Simple Solar Homesteading

Off-Grid Cabin and Tiny House Designs and Supplies
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Jordan Spuck 2532 House

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)



The purpose of the 2532 house is to market an off-the grid prototype to millennials who prefer not to live in the city or rent. This prototype should be affordable, condusive to their needs and desires, and environmentally non-invasive.


The 2532 House began as a research study where I wanted to ask what it was that people actually wanted and needed in a home. While working on the research study, I was reading more about housing--particularly small housing, and I noticed the increasing difficulty young adults were having in making home purchases. I went back to my survey to look at the results of my feedback and from the 72 respondents, I abstracted the 39 responses from the 25-32 year old demographic. From there, I was able to make several inferences about the amount of space, and appliances needed and desired by young adults. From my survey and other anecdotal discussion, I’ve found that most people weren’t ready to make the transition to an off-the-grid lifestyle. The goal of the 2532 project is to take the idea of an off the grid, environmentally friendly home and make it an appealing possibility for millennials by using their responses and previous off-the grid precedents as a basis for the design.


The following project is created for a couple in the aforementioned 25-32 age bracket. The latitude is randomly set at 42 degrees, and the geographic location is assumed to be the Northeastern United States. For this project a plot of land will need to be purcahsed.





In this project, you will notice that the building is constructed with wooden panels from a material known as cross-laminated timber. Cross-lamianted timber is just starting to be used in the United States (with the first major commercial project being completed in Montana in 2011. As you will see in this project, there are many reasons why I chose this particular material over other materials, some of which I will outline below:


EASE OF ASSEMBLY: One of the big questions in sustainable housing these days is that of “embodied energy”. How much in terms of resources does it take to get the job done? When you hire a construction crew on site to build a home-- even a small home on a permanent foundation. You have to account for all of the travel back and forth and all of the energy putting pieces together, the different use of materials and the cost. With Small pre-fab panels, you can streamline the process in house, and in a few truck loads take it to the site. In addition, the danger in building onsite is greatly mitigated by having the panels produced in the plant, pre-assembly. This house is designed as a DIY project because of this simplified assembly.


COST: CLT is going to be part of the International Building Code in 2015, and as shipping becomes easier, cost will drop significantly. My preference would be to build this house with a few other people and have a professional boom truck with an operator that can be rented for less than $1,000/day. In past projects with a significantly larger house, the framing took two days. However, if you were to hire professionals, it would still be cheaper.


PERSONAL GROWTH: There are endless articles that tout the importance of being active to create a happier lifestyle, and in a recent article “Working with your hands: the secret to happiness?” This idea of learning practical skills to increase happiness is explored. It is outside of the scope of my reasearch to assume that people want to take part in building their own home, but if it saves them a significant amount of money, can be done in a much shorter time-frame, and they are young and healthy--why not?


LESS INVASIVE: Cross Laminated Timber Panels are less invasive. The construction is quieter. The wood is recycleable and cut from sustainably managed forests, and it’s high thermal performance means a lower carbon footprint throughout it’s lifecycle.











Dennis Ringler Tiny Cob House

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (2)

This 20x20 exterior dimension (16x16 interior) house while very inexpensive to build if sourcing your own materials (instead of purchasing them) is labor intensive. The main structural component of the house would be either cob or adobe brick (both made with clay, sand, straw, and water). Since this is an earth house, the walls are very thick compared to a standard house at 2 feet thick for exterior walls and 1 foot thick for interior walls (if you are worried that the walls will not support the weight of the roof, they can be reinforced with vertical rebar, but realize, some areas of the world have been using this technique of building for centuries with multi-story buildings). If made with adobe brick, you are limited in shape as you are with using regular brick, but if made with cob, the house is very sculptable and you can build the walls in curves as well as incorporate items such as glass bottle bricks in the walls. With the walls being as thick as they are, they are a natural heat sink for solar heat during the winter so no insulation is necessary. I have also added a built in rocket mass stove which requires little wood for heating, plus the chimney runs through the cob bench to use the bench itself as a heat sink, releasing heat long after the fire has gone out. Also built in is the bathtub which is also made of cob that is tiled and sealed to be watertight. The roof is a 1 foot thick earthen roof supported by large wooden beams (that could be self-milled or purchased) as well as 1” thick plywood with a pond liner to waterproof the roof. Water is collected from drainage ports in the roof and stored in underground tanks as well as heated by a solar water heater. If the solar water heater is not sufficient for daily usage, a copper coil could be routed around the stove portion of the rocket mass heater for additional hot water. Solar panels generate electricity and the energy is stored in a battery bank in the shed. If the house gets too warm, windows in the 96 square foot loft and the skylight can be opened for ventilation but all other windows are simply glass panels embedded into the cob/adobe so cannot be opened. Examples of the sculptability of cob that I included in the house are the rocket mass heater/cob bench, cob bathtub, and an altar/TV alcove in the wall separating the living area from the bathroom.

