Ive gotten asked this a few times in the last week. Truthfully, life has been has continued to stay hectic despite my attempts to start taking it more easy. I haven’t been making as much progress on the house as I would like to but, I just started a new job here in Charleston and have been working quite a bit getting settled there. There have also been some large life changes that have impacted my drive for the project. But now that spring is here and the flowers on the island are in bloom, I am ready to get back to work and keep the blog going.
I have the majority of the exterior of the house done. It needs the ridgecap put on the roof and another panel(awaiting arrival) and that’s about it. The interior of the house is going to much more complex of a process than the exterior. I am having to consider all of the systems and their placement in the house and the order of installation of those systems. So I have taken a bit of time to get that planned out and haven’t been working much. But here is where things stand today:
One of the first tasks that I have been deliberating has been the insulation. I recently picked up 3 pallets of reclaimed Poly-iso panel from a place in upstate SC and had been planning on using that to insulate the house. Its a good product and each 2″ sheet has an insulation value of R13. What I don’t like about it is its inability to fill in all the tiny cracks and spaces, so it would be possible (but unlikely) to get moisture build up between the panel and the wall. I am only building this house once and want to make sure that it is done to the best of my ability. So, now I am considering using a spray in poly-iso product. This would fill in all those spaces and prevent moisture build up between the insulation and the wall. Spray-in would also add another level of structural rigidity to the house because it acts a bit like an epoxy and bonds everything together. It would cost me a bit more to do it, but I would hate to look back and wish I would have done it. That being said, I have enough insulation to insulate two tiny houses. I have already promised some to one tiny houser, so if you know someone who is looking for some, send them my way.
I did get some of the insulation installed (thanks again to Wolfgang, Nora, Dan, Stephen and Dom) before I changed my mind:
The next system I have started to consider is the power delivery system for the house. I knew early on, after watching Cedric build La Casita, that I would want a split AC/DC system. This allows for the devices that are critical (lights, fans, refrigerator) can be run off of battery power and it allows for easier solar adaptation later on. Using low voltage stuff for lights and fans also means that I can have more lights and fans as they are less work to run. The larger things like the air conditioner and the washer and dryer can be run off of A/C power and can be standard off the shelf appliances.
So I have been designing this split AC/DC power system with the help of my friend Bill Kahler. The system is fed by a 50 amp RV service plug but can be run on less power if you need it. Power comes in as AC and is sent out again through the AC distribution panel to the appliances . Some of that AC power gets converted to DC and is sent out through the DC distribution panel. We chose these two marine grade panels for their number of circuits, simplicity and quality of build.
For the AC side of things:
Blue Sea 8485
For the DC side of things:
Blue Sea 8377
A Boondocker 60amp Converter is used to convert AC power to DC and to charge the batteries I have yet to source.
With the power stuff sorted out I was able to start picking out appliances for the house. Some of the items are a bit outside of what the budget had slated but I figured that I would not regret the expenditure later. So I picked the best products for the job. Here is what I picked out:
This LG mini-split system will heat and cool the house. Its evaporator is shaped like a 20×20 picture frame and can be mounted on the wall. I am hoping this low profile unit will be more comfortable to be so close to all the time as the other ones were even more unsightly. It should be more than enough to heat and cool the house effectively at 9,000BTU. It has the added benefit of being rather energy efficient at about 12amps so it won’t require too much power to run. I plan to mount the condenser on the tongue of the trailer along with the propane tank and a small tool box.
For hot water, I went the same route Cedric and Andrea did for the first house; La Casita. This Eccotemp propane tankless hot water heater is the same one they used and is cheap and efficient. It will be mounted to the outside of the house and run off the same propane tank that runs the stove. I am considering installing a pressure pump and tank for the water system in the house as often hose pressure isnt enough to keep the hot water heater on continuously. I am also a fan of higher pressure showers so it will have that added benefit.
This LG Combo washer and dryer was a bit of an indulgence but is an appliance that is almost standard in any other home and it didn’t seem too unrealistic for the tiny house. This model is a ventless model and requires less installation trouble and only used about 8 amps. I think the only problem with these will be its inevitable repair. Here is a good article about picking out a unit for your tiny house as there are a few models to choose from.
The last thing on the list is the refrigeration. For this I chose the SunDanzer DCRF134. Most of the other things like A/C and the washer and dryer could be lived with out if for some reason there was not enough power. But having the ability to keep food is important all the time. I chose a model that could run on 12v DC or 110v AC. This is so that the fridge could be run off of solar if the need arose. Lets hope it doesn’t. Being a solar capable fridge, its very energy efficient at about 2 amp/hour and should be big enough for most needs.
The last bit of kit is this great stainless steel boat stove I won off of ebay a while back. It’s a propane unit with two burners, piezo ignition and a nice oven. It is a marine unit that has been in service for a bit but has a lot of life left in it after a bit of elbow grease.
As a side note, I also found these neat little 12v to USB chargers from Blue Sea:
Great for charging phones and ipods and whatnot’s. I plan on putting one in the bedroom loft and one downstairs in the living space.
So now with all of the parts ordered its a nice kick in the butt to get back to work on the house. Getting the power in will be the next big step, soon after that will be plumbing and then the spray in insulation. Then followed by interior wood working and cabinetry. Its a lot of work and there are skills I have yet to learn, but I’ve made it this far and with the help of the internet and some good friends, one day Ill have a house to live in.
So as always, I love talking about this stuff and I invite you to contact me with any questions or suggestions you might have or if you just want to say hi.
Till the next post.