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Off-Grid THOW with a Tesla Wall Battery!

This is an Off-Grid THOW with a Tesla Wall Battery!

It’s called THIMBY and you can learn more about it right here.

We are Tiny House in My Backyard (THIMBY), an interdisciplinary team of UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students that worked together to design and build an affordable, off-grid, 100% solar-powered “tiny” house.1

Off-Grid THOW with a Tesla Wall Battery!

#reshare THIMBY #tinyhouse with a Tesla battery ?✨ Learn more: http://calthimby.org ?: @tiny_house_expedition

A photo posted by TinyHouseTalk (@tinyhousetalk) on



  1. Calthimby.org
  2. Instagram/tiny_house_expedition
  3. Tesla.com/powerwall

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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!
{ 30 comments… add one }
  • jerry
    January 26, 2017, 7:34 am

    While very nice it is costly way to do solar.
    While I love Tesla, the Powerwalls are till too costly and a prudent person, installer would have used lead batteries at 20% of the
    Next one only needs .5 day of battery, about 3kwhr/kw of solar and a generator to charge the batteries when rarely needed is the correct way to go offgrid.
    Once lithium is 2x lead price, 40% of present best Tesla, they will take over. Luckily before the lead pack needs replacing in about 5 yrs, switch to lithium, saving 40% buying a lead and later lithium vs buying lithium now.
    Myself I’m building a lithium pack from crashed EV, Volt modules at well under $200/kwhr but you need o know electronics to do it now.
    Soon kits to convert EV packs to home storage will make them available to others.

    • Alex
      January 26, 2017, 8:05 am

      Interesting! Thanks for the insights, Jerry!

      • Rick C
        January 26, 2017, 8:21 pm

        Deep-cycle marine lead batteries might last as long as ten years with careful usage. Either way, as Jerry says, it’s a much cheaper way to do it. THOWs seem to have become glamorous so fast that people building them seem to have never learned some of the hard-earned lessons of earlier off-grid people (like Earthshippers). I’m sure that will change some over time.

        • Dave Brundage
          May 18, 2017, 6:00 pm

          Good information. I have a question….Considering I own a private natural gas well in TN where I am using the gas for heat, hot water, cooking, secondary power via a ng generator, and transportation fuel (Compressed Natural Gas – CNG, yes I am blessed to have excellent quality gas), would it be possible to eliminate the entire solar panel set up and use a separate liquid cooled (low noise) to recharge a battery set up similar to the way this tiny home incorporates. I have heard that some type of equipment is available that would read when the battery gets below 70% and would automatically kick on the generator to recharge to 100%. It is my understanding that if batteries are kept recharged above 50-60% they last a lot longer. Thanks! Dave PS I am in the process of planning an off grid tiny home community for families with small children( We have 4 year old twins) that would also want to be part of my expediting transport business – sort of like a small revenue producing intentional community.

        • Tom Osterdock
          May 19, 2017, 8:37 pm

          Dave Brundage, it would be very possible to set up an as needed on demand charging system using cng. I have seen diesel engines using propane but that could be changed to cng easily. The sound of the diesel is a very low buzz and not loud at all. It very much sounds interesting for your tiny home friendly site sounds very good also. I would be very interested in that when I finish my tiny. I might be able to provide an extra benefit once I am there.

    • Cyndi Raper
      January 27, 2017, 5:14 pm

      my husband and I are living in our tiny house we’re nearly done completing the bottom and then we need to organize our 2 Lofts which are not going to be used for sleeping space but storage and clothes. I need one of you men who has a lot more smarts than I do when it comes to solar power be willing to give up 10 or 15 minutes of your time and I will gladly send you $50 for your time I can’t move forward with our tiny house until I know what I need to do with respect to solar power

      • Tom Osterdock
        January 28, 2017, 12:25 am

        Cyndi, You might want to look at this site for information and costs of a system. https://www.altestore.com/store/
        They have very good pricing and will help alot. You will need to know your amperage usage in the tinyhome. You can get a Killawatt meter very inexpesively for around 25 dollars. You plug the appliance into it and it will tell you how much is being used. Do that for each of you appliances then add them up and we now know where to start and where to go. You will need the amount of space on your roof for solar cells and we can also make a rack for out in the yard if necessary.

