Cold Weather Care for Your Tiny Home

Sure, you’ve taken great care and consideration in designing and building your tiny home, but have you really considered everything? Truth is, up here in Canada and even down into the northeast United States, it gets damn cold! Many people don’t know this but, if it gets cold enough, your propane will not vaporize which means it will not work properly to run appliances which are essential to keep you warm.

Propane Care

Propane has a boiling point of -44F and as a result, if the temperature drops below -40ish F/C, it will not vaporize and your tank will freeze! Now if the temperature does not get that cold, but still drops well into the minus temperatures, the propane volume still shrinks, which in turn decreases the pressure in the tank which may still cause problems. Here are a few tips to care for your tank in cold weather:

  1. If you worry about using heat tape on the tank itself, try to heat the space the tank is in somehow. This is probably the safest and best option.
  2. Try to keep the tank full. Sure, you may have to fill it more often or have a couple spares around to swap out, but it beats not having any heat at all!
  3. If you don’t want the hassle of trying to keep the tank full, use a safe heat source to keep the tank warm. The best heat source is heat tape. Wrap your tank with heat tape and even add a blanket over top of that to keep it warm. Heated propane blankets are good, but only heat the tank itself. You need to also keep the valve and regulator warm.

Water Line Care

It doesn’t take much for a water line to freeze and burst. In fact, if you even keep a kitchen window open in the cold, the water in your faucet and lines could freeze. Here are a few tips to protect your water lines:

  1. Just like caring for your propane tanks, try to have your water lines in a warm area if possible. Run the lines inside the outter shell of the house if possible.
  2. Protect lines from freezing by using the proper insulation or heat tape.
  3. If you have a hose connecting from a water source to a connection on the outside, there are heated water hoses available, but be careful. The heat source in the hose doesn’t run all the way to the ends of the hose so make sure to insulate or heat tape the ends.
  4. Another option is to keep the water moving. Not continuously obviously, but every once in a while, open the furthest faucet from the water source and let run for a few seconds.
  5. Remember your gray water lines too!

Storage Tank Care

Most fresh water, gray water and sewage storage tanks are outside the heated shell of a tiny home so taking extra care to make sure they don’t get damaged is also important. There are two things you can do:

  1. Use round tanks rather than square/rectangle. Round tanks have a smaller surface area for the same volume, causing less heat loss.
  2. Insulate the outside of the tanks. While this may be effective, it is still not 100% guaranteed to keep them from freezing and cracking.
  3. heat tape or heating elements inside the tank are probably your best options here.

Got more tips or comments to help keep the Tiny Home community warm? Drop them below!

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“Wolflahoma Lodge”

One of the things I love most about the Tiny Home craze is seeing other people’s tiny houses and for those of you willing to share stories, photos, etc I will publish them right here on my blog.

This one comes from Kirk Wolf and is appropriately named “Wolflahoma Lodge”. Wolf’s tiny home was featured on the DIY network show called “Building Off the Grid: Ozark Paradise” and will actually air again on August 27th at 12pm CST.

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One of Kirk’s goals scribbled on a piece of paper was to “Buy Land, with a river (and be sustainable) off grid”. The dream (literally born from a dream) began with a sketch of the home and then became a blank canvas of land soon to be transformed into a home.

Kirk used a lot of reused & re-purposed materials that were destined for the landfill and him and some friends did almost all the work themselves.

A home slowly begins to take shape….

A dream slowly begins to become reality…

The home has some pretty cool ideas. Kirk has set up a blower high up in his home to take in air, blow it down underground through 400 feet of tubing and then back up to the home, exiting the tube at a controled temperature.

The finished product is a huge success that Kirk and his friends and family can be proud to say they built with their bare hands and a lot of love & friendship.

Tankless Hot Water

As most of you may know, I was at the Edmonton Home & Garden Show last weekend with Steve Zaleschuk from Finished Right Contracting who had one of our current builds on display. One thing I noticed he kept repeating to people when talking about our radiant in-floor heating was, “Just because you live in a tiny house, doesn’t mean you have to go without luxuries!” He’s absolutely right, and most people agreed.

People were amazed when we told them that radiant in-floor heating was in¬†our tiny houses. Of course, you don’t have to have it if you don’t want to, but, why would you not? The pros far outweigh the cons.

The tankless propane water heaters we use are from Noritz Canada and save you up to 40% off your water heating costs, last up to twice as long as traditional hot water tanks, and use¬†recycled parts so there’s less waste.

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Think of it like this, traditional hot water tanks heat all the water in the tank. Then as the water sits there it cools off. Then the tank heats it again. Then it cools off…etc. Traditional tanks heat water when it’s not even being used. Tankless systems have hot water on-demand. It only heats water when the taps are turned on and you need hot water.

The systems we use have two separate outputs. One is your domestic water for showers and doing dishes, and the other is for the in-floor radiant heat which contains glycol. Both are set at different temperatures too!

The only con really is the up-front cost. The system costs around $4000, but the amount of space and money you will save on heating costs make it well worth the initial investment.