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Archive for the ‘The Tiny House Blog’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Plumbing IBC Tanks Into Rain Water Harvesting System

I have connected a 275 gallon IBC tote to my off grid tiny house on wheels as the main water supply. I have a second water tank next to it waiting to be placed into the system. We will have 550 gallons of rain water supply with the ability to expand our capacity later.

I bought all the plumbing to connect two large IBC water tanks into my off grid tiny house water system months ago. I only just got the rain water shed ready for us to set up the tanks inside. Chris helped me drag a second tank into the shed and put it next to the first one.

Chris has been insulating the shed while I was working on the plumbing and wind turbine wiring earlier. Then we both put in the last two pieces of plywood on the walls in the back corner so that I can set up the two IBC totes where they are meant to stay.

I put down four cement blocks under the framing of a wood pallet first. Next came the 275 gallon water tank on top. This tank did not come with a metal frame so I have to build a frame around it myself to keep it from collapsing. Then I can connect it to the tiny house rain water system.

When connecting the PVC fittings and plumbing, I realized that I was running out of PVC pipe so I ran into town for another piece. Later, as I was gluing all the fittings together, I accidentally put a piece in the wrong place. With the PVC cement, you have one second before the bond becomes permanent. I realized the very second that I put it into place that it was wrong but then it was too late.

Plumbing IBC tote into tiny house

So I was off to town again for a 59 cent PVC coupling to repair my mistake.

I got all the pieces put together finally. I used a flatbed trailer to assemble the fittings to the IBC tanks so that I got the same angle on the pipes for the two tanks.

Next I took the whole thing inside the rain water shed to try it out for size. It fits perfectly. So I propped up the pipe assembly with some boards to keep the pressure off the Gator Locks on the IBC tanks. Then I connected the Gator Lock fitting onto the main rain water tank.

Finally I removed the water line that feeds into the off grid tiny house from the 20 gallon tank we have been using and put it into the new system. I turned on the main valve to the IBC tank and heard the water gush into the new pipes.

Fortunately there were no leaks at all. The off grid tiny house on wheels now has a larger rain water supply. No more hand filling a little 20 gallon tank every two days. Now we pray for rain to fill up our tanks.

Plumbing IBC Totes In Tiny House

Melanie was working in her flower bed all afternoon. She put rock borders around the inside and outside of the new flower bed. Then she transplanted some of her flowers that she grew from seed into the new flower bed. When the plants grow up this is going to be a very pretty flower bed.

Chris has been working out by the wood pile dismantling the remains of the old RV porch and wood stove shed. He has been removing the sheet metal from the pallets that were the porch. The pallet wood goes into a pile for later processing into fire wood for next year’s heat. The sheet metal goes into another pile to be recycled. Chris has been working quite a bit out by the fire wood pile getting us ready for heating the off grid tiny house and water shed next winter.

You can watch the entire video of today’s work here: Plumbing IBC Tanks Into Rain Water Harvesting System

While you are over there please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid on a budget.

PostHeaderIcon Connected Wind Turbine & Plumbing Rain Water System

I finally have all the plumbing supplies necessary to connect the 275 gallon IBC totes to my rain water system. Chris and I are finishing the rain water shed so that we can install a second IBC tote water tank and connect the plumbing. I also connected the wind turbine to my off grid tiny house battery bank.

Long ago someone sent me a wind charge controller with a dump load connection. This is simply a solar charge controller with a large solenoid connected to it. When the voltage reaches a certain point, the solenoid is turned on which sends the excess power to a dump load.

I screwed this wind charge controller to the wall above the off grid battery bank and then connected the controller to the battery bank. Last I connected the wind turbine to the charge controller inputs. Now when the wind is blowing I will get a little bit more energy into my off grid battery bank. With all the trees around here I will not get very much power from the wind turbine at any given time due to the turbulence of the trees. But when you are fully off the grid every little bit helps.

Unfortunately when I connected the power to the charge controller, the dump load was turned on. This is because the MPPT solar charge controllers have the battery bank in absorption mode. The voltage for absorption mode is too high for the cheaper solar charge controllers to it turns on its dump load. I have to later open it up and see if I can adjust the dump load settings inside to a higher voltage.

Chris and I finished the back wall of the off grid rain water and battery shed. Chris had been finishing the insulation as I worked on the wind charge controller. By the time I was finished with the charge controller he was done with the insulation.

Connecting Wind Charge Controller

Next we put up the last two pieces of plywood on the wall back there so that I can put in a second IBC tank for our off grid rain water supply.

I bought the plumbing to connect multiple water tanks many months ago already. I had it all planned out ahead of time. I have PVC quick disconnects with valves so that I can remove a tank from the system on the go without disrupting the water supply to the tiny house on wheels. Each tank will have its own valve and quick disconnect. The only problem was that I did not have a fitting for the large 275 gallon IBC totes. I had ordered some “universal fit” ones off amazon a while back but after paying it showed that it was coming from China. After a month of waiting impatiently, I received them only to discover that they did not fit anything I have at all.

