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From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three

DOW Powerhouse Solar Shingles: Not on a tiny house. Yet…?

I had a great conversation with a rep from DOW the other day that was simultaneously disappointing and hope inspiring at once. I’m terrible with names and don’t recall who I spoke with specifically beyond her telling me her father works in the construction/architecture trades and that her growing up around that life made her want to call me back about my inquiry on using the Powerhouse Solar Shingles on our tiny house. She used the word “intrigued” several times during our conversation about what exactly a tiny house is, the ways owners can power them conventionally, and the challenges of integrating solar systems into such a small envelope. We both agreed that solar technologies are truly the wave of the future and exclaimed our excitement at the current growth and future trends that will help all homeowners harness free power and use it more efficiently no matter how big or small their homes may be. I gave her some examples of the current solar technologies that work well for tiny houses, explained why I thought the DOW product would be an amazing option for folks wanting to both cover their tiny roof and have solar power all in one product, and I suggested she check out some of the amazing tiny house builder websites so she could see for herself just how widespread and wonderful tiny houses are becoming across the country.

Unfortunately DOW’s current technology isn’t designed for the mobile life of a tiny house and must be grid-tied on foundation-built homes at this time, but she expressed her intention to pass my information on to her bosses when I excitedly explained how the tiny house movement was only growing and folks will continue to want and need to find creative and ecological ways to power their homes. I also let her know that once we do “settle down” in Washington (there’s no settling involved other than the stopping of physical travel; Washington is where we want to be!) we would be building a more traditional home and would definitely reconnect with DOW both to see the progress they will have made with their current technology for site-built homes (and buy some solar shingles of course!) and to see if they finally tackled the tiny house market and found a way to adapt (or even create anew) their product to be able to store energy in batteries. While I’m not a fan of traditional asphalt shingles and the folks at TreeHugger have done a great job weighing the basic pros and cons of using the Powerhouse Solar Shingles vs. traditional solar panels HERE, I definitely do think DOW is moving in the right direction overall, and I would love to see them find a way to make their product work for the tiny house community, too. Here’s hoping!

In the meantime, though, that means I need to start looking in earnest at the more traditional solar panel options for our house. While I definitely see the advantages of having a portable unit, like the fantastic Sol-Man setups, I can’t help but think in some ways we’d still be better off with a roof-mounted panel. The main reason I think about that being the best option for us is the fact that we’ll be traveling quite a bit after our initial stay in Colorado, which makes the idea of schlepping a heavy solar unit in and out over and over again while also making sure no one steals it (face it, some people suck like that) both a daunting and undesirable situation to be in. Yes, we would have to make sure our house is facing south anytime we aren’t using shore power if the panel is on the roof, but then that statement brings me to another idea…

What if we bought two small panels and installed one on each side of the roof slope to double the chances of collecting the southward sunlight? Barring the expense of buying and installing two panels (which honestly might be the answer I’m looking for), it makes me wonder why I haven’t seen more tiny houses with that exact setup. As I said, though, I definitely get the reason folks (especially those who are staying put on the land of friends or family, etc) like the portable units, particularly if someone is home all day to move the panels around to capture the most sunlight. The thing with us, though, is that we will likely (at least while in CO) spend a great deal of time at public RV campgrounds for the better part of the year, I’ll be working away from home, and Brandy will be busy wrangling RAD and working on school stuff all day. I just don’t see the panels getting moved much during the day, and we wouldn’t really have a good place to store them if Brandy and RAD had to leave to run errands during the day while I was working.

Forgive my paranoia, but I’ve lived through four different apartment break-ins by people I knew and thought were friends, and I had money stolen out of my purse while I was in the ladies room on 2 different dates (before I was married of course). I was a free taxi service, hotel, maid, mother, cook, and therapist for many people in my early 20’s who took advantage of my generosity every chance they could, and I actually joke that part of the reason I became a nurse is so that at least I get paid to be taken advantage of by those not willing to care for themselves (notice I said ‘not willing,’ not unable). Even so, I still teeter back and forth on believing people are 100% honest and worthy of my trust until proven otherwise versus expecting every person I meet to find new and improved ways to abuse my generous, open nature. I have Brandy to thank for my sanity in many ways because he put his foot down and stopped me from handing over everything and the kitchen sink every time someone asked for help. I’ve never been good at saying “No” to anyone who needed help, no matter how big or small or deserving or undeserving the request, so at least that problem was solved for me! Of course, we had recent occurrence of our generosity being abused that ended a friendship, but we were actually both totally blindsided by that one. Otherwise, though, we’ve been moocher-drama free for a decade now.

The reason I tell that story is because I’ve got permanent apprehension about leaving anything unlocked or sitting outside, no matter how trivial. I can’t imagine leave a $5-10k solar setup sitting around ready to be popped into someone’s truck bed and driven away with. Just can’t do it. Heck, I worry about the house itself being stolen, too, and I’m even considering asking permission to move it to the hospital parking lot at whatever facility I end up working at just so someone is keeping an eye on it 24/7 when we go back to Texas to visit my dad every couple weeks. I know they have hitch locks, but still… people can break windows (even tempered glass ones) to get inside, too. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes my blood pressure go up. I WANT to believe that people wouldn’t take advantage of strangers like that, but my experiences with supposed friends crossing those lines time and again leaves me little faith in my fellow man when it comes to crimes of opportunity.

Anyway, on a less pessimistic note, our kitchen ceiling is now patched up after a weekend of hard labor and a few hundred dollars on supplies, two new light fixtures, and a half dozen LED bulbs to complete the process. We ended up buying a 5 gallon bucket of our main interior paint color because Monarch Paint apparently was absorbed by Glidden and “spiced vinegar” is one of the few colors still made, so I figured it was worth the $160 price tag to not run out as we go around touching up other rooms in the house as we sloooooooowly prep it for sale. Unfortunately, though, that may mean we have to have our entire house repainted a different color, because the whole house is painted with Monarch brand paint. Oi vey! Two steps forward. A half dozen back. Such is the norm when doing any level of house remodeling.

C’est la vie!

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This entry was posted on February 16, 2014 by in Tiny House Building Plans & Progress, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .

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