What happens when a passion for solar energy gets combined with enthusiasm for traveling, facilitated by the small-house movement? Enter the Tiny Solar House, a mobile marketing campaign that gives people a first-hand example of the practicability of living in a home powered by solar.
The Tiny Solar House has been on a surprisingly big tour of America the past 6 months, sharing experiences and inspiration of a solar-powered lifestyle. Logging over 10,000 miles since departing from Austin, Texas, in May, the journey has made stops in 15 states and 10 National Parks.
This 210-square-foot off-grid house on wheels is essentially an RV with a different look. The base of the home is a dual-axle trailer atop a structure was framed, insulated, and enclosed.
The Tiny Solar House features a multifunctional living room/office/art studio, kitchen with full-sized fridge, double sink, and propane oven, shower, toilet, and upstairs sleeping loft big enough for a queen-sized mattress.
But the true beauty of the Tiny Solar House comes from the outside. 6 photovoltaic, 280-watt SolarWorld solar panels adorn the roof and send solar energy to a small metal box above the tongue of the trailer. Inside the box there are 6 deep-cycle batteries wired for 750 amp-hours at 12 volts, a Midnite Solar charge controller, and a clever Xantrex inverter with capability to plug into an RV electrical hookup if needed.
This special feature came in handy recently when stopped at a tiny house community on the outskirts of Austin, Texas.
“We were hit with back to back to back cloudy days which depleted our battery bank and forced us to hook up to grid power,” said Michael Chance, owner of the Tiny Solar House. “It was a sad day, and the first time in six months that we had to rely on non-solar electricity,” he added.
The Tiny Solar House is one of 19 tiny houses currently parked at Austin Live|Work, one of the largest tiny house communities in the nation. This 10-acre, alternative housing community is drawing like-minded individuals together for a number of reasons. Some tenants have chosen the tiny lifestyle to decrease their carbon footprints and get more in-touch with the land, while others see it as a path to financial independence and an escape from rapidly increasing cost of living, longer work hours, and frustrating commutes.