Tyler Rodgers Ty-ny House

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 9:30 AM Comments comments (0)

The design of this house is meant to integrate elements of a simple and open floor plan with those of an environmentally-conscious off-grid lifestyle. The house is 400sqft, with a 200sqft 10’x20’ living space, and a 160sqft front porch and 40sqft back porch, which are included in the house’s footprint. Key features of the house include the large arrays of windows, rainwater recycling system, solar energy systems, solar water heater, solar water purifier, woodstove water heater, and greywater system. I estimate that the house could be built for $15,000, but cost could be reduced with the inclusion of recycled and salvaged materials.


The house utilizes standard 2x4 framing, and conventional white siding. The house could be insulated with fiberglass, foam board, or SIPs. The roof is metal, and is the platform for the set of solar panels that serve as the house’s power source and the solar water heater. The roof over the house is one single sloping surface, and can channel rainwater into a gutter at its bottom. The windows are double-paned and can open.

Water Heating and Circulation

The primary source of water for the house is rainwater. A well could also be included in the design to supplement this. In the dwelling’s rainwater collection system, rain hits the roof and flows down to a gutter at the front. The gutter has a slight downward tilt, which carries the water to the right side of the house, where it travels down a pipe to a set of rain barrels. While traveling down the pipe, the water turns a set of water wheels, which generate part of the power needed to pump the water through the system to the solar water heater. Excess energy generated by the water wheels would be used to power the appliances in the house.

The house has two systems for heating water. The first is the solar water heater located on the front porch roof. The second is the woodstove, located next to a water storage tank on the back porch. The woodstove method is a backup system, and works by heating water as it travels through a copper coil wrapped around the stove pipe. This water can then go to the shower or kitchen.

The back porch of the house contains a small reflector pool that can have several functions, depending on the preference of the homeowner. The first would be a solar water purifier, in which rainwater is placed in the pool, sunlight hits the glass above it, and then the purified water which hits the glass is carried by a slight slope to a small basin where it is collected.

(See this design: The second use would be as a hot tub, connected to the solar heater or woodstove heater. The third use is simply extra water storage.

The house also has a greywater system, in which used water from the kitchen and shower are directed to an underground tank and filtration system. From this point, the greywater is used to water the hanging gardens on the back side of the house and for the lawn irrigation system. (In the garden, the water would touch only the soil, and not the edible parts of the plants.)

Energy Sources:

The house’s main source of energy is the set of solar panels on the roof, which powers the kitchen appliances, digital projector that functions as the TV, and other electrical components in the house. The panels are connected to a group of batteries stored under the daybed in the house’s interior. The waterwheels in the rain system also provide some additional power.


The house’s many windows enable the house to be warmed by passive solar heating during the winter. During the summer, blinds could be used over the windows to reduce the solar energy entering the house. (The windows would also be opened during the summer to provide ventilation.) A small Dickinson Marine Propane heater is the house’s main source of heat in the winter. The stovetop in the kitchen also uses propane.

The Interior:

The arrangement of the living and kitchen spaces and the large windows are meant to give the home an open feeling and ample natural light. The kitchen space contains a five foot long counter, which has a large sink and propane stovetop. (The stovetop can be stowed to free up counter space.) Under the counter is a mini refrigerator, drawers, and a pullout spice rack. The kitchen also has a circular table that folds up from the front wall. Folding chairs are stowed under the table. (Not pictured in model.)

