Posts Tagged Off Grid

Solar Camping Gear: Powering Your Next Adventure

Solar Camping Gear: Powering Your Next Adventure

solar camping gear

NAVIGATION

Choosing solar camping gear can make or break your off griding experience. Whether you are hoping to immerse yourself in the great outdoors for a quick weekend getaway or are looking forward to several months in the mountains, having solid solar camping gear saves you the hassle of setting up utilities while trying to relax.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

Traveling and going on outdoor adventures with loved ones has become super important to me over the past few years, and working remotely gives me that freedom. Knowing what solar camping gear I need to go off the grid helps me plan the best possible camping experience.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

How To Choose Solar Gear When You Go Off Grid Camping

How To Choose Solar Gear When You Go Off Grid Camping

Off-grid camping isn’t a new concept; true nature lovers have been venturing out into the middle of nowhere to escape the daily hustle for decades, if not centuries. Also known as dry camping or boondocking, it is a very rugged and removed experience.

off grid camping setupIf you are planning a boondocking excursion, ensuring you have the right solar camping gear is essential. Off-grid camping can be one of the most rewarding and rejuvenating experiences if you set yourself up well from the start!

I have heard all too many horror stories from those who go remote camping and didn’t consider things like water access or extra batteries for their lights to get back to a trailhead. With this in mind, I want to tell you to do your research about the challenges you may face out in the wild.

I’m not a survivalist, per se, but I do think my exploration into self-sufficiency over the last decade would be my best friend in the middle of nowhere. I have tried many different kinds of solar camping gear products and off-grid setups to find the ones that make my life easy and meet my needs when I’m off the grid.

off grid tiny house guide

How Many Panels Will You Need?

How Many Panels Will You Need

The first question you probably have is how many solar panels you need to install. Installing solar on your homestead requires an entirely different level of power than you need for a simple camping trip.

For solar camping, 300 watts is probably a good metric to go with when estimating how much power you need. If you want to run just the basic RV or camper accessories during the day, you’ll likely be alright with about 300 watts of solar panels.

300 Watts Of Solar Can Run These Daily

  • Lights
  • Fans
  • Water Pump
  • Refrigerator
  • Water Heater
  • Phone
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • WiFi Hot Spot
run a laptop with solar power

If you’re primarily running only these devices during the day, 300 watts will get you by. However, if you hope to run your RV fan or devices through the night, you may want to bump this up to 400 or 500 watts of solar.

gosun camping solar panelsNow, the number of panels you need to install for optimum wattage off the grid will depend on the quality of the panels you have. Traditional panels put out around 250 to 400 watts per panel, while portable panels like GoSun’s camping panels, typically put out 100 watts. Let that metric inform the number of panels you need for your RV or off-grid campsite.

Two to three solar panels is probably the sweet spot for getting power to your RV or campsite. In my own experience off-grid camping, I only really needed two panels to get the power I needed, but I wasn’t camping with a family. More people will require more power and more hot water, so keep that in mind as your plan your off-grid excursion.

Solar Power For Tiny Houses

How Big Of A Battery Will You Need?

How Big Of A Battery Will You Need

Knowing how many batteries you need to power your solar camping gear is also an important consideration. For about 300 watts of power, you can get by with a single 12-volt battery at about 100Ah. If you need 400 watts of power, you likely need two 12-volt batteries, or two 6-volt golf cart batteries, with between 200 to 250 Ah to power your RV.

Solar Panel Batteries

This recommendation certainly changes if you’re trying to power an entire homestead as opposed to just a camping trailer. On my homestead, I use lead acid batteries over AGM (absorbent glass mat) because lead acid batteries have more cycles and cost a bit less.

I also use 6-volt batteries because it was more economical over other options and Trojan is a pretty reputable name in the industry. Investing in a lithium-ion battery pack, like the GoSun solar generator battery pack, is probably going to be your best bet when it comes to battery use on your campsite.

gosun solar generator battery pack
gosun

“Lithium is the best battery by far. There is no comparison for energy density, longevity and zero maintenance.”

Building The Perfect Off The Grid Camping Setup

Building The Perfect Off The Grid Camping Setup

Before diving right into choosing solar camping gear, consider what type of gear you and your family actually need to create the ideal off-grid camping setup. What I’m trying to say here is that the perfect off-grid camping setup comes down to what your own non negotiables are and how much power you need.

Before Camping Off Grid, Ask Yourself

  • What do I use power for that I want access to off-grid?
  • How much hot water will I need off the grid?
  • How do I plan to cook off the grid?
  • How long do I plan to be off the grid?
  • Are there bathrooms or showers on my campsite?
  • Will I have access to potable water?
  • What is the climate like in my area?
  • What time of year am I off griding?
cooking off grid with solar power

Camping off the grid in a tent or an RV long term is no joke, but if you play your cards right, it can be an incredibly rejuvenating and rewarding experience for you and your family and friends. I have honestly found that some of my most rewarding experiences have occurred in nature, either alone with my thoughts or surrounded by loved ones.

living in a tent

What Solar Camping Gear Will You Need On Your Next Adventure

What Solar Camping Gear Will You Need On Your Next Adventure

If you’re thinking about heading off of the grid soon, you’ll want to make sure to have all of your ducks in a row to get the power, hot water, and other essentials you need to have a successful trip. This is where solar gear can come in as your best bet.

gosun

“Solar panels are the best way to go for off grid camping. Portable generators with fuel are large, noisy, need gas, and need yearly cleaning and maintenance.”

Best Solar Generator For Off Grid Camping

Best Solar Generator For Off Grid Camping

The absolute last thing you want to happen while you’re out in the boondocks is to lose power when you aren’t expecting it. To keep that from happening, you want to invest in a solid solar generator to keep your homestead or RV running the power you need.

