Off Grid Tiny Homes

A Guide to Self-Sufficient Tiny House Living

The Tiny Homes movement and off grid living have exploded in popularity in recent years. An off grid tiny house merges these two trends into the ultimate sustainable, self sufficient lifestyle. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into everything you need to know about living untethered in a tiny abode.

What Exactly Are Off Grid Tiny Homes?

Off Grid Tiny Homes usually consist of a  a small living space that is  typically between 100-400 square feet, it usually operates independently from centralized utilities and fossil fuels. They are designed to harvest their own energy from the sun and wind and a Rainwater catchment provides water supply without hooking into municipal grids. Composting toilets and greywater systems allow sustainable waste management on-site.

Often being built using recycled, repurposed, and natural materials, off-grid tiny homes have a very low carbon footprint and They are specifically engineered to provide for all of an inhabitant’s basic needs – power, water, heat, and waste disposal – in an eco-friendly manner. This allows off grid tiny home dwellers to live freely and sustainably without reliance on the public infrastructure.

Common reasons for choosing to downsize to an off-grid tiny home include environmental sustainability, financial savings, and embracing a minimalist lifestyle. For those seeking a lower impact way of living or freedom from expensive rent or mortgages, it’s an attractive option worth considering.

off grid tiny house sunset

Careful Design for Off Grid Tiny Homes

A strategic design is critical when building an off grid tiny house if you want it to function properly within a limited footprint. Since space is at a premium, multi-functional furniture is key to making it work. Murphy beds, fold-down tables, and bench seating with storage built-in all save precious square footage during the daytime that can be converted into a sleeping space at night.

Careful consideration should be taken for window placement so you can maximize natural lighting, cross breezes for ventilation, and passive solar heating during winter months. Windows positioned properly can eliminate the need for unsustainable HVAC systems. The orientation of the home on the site is also important and should be planned to optimize your solar gain.

Tiny homes can be constructed from a variety of recycled, natural and eco-friendly materials like straw bale, cob (clay, sand and straw), and repurposed wood. Salvaged windows and appliances also give new life to waste items. For mobility, some tiny houses are built on trailer beds. Others mount directly to traditional foundations. The finishes, layouts, and creative touches you add give each tiny home a unique flair.

Accessibility features should also be incorporated as needed to accommodate physical limitations. Ramps, wide doors, low-step showers, and appropriately placed handles/rails can make tiny homes accessible and comfortable for all.

Tiny House Off Grid Grid Power, Water, and Waste Systems


In order for an off grid tiny house to truly be self-sufficient, the right systems need to be put in place:


Having solar panels mounted on the roof or nearby racking harvest energy from the sun. This electricity gets stored in deep cycle batteries that can power lights, appliances, outlets, and other electrical needs. Use charge controllers regulate the voltage and for cloudy periods, a backup generator that runs on propane or gasoline is recommended.


Rainwater is collected in barrels or cisterns from the roof and can be used for drinking, cooking, washing, and cleaning after a simple filtration. Water conservation fixtures like low-flow toilets and faucets will help reduce usage. For dry periods, excess water might need to be trucked in.


Composting toilets slowly break down waste using sawdust or peat moss instead of water and septic systems. Urine can be diverted to a greywater system to fertilize plants. This eliminates the need for a septic tank and leach field.


Propane appliances offer an efficient cooking, water heating, and supplemental heat source. A passive solar design through proper window placement also helps regulate interior temperatures.

Backup generators provide emergency power in case of prolonged cloudy weather. Conscious usage habits help conserve resources in a tiny house.

off grid tiny house with wheels

Benefits of Living in Off Grid Tiny Homes


The perks of adopting this lifestyle are numerous:

Lower Environmental Impact

Generating your own renewable energy, living efficiently in a small space, and consuming less reduces your carbon footprint significantly compared to traditional homes.

Financial Independence

With no rent, mortgage, or utility bills to pay each month, you free up significant amounts of income. Any costs are fixed like food, propane, and phone/internet. Early retirement or pursuing passions become more feasible.

Self-Sufficient Lifestyle

Detaching from unpredictable public grids for power and water gives you greater control and resilience. You can shelter yourself comfortably during storms or outages.


Small spaces force you to only keep belongings you truly need and value. The rest is just clutter taking up precious room in your tiny abode.

Flexibility and Mobility

Tiny homes on wheels enable you to relocate to new areas on just a few days notice. Or park indefinitely on affordable land you purchase.

More time is also freed up not spent on maintenance like lawn care or home repairs. You can focus this time instead on passions, people, and experiences beyond just making house payments.

Decluttering and Downsizing for Tiny House Living

To comfortably inhabit a tiny house, rigorous downsizing is required. All possessions must be evaluated based on true necessity and utility within the limited space. Anything you haven’t used actively in the past year likely needs to be discarded, donated, or sold.