So I waited and put the project back on hold again.

Someone in the comments on YouTube suggested that I get a Gator Lock fitting from TSC to fit my 275 gallon IBC totes. They told me to ignore the threads on the fitting and just put the Gator Lock right over the top of them and lock it on and it will work. So I immediately ran out to TSC and picked up one. It fits! Now I can finally finish the plumbing on my off grid rain water system for the tiny house on wheels.

Gator Lock fittings

Now all I have to do is to lay out the plumbing in place, cut the PVC pipes to fit between the totes and glue it all together.

I connected all the fittings that go from the IBC tote to the PVC lines. There are multiple pieces that have to go together in order to reduce the Gator Lock down to a one inch PVC pipe but it will be worth it in the end. I used teflon tape on all the threads before hand tightening them all together.

Next I cut the PVC pipes to fit inside all the connectors, valves and fittings to try it all on for size. I am dry fitting it all together first to make sure I get it all right before I begin to tighten or glue anything.

Connecting PVC Pipes To IBC Tote

Watch the full video of today’s work here: Connected Wind Turbine & Plumbing Rain Water System

While you are over there please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid on a budget.

PostHeaderIcon Off Grid Homesteading ~ Tiny House Beautification ~ Huge Haul

It was raining so we did not get much video recorded but Chris and I were working in the garden and cleaning up the homestead. Melanie and I were beautifying the off grid tiny house inside by hanging up prints and paintings. In the afternoon we got a huge truck load of small engines and equipment for next to nothing.

Chris and I fixed the garden gazebo by using better lumber and stronger screws. This had been blown over in the wind recently so it had to be repaired. We get some very strong winds out here at the off grid homestead.

Chris has been cleaning up over in the side yard by the wood shop tent. We hope to move the motor home over there and use it as a wood shop and then use the tent for wood storage. The camper will then be a small engine shop. I often repair small engines. Which leads me to the next deal.

We all drove to a local warehouse clearance sale where we found some very good food deals. We got food at 80% off the original price. But then we met a friend of ours over there and he convinced me to join him in a huge deal on small engines. They had Sears Craftsman leaf blowers, weed trimmers and other equipment on clearance. You could take a truck load for only $20 total. My friend wanted to put together a working leaf blower and convinced me to fill up my truck and pay half with him on the deal. So we loaded the truck up level with the side of the bed.

Huge Small Engine Haul

We got all kinds of gas and electric powered garden equipment from leaf blowers to weed trimmers to chain saws. This is a huge haul that will pay off no matter what we do with it. Even at the scrap yard I could get my money back and then some. But I plan to take these apart and sell the parts for a profit. This will be a good winter project. For now I put down two pallets and neatly stacked the entire load onto them and covered it all to protect them from the elements.

We are now eating from our garden. We have rutabaga that grew up on its own from a plant that went to seed last year. We have this stuff growing all over the place now. We are eating the greens. They are very tasty and good for you so we are enjoying them. Our tomatoes are going to start turning ripe soon as well. And some peppers are starting to form already. This is going to be a good year for our garden.

Melanie and I have been hanging paintings and prints in the off grid tiny house on wheels. We are making it look more like real home now. I have had these paintings for many years now, waiting for a nice home to put them in. Finally I have a place to call my own.

Beautifying off grid tiny house

Here is my favorite painting of all.

Hanging paintings in the tiny house

Here is the video we made of our work on this day Off Grid Homesteading ~ Tiny House Beautification ~ Huge Haul

While you are over there, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid.

PostHeaderIcon Connecting Solar Panels ~ Melanie’s DIY Curtains ~ Off Grid Water Supply

After hooking up some more solar panels on the roof of the tiny house battery shed (see previous posts) I connected the new solar panels to the off grid battery bank. We are working on improving our off grid rain water supply. Melanie made some curtains using scrap materials that she got for free.

Chris and I built a new frame for some more solar panels the other day. We mounted this adjustable solar panel frame to the side of the off grid battery bank shed. The solar panels are raised up above the roof of the shed and can be adjusted for the seasons to reach the most sunlight.

I then mounted the Renogy MPPT solar charge controller on the wall of the off grid battery shed. I got this charge controller recently from Preppernurse1 during our visit up north.

I first connected all the solar panels in series to increase the total voltage and reduce losses in the lines. You can only do this with an MPPT solar charge controller which can handle higher voltages. I ran these wires into the off grid battery shed.

Off Grid Solar Panels

Next I ran the battery wires to the MPPT solar charge controller. ALWAYS do this first!!! You can damage your solar charge controller if you do not connect the batteries first.

Then I connected the solar panels into the Renogy MPPT solar charge controller and got a green light. This means that I am charging my off grid battery bank.

I should be getting up to 1,200 watts of solar power in peak sunlight now. But sadly due to the trees around the meadow, I only get about two hours of peak sunlight per day. I am cutting trees to increase solar power though so one day I will have much more power at the off grid homestead.