I highly recommend the GoSun Power 550 solar generator for all of your off-grid camping needs. I use this generator when I go off griding, and it gives me enough energy to run all my essential devices including my camera, my lights, and my laptop.

GoSun Power 550 solar generator

Solar Cooking

Solar Cooking

Solar cookers operate by converting the sun’s rays into heat energy that is stored within the food tray. This stored heat causes the water, fat, and protein molecules in your food to vibrate and become hot, similar to the way a greenhouse traps heat to warm molecules within plants. The GoSun Go Pro Pack cooker is a good example of a solar cooker that concentrates the heat and keeps it locked in while your food cooks.

Using a solar cooker on your homestead or while you’re boondocking is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to cook your meals to perfection. Solar cooking allows you to prepare a simple dinner without accessing the power grid or sending fumes into the atmosphere with fuel.

complete solar oven guide

Solar Camping Stove And Grill

Investing in a solar camping grill or stove is an awesome way to go if you’re looking to grill out with your buddies while camping out, but aren’t able to connect to the grid. Out of all the solar cookers I have tried, I genuinely liked the solar camping grill and solar camping stove from GoSun best because they cooked my meals the fastest.

gosun solar camping grillAfter testing several cookers, I gave away all of them except the GoSun cooker. I loved GoSun’s because it cooked my food quickly and it’s designed to also cook at night when the sun is not visible.

Cooking time is also shorter in the GoSun solar cooker. Unlike other ovens I’ve tried that would take most of the day to cook, the GoSun usually could cook my meals in about 90 minutes on a sunny day. That means if you get to your campsite later in the day, you can still set it up and cook without worrying about running out of sunlight.

12-Volt Battery Powered Solar Fridge

Using a solar powered fridge is an absolute game changer if you want to live off the grid long term or you have a lot of people to feed on your camping trip. A12-volt fridge makes a lot of sense when you are considering dry camping any longer than a couple of weeks.

GoSun Battery Powered RefridgeratorBe sure to do your research when looking for a battery-powered fridge, as not all solar fridges are created equal. There are lots of coolers and fridges out there called “thermoelectric coolers” that attempt to label themselves as solar powered fridges.

These two labels aren’t the same thing. Thermoelectric fridges are not the way to go, as they don’t have a compressor, require a lot more power than battery powered solar fridges, and they take forever to get cold.

Instead, consider a 12-volt, lithium battery solar fridge like the refrigerators made by GoSun. I love this fridge because I never have to fret about my food being cold enough off the grid. The GoSun fridge keeps your food cold or frozen for up to 40 hours before needing a recharge and has intricate temperature controls to match the groceries you want to store.

Solar Powered Heating And Solar Cooling

Solar Powered Heating And Solar Cooling

When it comes to heating and cooling an RV or campsite off the grid, things can get very difficult quickly. In warmer climates, you can really only use a fan to keep cool, which easily run on solar. There isn’t really an easy way to heat your space on solar, unless you’re using propane, which is highly accessible in an off-grid camping setup.

how to run ac on solar power

Solar Fan

Solar fans are the best way to cool down a tiny house, camper, or RV. In a home, these solar fans run on sun power and pull superheated air out of your attic that is then replaced by cooler outside air. This reduces the amount of work your HVAC system has to do on its own.

Not all solar fans are installed in the homes themselves. You can also buy a regular table fan or pedestal fan that is entirely solar powered, like this fan. A solar powered fan is an awesome addition to any RV or campsite setup, especially in the thick of summer.

GoSun Breeze 12 volt solar powered fan

Solar AC

In most off-grid setups, it is very difficult to have running A/C — you’ll probably just need to stick with a solar fan like the one mentioned above. However, the GoSun Camp 365 is the closet thing I’ve found to a practical solution for heating and cooling off grid.

GoSun Camp365 TrailerMini-split systems are a very popular route these days for running A/C in a mobile tiny house or a recreational vehicle. Installing a mini split system that runs on solar can take some legwork, but it’s one of the best ways to keep your off-grid RV cool.

What’s awesome about the GoSun camper is that it actually has a mini split AC system included in the camper that heats and cools, which is an optimal solution for off griding and a pretty rare find. This is especially helpful if you’re looking for a way to camp in frigid winters or scorching summers.

gosun

“GoSun offers two different AC options: an off grid, portable, energy efficient AC and a larger one that would need a generator or grid power for continuous use.”

Solar Powered Heater

If you’re planning to go off grid in the middle of winter, it’s important to have a plan to keep warm. It can be from a cozy camp fire, a propane Mr. Buddy heater, or even something solar powered.

GoSun heated blanketHeating off of solar is a challenge as anything with a heating coil typically draws quite a bit of power. The two practical options are a propane heater that uses solar for the igniter or a heated blanket.

A heated blanket is great because it’s low enough power that you could run it off a solar setup. It keeps power usage so low because it only has to heat your body directly. If you like this idea, this one from GoSun runs on 12-volt batteries and is heat adjustable up to 45 watts.

Solar Powered Camp Shower

Solar Powered Camp Shower

Solar showers work by using water pumps charged with batteries to keep the water warm. Gravity sends the shower water downward through hanging pumps, giving you access to the water you need to shower.

A 12-volt solar shower does not require charging in order to work, which allows you the ability to take a quick shower when you need one. When the solar shower bag gets exposed to full sunlight, the black coated bag will insulate the heat and warm up the water for your shower.

The GoSun Flow Pro is the only real off-grid camp shower I’ve found that’s fully solar powered and actually works well. It has a flexible shower head, is entirely powered by the sun, and keeps your water warm for long periods of time. I’ve tried several other solar showers out there, but this is the one I use every time I go boondocking.

