I’m taking a break from posting any updates for the next couple of weeks. Thanksgiving break, and it’s super cold, and I’m just not too into interfacing with a computer. See ya soon!!
Adrienne picked up what I had last week, and spent a miserable weekend in bed cuddling with the dog. It was super cold outside and windy and a bit snowy and I’m still getting over what I had, too, so I didn’t work at all on the tiny house. I took care of my wife, and thought a lot about the electrical system design, and a bit less about the flooring (which is ready to go, I just gotta pull the table saw out into the cold air and make some cuts), and I made some homemade chicken noodle soup from scratch.
So, I know I’ve outlined the whole electrical system, but I’m starting to get into the details now, and the design of it all requires a closer inspection. I’ve decided to start from the ‘end use’ and work my way back. This should ensure that the system design will be as simple as it needs to be.
So, the “built in” power in my tiny house will consist of a 12V DC setup, similar to boats and RVs. I’ve decided to break it out into different circuits like a normal house (different locations), basically.
- Closet & Shower (5A fuse)
- LED lighting
- USB power
- Kitchen (10A fuse)
- LED lighting
- 12V appliances?
- Front Door (5A fuse)
- LED lighting
- USB power
- Living Area (5A fuse)
- LED lighting
- USB power
- Utilities (15A fuse)
- water pump
- exhaust fan
- Extra (5A fuse)
- ambient & automated lighting
- ‘attic’ lighting
- Outside Use (5A fuse)
Of course, the fuse requirements aren’t set in stone, but I’m thinking those values are a good place to start. As you can see, the majority of the power use is for lighting, and with LEDs the power requirements for good lighting are pretty low.
I’ve gotten some LED bulbs with G4 bases, and a handful of ceramic G4 sockets. I’m thinking of mounting the sockets on some nice wood with a rocker switch, 3 lamps per assembly. Should be ridiculously easy to build, pretty durable, and can be mounted nearly anywhere in the tiny house (I’m thinking up in the exposed framing, for example). 2 or 3 of these per circuit should be plenty, and with these sockets, I’m free to switch up the lamps however I want – higher power, color temperature, etc. The sockets can even handle up to G10 so, the sky’s the limit.
The USB power will simply consist of a 12V-to-5V converter with USB jacks, so I can tap them into the 12V anywhere I want. Originally I was thinking of running dedicated 5V power lines throughout to where I’d need them, alongside the 12V, but I think that’s overkill and probably unnecessary (and likely inefficient), so I’ll just use end-point buck converters and build the sockets into something that looks nice. But, more on this in the future.
The real big choice is how to connect them to the 12V rails? Initially, I was thinking of using standard barrel connectors for everything 12V, especially since these are low enough power that I probably don’t need to use any thicker gauge than 16 or 14… This could also make the system a bit more modular, so, able to be expanded or changed with minimal impact. Of course, I’ll welcome any input, if anyone out there has any ideas then please don’t hold back!
Now, on to the other side of the electrical system… Having pretty much established the ‘use’ side of it, I need to figure out the ‘supply’ side of it. This is where there may be some major headaches. I’ll definitely have a couple of deep cycle batteries, but how to power them? Solar? Land-tie power converter? I haven’t ever seen any RV or boat power systems that can handle both solar charging AND grid-tie charging, but that would definitely be ideal, wouldn’t it? And would probably cost a bit of money…
For now, I’m leaning towards a standard RV style grid-tie power control system. They’re cheaper, definitely, and later on I can add a solar set up with some kind of switch or relay to switch between the two power sources.
That’s all for now. Time for chicken noodle soup.
That week of slacking off I anticipated was forced upon me unceremoniously when I got sick earlier this week. It was so bad I was in bed for 3 days. Which, I’m ok with, since I dislike modern medicine and probably got better ‘care’ doing it myself anyways. The only downside was that I couldn’t make any better use of my time (such as working on the tiny house), because I was sick. Also, it snowed. Which was rad.
The tiny house is covered in snow, it’s not much in actuality, but it’s supposed to snow a bit more. I’m planning on adding the rest of the weatherstripping and grabbing my awesome little electrical heater and getting the inside of the tiny house up to a nice 70F, just to see where the heat leaks the most, and where the insulation in the walls and roof is the best. I’m also going to drag out the saws if I’m feeling good enough, and cut some flooring.
As planned, finishing the swing walls took no time at all, though I did run out of ringshank nails halfway through and had to take a break. I spent that time basking in the sun, it was a beautiful weekend.
