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Tiny House in the Snow: Can Tiny Homes Handle Extreme Weather?

Ever wonder about having a tiny house in the winter?

Our friends Chris and Malissa at Tiny Tack House just posted the video you’re about to see.

It’s of their tiny home on wheels while it’s snowing.

Video: Tiny Home in the Snow

Just because a little house is on a trailer doesn’t mean it can’t handle rough weather. Look at the solar panels filled with snow below. πŸ™‚

Photo Credit Tiny Tack House

Photo Credit Tiny Tack House

Tiny House in Extreme Weather?

Most tiny homes are really well insulated and can handle extreme temperatures quite easily actually.

Some even have heated floors and an air tight design. This, along with good insulation, means easy temperature control.

Cheap Utility Bills in Micro Homes

It doesn’t take much to cool or heat a really small space that’s well insulated. Some tiny home owners enjoy utility bills as little as $10 or $15 a month. No kidding!

Snowfall in a Tiny Cabin!

And with a nice roof slope like this, you’ll be able to handle plenty of snowfall too. πŸ™‚

Visit Chris and Malissa’s website. “Like” their Facebook Fan Page. Check out their tiny house plans.

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If you enjoyed this tiny house in the snow please “Like” and share using the buttons below then tell us your best thoughts or questions in the comments below. Thanks!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 22 comments… add one }
  • LaMar Alexander LaMar March 23, 2013, 2:15 pm

    As long as it is insulated and weathertight with a good pitch on the roof a small home will be just fine in winter. I went with a 12/12 pitch because I live where we can get lots of snow and extra insulation in the floors and ceiling helps. Drafts in any house would be bad so seal all cracks and windows should be at least double pane.

    LaMar

    • Todd March 23, 2013, 6:36 pm

      I would also recommend double pane windows with a Lo-E or preferably Zo-E coating. The coating lowers the radiant heat transfer and is very noticeable when it gets very cold or in the summer when the sun is shining.

      A foil facing on the outside of the sheathing also makes a big difference, especially on the roof if you are sleeping in a loft close to the rafters.

      Regular insulation is good at reducing normal heat transfer, but very ineffective at reducing radiant heat transfer.

      Another important thing in a tiny house is vapor barrier. Full sized houses normally have attic space where vapor that passes through the ceiling will be vented to the outside. Most tiny houses have no attic and the roof is not ventilated at all, therefore, it is very important to have a good vapor barrier such as plastic film on both the walls and ceiling of a tiny house. Without the vapor barrier the vapor would get into the walls and ceiling and freeze near the outside surface of the wall or roof. This will cause major problems with mold and rot when the ice melts in warm weather.

      • et March 24, 2013, 11:33 am

        Sure, you can buy all the fancy windows with coatings. But in a small house energy loss is not a big issue. Neither is condensation – just wipe it off the windows.
        For sun there are shades and curtains.

        • Todd March 24, 2013, 7:59 pm

          You can’t wipe off the ice that will form inside your walls and roof. Condensation will be a problem in tiny houses, just like any other heated structure in a cold climate, unless a proper vapor barrier is used.

          Heat loss in a tiny house is a bigger issue than most people think. For example, an 8×20 tiny house on a trailer has only 12% the square footage of a 28×48 single story house, but when compared by total exterior surface exposed to the cold, it has 33% as much as the 28×48 house. Also, tiny houses usually have a higher percentage of window area than regular houses, and standard double pane glass only has an R value of 2.

          All I can say about having coated windows and installing radiant barrier is this: On a cold night where the outside temp is below zero, you will feel warm sitting inside at a temp of 70 degrees; without the radiant barriers you will feel cold at the same 70 degrees. Good curtains will help in the cold, but not so much in the summer with the sun shining directly on the windows.

        • ET March 24, 2013, 10:10 pm

          But I live comfortably in a climate with cold winters and hot summers in a tiny house with a wood stove and single pane windows. I speak from experience, do you?

        • S November 17, 2015, 11:31 pm

          I fully agree with you and as a builder, single pane windows never need replacing where double pane have seal problems within 10 years. I also agree that a wood stove is the best way to go and I have a nice one in my 10×16 tiny house I live in. The vapor barrier is another huge issue when trying to seal these tiny houses like a regular house. Vapor barriers are the worst thing ever invented. You want a small house to breathe and have air transfer. As long as the building is sealed and there are no holes and visable air leaks, I like to use faced insulation and taped exterior house wrap, no plastic barrier inside.

      • Renee November 6, 2014, 10:34 am

        Ok my son is stuck in a very desolate forrest he has stumbled across what appears to be a cabin made of thick plank with a stone roof. He wants to seal the cabin. It is snowing and he estimates about 25 below is the temp. He has some tar he can use. Does that go on the inside or the outside? He knows how to repair the roof but should he heat the cabin before beginning this effort? I’m just praying he does not freeze to death or get ate up by bears and wolves.