GoSun Flow Pro Shower

Solar Powered Lighting

Solar Powered Lighting

A light or lantern is a must have for a successful off-grid camping trip. Especially at night when critters and animals like to lurk, you’ll need a powered light to stay protected. Whether it’s string lights for your encampment or a solar lantern for late night walks, solar powered lighting is a must for off gridding long term.

Campsite Solar String Lights

On an off-grid campsite, solar string lights work through photovoltaic effect, where the solar cells convert sunlight into direct electric current that the battery stores in an inverter. This is converted into power that lights up your campsite! You can find solar camping lights on Amazon or at most places that sell garden supplies.

Solar Lantern

Having your own solar lantern on site is also a wise idea when boondocking. GoSun has its own solar powered lamp that provides 20 to 50 lumens of light and can be used for extra light in the house or at your campsite. It also only weighs 6 ounces, which makes it easy to carry when you want to take a night hike.
GoSun Solar Powered Lantern

Consider An All-In-One Solar Powered Trailer

Consider An All-In-One Solar Powered Trailer

If buying all of these solar products individually doesn’t seem like the route for you, you can buy them all in one instead. I honestly feel like buying all the products as one component instead of as individual pieces will make your life easier, which is where the GoSun Camp365 solar powered trailer comes in. As a guy who likes to travel often, the idea of being able to power my trailer through solar while hopping from campsite to campsite is incredibly appealing.

gosun camp365 trailer

What Does The Camp365 Solar Powered Camper Include?

What Does The Camp365 Solar Powered Camper Include

The GoSun Camp365 trailer has everything you need for an idyllic off-grid camping experience while using solar power to meet your needs. The Camp365 is equipped with essential appliances for cooking, refrigerating, showering, and A/C control while boondocking.

It is designed to double as an entertainment area, offering 100 square feet of interior space with 7 foot, 6 inches of headroom when fully expanded — plenty of room to spread out and enjoy your time. It is made from high-grade aluminum that doesn’t rot when exposed to inclement weather, so you can use it in the rain or snow too!

gosun

“The best thing about using solar camping gear is you can be off grid for a long time, as long as you have adequate sun and access to water.”

The trailer solar charges entirely on its own, giving you access to all the utilities you need off the grid without having to work extra hard or mess with the solar setup on your own. It folds up nice and compactly so you can easily pull it behind your vehicle on the open road.

The GoSun Camp365 Includes

gosun camp365 trailer includes

As someone who loves camping off the grid and spending time in nature, I can testify that this camper provides everything you need to easily relax and getaway with loved ones (and pets!). You don’t have to worry about the tedious process of setting up off-grid access to electricity, hot water, hot coffee, or delicious meals; it’s all part of this one hassle-free trailer.

What Does The Camp365 Cost?

What Does The Camp365 Cost

The bulk price of The Camp365 from GoSun is $34,250, which may seem pricey on paper, but actually isn’t all that expensive for the bang you get for your buck.

Setting up utilities on your own off the grid can be so complex, especially if you’re new to off griding. Investing in a trailer that does it all for you is worth the price. GoSun also gives you the option to pay for this product in four interest-free installments if that bodes easier for you and your wallet.

tiny house plans

In my own life, the best-off grid camping experience is the kind where I can kick back, relax, and take my mind off of all the daily chaos. For me, this means being able to grill out, play music I love, work on my writing by lamplight, and crack open a fresh, cold beer.

I have found that solar gear built to be portable has been the easiest way for me to have this kind of stress-free experience in the mountains or the woods. Trying to adapt stationary setups into something portable is often clunky and not as durable. I hope you’re able to find a setup that works for you so you can escape to nature by yourself or with your loved ones.

Your Turn!

  • What kinds of solar camping gear would make your off-grid experience better?
  • What needs to you have that solar camping gear could help fill?

How To Build A DIY Composting Toilet With A Urine Diverter

How To Build A DIY Composting Toilet With A Urine Diverter

compost toilet with urine diverter

NAVIGATION

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I am all about living the off-grid life and being as sustainable as possible. When I heard about composting toilets, I knew I had to add one to my own tiny house!

ryan mitchell simple living expert

If you’re seeking a way to make the most out of the go, consider trying out a composting toilet. Composting toilets are a great way to stay off grid, help the earth, and create useable compost.

The best thing about composting toilets is that they are easy to make, easy to use, and, contrary to what you might think, they don’t smell or make a mess!

Steps To Make A DIY Composting Toilet With Urine Diverter

Steps To Make A DIY Composting Toilet With Urine Diverter

It’s honestly a pretty simple process to make your own composting toilet with a urine diverter. You don’t actually need a ton of materials to make it happen, and you can assemble it even if you are only at a beginner’s skill level.

Like I said, composting toilets are fairly easy to make and use. If you’re new to the building scene, make sure you have the right tools to get you going on your DIY compost toilet.

Materials Needed For A Composting Toilet

  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Plastic Urine Diverter
  • Straw Or Sawdust
  • Compost Pile
  • Caulk
  • Rubber Washer
  • Screws
  • Knob

The compost substance used in your compost toilet will be a mixture of several substances. Regardless of what elements you use to actually create your compost pile, you will want to use dry wood shavings and activated or mature sawdust as the primary cover material on the compost pile. By doing this, you’ll trap oxygen within your mixture and reduce odor.

how to start a compost pile

1Attach Plumbing Hardware To Toilet

The first thing you are going to do to start assembling your compost bucket is to cut a hole in the side of the bucket that your plumbing hardware is able to fit inside of. Then, you’re going to attach the plumbing hardware pieces together on the inside of the bucket.

2Prepare Your Urine Diverter

If you’ve bought your own plastic urine diverter, it is likely rimmed around the edges and made to sit upright on the inside of your composting toilet. However, you can also DIY your own urine diverter by cutting apart a separate plastic bucket.

budget diy urine diverter
To save some cash by creating your own diverter, just take a second plastic bucket and cut off about an inch from the bottom. You can throw the top half of your bucket away — you only need to hang on to the bottom half to create the urine diverter.

