We Live Off-Grid In A Tiny House Powered By Renewables — Here’s How We Do It!

Apr 22, 2022by Olivia - F&F

My name is Annett Welss, and together with my partner Paul, we have been living off solar energy and rainwater in our tiny house on wheels for over four years. 

For more information about our tiny house life and off-grid setup, check out our Instagram (@livingtinyandgreen) and visit www.livingtinyandgreen.com.

Living Tiny And Green Annett WelssLiving Tiny And Green Annett Welss

Here’s What Prompted Us To Live Off-Grid

Six years ago, we took a leap of faith and traded city life for the countryside. 

We were driven by the desire to move away from fossil fuels and the curiosity to find out if it was possible to fully live off the grid (spoiler alert: it totally is!). 

Tiny house life has changed our lives for the better in many ways, and today, I would like to share our tiny house off-grid adventure with you!

Our Tiny House

We built the tiny house ourselves on weekends over the period of one year because of our day jobs. The tiny house is not connected to the grid and there is no option to ever connect it to the grid. 

We fully rely on the sun and rain to provide us with electricity and water. So far, we haven’t run out of water and there were only a few times when our batteries got very low. 

So we took this into consideration and gradually expanded our solar system to adapt to the changing circumstances and to suit our needs. After all, we don’t want to sacrifice anything and live in comfort. 

Our Off-Grid Setup

In 2017, we started with only 6 solar panels which generated 1.86kW in total. We amended our off-grid setup, and are now able to generate 4.8kW. In 2022, our off-grid setup consists of:

  • 15 solar panels - 6 x 310W roof-mounted & 9 x 330W ground-mounted
  • A 5kW inverter for the solar panels.
  • A 5kW inverter for the batteries.
  • 24 lead-acid batteries (we would choose lithium-ion batteries these days, but they were very expensive 6 years ago and not as widely available. 
  • A 10,000L water tank to serve all our water needs.
  • A 165L solar hot water unit.
  • A biogas digester to create cooking gas from food scraps and our toilet waste.
  • A reed bed filter system to filter our greywater - garden use.
Living Tiny & Green Small HouseLiving Tiny & Green Small House

Swapped Petrol Car For An Electric Vehicle

In March 2021, we started another exciting chapter in our off-grid adventure because we swapped our petrol car for an electric vehicle (EV). Of course, we were determined to charge the car with solar energy. 

In order to achieve this, we bought an EV charger to automate car charging. This unit is called ‘the Zappi’ — it makes charging the car very easy while also ensuring that our house batteries are fully charged at the end of the day. 

Now, almost a year later, we can report that the system works! We are able to charge the car from our solar microgrid during the day while still using all the normal appliances in the house. In a “normal” house, EV owners would charge their car overnight. Furthermore, if the weather is grey or when on a road trip, we use public car chargers.

Living Tiny and Green InsideLiving Tiny and Green Inside

Benefits Of Living Off-Grid After Four Years

Sometimes we can’t believe that it’s been four years of living in our DIY off-grid tiny house already! For us, going tiny and living off renewables was the right choice. We never regretted taking that leap of faith because this lifestyle has offered us so much!  

Building a tiny or small-scale house has many benefits:

  • Less impact on the planet.
  • Lower carbon footprint.
  • Affordable housing option.
  • Either no or only a small mortgage/loan. 
  • Possibility to build with recycled & scavenged materials which will lower the carbon footprint and building costs.    
  • Closer to nature and a more conscious way of living.
  • Less clutter and the opportunity to downsize.
Living Tiny And Green Solar PanelsLiving Tiny And Green Solar Panels

Living Off Renewable Energy | Pros & Cons

When it comes to living off renewables in particular, we find that the pros outweigh the cons by far. I remember how exciting it was to use our solar-powered induction cooktop for the first time or high-voltage appliances like an oven (which is totally possible by the way). 

We are not affected by power cuts or outages if they occur. In fact, we don’t even know about them because we generate our own electricity. The best thing must be that we can run the aircon on full power all day long without feeling guilty at all! 

What's more, there are no utility bills, we only pay a small weekly rent for our spot and have the ability to build up our savings. It's a great work-life balance and a better awareness of weather and climate.

Living Tiny and Green Electric VehicleLiving Tiny and Green Electric Vehicle

The Downsides Of Living Off-Grid

People often ask about the downsides of living tiny and off-grid, but not too much comes to mind. Sometimes it would be nice to have an additional room for hobbies or arts & crafts. 

Also, during long periods of overcast and grey weather, it is harder to charge our house batteries and car charging is not possible. But, there are solutions for almost every problem, like expanding the solar setup or adding an extra water tank if water supply is the issue.

Off-grid setups vary and depend on individual circumstances and personal usage. The great thing about off-grid living is the possibility to amend the system to suit our individual needs.

Living Tiny & Green Paul and AnnettLiving Tiny & Green Paul and Annett

Our Future Plans & Goals

At this point, we don’t have any concrete plans for the future, but we are both interested in sustainable housing options like earthships, passive houses and geodesic domes. So perhaps we might build another small-scale, sustainable dwelling in the future. 

For now, we are happy with what we have achieved and love the ease of off-grid living. We learned that nature truly provides us with everything if we only let her and if we build the facilities to capture her bounty. 

We are grateful that we were able to create this little oasis and feel very lucky to be able to live this kind of lifestyle!

For more information about our tiny house life and off-grid setup visit:

  • www.livingtinyandgreen.com
  • IG: @livingtinyandgreen
  • FB: Living Tiny and Green
  • Pinterest: Tinyandgreen

A big thanks to Annett for allowing us to share her story. If you didn’t know already, Annett is one of our fabulous F&F Ambassadors. She documents her off-grid lifestyle and advocates for green, sustainable living over on her Instagram, @livingtinyandgreen. Go check her out!

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