Category Archives: Reviews

Product Reviews

Radiant Floor Heat – A Review

Radiant-Heating
I often get questions about my radiant floor heat and I realized I never reviewed it… So here we go!
Was it ‘worth it’ –  It certainly served its purpose as a learning project, I learned how to install and operate it, I have no regrets about adding the thermal mass in the floor (and the extra axle that came with accommodating that).  For me this was a learning project and I have indeed learned!
Now, Would I do it again? – Naw.  I would not.
The radiant heat is not the most efficient way to heat the tiny house.  Radiant heat is generally efficient because it heats your feet, generally if your feet are warm you are warm so you can actually keep the heat a little lower and heat rises so it uses heat more efficiently than heating high air like some other set-ups. In a small house, especially one with two doors there is a lot of thermal bridging where the thresholds meet the floor.  There isn’t enough square feet to make up for that deficit, at least in my place.  This makes for a cold space unless heated (paid for) in winter.   I DID use electric rather than hydro or just straight solar to heat it.  I have made it so that, unless I pay to heat the floor I have to deal with an ice cold floor, which is not great for babies to crawl around on (or my feets for late night bathroom runs!).  I found that because of this I have turned it on before I actually would have turned my heat on otherwise so my heat cycle has been extended.
Frankly there are much cheaper ways to heat a tiny house.  I found it to be MUCH better in summer actually, I do night flush ventilation, wake up, shut the doors and windows and it helps it to stay nice and cool even when it’s 100 degrees outside.  It’s been in the upper 90’s+ and I CAN go all day with no A/C (I have an A/C unit as backup forHazel).  I wished I would have done something else for heat in the first winter though. I have made other plans for this winter and am trying out a propane stove as well as an Envi electric convection heater.  Both of which I will be updating about over at www.Planningtiny.com
Now- Just because I am not a fan of the radiant floor doesn’t mean they don’t have merit. This COULD be different if it was hydro or solar.  The problems with those in a tiny though is 1) things move more than in a true foundation and it’s possible to crack a pipe and have big problems with hydro, I marked hydro off early for this reason unfortunately, it is really what I wanted…  2) Collecting solar heat gain is a double edged sword.  You have to have a high solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) on your windows which allows heat to come in.  Most windows intentionally want to block heat gain so there would need to be special windows ordered (possibly costly).  That sort of a system is generally only good to be placed one very specific orientation, if you park off from that you mitigate all benefits and open yourself up to issues.  Both solar and hydro should be very carefully considered.
I guess in short I would not suggest trying to capture solar heat to heat your space unless you are on a true foundation, same with a hydro set-up.  That all being said it is possible, it is just something to be super calculated about.
Most importantly maybe, heat systems don’t seem to be a problem at all, I live in a very cold climate, until it gets about 10 degrees outside my dog, my laptop and myself are pretty much sufficient for heating the house.  It is a small space that really is pretty passively heated just by the nature of it.
COOLING is another story and thermal mass has been SUPER helpful for that!
If there are any other questions please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer it to the best of my ability for you and any others interested in the topic!
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Things I Love About My Tiny House This Month

There is so much I love about my tiny house, my favorite part seems to change every day but there are a few things I have noticed over time that I just love about this project.  At this moment, in no particular order here is my top 10 list:

These are a few of my favorite things

1. Endless hot showers in my oversized shower!  Man I love my showers, it was a big priority going into this.  I built an oversized shower at 42″x36″.  I have an on demand hot water heater si I never run out of water.  I can literally take an hour long shower if I want!  Well so long as Hazel lets me… :)  I think my dad has rubbed off on me too (he’s a plumber), it’s kind of cool to harness the power of water and use it for a shower… I’m not sure I ever appreciated that before…

 2. Lounging on the patio in the spring reading a book.  There is a beautiful and aromatic apple tree right off my patio, in the spring it is one of the most pretty things I’ve ever seen.  Add in the patio lights and a little fading sunlight, me curled up in the chair on the patio with a book/sketchpad/journal/staring into space and you have one of my most favorite zen moments.