Vertical space becomes prime real estate for remaining storage needs. Shelving, cabinets, lofts allow you to build storage capacity upward. Multifunctional furniture like couches with hidden storage compartments also help.

It takes deliberate mental adjustment to adapt to fewer personal luxuries and conveniences. But the payoff comes in the liberation of living simply – with only what you truly cherish close at hand.

How to Build or Buy an Off-Grid Tiny Home


For those handy and willing to learn, building your own off-grid tiny house can be very rewarding and cost-effective. But it also requires a big commitment of time, energy, and skill development. Contracting the build to professional tiny home builders is less labour intensive, but adds to the final price tag.

Thoroughly weigh the pros and cons of each approach – DIY construction vs hiring a general contractor. Understand typical costs based on size, features, and labour. Sourcing recycled, used, non-toxic materials can reduce expenses.

If embarking on a DIY build, important steps for first-timers include:

  • Designing a layout and materials list based on needs
  • Researching permits/regulations and submitting plans for approval
  • Laying a foundation or preparing a trailer for the home
  • Framing and raising walls, adding insulation as you go
  • Installing windows, doors, roof, and exterior siding
  • Running electrical and plumbing systems
  • Hooking up renewable energy systems
  • Finishing interior with appliances, fixtures, paint and trim

While challenging, an owner-build tiny house lets you construct something completely customized to your needs and preferences.

Finding Land and Navigating Zoning for  Tiny Homes

Ideal locations for siting tiny homes offer 3 key attributes:

Legal Usage Rights – Confirm property allows full-time or long-term tiny home occupancy.

Climate – Assess heating, cooling, snow load considerations for your design.

Accessibility – Ensure you can feasibly get the tiny house and any building materials to the site.

Research all local zoning laws and building codes thoroughly before finalizing land. Unfortunately, many municipalities mandate minimum square footage for permanent dwellings that tiny homes don’t meet. Creative options for where to legally locate a tiny home include:

  • Rural private properties
  • RV parks and campgrounds
  • Backyards of friends/family if permitted
  • Shared community tiny home parks
  • Land you purchase with usage rights

Secure any required permits and compliance for smooth occupancy. Specialized tiny house insurance is also recommended.

tiny homes with wheels<br />

Daily Life in an Off-Grid Tiny Home

Once settled into your tiny house, the day-to-day tasks include:

  • Monitoring electricity levels and refilling propane tanks
  • Tending composting toilets and dumping waste as needed
  • Tracking water supply and conserving during dry spells
  • Maintaining systems seasonally like clearing solar panel snow buildup
  • Making the most of the limited space for hobbies, guests, pets and storage
  • Fostering community connections with nearby neighbors
  • Traveling freely from location to location in a tiny house on wheels

While adjustment is required, the lifestyle rewards make it worthwhile for many.

Evaluating if Off-Grid Tiny Living is Right for You


Interested in off-grid tiny house living? First, honestly assess your motivations and personality. Are you able to live comfortably with:

  • A small footprint and fewer possessions?
  • Reliance on efficient renewable energy systems?
  • Potential zoning and permitting hurdles?
  • Routine maintenance of solar, composting toilet, etc?
  • Isolation in


Q: What is an off-grid tiny house?

A: An off-grid tiny home is a small, self-sufficient dwelling typically under 400 sq ft that generates its own electricity, harvests rainwater, and processes waste on-site without hookups to municipal utilities.

Q: What size are off-grid tiny houses usually?

A: They range from 100 to 400 square feet. The average off-grid tiny house size is between 200-300 sq ft.

Q: How is electricity generated in an off-grid tiny house?

A: Solar panels are installed on the roof to harvest the sun’s energy. This charges batteries that powers the home’s electrical system.

Q: Where does water come from for an off-grid tiny house?

A: Rainwater is collected in barrels and filtered for use. Water efficient plumbing fixtures are also used.

Q: How are waste and sewage handled in a tiny house off the grid?

A: Composting toilets break down waste without water. Greywater can be filtered for reuse in irrigation.

Q: What are the main benefits of off-grid tiny house living?

A: Sustainability, financial savings, minimalism, independence, mobility if on wheels.

Q: Does an off-grid tiny house need a foundation?

A: They can be built on trailers for mobility or mounted on permanent foundations.

Q: Where can you legally locate an off-grid tiny home?

A: RV parks, private rural land, backyards, some tiny home communities depending on zoning.

Q: How much does an off-grid tiny house cost to build?

A: Anywhere from $25,000 to $60,000 including materials, labor, and systems.

Q: Is living in an off-grid tiny house difficult?

A: It requires adjustment but many find the lifestyle rewards outweigh any challenges.