Now, cut the bottom of the bucket off and into two pieces from side to side, saving both pieces of the bucket. Each half should now look like a semi-circle. Now, connect the two pieces to each other using a cotton pin and a rubber washer.

Next, you’re going to attach your DIY urine diverter to the larger bucket you’re using for your compost toilet. This is where your zip ties and screws come in. Drill holes in the sides of the bucket and use zip ties to attach your urine diverter to your main bucket. When you attach this, you want to do so at a slight angle. Then, seal up the gaps with caulk.

If you want to forgo the hassle of making your own diverter, you can easily buy a urine diverter online. Bit setups can work great for your composting toilet.

3Add A Garden Hose To Your Composting Toilet

The next step is to attach your garden hose to your plumbing hardware. The garden hose will run from the composting toilet straight into a urine holding container that usually holds about 2.5 gallons. The hose is essential so your waste has somewhere to go!

4Attach Toilet Seat To Composting Toilet

Now, just install your composting bucket underneath your toilet seat. You can easily buy a plastic toilet seat online that works well with any composting toilet.

As far as what holds your toilet seat in place, there are several routes you can take.

Some DIYers use a wooden box that opens, a hole carved out of the top of the box for the toilet seat, giving easy access to the hose and compost bucket underneath. You can have this type of composting toilet outside or inside your home.

You can also build your composting toilet entirely into your tiny home or house either by attaching it to the wall or creating a wooden container that extends from the wall for your toilet to be located in.

toilet seat attached to composting toilet

5Give Your Composting Toilet A Try!

Now your composting toilet is all ready to start using. Once you get your composting toilet up and running, you’ll feel great about helping the environment, being off-grid, and being better prepared for those days when the plumbing system stops functioning properly.

septic system install

How To Use A Composting Toilet With Urine Diverter

How To Use A Composting Toilet With Urine Diverter

Now that your composting toilet is all ready to go, you’ll want to make sure you feel equiped to use it. Malfunctions with a composting toilet can get pretty gross pretty quickly, so you’ll want to ensure you know what you’re doing!

It’s Crucial To Keep Urine Out Of The Compost

One thing that is vital when using your compost toilet is that you’ll want to work to keep urine out of the compost at all costs. If the compost gets wet, anaerobic bacteria will start to grow in your compost.

If that happens, the anaerobic bacteria will release a very foul stench and it will not break down into fertilizer that is safe to use. Urine also contains nitrogen, which greatly hinders the composting process.

This is why using a urine diverter is so important! When you have a urine diverter, it will funnel your urine into a sperate collection chamber that you can dump in your yard and keep out of your fresh compost.

Using A Compost Toilet: Urine Verses Waste

When peeing in a composting toilet, you’ll want to sit entirely on the seat. If you hover above the seat, you are keeping the urine diverter from being able to do its job effectively.

With the urine diverter in effect, your liquid waste will go one direction and your solid waste is go elsewhere. You can throw toilet paper used when peeing into the same section with your solid waste and let it break down. You don’t have to use substrate cover material if you are just peeing.

When going number two, you definitely want to use substrate cover material over your waste. After each go, add enough cover material so none of your waste is visible. After doing this, go ahead and close the lid of your compost toilet.

tiny house toilet options

Empty Your Waste Bucket After Use

When you’re finished going, you’ll need to know how to effectively empty out your waste bucket. In order to make useable, safe compost out of your own human waste, your compost has to maintain a high temperature for a very long period of time. This is when the composting magic happens!

This high temperature isn’t actually going to be reached in the compost bucket connected to your toilet. In order to get your heap to finish curing, you’ll have to move your matter to a compost bin by emptying out your waste bucket.

How To Empty Your Compost Toilet

  • When your compost bucket is full, empty it into a large compost drum.
  • When your compost drum is full, cover it with a dry substance like straw.
  • Let that compost drum fester for an entire year.
  • After a year of composting, the contents in the bin will shrink and you can put fresh fertilizer on your plants.

Cleaning Your Composting Toilet

If it’s looking like time to clean your compost toilet, all you need is a squirt bottle and some vinegar to get the job done. Just pour vinegar in the spray bottle and give the inside of your composting toilet a nice spritz.

Whatever you do, don’t pour water into the composting toilet! Doing this runs the risk of getting your compost too damp and growing extra smelly bacteria. You can also install a new rubber seal to make your composting toilet cleaner and fresher.

Where To Buy A Composting Toilet With Urine Diverter

Where To Buy A Composting Toilet With Urine Diverter

If you don’t want to go through the process of building a composting toilet all on your own, there are plenty of places where you can buy one. When looking for a composting toilet to buy, consider what your budget is and if you’re needing to purchase the entire toilet or just the urine diverter or toilet seat alone.

privy folding seat

Separett Privy Kit with Folding seat

portable urine separating toilet

Separett Portable Urine Separating Toilet

45 degree funnel

Scribner Plastics 45 Degree D-Funnel

portable camping toilet with lid

Teencci Portable Camping Toilet with Lid

Where To Buy A Urine Diverter

There are several places you can buy your own plastic urine diverter.

Try the following places to get a urine diverter

we pee urine separator

Where To Buy A Plastic Toilet Seat

Where To Buy Just A Plastic Toilet Seat

where to buy a plastic toilet seat

Where To Buy An Entire Composting Toilet

If you don’t think the DIY route is for you, you can buy a composting toilet as is. It may be a little more expensive, but it will save you the hassle of having to build it all on your own.

Places To Buy An Entire Composting Toilet

where to buy an entire composting toilet

Your Turn!