I started on the flooring, also. I cut some of the planks for the side, and determined how I would construct the center panels. The two side sections are ready to install.
I won’t be using flooring glue for this ‘upper’ floor at all. The center panels – which are removable (as you can see in the photos above) – will be screwed from underneath in strategic points, and possibly glued if that’s required. I’m planning on constructing the panels using screws only, then ‘test driving’ them to determine if I need to glue them as well. The two sections of ‘permanent’ floor that runs on the sides will be screwed and glued, a combination. But I won’t be using flooring glue.
The problem is that the only flooring glue I can get in small enough quantity comes in a 4-gallon pail, and is that urethane-based stuff that’s designed for engineered flooring. That’s the same stuff I used on the lower floor, since I couldn’t find a decent alternative. That stuff costs a fortune, it’s like $40 for that 4-gallon pail. The flooring glue I’d need is only available in giant buckets for $150+ and no thanks. I’m gluing wood to wood, so the woodworker in me tells me to find a water-based adhesive that cures to a state of flexibility. I think I could use titebond 3, but that’ll take a TON of it, which may come out to higher than the cost of that 4-gallon pail of urethane engineered flooring glue.
After some searching, I found that Loctite makes a water-based construction glue “PL 510″ or “PL Wood” that is flexible when cured, and should fit the bill perfectly. It’s also about $3.50 a tube (I think 3-4 tubes out to be enough for the entire floor) I’m going to pick some up today and do some tests with it to see if it’ll work. A couple of the pieces of flooring will be adhered only with glue, so it needs to have a reasonable guarantee of success/durability, or I’ll have to come up with another plan.
The other end of the plan, using screws, requires a fair bit of precision, which I’m also going to test out today. The subfloor is 3/4″-thick plywood, and the bamboo flooring is 5/8″ thick, which comes out to a total of about 1 3/8″. Since there’ll be a fair amount more flex in the floor’s daily use as opposed to a ‘solid’ floor in a ‘normal’ house, I don’t think flooring nails will work over the long term, they’ll just work their way loose. So, screws it is. Having the floor raised is an advantage, I can get to it from underneath, and affix it all together, removing the necessity of having nails or screws exposed on the floor surface.
So, the plan is to use screws. 1 1/4″ long flat head screws, and pre-drilling the holes. If I pre-drill the holes, I’ll be able to precisely set the screw depth, minimizing the possibility of breaching the surface of the floor. I could use 1″ screws, but I don’t think they’ll dig into the flooring enough to create a solid bond, so I’ll use those only should I decide to glue it all down, as a reinforcement.
Anyways, it all sounds complicated, but it’s not. It’s actually really simple, but I have a tendency to over-explain it.
In any case, I’m working on the flooring tonight. If I can get the process figured out perfectly, I should have the entire floor done in a week or less (working in those dark hours after my day job hah).
Daylight savings might have been a good idea back in the day, but nowadays, it just needs to die. Having the effects of jet-lag forced upon me simply makes me murderous. A week later and I’m still reeling from the effects. Ridiculous.
I haven’t gotten anything done during the week. The swing walls are insulated, but thanks to daylight savings, and working late every day this week, I don’t have any daylight to work in after the office hours, and I just don’t want to work in dim lighting with what I have. Daylight is fine, I just need some time DURING daylight. Anyways, I just need to nail in the cedar on the swing walls and they’re done. Then I’ll thoroughly sweep and clean out the tiny house (it got lots of dust and crap inside from the wind storms that blew through last week). Hopefully good day time and warm weather this weekend, I believe I can get all of the flooring cut, and started to be installed.
And I’m starting work on the electrical system. Just the basics. As I previously said, I’m breaking the whole design up into three separate systems: low voltage DC, which is the 12VDC and 5VDC that’ll be wired in for the lighting and low power stuff (like USB chargers, automatic ambient lighting, environmental sensors, etc); the 110VAC setup, which will be in a separate enclosure external from the tiny house and will supply the 1 or 2 AC power outlets, batteries (and power conversion) for the low voltage DC system, as well as a separate line for the water pump; and finally, solar.
For now, I’ve decided to build and install the low voltage stuff, and only focus on that. Reasoning being that this uses components that don’t change dramatically in price and, more importantly, will provide an immediate benefit (providing light for working on the tiny house during the winter). Finally, the other major benefit is that with the low voltage system in place, it’s a simple matter of ‘plug and play’ with future power sources.