      • jerry
        January 28, 2017, 8:21 am

        I’d be happy to help and advice is free. email freedomev at yahoo dot C O M

        • Amy
          May 26, 2017, 10:36 am

          Hi, I’m Amy from altE Store. As Tom said, we specialize in helping people build their own solar systems. We even have some off-grid Tiny House kits pre-designed. If you are on the grid, we’ve also got some small grid-tied solar systems that might help. Or, you can do a hybrid system that can do both. We can also customize a system for your needs. Check us out!

  • Janet
    January 26, 2017, 1:04 pm

    This is CALIFORNIA – leading the way in innovations regarding all things ECO-FRIENDLY. This is BERKLEY, a city begging for more
    creative ways to apply said ECO-FRIENDLY innovations. This Tiny House is not a “for sale” house. It was built by a team of under-grad and graduate STUDENTS to build “of the future” in the present. The more innovative we can be, the less expensive it will cost when bought in quantity. How many cities across the nation embrace this kind of innovation and actually display it? You’d have to live in California to understand this product. Again, this is not a “For Sale” Tiny House. This house would not be embraced in Sacramento, CA (too conservative). For Berkley, San Francisco and the like – this is where innovation takes place and spreads throughout the nation. California leads the nation in electric cars ownership. Electric cars were once thought affordable by most, now affordable by many. Tesla batteries can be applied to homes as well. If you want to drink FRACKED WATER, be my guest. If you want clean water, clean air, self-sufficiency and a smaller carbon footprint, this is the way to go. – Now, we have to make the land owners get rid of the crazy zoning laws. –

    • Natalie
      January 27, 2017, 8:03 am

      It’s great to see innovation 🙂

  • Tom
    January 26, 2017, 1:43 pm

    I found this very interesting. I would like to find more info on the Tesla batteries though. I found no information other than how to buy them. I believe the batteries like the lead acid batts are bad for the environment which is not what the house is supposed to be about. I am planning on using Aquion energy batteries that are safe for the environment and us from creation to recycling. There are no toxic chemicals in them. Also unlike the lead acid or lithium batts that may only go to 50% discharge the Aquion can go to 100% discharge without harm. The batteries will last not 5 years but over 8 years. I am thinking of using more than I need with 4 of them but will be under 4K dollars.

    • Natalie
      January 27, 2017, 8:01 am

      Great ideas for your tiny!

    • jerry
      January 28, 2017, 8:36 am

      Tesla’s is a great pack and can include a 5kw inverter. Just it’s cost.
      I wouldn’t bet Aquion will do as it says as so new and little known and costs a lot more than lead golf cart batteries, under $100/kwhr. Note on lead they have 60% mark up so get at least 40% off list.
      Cleantechnica articles is a good source on the Tesla packs

      Your notions on lead, lithium are fairly far off and you should design the system that normal is 50% discharge for long life.
      I’d suggest a lead pack now and wait for prices on lithium to drop.

      • suzanne
        January 28, 2017, 12:19 pm

        But what about his comments on the danger to the environment? That sounds pretty right to me…?

      • Paul
        March 3, 2017, 12:28 pm

        Aquion batteries have already proven themselves as good batteries. They are currently pricey, but can withstand several years of deep discharges, or last 10+ years at the “normal” 60%-70% discharge.

        • jerry
          March 3, 2017, 12:44 pm

          Paul, you have no clue if they are good as way too early to tell as haven’t been around even 5 yrs having just come on the market.
          They cost much more than proven ones like lead making them an expensive gamble so don’t mislead people.
          Even if one needed 2 lead packs lead is still cheaper and they would have a 10-14 yr life at 70% discharge/day.

        • jerry
          May 18, 2017, 5:41 pm

          Since this post, Aquion have went bankrupt.

      • Tom
        March 3, 2017, 9:17 pm

        Lithium seems to be a good product without even looking at the eco toxicity of the product but it already has produced some fires in houses due to the lithium batteries. We also know of many fires due to lithium batteries in the pockets of cell phone users though it is great that it is not everyone. Aquion is already proven better all over the world and is taking over the solar world in Australia and other places. It is in use many places in the US now also. Aquion has no toxicity for the earth or us from its manufacture to is reclamation.

