Solar Hot Water For A Tiny House
We want our Tiny House to be a house of the future. I do not personally believe there is a future in fossil fuels, and so gas was ruled out as a water heating option in our home’s design. Electricity is the next most common, however when operating on a small photovoltaic system, we simply do not generate enough energy to be able to heat water. Even heating just 50 litres (13gal) of water to 60°C (140°F) will easily consume more than 3kw of electricity every day. So with those two options ruled out, we looked to solar water heating.
I have not seen too many examples of solar hot water being successfully integrated into the design of a Tiny House. There are many complications that can be involved with it. Perhaps one of the biggest issues is that all the commercially produced units are much too large to fit the scale of a Tiny House. The smallest off-the-shelf unit we found in NZ was a 180 litre (47.5 gallon) system. Because the systems are (mostly) manufactured overseas, they cannot be easily downscaled.
Thankfully, there is one company in New Zealand who actually manufactures the panels themselves. Solar Group have been fantastic to deal with, and have helped us find a custom, downsized solar water heating solution for our Tiny House.
Storage of water can be very difficult in a Tiny House as it does take up a lot of space. Our custom built, 90 litre (23gal) hot water cylinder will give us more than enough hot water and fits snugly on the roof. The water system is designed to be boosted by wetback in the colder months (more detail to come). Solar Group have specially designed the straps to ensure that it will be safe to travel with. The tank will of course be drained when the house is transported.
The Solar Group team were brilliant when it came to attaching the cylinder and panel to the roof. With the help of ropes secured to the steel structure above our build site, they were able to skilfully move about on the roof during the install.
After a hard afternoons work, our solar panel and cylinder were safely secured to the roof of the Tiny House. After a lot of planning and design, it’s wonderful to see it sitting up there!
To find out more about the installation of our solar system, check out the video here.