The bathroom is 4’ 5 ½” x 5’. It is accessed through a sliding barn door. It is a European/marine style bathroom, with all of the shower water draining through a central hole in the floor. The bathroom has a small sink and sawdust composting toilet.

The living area of the house has a daybed that doubles as a couch and sleeping space. Under the bed is a set of drawers and the components of the solar energy system. The headboard of this bed is a large set of shelves. If a loft were to be included in the design over the kitchen and bathroom, this shelf would double as a ladder to the loft space. On the left side of the house is a storage area that has two closets and a dresser. The first closet is for hanging clothing, the second houses the marine stove. (The inside is lined with metal sheeting.) In front of the left wall there is also a lounge chair.


The large 4’x 6’3” window on the back wall of the house is directly across from the one on the front of the house, and doubles as a door out to the back porch. This porch has the reflecting pool, as well as a hammock. Next to the porch on the back of the house is the hanging vegetable garden. The front porch has a hanging daybed, and could also have a small table on its left side.

Bomun Bock-Chung Tiny Solar Tiny House

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (5)

Tiny Solar Tiny House

Our home should be a place that nurtures us. This tiny house is designed with the intention to do just that. !


- Maximize quality of life

- Minimize need for energy inputs

- Minimum need for heating

- Reduced cost to maintain

- Grow vegetables year round

- Leave site better than when it arrived

- Create free hot water

- Towable with mid-sized truck


Passive solar design for

- Faux rock wall made of styrofoam insulates underside

- Fold up deck for travel

Fold-out greenhouse

Creates a nice sheltered entry

- Year round growing area

- Indoor/outdoor space

- Passively heats house in winter


Moving Solar Tiny House


1. Greenhouse and deck fold in


2. Solar panels fold down


3. Faux rock/insulation slides up


4. Empty water tank for reduced weight


5. Leave a garden for the in it’s wake



Movie time

Projector screen drops down when in use

Bed time

The space converts into two beds

Hidden storage

Both benches have huge slide out drawers that are always accessible.


All beds are hidden which frees the whole space the space is usable

Lauren O'Mally Living Tiny Home

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 7:55 AM Comments comments (3)


This contest was a no brainer as far as which category I was going to choose. I have been planning/researching tiny house idea plans for a while and a design contest was just what I needed to get it going. As far as design, I wanted to do something that was different in terms of a small house layout. I wanted to maximize every ounce of 160 sq feet of living space as I could as well as create multifunctional rooms for living. The structure has a flat roof taking advantage of maximum road height requirements of 10' 6", and it also has a custom made low boy trailer letting occupants gain extra inches in head space.

The first thing I did before I deciding on a design was browse the endless amounts of Pins and photos online, and found inspiration in some of the micro sized apartments you see in New York and overseas. What striked me as the most important elements of good (small) design were: Multifunctional spaces. use of both under and overhead space, and transforming furniture. Since this home would also be designed for myself and my son (as well as family and friends visiting) I wanted this space to feel bright, open and spacious. I also wanted more storage space for clothing, shoes, etc, so I made sure to utilize every ounce of space imaginable. People who don't want to climb ladders but want additional living space for loved ones will appreciate the converting queen sized bed. In addition to spacial needs, the home is very multfunctional, as evidenced in the way of a pull out wardrobe which also serves as a room divider, and first floor couch that transforms into a queen sized bed at night, a closet that also serves as an office and dressing room, and a roof that becomes a mini yard, compete with a low growing garden. Outside walls create a space for a vertical garden which is perfect for growing vining vegetation, and indoors were left for growing herbs. Since the plant life didnt stop at the outdoors, the space is flooded with light from windows reaching almost every inch of the space inside. The home is also animal friendly in that it features a cat observation deck at the rear of the structure which is contained underneath the kitchen appliances, accessible by feline entry through a cat door, and accessible by human entry from the outside. In a space so small, this was necessary in maintaining a fresh home. Litter cleaning duties are kept outdoors which is also a great advantage. Since this contest also required the use of off-grid/low-cost/sustainable living, I incorporated many important features including solar power which is attained by a solar panel on the roof, a solar hot water heater, a rain water collection system, a living roof which vegetates low lying vegetables with vining vegetation of the outside kitchen wall, and more.