    • Bigfoot
      May 18, 2017, 6:33 pm

      Aquion has filed for bankruptcy as of 03/08/17. Those batteries sounded promising but to go belly up so soon after all the hype leaves me wondering (somebody walk away with a fat bank account??). It will be interesting to see how the Aquion batteries currently in use hold up over time & if another company will pick up the ball & run with it. I think it’s a bit early to be touting this product.

      Here is something that may interest you. Iron Edison batteries (NI-FE) or or (LI-FE-P04). My father had some experiences many decades ago with the old Edison batteries which had an unusually long lifespan.

    January 26, 2017, 5:29 pm

    Great idea…! And gifted is the man, or woman, or couple, who receives this position… It is an excellent opportunity for someone, or couple who has been struggling due to lack of work due to the economy within that area… I could only wish that their were more positions of this kind across the country so other who are economically challenged could have the same opportunity… I can remember as a kid in some parks to have care takers, but that was long ago, and I never thought I would ever see that day again…! But maybe this is a sign of change in the economy, and times where things will come back to normal, and people will no longer fear for their future.. I know it is a lot to wish for, but we have already lost so much in the past that we need to have some change for everyone’s future…!

  • Susanne
    January 26, 2017, 11:13 pm

    Are those Aquinon batteries too good to be true?!?!?

    • Tom Osterdock
      January 27, 2017, 2:30 am

      No Susanne. They are fantastic batteries. They do have their limitations but I see that as simple obstacles to get out of the way. they can not have a fast heavy draw on them. Each Batt is limited to 17amp draw for hours on end. So if you need more amps you have more batts. That is why I am planning 4 batts. which will enable up to 68amps at any time. They are 2.2KW batts each. So that will give me about 9KW. I can have more if needed, they do have a bank made of 12 batts all wired and ready for installation. Google “Aquion Energy” There are a couple of companies carrying their Batts. The manufacturers site has the most info though.

  • Janet
    January 27, 2017, 12:25 pm

    Solar was once thought of as affordable by only the rich and famous. Now, people are using solar energy for outdoor cooking, cars, homes, charging phones and more. It’s now affordable to the masses. Read more on Elon Musk here: http://inhabitat.com/tag/elon-musk/
    What is unaffordable now will be affordable soon. Elon Musk believes in ECO-FRIENDLY products. Can I afford his innovations? NO, but should that stop him from innovating? NO. Just think of the future: no fossil fuel pollution, drinkable water, clean air. It takes ONE DREAMER to change REALITY! Embrace his ideas and be glad he’s here in California, where his innovations are welcome and used by so many innovative people wanting to change the world for the better. If it were up to the naysayers, we’d still be driving Model T’s……..

    • Natalie C. McKee
      January 30, 2017, 7:59 am

      Solar is certainly becoming more affordable which is great.

  • Tom Osterdock
    February 4, 2017, 2:39 pm

    Janet, I am in California and my son owns one of his cars. I can’t afford it though. I truly believe in what he has done but the use of toxic chemicals that hurt us and the earth are what is bad. This is a good first step for them but not the last I am sure.

    • Janet
      February 4, 2017, 3:00 pm

      Hi Tom, Thanks for your support. I don’t drive a Tesla either! I do ALL I can to create a lower carbon footprint – no plastic bags, walk instead of drive, organic food, support farmers markets, vegan, buy America, conserve energy – anything. Most people in CA support saving the environment. If it were up to the people of CA, we would shut down every fossil fuel plant and oil pipeline in the state. Too bad the politicians are paid by them! Green energy is the only way to save the planet. We have the innovators, the innovations, now we need more to get on board. The more who buy, the less it costs. When the price comes down, I’ll be able to afford a Tesla battery!

      • Tom Osterdock
        February 4, 2017, 3:14 pm

        Janet, I guess I am not strong enough on the Tesla Wall Battery. It is a very good idea but they use toxic chemicals in the Batteries that are bad for us and Bad for the earth. That is what they need to change. This is a good idea but not eco friendly.

  • Mike Gooding
    May 18, 2017, 6:25 pm

    Great info. Thanks

  • Tom Osterdock
    May 19, 2017, 8:21 pm

    Iron Edison looks interesting but the powerwall 2 is almost half the cost than the smallest Iron Edison and and almost 4 times as much power with very similar number of cycles.

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