As many of you, our adoring public, know we live in an off-grid house and build our tiny shelters from an off- grid workshop. In addition we have built several off-grid tiny houses, including our current build Tiny Tiger, so while we are not experts we do know a good bit about solar power. Here are some thoughts that may, or may not, be useful.

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The first point to repeat is we are not solar experts. We have some knowledge, but when it really comes down to designing and installing a photovoltaic system you need a specialist! In our area that specialist is Kuno Kuenzle of Green Lizard , and without him we'd be lost.

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With photovoltaic systems (PV systems) there are two basic set ups. One is a grid-tie where your house is still attached to the power grid and your PV system helps run your meter backwards so you are not getting as big a power bill. You can also have a hybrid system where you are attched to the grid but also have a small battery bank for times the grid is down. This gives you a bit of autonomy but you are still dependent on the grid.

In our case we take a different path in that we are not attached to the grid at all. (No power lines come to our house or workshop at all). This means we have to have a larger battery bank for storing our electricity and a back up generator should we need to top up the batteries. Our battery bank gives us on average 5 days of autonomy - meaning it holds 5 days of our average power consumption for both our house and workshop. This is generated by a 2000 watt array with power stored in a 35k watt battery bank wired for 24v. Our house is wired in standard 110v and to a visitor seems normal in that we do not read by candle light, or need to make toast over an open fire. The small differences are that we heat our water with an on-demand propane system, cook with gas, and do not have a clothes dryer. Our primary heat source is a wood kachelofen.

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When sizing a PV system you do a load calculation - which determines how much power you use on an average day so you can build a system that meets those needs.The first thing you learn is that anytime you use electricity to produce heat (hot water, electric heat, clothes dryer) you use tons of power so these are usually the first things to be eliminated. To be honest, if you have wood heat it's easy to dry clothes inside and an on-demand hot water system is much more efficient than keeping water hot all day for your evening shower. AS for our workshop, it's not huge but we do have all the necessary tools, but all 110v ones. This isn't a huge commercial shop with big machines running all day long.

We also build off- grid tiny houses. These have the same basic design except because of the space constraints it cannot have a huge battery bank. For the most part we keep the systems simple and try to run as many things direct from 12v as possible, including lighting, refrigeration, and water pump. In addition we put in a small inverter that will create 110v power for small appliances, computers etc. For hot water we stick with on-demand propane, with a special unit designed for small spaces.

Alot of people ask about putting the solar panels on the roof, but our preference is to do a mobile ground mounted rack that is easy to move, easy to clear of snow and simple to orient towards solar south. For our current build we have a 825 watt array, 11k watt battery bank wired in 12v. This is designed to meet the clients needs and hold 4-5 days of power. There is also a charging input plug that would allow for hooking up to a power cord should one be available or a small portable generator and the batteries could be topped up this way if it's necessary.

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It is true that when living and working off the grid one needs to be more aware of electricity, but to us that's a benefit not a drawback. We are all so used to flicking a switch, having everything powered up all the time, forgetting to turn things off that we forget that this power is being generated somewhere! There is no better feeling than when building a tiny house you stop and realize all the power that went into construction,  that all the tools and machines used were powered directly by the sun!

Posted
AuthorFull Moon

We are taking a couple of weeks to help some friends work on their small (but not tiny) house before winter sets in. This is the first time in years that we are doing something other than building tiny houses - and as with any break from routine it gives us time to reflect on life.

So why do we build tiny houses? Well, for us it's about design and craftsmanship. Our work is custom and we strive to create beautiful, interesting, and inspiring spaces. Beauty, intent and craftsmanship affect people - they walk in and it feels good, they touch a detail, they want to linger. This is missing in so much of our busy, mass produced, and always about the bottom line lives. We are not going to save the world building tiny houses (we wish we could), but we can create a space that for someone is a sanctuary - and that's a step in the right direction.

On top of all that philosophical stuff we get to spend the day working together - which means we spend the day laughing.

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We are looking forward to getting back to Tiny Tiger and starting to work on the interior, we'll keep you posted!

 

Fall is here, t-shirts have been replaced with sweaters, the garlic is planted for next year, and we finished the shingling on Tiny Tiger. Then the roof went on - 

Kuno, from Green Lizard Energy, is doing the electrical rough-in now, and then we can move inside. The plumbers will be here after he is finished, then we start insulating, getting the walls and ceiling up, and doing the interior woodwork. It's certainly exciting knowing that we will be working inside this winter!

