You may have seen one on the news or your favorite home and garden channel; a stylish home with a modern kitchen, cute bathroom, and spacious deck. The home may be located in front of a view straight out of a travel magazine, or perhaps, tucked away in a quiet suburban backyard. These homes are made out of the same materials as the one you own- created by the same architects and builders. However, one “feature” if you will, immediately stands out: each small or tiny home will never be over 1000ft. Compare that with the average US home size of about 2600ft, and you’ll quickly realize just how tiny these places really are. Though small in space, these homes, and their occupants, have some seriously big aspirations.
The small house movement started within the past 10 years, at least in the United States. Many Americans who lost their jobs or were forced into retirement after the recession have flocked to a smaller or “small” home. Younger generations that may not be able to afford a traditional home and mortgage may also find a small or tiny home as an attractive living option. Then of course, there’s also the crowd of eco-conscious individuals that purchase tiny homes to live off the grid and reduce their carbon footprint. Regardless of the reason for purchasing a small or tiny home, these homes are gaining popularity in the US, Canada, and Japan, where housing prices are expensive and on the rise.
There is indeed a distinction between a small and tiny home: a small home ranges in size from 500-1000ft; a tiny home will never be over 500ft. Though living space may be limited, there are a number of benefits in owning one of these homes. As previously stated, many people purchasing the homes are looking to reduce financial strain or their environmental impact. Small homes give the occupants the ability to work less and travel more. Those that keep traditional full time employment may also be able to save more for retirement, vacations, or provide additional financial assistance to their families. Depending on the size of the home, there is also the possibility that it could be moved to a different location, which may be easier in the event of a job relocation or retirement. Due to the smaller living area within the small or tiny home, there is less need to run more than a few electronics at a time. Some homeowners elect to make their homes almost entirely self-sufficient, using Renogy solar panels for power and utilizing composting bins and toilets (yes- there is such thing as a composting toilet!).
Besides the financial and ecological benefits of these homes, there are also some less thought of advantages. Namely, these tiny homes are being used to address homelessness and poverty in some metro regions within the United States. In cities where housing costs are high and there aren’t enough facilities to shelter the homeless, tiny house villages are popping up. Though many of these villages also come with a waiting list, they provide great semi-private sleeping spaces, bathroom facilities, communal gathering areas, and kitchens to their residents. In a way, they give those who have fallen on hard times a special place to call home. Some of these villages are self-sufficient, utilizing solar panels, composting bins, and community gardens, where residents grow food to eat.
Solar panels are an excellent way to create that additional element of self-sustainability in a tiny home, small home, or village. Depending on the amount of panels utilized, there’s a good chance that each home can operate completely off grid. Since small and tiny homes are often constructed out the same materials as traditional homes, they can also support solar panels and railing systems. Renogy sells a line of off-grid cabin kits, all of which are perfect for small or tiny homes. Each kit comes with your choice of panels (250W+), an adapter kit, a circuit breaker, a combiner box, and an MPPT charge controller. You will still need to purchase the battery separately, which can also be found at Renogy-Store.com. These cabin kits can power electronics such as TVs, computers, lighting, and radios. For larger appliances such as refrigerators or electric stoves, it may be difficult to utilize solar power as the only source of electricity.
Just as if you were installing solar panels on a traditional home, it is important to hire a professional to install the panels on a small home. This will reduce the risk of bodily injury to the homeowner, ensure that the panels are properly connected, and ensure that the roofing isn’t damaged. If you choose to install 100W panels on your home, you may be better suited for a ground mount system, as the Z-mounting brackets may not be compatible with normal roofing materials (though they are great for RVs!). It is also important to double check with your builder or architect the amount of weight the roof can safely support. If you take the proper safety precautions, solar panels are a relatively inexpensive and eco-friendly option for your small or tiny home.
Putting solar aside, our conclusion is that small homes are here to stay. As many baby boomers are expected to retire in the near future, and housing costs are expected to continually rise, these alternative living options provide a minimalistic but private space for their occupants. Besides just saving without a mortgage or other securitized loan, occupants can use sustainable appliances or communal areas, further reducing spending on energy and water costs. In the event that your future includes a small or tiny home, we hope you’ll keep Renogy solar in mind.