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Tiny Earthship Cabin with Solar Power

Mat and Danielle from Exploring Alternatives filmed this video tour of the Terrasol mini Earthship-style cabin at the Terra Perma eco-community in Harrington, Quebec, Canada.

The cabin is completely off-grid with a 1000 Watt solar power system, woodstove, in-floor radiant heating, an outhouse, and soon-to-be-installed 3-season rainwater collection system.

It was built with over 200 recycled tires, 400 recycled bottles, and natural materials like cob and wood.

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Incredible Mini Earthship with Solar Power – Full Video Tour


Image © Exploring Alternatives


Image © Exploring Alternatives


Image © Exploring Alternatives

VIDEO: Incredible Mini Earthship Tour – Tiny Off-Grid House with Solar Power


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Danielle is a digital nomad who is passionate about tiny spaces, living with less, reducing waste and eating plant-based food. Danielle is half of the Exploring Alternatives blog & video project. You can find more of her at www.ExploringAlternatives.ca and her Exploring Alternatives YouTube Channel.
{ 27 comments… add one }
  • December 10, 2016, 12:20 am

    Wow! I love the shape of this mini earth house. It is amazing at all it has going for it! I love the back wall with all of the beautiful cut glass installed in that wall! The earth ship has been beautifully done! The design is incediable! Thanks for sharing! Enjoyed the tour!?

    • Natalie
      December 12, 2016, 1:28 pm

      Yes I just love that glass too. — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Elaine
    December 10, 2016, 11:00 am

    This is exactly what I want! (but I would add in more storage) I’ve wanted a cob house for a long time. However, I live in Michigan and we have long cloudy cold winters. It seems like counting on winter solar heat just wouldn’t work here. But I wouldn’t have thought it would work there in Canada either. Does anyone have any knowledge on that subject? Are Canada winters sunny? I LOVE the idea of all the windows but I’ve figured I would need few windows and heat the house from the inside and using radiant heat floors.

    • Elaine
      December 10, 2016, 11:02 am

      Oh – and the video is great – very informative!

    • Natalie
      December 12, 2016, 1:26 pm

      Hmm those are good questions Elaine. I admit I’m not an expert on cob! — Tiny House Talk Team

      • Thomas Porter
        December 18, 2016, 2:46 pm

        Natalie, Are still in Scotland?

        • Natalie
          December 19, 2016, 10:31 am

          I am for now 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

    • Barnie
      December 26, 2016, 4:59 pm

      Canada is larger than the US and therefore the seasonal weather patterns can vary greatly depending on your specific locale. I live in Ontario which happens to be right next to the province of Quebec, however even their comparative climates can be very different. And the winter/summer extremes make sustainable building for all seasons a difficult goal to achieve. On e would need to know exactly where in Canada (or in this case Quebec) in order to get accurate weather info.

    • Kim
      August 19, 2022, 11:11 am

      This is a video of an earthship in Ontario,Canada, near Lake Erie… https://youtu.be/oTU2KlwOnQw

  • Louise
    December 10, 2016, 12:21 pm

    This home would not be enticing to everyone, it borders on primative in regard to the solar system, wood burning stove, outhouse. But the wall of windows is really nice . . . .

    • Natalie
      December 12, 2016, 1:24 pm

      Not for everyone, but it has some great elements for those looking to go very eco-friendly! — Tiny House Talk Team

    • signalfire
      January 16, 2017, 2:15 pm

      My idea of ‘borders on primitive’ is getting bills from $30 to $300 every month for water, sewer, electricity and having to jump through massive and expensive hoops for codes, ‘inspections’, hookups to existing services, etc. Not to mention after having paid out through the nose for 30+ years, having the house stolen from you if you can’t pay exorbitant property taxes for a few years.

      • michael carman
        May 18, 2019, 12:32 am


  • Large Marge
    December 10, 2016, 2:51 pm

    a) In your video, we noticed the photovoltaic panels are partially shaded. How does this effect efficiency?

    b) We like the concept of circulating air through the ground to maintain a comfortable interior temperature. What diameter/length tube/pipe gives the most benefit for this type of resistance at this latitude?

    c) Our choir director encourages us to maintain the energy past the “end of the line”, and this helps listeners hear our message. Occasionally, your last words are quieter than the beginning and middle of a sentence. We wonder if ‘carrying your energy through’ might help?

    d) Our choir director would have a coniption fit if she heard your glottal burns. She says it’s torture on vocal cords… and the machinegun-like ‘ahhh’ makes words difficult to understand. And we are all in the communication business!