Jamie just got back from Bermuda where he was teaching at an Aikido seminar - so here's a gratuitous palm tree that makes me jealous!

Until today we have been having the best shingling weather and we've made great progress. As soon as we are finished shingling we will get the roof on and be able to move inside before it gets too cold.

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We have a build time available in the spring of 2017 if you are interested in a gorgeous tiny house... give us a call or email.

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Here is a tiny house that was shingled three years ago; it's weathering beautifully and will go a lovely silver-grey over time. Tiny Tiger Retreat is modeled on this one, so it's nice to have Harmony House here this winter ( while the owner travels in warmer climes) to look at as we go.

The walls got boarded in...

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and then wrapped up like a gift in Tyvek

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The doors and windows are being delivered, and then the shingles and the roof will go on.

 

ALSO.... please look at the for sale page as we have a lovely tiny house "Space" that is ready to tow away. We do not build ready to go ones very often, so here's your chance to have a delightful guest room, home office, painting studio...

ALSO - we have a gap in the schedule for a build starting in the spring of 2017 - so if you are ready to build the tiny house you have always wanted give James a call on 902 277 0862 and we can start the design process with you.

 

What a treat to start a build in the glorious weather we have been enjoying. Tilda the cat is supervising (as usual), and tormenting he dogs by walking around the scaffolding.

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We are making great progress, with the rafters on, and the windows have arrived, too. More progress pictures coming soon.

We are at the Hubbards Farmers' Market tomorrow, so come on by and say hi.

 

Posted
AuthorFull Moon

LGV has been finished and delivered to her new home, with a lovely water view.

The last details were ticked off the list, a big truck arranged for transport and all of a sudden she was gone. This was a GREAT build, the clients were wonderful to work with, the interior details came out well, and as always we got to work with such lovely people and we would be lost without them - like Hans at Cambium Woodworks who did alot of the cabinetry, Dalton Jodrey Plumbing, ASAP Electric, Gavin's Propane, and Dis-N-Dat Upholstery

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We also a have a new LGV album on our gallery page with even more pictures if you want to check that out.

In other news - Birdhouse has gotten a facelift ( Birdhouse2.0) and a new owner and will be leaving us this Tuesday. Space is nearly done and will soon be actively for sale for anyone looking for a gorgeous small studio/yoga room/ office. More info and pictures to come. The trailer is here for the next build (Tiny Tiger Retreat) and we are looking forward getting started. First though, we are taking a few days off to relax, go sailing and maybe even take a swim.

Happy summer from all of us at FMTS!

First thanks to all the people who came to the open house weekend - over 400 of you! We loved meeting you, talking toilets, designs, lofts, food trucks, communities, kids, trailers, pets, retirement, and more toilets. Tiny house enthusiasts are amazing and the tiny house movement is gaining momentum all the time!

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We are on the home stretch with LGV and it's wonderful to see the space transform as the cabinets are installed and the stairs go in. The last touches are scheduled ( the electricians, the plumbers, the last coat of paint) and then it will be delivered!

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We have ordered the trailer for the next build and will keep you posted on that - it's called Tiny Tiger Retreat!

 

Yes, we are really having an Open House...

Come on by anytime between 10am and 4pm on Saturday June 4th or Sunday June 5th. We will be here, with three tiny houses to see, and ready to talk tiny houses, systems, trailers, designs and any other tiny house questions or ideas.

Logistics -

There is no sign, just the blue number...

address 1749 Northwest Rd Blockhouse NS - if you're coming from the 103 you go towards Lunenburg and we are on the right about a kilometer from the Blockhouse 4 way stop. We are right across from Mason's Plumbing. Second right after Lohnes' Small Engine Repair. If you get to Fauxburg Rd you've gone too far!

Coming from Lunenburg direction you will pass Fauxburg Rd and crest the hill and we are the driveway on the left just after the mailbox with flames on it ( I wish I could say this was ours, but it's the neighbours'!) Just opposite our driveway is Mason's Plumbing with a big sign...

 

Once on the driveway bear to the left at the top - we are NOT in the white farmhouse at the top of the hill, keep going to the end of the road.

Parking is going to be an issue, if you park at the top of the hill and walk down it might be easier, depends how many people show up.

Please do not bring your dogs!  No matter how nice and well behaved your dog is please don't make an exception for it. Thanks.

We look forward to seeing you all at some point over the weekend.....

 

Posted
AuthorFull Moon
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