Chris helped me get the solar panels angled into the sunlight a bit better. We cut some 2×4 lumber to fit under the solar panel frame. This holds the frame up angled into the air to give us a better angle into the sun. We set these in place and let gravity hold them for now. Later we are going to fashion some adjustable arms so that we can adjust the angle of the sun by simply removing a couple wing nuts and pins. For now we screwed another 2×4 in place to prevent the wind from blowing the solar panels around.

Adjusting Roof Mount Solar Panels

Chris and I are working on improving the off grid rain water supply system for the tiny house on wheels. I had ordered two fittings from Amazon that claimed to fit all IBC water tanks. Sadly, after ordering and paying, I saw that the package is coming from China. So I waited a month for delivery only to find that these fittings do not fit anything I have out of 50 IBC totes.

So I searched around and discovered that I have two types of fittings on the tanks. One has a larger opening and the other is smaller. I only have two of the tanks with the smaller opening. And these are the ones that I can find hardware for in the local hardware store. I sort of got lucky here.

IBC Tote For Rain Water Harvesting

We now have to get the glue out of the water tanks before we can use them on the off grid tiny house on wheels. This was organic glue and we do not drink the water so it should be no problem once we get the tanks cleaned out and bleached.

Melanie got some free fabric from a local barn sale a couple weeks ago and she spent about two days sewing by hand to make some beautiful curtains. She cut the fabric down the center to make a divider. Then she sewed on seams to prevent the threads from unraveling. She made and sewed her own loops for the curtain rod as well.

Melanies Homemade Curtains

And to top it all off – she even made little button on bows with ribbons to hold the curtains open during the daytime. She is quite amazing and talented.

I put up some curtain rods in the off grid tiny house living room and hung her curtains right away.

You can see the video of today’s work here: Connecting Solar Panels ~ Melanie’s DIY Curtains ~ Off Grid Water

While you are over there please subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch our daily videos as we strive to become self sufficient and off the grid.

PostHeaderIcon Hot & Cold Running Water In Off Grid Tiny Home

I finally have hot and cold running water on demand in my off grid tiny house on wheels. I have been working on the plumbing for some time now but the winter months slowed me down. Now that all danger of deep freezing is over I decided to finish the plumbing in my tiny house water shed.

The other day I redid all the plumbing in the water shed and mounted the water pump and accumulator higher on the wall to keep the lines from freezing as easily in the cold winter months next year. You can see the video here: Back To Work At The Off Grid Project & Something NEW

That alone was quite a job because I have cats in the house and they love to climb all over under the kitchen sink. They keep pulling down the drain pipe under the sink. This is just a press in fitting with a rubber seal. It falls apart easily and I had water leaking under the sink when I first turned it all back on. Also somehow a hot water line in the bathroom had come apart and the valve was turned on. This is odd and I have no idea how it happened but it made a mess.

Now it was time to check the hot water lines and connect the shower for the first time ever in my off grid tiny house on wheels.

I took off the old damaged water heater that I was going to use. I had tried installing hot water in the tiny house back in the fall but the water heater was defective and leaked. I have a brand new propane on demand hot water heater which I am swapping it out with.

Tiny House Hot Water
Tiny House Hot Water

These are camp water heaters. They come complete with a propane hose and regulator, water hose and a shower head. It even has a mount for the shower head to permanently mount it to a wall.

I put the new water heater on the wall and connected the water lines. Then I turned on the valve, allowing the tank to pressurize and then checked all the fittings inside my tiny house on wheels. There were no leaks to be found. I ran a bit of water through the lines to be sure before turning on the hot water for real. Still no leaks.

Next I put batteries in the new water heater and connected a 20 pound propane tank to the regulator which came with the water heater.

Inside the tiny house I turned on the bathroom water faucet, closest to the water heater and I had instant hot water!! This was so exciting. This is the very first time that I had hot running water in my tiny house on wheels. Actually this is the first time I have had hot running water on demand in nearly four years now!

I went to the kitchen sink and tried the hot water. It took a few minutes, of course, to get hot water through the lines but it worked!

I then connected the shower faucet which I had never finished before. Then I connected the shower head and hose to the faucet and tried it out for leaks. All good. Next I tried the hot and cold water in the shower and they both worked perfectly.

Off Grid Tiny House Plumbing
Off Grid Tiny House Plumbing

I took a piece of 2×6 lumber and used it as a frame for the shower head. The Durastall shower is made of just very thin plastic and I want to make this a solid shower. So I am backing all the fixtures with wood framing. I fastened the shower head holder and gave it a try. Everything works nicely.

Next I had a nice, hot shower in my off grid tiny house on wheels. This was a huge milestone for the tiny house and it felt so good.

You can watch the entire video of my work here: Hot & Cold Running Water In Off Grid Tiny Home

While you are over there please subscribe and follow my daily YouTube videos as I strive to become self sufficient.