    • john March 26, 2013, 10:42 am

      I have to agree with Todd here, up front it may be impossible to afford good windows and doors. In that case i would buy a very common size so they can be refitted later with a better product.
      Just because a house is tiny does not mean it’s efficient, certainly you can heat a tiny space quickly regardless of the building envelope quality, but in a tiny home that’s sealed and insulated with todays advanced level of products and technology you should be able to run the heat for an hour and then leave it off all day regardless of outside temperatures and be quite comfortable.
      Running the heat constantly to stay warm is not as big an issue for tiny homes…they are tiny after all, but you won’t be getting the most out of your home.
      The cost has to be considered over long terms, not this year…after five years you’ve lived more comfortably and saved money…not as big a savings based on small square footage vs. larger ones would give but that’s the point of tiny homes.
      There are other concerns, double pane windows are much, much better at filtering sound pollution from outside, and so is better insulation, this may or may not be of value to you today, but if you move it could easily become an issue.
      Moisture issues carry their own problems, mold and mildew, and less obvious is the damage it does over time to your home. If you don’t use it as a primary residence it could develop issues while you’re away.
      I may have to start with cheaper doors and windows, but i won’t keep them. I have long term plans for my tiny home and want the benefits of todays technology to extend the life and comfort of the home i build.

  • alice h March 23, 2013, 3:35 pm

    Another thing worth considering if you’re staying in one place for the winter is to skirt in the bottom of your trailered tiny house. You can use hay bales or DIY insulated panels or even just shovel-piled snow. If you use hay be prepared for rodent invasions!

    • Craig March 24, 2013, 3:51 am

      You would want to use STRAW bales rather than hay bales for skirting. For one, the cost of straw is quite cheap while hay is running about $12 a bale. The more important reason is straw has no nutrient value to any creatures; hay is inviting mice and rats to live with you.

      • alice h March 24, 2013, 10:36 am

        Ooops, meant straw. However, you could still have a critter issue because they like shelter too. I once had mice nest in my TP stash out in what I thought was a critter-proof shed. No food of any kind stored in the shed but they thoroughly enjoyed nesting in there. Turns out there was a tiny hole at one corner of the door that gave them access.

  • abbie someone March 23, 2013, 11:04 pm

    I’m having trouble finding the link to the actual video.

  • abbie someone March 23, 2013, 11:52 pm

    Never mind. Adblock issue. πŸ™‚

  • Jerry March 24, 2013, 12:15 am

    Looks like there’s barely a thin layer of snow clinging to the roof, and a couple of inches on top of everything else in that picture. Definitely think I’m going to lower the non-loft walls in my design to take advantage of a steeper sloped roof. I’ve currently designed for 8′ non-loft area walls, with an 11′ roof. After seeing this and doing a bit of googling, I think a 6-18″ drop in my wall height design might give a better slope, I do plan on parking in snow country. With cathedral ceilings, you don’t really need full 8′ walls for an open feeling anyway, and my loft is already set at 6’6″, so this should be an easy design change. Thanks for posting this!

  • bob henry March 25, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Snow kidding…….

    If you have chosen to make the tiny house doors outswing to save on the floorspace you can have a problem should your tiny house plane out with a deck, porch or the ground a large drift will have you trapped. You may find yourself wishing the windows were just a bit bigger so you could escape.

  • Jess May 2, 2014, 9:46 am

    Do these homes have fresh water storage tanks and if so how do they keep them from freezing in the winter? I’m going to build one but am stuck on this issue.

  • Leigh October 4, 2014, 10:59 am

    Thanks for asking that Jess, I was wondering the same thing.

  • Njoy November 20, 2014, 9:22 am

    We (dh and I) are fixing up a cold-climate house (wish it were tiny but then dh would have to go and I suspect I’d miss him).

    Here’s a suggestion for people who can’t afford double windows: use acrylic inserts. These are available commercially but here’s a DIY alternative: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Double-Glazing/

    We live in central Canada at 3000 ft. and it’s cold (!) in winter. Nevertheless, our leaky farmhouse went from unliveable to toasty with a modern wood heater, foam insulation, and acrylic “storm” windows that are easily removed in summer. Cost for 6 big windows was about $ 300. (maybe $ 500 with taxes, shipping, etc.) and they work a treat. The inserts claim to be “better than double glazed” and keep out noise as well as cold.

  • Brandi June 13, 2015, 4:55 pm

    How do you keep the septic and water pipes from freezing in the winter?

  • Dixie December 9, 2015, 10:14 pm

    How do you keep moisture from building up in a tiny house on wheels? I seem to be getting mildew on my windows. My house is new and I moved into it in late August. I am just beginning to learn of what should be done for proper maintenance.

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