My Off-Grid Sprinter Van Tiny House Motivations

September 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Check out my DIY Solar Energy eBook. I get a lot of emails asking me why I have made specific decisions about my mobile tiny house, so I thought I would share some of my motivations to help with the overall context. 

As many of my long-time readers know, I am a nature and landscape photographer.  For me, this means I travel a lot to remote locations and often times without any access to utilities and modern conveniences for days and weeks at a time.  

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In addition to my requirements as a nature and landscape photographer, I like to live as free as possible and not be dependent on things like water connections, electricity hookups, and so on.  This mentality shapes how I craft my solutions.  

The core set of solutions for my mobile tiny house revolves around maximizing my mobility and freedom to explore the landscape.  If I was dependent upon connecting to electricity and water at campgrounds or RV parks, then I would be very limited in my mind.  

It has taken me a few years to adjust and become effective at living an "off-grid" type of life in my mobile tiny house.  The reality is much more simple than all of the thoughts that I had before I started.  By living like this, I am able to come up with solutions, often incredibly simple, to seemingly big obstacles.  

I also like to blend in and not look like a house on wheels.  This approach has helped me many times over the last few years when I was tired from traveling and needed a place to sleep for the night.  If my mobile tiny house looked like a tiny house on wheels, it would limit my options and draw unwanted attention.  I would much rather look like a utility guy or commercial van that no one really pays attention to.  

I have minimal electricity requirements, but I am set for just about anything I could ever think of regarding power.  I had an auxiliary battery installed in my Sprinter van that charges while I am driving.  I use this as my main source of power 99% of the time.  It is a deep-cycle AGM battery that has 150 amp hours of capacity.  If you go down this route, make sure your battery is setup to where it won't draw power from your main battery if the auxiliary battery is depleted.  I keep all of my computers, phones, WiFi, and gps units charged without any type of issue.  I even have a small TV and DVD player so that I can occasionally watch a movie at night after a long day of hiking and exploring.  

My secondary solution for electricity is a portable solar panel with integrated charge controller that I store in the back storage area of the Sprinter.  I have an AGM Deep Cycle battery that I keep in storage back there as well.  I develop my film while on the road and I like to use this solution because the film developing unit can use a lot of power.  It is a lot of fun developing film with electricity that I am making from the sunshine that I am enjoying.  

For personal water consumption, I typically keep a few cases of bottled water in storage and a few in my refrigerator.  I keep 10 gallons of water onboard for things like showering, washing hands, and so on.  I will write a separate article about my shower solution.  I keep about 3 to 5 days of food on board with me at all times, unless I know I need more for an extended off the grid adventure.  I am always able to find fresh produce on the road and I stock up as needed.  I keep non-parishables such as nuts, seeds, etc. with me in case I get cauight off guard and don't have access to food.  

I hope this helps give you some insight into my approach to working and living tiny while mobile.  

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Scroll down to the bottom of this article and click on the "Add comment" button and say "Hi".  Let me know what if you have any questions or if you are building your tiny house on wheels too.  

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