Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tiny Light for a Tiny House

Today, since I am exhausted, full of painkillers, and generally useless for anything, I spent a fair amount of time researching things on the internet. (oh internet, what would we do without you?)
I was thinking that any tiny house we got would necessarily be very simple and inexpensive, no fancy solar panels, probably no shower, just the very bare necessities. It also occurred to me that we might have to, at some point, go 'stealth', camping on public lands, if we couldn't find anywhere else to live. 
These musings lead me start thinking about how to comfortably live in a tiny house without the electrical hookups, plumbing, and other luxuries that seem common to them. 
The only thing I can really see us being unable to do without electricity is our computers. I am unashamedly a child of my generation, but I am adaptable. I think we would end up spending a fair amount of time patronizing the local library for internet and a free laptop battery charge. (and cellphone charge too I guess, because I just can't see us affording a solar phone charger)
For cooking, what I would really like is something I have never yet seen. A tiny propane stove, two burner, with a tiny oven underneath... about the size of an electric toaster oven. It would be completely adequate and take up very little space.  Someone needs to make these, or if someone already does, they need to advertise themselves more loudly so I can find them. 
For storing perishable foods, there are many very tiny propane fridges. Since I currently only use up 1 drawer of a normal sized fridge, I think I could adapt to one of those. Unfortunately they cost moneys... I might have to learn to do without a fridge at all for a while.
Drinking water would be probably the easiest. We use something like this for drinking water in the house I'm in now. We use less than 15 gallons of filtered water per week for drinking for 4 people. With two people including dishwashing, it would probably be a little more. Also, some places you can fill your water jugs for free from artesian wells. That would be nice.
For showering, I think a small camping solar shower would be adequate, and on cold days or in winter, it could be filled with stove-heated water and even used indoors, maybe by standing in a rubbermaid tote, which could then be dragged outside to be emptied on plants.  
The problem of showering solved, I moved on to light.
As a child I lived in a house without electricity. We did very well with sunlight in the day and candles at night, with a few hurricane lamps around just for kicks. (though we eventually upgraded to a single solar panel, a single car battery, and a few twelve volt lights.) 
I started looking at candles and candlemaking, which was good entertainment for a few hours, but all the info is for people who want to make scented and decorative candles, not candles for light. 
Then I recalled seeing something about olive oil lamps, and I hit the jackpot. Turns out the things are stupid-easy to make... that being my current brain function level, I made one. 
Library books and a home made lamp
It burns so pretty! You can comfortably read by it if you sit near and tilt your page toward it. Two of these little guys would probably be plenty for board games or other quiet night time activities. 
To make this, I used a short piece of jewelry wire I plied together to make thicker, a thin strip of thick cotton fabric for the wick, a wide mouth half pint jar, and about 2oz of olive oil. Here is a less artistic picture where you can see a few more details. Not many, but a few. 
I think a few of these could easily provide the light for a tiny house... and they can also burn many other vegetable oils besides just olive... so when I someday buy my hand crank oil press and make all my own oils I will be able to burn them for light too... but that is more of a "when I have my own land and am homesteading on it" plan than a "living in a tiny house" plan. 
I also feel myself very drawn toward the historical replicas. They are so pretty. Unfortunately they cost moneys. 

Anyways, I feel very strange because the painkillers are fogging my brain. I have nothing else to say, but if you click on no other link in this post, click on this one. It's the one for the instructions on making the lamp. It's awesome.
I love you all, 

bwahahahahaha! I forgot to mention toilets and heaters.Those are useful. 
The end for real this time. 


That One Kid said...

I think tiny houses are awesome as long as you don't have kids. Since I already have one and plan on having several more... well it just seems it would be really squishy. So while I have no need for a mansion I think a movable house will just not do for me. How much do you figure it would cost to make one though?

Zaylinda said...

@ That One Kid
The exterior shell, uninsulated? Papi thinks around $1000. The real cost shows up in the appliances (fridges, heaters, stoves).

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