CJ's Tiny Cabin On Wheels

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (2)

This house on wheels is constructed with SIPs on an 8'x20' trailer that can sleep 4 with a maximum height of 13'6". The house has attached to it a deck on hinges. It can fold up next to the house for transport, which provides extra protection to the large doors and windows on that face of the house. The roof is made of metal and the siding is made of corrugated metal and reclaimed wood. When you enter the house, the living room is to the right. You can immediately see a series of 1'x1' boxes which serve as both stairs to the sleeping loft as well as storage. Some of the cubes are open for more decorative shelving. The others are covered by a 3'x4' panel for more private storage. This panel then swings up on hinges to form a dining table. The couch is made by Clei and is a queen-sized Murphy bed as distributed by Resource Furniture (model: Nuovoliola 10), Seriously, if you have not seen their space-saving solutions, it is completely worth checking them out! (And no, I do not work for them.) Directly in front of the front door is a small closet that contains the washer/dryer combo and refrigerator. To the left is the kitchen with full range (although it shows an electric range, propane would actually be my choice, but I had a hard time finding a model in SketchUp that I liked) and Ikea cabinetry. There is a sliding barn door that opens to the 3'x6' bathroom. In the bathroom is a composting toilet, sink, tankless hot water heater, and shower...the entire room is the shower and so the walls here are covered in stainless steel. The shower head is above in the ceiling. There is a sleeping loft above that can easily accommodate a queen-sized bed (and perhaps a king, although I didn't try) and some modest storage. The maximum height in the sleeping loft would be above the residents' heads at approximately 3'.

As far as green features of this house, they include:

SIP construction

Reclaimed hardwood on walls and bamboo flooring throughout

600W solar panel system mounted to roof (3x200W)

Wind turbine backup to solar system for non-sunny days and night time use

Rain water collection via cisterns

Propane system used for marine heater, range, and washer/dryer

Composting toilet

Quartz countertops

LED lighting throughout

Large windows to take advantage of passive solar heating and open for cooling

Craig Williams House On Wheels

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (3)

50 years ago I used to dream of going on long camping trips across the country. Now I am in my sixties, still with the same dream, but with much practical experience. I want to design and build my travelling Home/Office where I can travel and work in a perpetual cycle across our great nation, incl Canada. I'd like to be self-sustaining, completely off-grid.

My diet is simple, raw fruits and vegetables and nuts, with an accasional juicy cheeseburger or big thick rib-eye once in a while, hence the charcoal grille. Hunting and fishing would also be enjoyable at times.

I like to read a lot, so book storage is necessary, I have an average amount of clothes. I have also an extensive LP vinyl record collection, with a small stereo system, which I'd like to build into the house ceiling. I draw and paint, so my office should be flexible for my work and studio functions. I do entertain with a small bunch of friends and acquaintances, along the way.

I believe in a complete solar operating system, with battery backup and generator. Showering water is via a solar hot water heating system on the roof. Kitchen water for the sink is pumped with a foot pedal and grey water waste will be used for gardening. Bathroom waste will be composted via composting toilet.

Wall construction will be SIP panels, high R value, heating via wood burning stove and solar heating system, with thru the wall AC for those really warm days.

The loft area has a nice king-size bed with storage cubicles along each side and a large headboard . Access is via a library-type sliding ladder.

Lots of natural light for daytime work, with Under shelf and ceiling mounted low level task lighting for nighttime and grey days.

I love wood, so much natural wood finished throughout. Stone tile for the bathroom and wet areas.