    • Large Marge
      December 10, 2016, 2:54 pm

      That should read “residence” not resistance.

      • Elaine
        December 10, 2016, 11:02 pm

        WOW! yea, everything Suzanne said 2 more times. Suzanne is a much kinder person than I. I’m working really hard to bite my tongue…

    • Susanne
      December 10, 2016, 6:16 pm

      Seriously? You are criticizing Danielle’s speech patterns??? I found the video quite interesting and had no trouble understanding her and no objections with her delivery. You know, what your choir director thinks really is quite irrelevant and for you to passive aggressively use her “advice” to belittle another… well that speaks just volumes.

      • Natalie
        December 12, 2016, 1:17 pm

        Please do be kind — especially to those who are just trying to present their ideas and new tiny house solutions 🙂 — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Rev
    December 10, 2016, 3:43 pm

    Square feet? Square meters? Floor plan? How far from neighbors?

    In his New Mexico earthships at 7000’/2100m elevation near Taos, architect Mike Reynolds uses dark floors and dark lower walls to absorb sunlight.

    In this mini, does winter sunlight reach the rear interior wall?

    Size and price of lots? And the dreaded HOA and dues?

  • Gigi
    December 10, 2016, 5:21 pm

    I became aware of architect Michael Reynolds and his earthship innovation in the late 70s. His ideas were so novel. Building a structure of recycled tires filled with compacted dirt and covered with a concrete type of coating , then burying three sides and the top of the structure with earth, and making the front (south side) of the structure all glass to take advantage of the sun for heat and even for growing vegetables indoors – great ideas. The sun and earth berm kept the interior temperature constant, requiring only minimal heating additions on the coldest New Mexico days.
    About ten years later on a visit to the Taos area, we booked a two-day stay in an earthship. Despite the intense summer heat outside, the interior was cool and comfortable. There was a sense of peace and calm inside the nicely decorated home. One thing, however, detracted from our stay. I am ultra-sensitive to smells and I was able to smell the old rubber tires. I would hope this flaw has since been corrected since I still think of earthship design in a positive way.

    • Natalie
      December 12, 2016, 1:21 pm

      Wow! Thanks so much for sharing your experience. — Tiny House Talk Team

    • signalfire
      January 16, 2017, 2:24 pm

      It’s possible that although they’ve long since off-gassed, the tires continue deteriorating inside the earthberms forever. That may be a design issue that needs to be investigated. Great idea to repurpose trash, maybe not from a health standpoint. OTOH, I love the use of bottles for as much wall space as possible. Aluminum cans should be recycled back into the system though – the raw material for aluminum is in increasingly short supply and it’s a toxic process to refine it. Some day aluminum walls will be like having sterling silver walls – too valuable to leave in place.

      Seems like clay, earth, rock and bottle walls for the three surrounding E, W and N faces of the house might make more sense and can obviously be sourced locally, with as much south facing windows as possible for the northern hemisphere.

    December 10, 2016, 6:17 pm


  • Elle
    December 11, 2016, 1:53 pm

    Love the space. The cooling system is smart and functional. It would work so well in the southwest USA.

  • Michael Harmon
    December 11, 2016, 4:17 pm

    I had made almost all the same observations as Large Marge. Spot on. Additionlly, I’d like to say that some solar PV modules have internal matrix wired cells that allow some cells to be shaded without affecting the output of the others. But, those are not the type pictured. The ones pictured would be almost useless because of the shading. I seriously doubt the output could ever reach even 10% of the potential 1000W. I know solar because that’s how I make my living; I’m a solar system enngineer. By the way, 1kW is NOT a huge system. Most homes need about 4 times that to be comfortably off grid if they are otherwise very efficient and have major appliances, like stoves and HVAC on gas. I know we’re talking EarthShip here and I shouldn’t be referring to cooking and HVAC but many of us want to eat and be comfortable most of the time.

    • Natalie
      December 12, 2016, 1:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing your expertise! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Diana Angell
    May 18, 2019, 3:10 am

    very pretty but earthships have some risk as there is off gassing from the tires. just an fyi.

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