Ethan Interviews Michael Garofalo – Off Grid Power Expert

Ethan Waldman interviews Michael Garofalo (@mgarofalo23), a former Tesla lead solar installer and 4 year van-lifer. Michael’s an expert in off-grid solar, and in this podcast Michael explains how to size your solar system yourself. Listen to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.

In Ethan’s podcast you’ll learn:

  • How to choose off grid batteries.
  • How to avoid mistakes selecting solar system batteries.
  • How to accommodate AC and DC appliances.
  • How to plan your tiny house electrical system and avoid mistakes.
  • The difference between MPPT and PWM charge controllers.
  • How to do the solar system calculations in your head.
  • Why you should plan your system based on how many winter sun hours.

Photo via Michael Garofalo’s Instagram.

This Tiny House is a Showcase of Off-Grid Technology

Bryce Langston visits Paul and Annett in Australia in a remote spot near Byron Bay. Their tiny house is totally off-grid but is like a case study or showcase of a variety of off-grid technologies including:

  • The essential 1.86 kW photovoltaic electric power system with a 20 kWh battery system
  • A biogas system that makes methane for cooking. It converts 1 to 6 liters of table scraps and clippings into methane.
  • An evacuated tube solar hot water heater is their only source of hot water
  • Rain water collection and 10,000 liters of storage
  • Humanure composting toilet

Before the tiny house they lived in Sydney in an apartment, but they wanted to had a strong desire to live off-grid in a rural area. Inspired by Bryce’s videos online, they decided to build their own 8 meter (~26′) long tiny house.

In Australia the total maximum weight of the house is limited to 4.5 tonnes (~9,900 pounds), so they used all lightweight materials like steel for the home’s framing. It gives the house a slightly industrial look. The exterior is cypress and cedar. Pine is used for the windows and doors. The interior is lightweight plywood.

Through frugal choices and by doing a lot of the work themselves they kept the cost down. The total cost with all the high-tech off-grid features was just 65,000 Australian (~$50,000 USD).

To read more visit Living Big In A Tiny House. For more videos like this follow Living Big In A Tiny House on YouTube. Images are screenshots from the video by Living Big In A Tiny House including the selfie made by Paul and Annett. Also be sure to visit Paul and Annett’s website Living Tiny and Green.

Below & Above: The exterior of their tiny home where you can see most of the off-grid technologies. The tiny greenhouse looking thing is the biogas generator.

Below: A view inside their tiny home.

Rainwater Tanks are Full!

Derek & Hannah live in a tiny house in the southern Arizona desert – near St. David (Between Benson and Tombstone). It’s super hot and dry there and they don’t have a well on their tiny house homestead. Instead they have an elaborate rainwater collection system.

But you might wonder… how do you live off rainwater in the desert?  Well… they do get a little rain and a bunch of it comes during the monsoon season (right now). After just a little summer rain in recent weeks their rainwater tanks are completely full and they are adding more tanks.

With enough tank capacity they should do just fine. To learn more visit the DIY Homestead Projects YouTube channel. You’ll find all their tiny house construction videos as well as videos showing the construction of their rainwater collection system.

They also have an amazing solar system, and with Derek’s experience as an electrician – he does a great job of explaining how it powers everything from their air conditioner, to their washer/dryer, to their stove.

Go there now… the DIY Homestead Projects YouTube channel.

Small Solar System DIY Tutorial

Do-it-yourselfers that want to learn the basics of setting up small solar systems should watch this video by the Tin Hat Ranch. It’s a 47 minute video but worth every minute.

White the Tin Hat Ranch YouTube Channel is geared toward disaster preparedness, a small off-grid systems a tiny house system and a backup system for essentials are not dissimilar. In fact, depending on your power needs and location, the size solar system shown in this tutorial might be the ideal size for a tiny house.

The system shown here uses 4 100 watt solar panels, 4 golf cart batteries, a charge controller, a 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter, and the necessary wiring and hardware. It wouldn’t run a ‘normal’ sized house but for a frugal tiny house owner, it might be perfect.

There’s a ton of information in this video, really too much to absorb in 47 minutes… so be sure to bookmark the full article for reference later. The full Guide to DIY Off Grid Solar Power is a free resource and includes some handy schematics, a worksheet, and videos of course.

215 Square Foot Off-Grid Concrete Solar Shelter

We realize this is not a house; but wouldn’t this 215 square foot concrete shell make a cool solar tiny house? See more at LJB.no and ArchDaily.

The main structure has the shape of a tilted cube and this creates a covered entrance for the services and at the same time offers a perfect south exposition for the solar cells integrated in the main window. The toilet is 100 % energy self-sufficient.” – ArchDaily

via Flotane / L J B | ArchDaily