One of the most challenging aspects of building a tiny home is incorporating the utilities. Not only do you need to get the plumbing and electricity worked out, but you need to decide how best to keep the indoor temperature at a comfortable level. Although you'll likely need both a heating and cooling appliance in your tiny home, this article will focus on helping you decide which heating unit is the best option for keeping your home warm.
What are Your Needs?
Before you can settle on a heating unit for your tiny house, you have to figure out what you need. The best unit for one type of lifestyle may be disastrous for another.
The first thing you need to decide is if your home will be mobile or stationary. A mobile tiny home will need a heating unit that's small and portable, while you can purchase a heating unit that's a little bigger or has more features for a stationary house.
Another issue you have to consider is whether you'll have access to electricity and how much power will be available if you do. Some heating units must be plugged into a wall socket and may draw more power than you have available. However, this may be offset by how often you'll use the unit. A home that's well insulated may not need to run the heater as often.
Lastly and most importantly, you'll need to determine the amount of space that will be available. In tiny houses, you have to make the most of every nook and cranny. Installing a large wood stove, for instance, may mean you'll have to give up the built-in bookcase you wanted.
Heating Unit Options
Possibly the easiest way to heat your tiny home is to use a space heater. These units come in a wide range of sizes, with some big enough to heat the entire area by themselves (so no need to get one for each room).
The main benefit of a space heater is its portability. You can move it around the home and even put it in storage during the summer months when the weather is hot. However, space heaters need to be plugged into an electric socket, and larger units tend to consume a lot of energy.
Another option that many tiny home owners are choosing is a propane or natural gas heater. These units tend to be small, so they can be installed in your home without fear of taking up too much space.
Natural gas tends to be less expensive than propane, but may not be the best choice if you're concerned about the environment. Safe storage and consistent access to the gas can be problematic if you're traveling a lot. Although there are a lot of places where you can purchase propane, natural gas is not as easily accessible.
It may seem somewhat old-fashioned, but some people are choosing to install wood stoves in their tiny homes. These sturdy beasts were used for centuries to heat living spaces and provide a way for families to cook and bake food.
Wood stoves are best installed in the beginning of your tiny home project because you'll need to build in a space for the stove's pipe that directs smoke outside the house. These stoves tend to be heavy, clunky and take up a lot of space. While wood may be a natural resource, the burning of wood actually adds pollutants into the air.
A more modern option to heating your tiny home is to install a mini-split HVAC system. This system provides heat and cold air but doesn't require you to install ducts in your home. Typically these energy efficient systems feature temperature controls, so you can adjust the heat (or air conditioning) to your comfort level and even program the unit to automatically turn on or shut off.
The drawback to a mini-split HVAC system is that it comes in two parts. The condensing unit sits outside the home. Finding room on the exterior part of your house may be problematic if you have a mobile home. The unit that sends the conditioned air into the home is usually slim enough to sit unobtrusively on a wall, providing you with more design options.
Mini-split HVAC systems also need to hooked up to a steady source of electricity and use copper tubing to connect the two machines together. However, a professional heating and cooling contractor can setup the system for you within a few hours as well as provide maintenance service when you need it.
Selecting a heating unity for your home will require some thought and research. It's a good idea to contact a heating and cooling specialist, like those at Redlands Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning, who can answer your questions about the different heating options available and help you choose the right one for your needs.