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Making Things Livable
Towelhead
gungy
So, now that I've got land for my tiny house, I kinda need to make it livable. That means getting some systems in place, namely an energy system, a water system, and a waste disposal system. I've made a bit of progress on two of those fronts.





So, of course, the first thing on the priority list is getting the electricity under control. Any survival expert will tell you that you can survive a month without food, about a week without water, and exposure can kill you faster than both. However, for my generation lacking Internet access is a fate worse than death. So, I focused my efforts on getting more solar panels.



The panels on the left are my old Harbor Freight panels. Each one produces 15 watts for a total of 45 watts. The new Kyocera panel on the right, though, produces 3 times as much as the other three combined. That's a 135 watt panel sitting there, and I've got 2 more on the way. That'll give me 450 watts of power generation total, which means I should be able to give my batteries at least 900 kwhs a day in the dead of winter (more in summer.) When I was checking my usage at my Uncle's place, I was using anywhere from 800 to 1,500 kwhs a day, depending upon what I did. I've since purchased a much more efficient ceiling fan, and am going to be running on more efficient DC power, so I'm hoping I should be all set.

I also decided to create a battery box.





Some of you had noticed that I was keeping the batteries inside the house. Some of you also commented on this, and I tried to downplay it. Now, though, I'll come right out and say it: I was STUPID. Those batteries give off toxic gases when they charge, and are hazardous to your health. They should never been kept indoors without proper ventilation. I am now keeping my batteries outside where they belong. As you can see in the second picture, I've also got some insulation in there on the bottom. I need to insulate the top and the sides yet, and hopefully that'll help keep the batteries from freezing through most of the winter. I doubt it'll be enough on the coldest of days, but I'm hoping to cross that barrier when I come to it. You can also see that I've got space in there for additional batteries - I need to get a couple more to make my system complete. I want to wait for the solar panels first, though.





Now that the batteries are out of the house, I've opened up a lot of space up top! I've also had to move my charge controller outside, so I can no longer monitor my usage using the handy-dandy built in LED meter. (Actually, I had to get a new one that could handle the capacity of the new panel, and the old one burnt out, anyway.) For now, I'm just plugging my multimeter into the DC outlet for my heater's fan. It'll do for now.



Speaking of heating, I've started building a skirting around my tiny house with straw bales. I figure this will help keep it warmer in the winter, given the insulative nature of straw bales. It's also likely to create a nice little haven for mice, bugs, and other less-than-savory critters. The underside of my trailer is mostly metal, with metal flashing and pressure-treated lumber being the only accessible parts, so I'm hoping that'll be enough to keep anything from trying to crawl in. I may be treating this a tad too optimistically, though. If I start posting pictures of Barney with mice hanging out of his mouth, you'll know this was a bad idea. Speaking of Barney...





Barney interlude! Seriously, this is all the closer the little guy will let me get to him with a camera. He's shy. Anyway, back to content...





My parents were wonderful enough to pick me up some old pallets while I was working in Mexico City for a couple of weeks. I've turned them into a compost pile! Granted, it's likely that, after a year, the sides of the pallets themselves will begin to compost, but I still consider this to be somewhat of an experiment, so I don't want to spent a lot to build a fancier structure until I'm sure this will work. This, of course, is the missing component to my composting toilet. From here on out, whenever the toilet is full, I can empty it into this bin, cover it with leaves, straw, or other organic material, wash out the bucket and be ready to go again. Of course, it takes a year to build a good pile and another year to let it age, so I really won't know if this experiment "works" for another 2 years, but hey... gotta start sometime, right?



And we end with a picture of my hammock. Not gonna be many days left in the year where I'll be able to use that sucker!

Well, that's it for now. I've got 2 more solar panels coming as well as an antenna for my Internet connection, so I'll probably be posting more pictures in a few days. Oh, and my parents have planted a couple bushes, some hostas, and an apple tree, too, so I'll hopefully be posting pictures of those as well. For now, though, I need to log off - until the other panels and batteries come, I don't want to use the laptop too much and drain my batteries too low!

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I WISH my pile was steaming - that would mean that it was killing off all pathogens and would be well on its way to being usable! I hadn't considered just digging a hole and dumping it, although three things come to mind. The first is a concern about leachage into ground water without an organic layer to absorb it.

The second is specific to my soil, in that it appears that I don't HAVE soil - I have clay. Ridiculously hard clay, and it takes forever to dig through it. Of course, in a couple of months, it'll be darn near impossible, seeing as the ground will be totally frozen up here for winter. I've tried digging holes in winter - it doesn't work. That's the third issue right there.

Jonathon, before I built the compost toilet and compost pile system for my Tiny House, I read Humanure. It's an excellent "all you ever needed to know about composting poo" resource.

It totally is, and it was what initially prompted me to consider using a sawdust toilet in the first place. I have a copy of the book that I keep in the bathroom, too.

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