Jonathan Filius 14x24 Micro house

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (1)

Jon Filius- Micro House

The entire cabin occupies a 14’ x 24’ footprint, with 212 square feet of interior main floor living space and a 100 square foot loft. The interior and exterior of the main living space is clad in blonde beetle kill pine. Contrasting the pine is the charcoal grey standing seam metal that encases the main mass and the connected exterior spaces. The living area houses a small work area, couch, wood stove and a combination bookcase/ladder to the loft. The bathroom, accessed by a 30” pocket door in the kitchen, contains a full shower, small vanity and composting toilet. The kitchen utilizes RV appliances and a retractable table to save space. The loft above the kitchen and bathroom contains built in dresser and closet with enough space for a queen size bed.

Solar panels on the roof provide power to the cabin along with a propane backup system. Rainwater is collected and filtered in two 55 gallon drums at the rear of the cabin. A propane on-demand system heats water for the kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Low energy LED lighting is used throughout the cabin with solar light tubes in the in the living area and loft to provide light during daylight hours. The water collection, solar electric system, propane tanks and firewood are sheltered off the rear of the cabin.

Evan Vause Tiny Modern House

Posted on June 30, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Off Grid Modern


The concept is for a clean and open plan - with simple and clearly laid out spaces - all with an element of whimsy. Like a small suite - the luxuries are included, anticipating that the necessities will be also be revealed.

The Plan is for a small 160 square foot (10x16 feet), modern, off grid house. The simple rectangular shape and mono pitched roof allow for ease of construction. The doors act as windows that open up the corner of the space - creating a feeling of a vast expansion of the small house and an awakening to the opportunity that lies beyond. The living, dining, and social areas are separated from the private areas by shelving units that contain books as well as general storage and the cooking area. The shower and water closet spaces utilize angled interior walls to once again open up the spaces in unanticipated ways - enlarging the areas and creating surprises with the corners themselves. An optional desk folds down from the wall for space saving. Optional skylights allow a view to the stars and natural light for the bathroom. Solar panels double as a shade structure over the door.

The guitar pick shaped deck at the entry provides additional outdoor space for cooking and socializing. There is an outdoor shower for fair weather, and the propane is stored next to the shower. The toilet is designed to be removed for emptying and cleaning from the rear door. This way, it does not have to make its way through the main space. A slit window is provided above the lavatory - a place where windows are rare - but in this case, welcome.

Construction is 2x4 wood studs, with T-111 siding. Plywood over a homemade wooden rafter made from 2-2x4's creates the roof structure. A basic metal roof and plywood interiors (painted) make the materials easy to purchase at a home builders supply or lumber store. The unique door can be made from 2 french doors or custom built to suit the individual.

Design by Evan Vause, architect - Cypress Architecture & Design

Renderings by Lelee Laosy


Carl Tourtellotte 8x20 House-On-Wheels

Posted on June 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM Comments comments (0)


20 ft. long 8 ft. wide 13.5 ft. high on wheels, 24-ft long frame with a 6” drop back to 12”

Fold up 7 ft. X 15 ft porch with folding legs and removable railings, Standard 36 in. front door

Alternating 2 ft on center stud walls with angle bracing, Outside storage access to solar hot water tank and tank less backup heater


Solar hot water and electric panels, Front tongue outside vented battery storage

Tower-less floating wind generator for battery charging, Solar powered vents through to ceiling and main floor vents open to under trailer brings in cool air. These vents can be closed with insulated plugs.


Stand up loft with full size platform bed, Built in dresser, linens storage chest and full high closet

Privacy door and emergency escape door, Stairs bottom step shoe storage, Sunken Living Room, Front escape window

Built in bookshelves, center storage, corner desk and room for arm chair


Fold in bay window with bench storage seating, folding table, 12 volt compressor 11 cu, ft. refrigerator with portable washer storage under, RV style stove with oven small double sink

Under stairs vented storage for 2 cu. Ft. 12 volt compressor freezer


36 in. standard shower, Incendiary toilet, 28 in. sliding door




Wombat Micro-Camper Plans Here!

Redhawk Micro-Cabin Plans Here!

Bikesport Tow or Push Camper

Quixote Cottage Plans Here!

Thoreau Cabin Plans Here!