That’s it for now.
Once again, every weather agency proved how poorly they can predict the weather. Saturday, it got super windy, but it never rained. Gave me time enough to add the trim and finish ff the other big window:
So, the tiny house was pretty much weather-ready for whatever rains and snows we were to have this weekend. It ended up looking like rain a little Saturday, and rained a little overnight into Sunday, and that’s it. But, boy was it cold, and windy. Which means it was windy and cold, heh.
With both swing walls and windows up, it stays pretty warm inside the tiny house. I haven’t yet sealed the gaps between the windows and framing, but there’s no drafts – even when it was super blustery on Saturday, it stayed cozy and nice inside.
Tonight after work, I’m going to finish the insulation and interior wall on both the swing walls, and then sweep and vacuum all the new dust out. I’m taking a week or so off from this project. After that I’ll tackle the floor, which (hoping we stay above freezing at night), should only take a week or so, 2 weeks max.
That’s all for now.
So, as I said, I had a goal to get the tiny house weather-ready before the first winter storm. It’s kind of irritating how the interesting weather this year has been concentrated on the weekends, but whatever. Anyways, the forecast for this weekend hasn’t changed in the past 2 weeks or so: we’re supposed to get rain all day Saturday, and snow on Sunday, so I took yesterday off and put everything into high gear to get the outside of the tiny house done, since I wouldn’t have any other chance to do it, and still beat my goal.
Here’s what i had on the list:
- Build the second swing wall.
- Finish and install the opposite-side big window.
The window bit was the easy stuff so I saved that for last, and concentrated on the swing wall. The first swing wall took me about a week to do (in little bits of time after work here and there), and I expected this second one to take more-or-less the same, but I started out the day with the idea of finishing it in one day (all those bits of after-work time crammed together, plus, waiting for glue to dry).
I built it the same, ripped down the stock to 3″ widths and mitered the corners. One big change I made here from the first effort was that I measured the gap in multiple places and based the swing wall framing dimensions on the smallest dimension. That ended up being 44.75″ x 68.5″, so subtracting 1/4″ from all sides, and the frame would be 44.25″ x 68″, so that’s what I built. Since I wouldn’t be able to open the swing wall all the way, due to the fence on the side of the yard, I had to come up with an alternate method, which basically meant relying entirely on the math. I figured it’d be worth a shot. So, after cutting all the frame pieces, I took the top piece, and clamped it in the center of the gap, measured out for the hinges, triple checked my measurements, and then screwed the hinges in to both the frame, and the top piece of the swing wall. Then I knocked out the hinge pins and proceeded to the construction. I mitered the corners with the plan to glue up the frame – which I did – but I reinforced the corners with corner plates so I could speed up the whole process. I used a 2.5″ wide piece for the vertical support in the center, and 1.5″ for the cross-braces, to save weight.
I also changed the way I built the surfaces for the lock bolts, by putting the back support piece mid-way (see the photo) instead of on the end, so I would only need 2 clamps to glue them (on the X and Z axes) instead of three (on X, Y and Z).
The other major construction difference I made was instead of holding up the siding to the frame, and marking out all the supports, I found the ‘true square corner’ of the siding, measured to its centerline and marked that out, then put the frame on top of it, butting up the siding to the hinges, and checking everything for alignment.
Then I let the glue dry for an hour or so before hoisting it into place and hammering the hinge pins back in and test fit. It fit like a glove, even better than the first swing wall. Who says I can’t learn from my mistakes?? All I had to do was shave off some of the siding from the bottom and one side and then it was a perfect fit. A coat of priming before it got took dark, and I’m ready! Today after work, I’ll throw on the first coat of paint, cut the side trim (which I painted earlier this week), and hopefully the swing wall will be ready for the rains and snows.
The window was easy. I used some more plain pine stock and finished that stuff. There were a couple of bad nail jobs from before, and I pulled them out and did them over. A couple of weatherstripping pieces really suck, and I’ll handle them another time. I mounted the window (and had to pound it in, it was a super tight fit), screwed it to the frame, and then installed the lock bolt. It needs some adjusting to match the swing wall trim, so hopefully I can get that done tonight.
Overall, I feel like I’ve accomplished my goal. Sure, I’ve only got primer on that swing wall, and I haven’t finished it (needs insulation, and an interior wall), but if it were to rain or snow today, I’m 100% confident it is ready. The rest of the work that my tiny house needs is all interior stuff, so I’m ready for the winter!!