Guest Post by Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life
Heating water in a tiny house can be a tricky thing; by its very nature, heating water is often a resource intense endeavor and many solutions are often bulky. These two things are often at odds with those wanting to live in a tiny house because we don’t have a lot of space and we’d like to be as low impact on the environment as possible. While the choice can be a difficult one to make, I think we all can agree, a nice hot shower is something we all enjoy.
So here are my top 5 ways to heat water in a tiny house.
1. RV-500 Tankless Water Heater by Precision Temp
This little tankless water heater is actually designed for motor homes, but it works quite well in a little home. For those of you who aren’t familiar with tankless water heaters, instead of a tank that keeps the water hot 24/7, it only heats as you need it. The upshot of this solution is that it is often uses a lot less energy and you can have endless hot water if you need it. The added benefit of this being an RV unit is that they make the venting really easy, they are quite small, and a standard propane tank can last you about a month and a half. The downside is the price tag, at $1,000, it’s a hard pill to swallow, but owners sing praises of this unit.
2. 10 Gallon RV Water Heaters
For those who aren’t quite ready to make the jump for the pricy RV-500, the next best thing might be a standard RV water heater. They cost around $300 and will give you about 8 minutes of hot water, then a few more a lukewarm minutes. Like the first option, venting here is a real breeze because you drop this in so the access door from the outside allows the fumes to vent safely. This option is also pretty small at 16 x 16 x 19 inches.
3. Solar Hot Water Heater
For many this option is often a pretty decent choice, but may still require additional heating in the winter. I have only seen one tiny home with a professionally manufactured solar hot water heater on it and it looked a little bulky. So I think for this option, having the collector on the top of a nearby shed or free standing might be the way to go here. This option can run you a few thousand.
4. DIY Solar Hot Water Heater
In the summer, outdoor showers are pretty amazing things after spending a long day outside. The beauty of a do it yourself solar hot water heater is its simplicity. Many people just use a black garden hose that is flattened in a coil. These can be put together for about $50 and are a great option for the summer months or if you live in a very warm climate.
5. Compost Powered Hot Water Heater
This is a pretty interesting trick that I have wanted to try for a while and might just be the ultimate solution: it’s cheap, doesn’t take much room inside your house, and very low impact. For those of you who have ever composted, you know if you make your pile the right way, the compost process makes a lot of heat. In fact, the ideal temperature is 160 degrees! We heat the water by using a small solar powered water pump to push water through a large coil of tubing that you have embedded in the middle of the compost pile. It’s as simple as cold water in, hot water out and into your house. Check out the video below on this technique.
Video on Composting Hot Water Heater
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