  • Why do you think using a compost toilet will work for you?
  • Do you plan to build or buy your composting toilet?

Living In An Earthship To Go Totally Off Grid

Living In An Earthship To Go Totally Off Grid

Living In An Earthship Home

NAVIGATION

Earthship homes are the epitome of an entirely self-sustaining household and are a great way to go green as a homeowner!

Earthships are strategically built to be as least destructive to the earth as possible. They have the ability to create their own electricity, fully regulate their own temperature, and provide water and food to the resident inside the earthship house — helping mother nature and your wallet.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I love living a sustainable lifestyle that gives me freedom and helps the earth. When I learned earthship homes create their own heat, energy, water, and food, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to learn more!

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Is An Earthship Home?

What Is An Earthship Home

Earthship houses are very eclectic structures; there aren’t two layouts that are exactly the same. However, earthship structures do share many similarities in their design and function that define them as earthship homes.

using recycled bottle to build earthship homeIn a nutshell, earthship houses have been intelligently designed to produce their own electricity, heat, water, food, and treat their own sewage. They are built from recycled materials, like old tires, cans, and glass bottles. One side of the structure is bermed into the earth while the opposing wall is lined with glass.

In an earthship, the materials work together to create an insulated thermal mass that naturally regulates the internal temperature of the house. This is ideal for homeowners who want to live off grid, save on their electricity bill, and live a waste-free life.

An earthship house does not need to rely on AC or conventional heating and cooling methods to maintain its temperature. Due to the fact that 30 percent of all energy produced in the world is used for heating and cooling buildings, this approach is awesome for environmentally conscious homeowners.

Reasons You May Want To Live In An Earthship Home

  • You care about the earth.
  • You want to save money on AC.
  • You want to save money on water and electric bills.
  • You want to build your house to be self sustainable.
  • You want to grow your own food indoors.
  • You want to try a unique form of alternative housing.
  • You want to collect rainwater to aid in water shortages.
  • You want to build a home that will improve your life.
growing food indoors

Where Do Earthship Houses Come From?

Where Do Earthship Houses Come From

The concept of an earthship house is actually centuries old! They originate from the Taos Pueblo indigenous people. The Taos used deep red adobe brick to build naturally insulated earthen homes. Since then, this sustainable form of architecture has become more popularized in the United States and around the world.

The modern earthship was initially conceived by Michael Reynolds, an American architect based in New Mexico. Reynolds came to Taos, New Mexico in 1969 with a dream to aid in the affordable housing crisis.

classic adobe house design

He was inspired by abundant media coverage on the litter issue in Taos and decided to use the streetside waste to create a “can brick” home out of discarded steel and tin cans.

The idea took off after that, and Michael Reynolds started Earthship Global. Throughout the next decade, the original earthship design began to incorporate thermal mass, passive solar, and natural ventilation as well as mud mounted tires in the design’s walls. Experienced architects also began to incorporate solar glazing into their models.

How Do Earthship Homes Work?

How Do Earthship Homes Work

The defining feature of earthship houses is how the structure allows the home to heat and cool itself without needing any kind of electricity or burning fossil fuels, similar to Mike Oehler’s original underground house design.

stacks of tires create thermal massThe basic idea of an earthship structure is that all sides of the building are surrounded by a large thermal mass. The walls are made out of hundreds of pounds of tires that are connected by clay and cobb mud.

These tires surround the earthship house on three sides of the structure, then, on the south side, the earthship is lined with windows. Sunlight enters into the house through the south facing windows and warms the floors and walls of the earthship house.

As the heat enters into the structure, it passes through the dirt caked walls through a funneled passage. As the air moves laterally, it begins to cool, and the cool air fills the structure. Hot air is then released through an opening at the very top of the earthship, creating a natural heat exchange.

heat exchange in an earthship home

At night, when the air temperature outside of the earthship house is colder, all of the heat that was received from the sun during the day and stored in the walls and floors of the earthship is accessed. The stored heat naturally radiates outward and fills the structure with warmth to combat the cold.

heat exchange in an earthship house at night

How Earthship Homes Work In The Summer

How Earthship Homes Work In The Summer

Earthship homes are intentionally designed to work with the changing seasons. In the summertime, when the sun is much higher in the sky, the angle of the window panels allows the sunlight to enter the structure at a less direct angle. When this happens, less heat is contained inside the earthship house to combat hot summer temps.

heat exchange in an earthship house during summer

How Earthship Homes Work In The Winter

How Earthship Homes Work In The Winter

In contrast, in the wintertime, the sun is much lower in the sky. In winter, the sunlight enters the earthship structure at a lower and more direct angle, allowing more heat to become concentrated inside the earthship house, keeping it warm.

heat exchange in an earthship house during winter

Electricity In An Earthship House

Electricity In An Earthship House

Earthship houses are fully off grid. Experts advise designing the electrical system in your earthship house to be as simplistic as possible while still meeting your needs.

Every household will be different when it comes to what you need power for and how much power you’ll need to use. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your family which methods you want to adopt to power your earthship home.

pangea builders

“I honestly think everyone is ready to live off grid, it just comes down to whether they want to or not. Earthships are buildings that take care of you, who wouldn’t want that?”

– Jonah Reynolds, Pangea Builders

Be strategic with what apparatuses you use in your earthship. You can reduce the amount of power you use by investing in sustainably designed lighting, pumps, and refrigeration.

It’s also worth making sure you aren’t using extra energy from phantom loads and making the most of the natural lightning from your window panels. If you take these steps, its likely your earthship’s power requirements will only be about 25 percent that of a conventional home.

tiny house electrical

How Earthship Homes Treat Sewage

How Earthship Homes Treat Sewage

Sewage systems are another way that earthship houses are self-sufficient. Earthships homes self-contain, clean, and reuse all household sewage located in tanks on the inside and outside of the building itself.

sewage systemsThe sewage water is sent to rubber-lined outdoor plant containers to water plants and produce. This allows for food production and landscaping to be treated on its own, without any pollution from aquifers.

