blog. 
 
     

Written by Jenna Spesard — November 05, 2015

Filed under: cypress   deck over   elm   linden   low-wider   mica   tiny home   tiny house   tiny house RV   trailer   tumbleweed  

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. 

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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? 

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    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!

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    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  

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