3. Sitting in the living room watching rain drip from the windows.  This is similar to point one, I am not harnessing the power of water but sheltering myself from it.  I remember the first rain I was so scared to see how things held up, if there were any leaks (there was one, I fixed it!).  It turns out it is a pretty awesome feeling to have built yourself a weather-proof shelter!  It can get cold and bitter and RAINY here in the fall, I love sitting on the couch and watching the rain drip off the window flashing, the way it should.  It’s a detail I never would have cared about had I not put the flashing there myself.

4. Cooking while watching a movie.  I’m not much of a movie buff and James isn’t much of a cook.  We can both do those separate things though and still get to hang out!  In the tiny house we can both kick back and do what we love without having to go to separate areas.  He chills out on the couch with a movie and a browser and a notepad and I fiddle about in the kitchen and we can still chat and bond.

5. My toilet.  My toilet is awesome.  I love that I am not wasting so much water that we work so hard to clean.  I love that it is all handled right at my house.  I love that there is no splashing, no smells and it’s not freezing in the middle of the night (there is a small heater in it).  People may not believe it but I love it so much better than a standard flush toilet (and I was very leery going into this project!)… Poor Hazel is going to be confused though when it is potty training time.  She’s going to wonder where the sawdust is at the grocery store potty! ;-)

6. Having everything I love in one spot.  I admit this one has taken time and honestly I still have stores in mom and dads basement (all kids do that, right?).  I can say though that I have everything that I care about under my roof.  There are bags of old dresses I didn’t quite have the heart to get rid of just yet, there are stuffed animals I may want to give to Hazel later, there are things that sit somewhere just because there is somewhere to sit them but anything that is important to me is in my house.  It hasn’t always been like that I have felt very spread out previously just because I moved so often there were a lot of home bases.  Some may think in the small house it would be harder to keep everything near and dear… well near.  It’s not, everything has a place.  It’s nice to have it all at home for once!

7. Saving money.  Self explanatory.   Just before Hazel was born I was able to pay off all of my debt.  All of it.  when I took home my paycheck once a month it was all mine.  Yeah I have bills to pay but no debt, insurance and groceries and a little rent, that’s it.  I have even got rid of my phone.  How would it be to take your whole paycheck and just stick it in your bank account?  The answer is pretty awesome!  With that little cushion I built up before Hazel was here I decided it was ok if I just don’t go back to work until I need more money.  I do side jobs as I want to and try to monetize this site as much as I can while still being human (I don’t push anything I don’t truly believe in) because if I can live off of that stuff then I can stay home even more with her!   So, if you want you can buy my ebook ;-) (just kidding… sort of)

8. Hearing my dog snore at night.  There is no particular reason for this, and perhaps it would still occur in a bigger house but it is comforting to know he is close enough for me to hear him.  In the back of my mind,while I sleep I know I am protected.

9. Inspiring others.  I had no idea when I started this that anyone would be interested in reading my blog, it was just a place I could document my build and update it from any computer.  Then it became a challenge.  Then it just became a part of the process.  Somewhere along the line it got popular enough for me to feel jazzed and inspired to keep going!  It got me through the hard spots, I could think through problems here and get feedback from others.  I remember the day that I got 32 hits in one day.  In one single day 32 people read MY words, they read about MY project.  It was amazing!  Then, a little later I got my first email from someone that called themselves ‘my fan’, it said I had inspired them.  I had a fan?  I couldn’t fathom that.  My weird little project inspired someone to do something in their life, I don’t even know what honestly but I had a fan!  That is a cool and encouraging feeling!  One single person’s life was altered by something I did.  I have a very hard time fathoming that to this day, I can only hope it is altered in the most positive way!  Today I get several thousand people visiting my site every single day.  I love that people seek me out because they somehow found something in me that is inspiring.  Those people are my inspiration too, I mean I’m just a weirdo, they give me someone to be accountable to!

I think inspiring is one of the very best names to be called and I have had way more than my fair share of kind people calling me that.  It’s amazing!

10. Getting recognized at the dog park/grocery store/public.  I have been recognized on the streets as the girl in TIME, the girl in Dwell.  My dog has fans, there is an s on that, he has more than one!  Hazel has been called so many beautiful things by people who don’t even really know how amazing she is!  She has fans, I have fans, sure some of it is cringe-worthy but SO many people are SO nice to hear from!

So that’s my list, what is your favorite part about living tiny?  If you’re not quite there what do you imagine will be your favorite part?