Toilets in an earthship house are flushed with treated greywater that is completely odorless. The water that you use to do laundry, bathe, wash dishes, cook, and brush your teeth with is collected and piped through a greywater tube.

The water from the greywater tube is used to water the planters in the earthship greenhouse. The water is filtered through the roots of the plants and sent to a small well located within the structure. The greywater is then pumped from the well to the toilets when flushing.

Since earthship homes are not connected to the city sewer line, your black water, or water that has come in contact with excrement, is not treated externally. Earthships use their own individual septic tanks surrounded by rubber lined drains to break down blackwater on its own.

septic system install

Earthship Houses Supply Their Own Water

Earthship Houses Supply Their Own Water

Earthship structures are designed with water needs in mind. To start, a water catchment system collects water from rain and snowmelt. Then, this water supply is stored in barrel cisterns that are built into the earthship house.

pangea builders

“Living off grid challenges you to be more aware of the weather. You’ll have to adjust things like how much laundry you do or how many baths you take based on weather patterns.”

– Jonah Reynolds, Pangea Builders

The water stored in those cisterns then travels through a pump that contains a filter. The filter cleans the water and passes it on to a solar powered water heater as well as a large pressure tank. When this process is complete, you’ll have water that is clean enough to shower with and wash your dishes in.

how to set up a rainwater catchment

Earthship Homes Are Able To Produce Organic Food

Earthship Homes Are Able To Produce Organic Food

Similar to a sunken greenhouse, the self-sustaining earthship home has the ability to produce its own food supply. Earthships are designed to incorporate mini-hydroponic planters into the homes that can grow delicious vegetables, herbs, and fruits.

These planters are made up of suspended buckets in a vertical growing space. It’s best to put the growing space near the window paned wall of your earthship to give your vegetables adequate access to the sunlight they need to grow.

Many earthships also incorporate horizontal garden beds along the front facing windows. You can lay out the greenhouse section of your earthship in whichever manner works best for you and your garden.

Best Crops To Grow In An Earthship House

  • Basil
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro

easiest crops to grow for beginners

How To Build An Earthship Home

How To Build An Earthship Home

When it comes to building your own earthship house, it’s important to remember that no two earthship houses are built exactly alike. There are many ways to design your structure.

Building Materials For Earthship Construction

Building Materials For Earthship Construction

The way you construct your earthship is really going to come down to what aspirations you have for the design, layout, and functions of your house, and what materials you have access to.

I’ve included a list of the building materials used by the Permaculture Institute, but these are just suggestions, as there are many ways to go about build your earthship.

Earthship House Building Materials List

  • Automobile Tires
  • Glass Bottles
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Cobb Mud
  • Cement
  • Straw
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Dirt
  • Peat Moss
  • Concrete Slab
  • Caulk
  • Plastic or Foil Sheets
  • Thermal Wrap
  • Waterproofing Paper
  • PVC Pipe
  • Lath Tabs
  • Rebar Rods
  • Water Cistern
  • Grey Water Pipe
    • Door Frame
    • Wooden Trusses
    • Wooden Beams
    • Window Boxes
    • Horticultural Float
    • Glass Panels
    • Plywood Panels
    • Wood Furring Strips
    • Metal Roof Flashing
    • Solar Panels

earthship house materials

50 Steps To Build An Earthship Home

50 Steps To Build An Earthship Home

Building An Earthship Home Step-By-Step

  1. Scrape away grass.
  2. Level your building site.
  3. Lay out the first course of tires.
  4. Pound dirt into tires.
  5. Level pounded tires.
  6. Install vapor barrier.
  7. Install thermal wrap.
  8. Back bury your tire wall.
  9. Back bury your thermal wrap.
  10. Measure battering of walls (1.5 inches).
  11. Pour cement and concrete between tires.
  12. Begin installing cisterns.
  13. Link cisterns with valves.
  14. Connect plumbing outlet valve to cisterns.
  15. Install cooling tubes.
  16. Surround cooling tube in thermal wrap.
  17. Dig front wall footing.
  18. Add vapor barrier.
  19. Add rebar and prepare for front face pour.
  20. Make buttresses with cans and concrete.
  21. Pour cement for footing.
  22. Add porcupine wood to wet footer.
  23. Pour concrete in window boxes.
  24. Install wooden buttresses along wall.
  25. Build power wall.
  1. Install window boxes and door frames.
  2. Create bond beam using cans and cement.
  3. Add anchor bolts to bond beam.
  4. Add wood plating to bond beam.
  5. Surround house in wooden trusses.
  6. Install plywood decking.
  7. Mud pack all vent tubes.
  8. Install greywater pipes.
  9. Line greywater cell with rubber.
  10. Install corbel for living room beam.
  11. Surround water pump with rock bulbs.
  12. Start using bottles to build interior walls.
  13. Fill in greywater cell with peat moss.
  14. Use wooden beams to make X between trusses.
  15. Box the sides & backs of your trusses with plywood.
  16. Add waterproof paper to top of building.
  17. Add lath tabs to tire walls.
  18. Lay rocks in cement footing with rebar.
  19. Build out interior walls with bottles and cement.
  20. Install rock veneer.
  21. Install glass windows.
  22. Add installation.
  23. Install solar hot water panels.
  24. Install solar electric panel.
  25. Add details and landscaping.

Where To Buy An Earthship Home: Earthship Builders

Where To Buy An Earthship Home

If building your own earthship house seems incredibly complex, you are not alone in thinking this way! This is an extremely intricate process with installation of many complex systems required to create an earthship house that self sustains.

