Simple Solar Homesteading

Off-Grid Cabin and Tiny House Designs and Supplies
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Jay Craig U Haul Conversion Home

Posted on October 4, 2020 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)


I’m building an Off Grid Tiny House out of a 17’ UHaul, which I found to be a great platform.

 I’ve got a 3’x8’ bathroom (with door) with an on-demand hot water shower and a composting toilet. I mounted a deck light (a glass prism used to add light below ship decks) in the roof for natural light.

 On the roof are eight solar panels and an 8’x10’ rain collector for the shower. I have a skylight over my bed, which provides natural light in the day and a view of the stars at night.

I kept a small propane fireplace from the last boat I lived on and it keeps my well insulated home nice and toasty. I also use propane for my shower and for cooking with a stove, oven and outdoor grill.

I used reclaimed materials as much as possible, and, not counting my labor, I’m into it for about $15,000. I bought the box truck for $5,000 and have spent about $10,000 in parts and materials in the two years I’ve been working on this project.

My composting toilet is the most efficient and odorless composting toilet I’ve seen.


I built a box less than 3’x2’x2’ in the corner with a seat on top and a hatch on the outside. The solid waste drops into a 5 gallon bucket that is lined with a 100% compostable bag and is covered with a scoop of sawdust and coffee grounds (you can also use coconut coir but you have to buy it). Every two or three days I dispose of the solid waste which can go into a barrel and let to compost for 6-12 months, or simply double-paper bagged and thrown in the trash.

The liquid is flushed with a little water and diverted outside and into a flower box and the nutrients are used to help grow succulents-

Water heater, 5L 1.32 GPM- Rainwater hits the 8’x10’ panel, goes into the downspout, through a filter and into the interior tank. To turn on the shower all you do is pull a knob that turns on the electric pump. As the water enters the water heater the propane fires instantly and heats the water.

I used one five gallon tank of propane last year, so between that, the rain and solar power to run the pump, I had a hot shower every day for a year for about $15.


For the sink I have a five-gallon jug that I fill at Whole Foods for 45 cents a gallon. It sits below the counter and I use an electric pump I found online for about $15 that works great. 

Solar- I got two 100 watt solar systems from Harbor Freight for about $350. They’ve been great from the start and I don’t even think about them anymore. It cost another 6 or $700 for two deep cycle batteries and cables so that was about $5/watt. I’ll be adding another 300 watts when I can.

Natural light- Skylights can be problematic with solar panels and a large rain collector so I ended up with a deck prism for my bathroom and a skylight on a bump out I made for my bed.


The deck prism adds as much light as probably a 50 or 60 watt light bulb but requires no electricity. I have an LED battery powered lantern for nighttime.

When I built the bump out for my bed, I thought it would be cool to have a skylight but it turns out to also add a tremendous amount of light and it doesn’t take away from my solar or rain collection. I also have a small skylight over the bump out I made for my stove and oven.

Materials- I used salvaged items and materials whenever possible. I got a locker from a bowling alley for $100 and turned it into a hanging clothes cabinet. I also found a great solid mahogany door with beautiful leaded glass for $100 and chopped it down to fit. I got a lot of my wood from Home Depot, though, because it was affordable. But what I did was either burn it with a torch to look cool, or use the rough side and paint it with oil base paint because I love the look of rough wood and shiny paint.

 Jay Craig

Kenny Foust Dodge Dualie Home On Wheels

Posted on August 19, 2020 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)




I wanted to make something that could be scaled up for emergency or temporary homeless housing but not really practical. Pretty tight and well insulated and easy to heat with a Olympic wave 3 on low.

The vehicle is a 1976 Dodge dualie designed for 10,500 gross weight RV that weighs less than 8000 lbs now. It is 24 long, 7.5 wide and 9.5 tall.


This off grid home on the move started as an experiment for how 2" extruded polystyrene (exp) could be made into a structural panel and glued together to create a lightweight shelter. Originally built on a trailer frame and later the RV was found and the front built to fit for setting the trailer box on the frame making it 24 ft long now. By gluing fiberglass reinforced plastic sheets (frp) to 2" exp with gorilla glue and great stuff foam and some Loctite 8x urethane glue and weighing it down, panels were made. A floor and roof made the same way with a second layer with 5/4 deck boards spaced by 16" pieces of 1"exp. All glued together, wrapped in canvas glued to the foam with Tightbond II wood glue. The cedar boards along the top and bottom and on the corners are screwed and glued together and to the deck boards and overlap the wall boards to add external, decorative structure. Almost all the rest of the original 7x11ft box is made with recycled materials. It is about 7 ft high based on wood framing built for the french doors, Additional structure from a solid wood door lag bolted in and forms the shower wall. Thin wood is glued to the outside and protected with marine polyurethane coating.


There is a 20 gallon freshwater storage with an instant water heater for sink and a shower and a diy composting toilet in the shower stall made from an old toolbox to be watertight and store peat moss. The shower stall also houses hanging clothes on a track to slide out when in use. The solar power comes from 1100 watts of residential panels in series parallel run through a Morningstar Prostar 40 amp 24 volt controller into two Battle Born 100 amp hr batteries and to a 3000 watt inverter. This operates a 5000 btu window air unit (into the evening), dorm frig, microwave, induction cooktop and coffee maker. Could add a couple more batteries and extend AC use. It has been driven a couple thousand highway miles, and on rough roads, and showing no signs of problems from this design. having the back deck fold up and the roof fold down and tightly attached it seems to add structure during travel.


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