If you want to forgo the process of being a DIYer, check out these earthship house builders to partner with to design an earthship home you love. If there isn’t an earthship building company that can build for you in your state, you can always book a consultation to get expert advice on your own project.

Earthship House Build And Design Companies:

Earthship Home Floorplans

Earthship Home Floorplans

When it comes to building your own earthship house, you want to choose a floorplan that makes the most sense for your lifestyle. There are lots of different ways you can go when laying out your earthship home.

One-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Surrounded by landscaping, water cisterns, and, of course, cemented tires, this one-bedroom earthship design is ideal for one person or a couple. This layout incorporates a bedroom with a queen bed, a hybrid kitchen and living room, a bathroom, and a laundry room that doubles as a hallway.

One-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Two-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Perfect for two couples who want to take an off-grid adventure together or a small family, this two-bedroom earthship house floorplan incorporates two bedrooms and one shared bathroom. The design also includes a luxuriously spacious kitchen and small laundry room.

Two-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Two-Bedroom Earthship House With Garage

If you’re looking for an earthship home with a place to park your car, try this two-bedroom floorplan with an attached garage. The design includes two bedrooms with queen beds, two bathrooms, and an attached kitchen and living room.

Two-Bedroom Earthship House With Garage

Three-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Earthships can also be lifechanging for a family of four. This three-bedroom floorplan is idyllic for families with two children. The layout has two bedrooms that each fit a twin bed and one that fits a queen. The design also incorporates an open living room and kitchen, two bathrooms, and a laundry nook.

Three-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Four-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

For even bigger families, this four-bedroom floorplan is the way to go. All three kids’ rooms open into one another, with a shared bathroom for all three bedrooms. The primary bedroom is located on the other side of the house and has room for a queen bed. The kitchen and living are situated right in the middle of the home.

Four-Bedroom Earthship Home Floorplan

Exterior Earthship Home Designs

Exterior Earthship Home Designs

Every earthship house is designed in its own unique way. There are many materials you can use to create the exterior of your earthship house like concrete, adobe, or stone. You may even want to mix and match different materials throughout different sides of your earthship house.

Use Adobe Or Clay To Build Your Earthship

Use Adobe Or Clay To Build Your Earthship

If you’re hoping to preserve the integrity of the original earthship design from the Taos Pueblo indigenous people, you may choose to construct the thermal back walls of your earthship house with adobe or clay.

Going with adobe can look aesthetically pleasing, but it can be harder to deal with excess water and leaks when going this route. Too much rain can seep into the cracks of the structure and damage your earthship house overtime.

However, if you buy adobe bricks made with asphalt emulsion, it’s likely to be made with waterproofing properties that can more easily protect your home. That way, you can enjoy the bohemian look of clay or adobe without the setbacks and future risk.

adobe style earthship construction
earthship built with adobe style
earthship built with clay
clay designed earthship

Build Your Earthship House With Stone

Build Your Earthship House With Stone

Stone is probably the most common material used on the side and back walls of an earthship. There are several types of stone you can use to fill in the walls of your earthship house, like granite, limestone, sandstone, or marble. You can stack individual bricks or fill out the whole wall with stone and cement.

earthship built with stone
earthship built out of stone
earthship made with stone
earthship stone structure
stone built earthship
stone designed earthship

Surround Your Earthship Home With Glass

Surround Your Earthship Home With Glass

Some earthship homes use a lot more glass than others. Some designs merely cover the front side to allow sunlight into the greenhouse section of the home.

However, some earthship designs use glass to cover two or three whole walls, or even to line the ceiling of the home. It may be more difficult to manage the temperature of your earthship in an entirely glass house, but covering your earthship in glass will look gorgeous and keep your home filled with natural light. Plus, your plants will love it!

earthship constructed with glass walls
earthship home constructed with glass
earthship home design with glass
earthship home with glass and steel
earthship made of glass
modern earthship home
using glass in earthship house
earthship built with glass walls

Interior Earthship Home Designs

Interior Earthship Home Designs

Even more important than the outside of your earthship home is what fills the inside. The earthship design may be unconventional, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be alluring and inviting. There are many elements worth incorporating inside your earthship house to turn it into a home!

Get Creative With Your Earthship House Design

Get Creative With Your Earthship House Design

There are so many design features you can include in your earthship to give it that extra aesthetic appeal. One of the coolest elements of an earthship home is the way that old bottles and cans are incorporated into the actual building structure.

Many people who live in earthship houses fill the walls with multicolored glass bottles and pack them in place with cement. This creates a breathtaking mosaic of colors that illuminates your home when it catches the light.

creative earthship design options
creative earthship design
earthship creative design ideas
earthship unique design ideas
creative earthship design features
creative earthship design ideas

Create A Cozy Earthship Bedroom

Create A Cozy Earthship Bedroom

Your bedroom is one of the most important rooms in your house because this is the room where you start and end your day. An earthship bedroom may be on the smaller side, so be smart with your design. Maximize the corners of the bedroom, hang shelves along horizontal wall space, and take advantage of vertical space and leveling in your earthship bedroom.

cozy earthship bedroom ideas
cozy earthship bedroom
earthship bedroom cozy design
earthship home bedroom cozy design ideas

You’ll also want to make sure you incorporate design elements that allow your bedroom to feel like a cozy, inviting haven. Maybe you want to design your bedroom so it opens directly into your garden, add a salt lamp or two by your bedside, throw down a comfy rug, or hang some plants or lanterns throughout your room.

earthship bedroom design details
earthship bedroom interior design style
earthship bedroom interior design
earthship home bedroom design
earthship home bedroom style
earthship house bedroom design ideas

If funky décor isn’t your thing, take a more minimalist approach to your bedroom. You can fill your bedroom with white colors and natural light to achieve a similar sense of cozy and calm.

earthship home bedroom minimalist style
earthship home minimalist bedroom
earthship minimalist bedroom design
earthship minimalist bedroom style

Make Your Earthship Bathroom Feel Serene

Make Your Earthship Bathroom Feel Serene

When designing your earthship bathrooms, incorporate elements that you know will allow you to feel relaxed and at peace. Organizing a small bathroom isn’t always easy, but certain features can make a smaller space go further.

A popular way to design an earthship bathroom is to build the tub and sink area with the same type and shade of clay or stone as the exterior walls. This gives your bathroom a sleek and cohesive look throughout the structure.

earthship home bathroom design
earthship home bathroom style

Another element designers like to incorporate in earthship houses is to surround your bathroom in windows or have a door attached to the bathroom that leads directly outside. This helps fill your bathroom with natural light.

creative earthship bathroom designs
earthship bathroom natural light
earthship home bathroom ideas
modern earthship bathroom designs

Create An Earthship Kitchen That’s Welcoming

Create An Earthship Kitchen Thats Welcoming

The kitchen is one of the main spaces in a home where friends and family gather to spend time with one another. In an earthship house where you’re growing your own food, you want to organize your kitchen in such a way that has enough room for you to turn your produce into delicious dinner.

No matter what color scheme or design elements you choose for your earthship kitchen, it’s important to make sure it’s right next to your greenhouse in the floorplan. The last thing you want to do is to have to walk through the entire house to get your produce and start cooking. Some homeowners even like to have their greenhouse inside of their kitchen space.

earthship kitchen design
earthship kitchen floorplan design
earthship kitchen interior design
earthship kitchen layout
earthship kitchen modern style
earthship kitchen open design floorplan

You also want to ensure that you design your earthship kitchen with enough space to cook. Especially if you are frequently adding lots of new ingredients to the mix, you’ll want ample space to cook the dishes you love for your family.

earthship home kitchen countertop
kitchen design earthship house
kitchen style earthship house
rustic kitchen earthship home

Your Earthship Living Room Can Feel Like Home

Your Earthship Living Room Can Feel Like Home

Your living room is the space where you want to relax and let your worries from the day fade away. Take the time to design the living room of your earthship home in a way that makes you feel at home and at peace.

earthship home living room
earthship living room design
earthship living room style
relaxing earthship living room

Personally, I am a huge fan of earthships that have their living room connected to outdoor space. Designing your earthship home like this is an awesome way to make your home even more cohesive with your environment. Plus, it gives you a beautiful space to kick back in.

earthship living room extended outdoors
earthship living space extended outdoors
earthship living with view
open style earthship living room
If you aren’t a fan of bringing the outdoors in, surround your living room with windows to let natural light flood in. Lots of folks have their living room come right up to the front facing wall of their earthship so it is surrounded by glass walls.
earthship home living room natural light
earthship house living room natural light
earthship living room window light
earthship living room windows
natural light earthship house living room
window light earthship house living room

Lay Out A Rejuvenating Earthship Greenhouse

Lay Out A Rejuvenating Earthship Greenhouse

The way you design your greenhouse is important since it is the main source of food in a traditional earthship home. You can take several approaches to designing your garden. Some people lay garden beds horizontally along the front facing windows while others hang hydroponic planters from the ceilings.

earthship greenhouse
designing an earthship greenhouse
earthship greenhouse design
earthship greenhouse floorplans
earthship greenhouse layout
earthship greenhouse style

Some earthship homeowners take a more integrated approach with plants, filling an entire greenhouse room. I’ve also seen designs where people carve out a U-shaped plant bed towards the front-facing window that is specifically for produce, while placing other plants elsewhere around their earthship home.

earthship front greenhouse design
earthship front greenhouse layout
earthship front greenhouse
earthship front greenhouse interior
earthship front greenhouse design ideas
earthship front greenhouse style

Whichever design you choose, it’s important that you give your greenhouse layout a lot of intentional thought. This is one of the main elements that makes an earthship house so unique!

Cost To Build An Earthship Home

Cost To Build An Earthship Home

Building an earthship house is a huge undertaking, and the price definitely reflects that. It’s hard to nail down an exact cost because a lot of what goes into the budget of your earthship depends on how you build it. Another thing to consider is whether or not you’re hiring a builder, buying it, or building it.

pangea builders

“Earthship houses cost more than a conventional building upfront, but less on a monthly basis because there are no utility bills.”

– Jonah Reynolds, Pangea Builders

Typically, earthships can cost anywhere from $10,000 on the low end to $1,000,000 on the insanely high end. By square footage, earthship houses average about $150 to $225 per square foot. However, again, this will depend on the route you take.

Additional Resources For Building An Earthship House

Additional Resources For Building An Earthship House

I thought I’d include some additional resources from experts who have built their own earthship house. I may know a ton about building and gardening, but I’ve yet to build my own earthship house. I will defer to the pros!

Your Turn!

    • How will you design your own earthship house?
    • In what ways will living in an earthship home improve your life?

Living In A Tent Full Time: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Living In A Tent Full Time: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

living in a tent

NAVIGATION

As idyllic and hipster as living in a tent full time may look on Pinterest, it’s not something you can just decide you’re ready for overnight. You will inevitably face many challenges when you decide to move into a tent, but the rewards are undeniably worth it.

I’ve found that my friends who have taken the risk to live full time in a tent have grown deeply from it and would not change their experience for anything. I think that’s often the paradox of life; things with the biggest risk often reap the greatest rewards.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

I’ve lived in a tiny house for the past 10 years and have fallen in love with the freedom, mobility, peace of mind, and financial freedom the lifestyle has gifted me. Living in a tent can give you all of that and more.

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What You Need To Know About Living In A Tent