Tiny House Appliances

Our tiny house was built to be as off the grid as possible. This means we do a lot of household chores the “old fashioned” way. However, every tiny house experience is different and for those who want more modern conveniences there are some choices you can make. Here is a look at tiny house friendly appliances as well as possible alternatives.

  1. Dishwasher. There are several small countertop dishwashers available on the market; like this one. The pros for this include, of course, not having to hand wash your dishes. However, you do have to have plumbing with running water to hook this up to your sink. Even though it is small, it will still take up quite a bit of counter space. The alternative? We hand wash all of our dishes using collapsible basins and dish rack. Because we don’t have running water in our tiny house we need to conserve our resources. This solution allows us to wash dishes outdoors whenever possible and only use the water we need. We also use biodegradable dish soap and a good scrub brush.
  2. Laundry. Many tiny housers choose to have a small washer/dryer combo unit in their homes. I used one of these in a condo in South Africa and found it to be efficient and useful. Rather than two separate units one machine washes and dries your clothes. You can find units like this here. Another option is a small, hand powered washer in conjunction with an outdoor clothesline for drying. The alternative? We decided to make laundry a social event. Soon after moving to our area we found Bar of Soap, a Laundromat that is also a bar. Laundry quickly became a chore we looked forward to. In fact, I liked it there so much I picked up a part time job one day a week!
  3. Oven. Another appliance that is often debated by those building a tiny house is an oven. Some folks opt for installing a small stove and oven combo. This is especially important if baking is a top priority. Macy Miller’s tiny house has a great example. Other tiny housers choose to eliminate the actual oven and replace it with something like a toaster oven. The alternative? This time, our concern wasn’t our use of water but rather conserving electricity. Since our home is off the grid on our purposefully scaled back solar power system we need to be careful about what kinds of appliances we use. Lights and laptops are fine but any appliance that converts electricity to heat is an energy hog. Instead, we use an outdoor propane oven when the weather is nice.
  4. Refrigerator. Keeping food cool is another solution that isn’t one size fits all. Some tiny house owners opt for a nearly full sized refrigerator, like Andrew and Crystal Odom of Tiny r(E)voltuion. Others might opt for a smaller dorm sized fridge. If you’re not hooked up to the grid, then a propane refrigerator may be a good choice. The alternative? Some tiny housers, like myself and Tammy Strobel and Logan Smith of Rowdy Kittens, have chosen to go without a refrigerator all together. We have learned that many of the foods we automatically refrigerate don’t need to be stored that way. We keep non-perishable staples like rice or pasta on hand and add fresh foods from the farmers market. We plan meals so we eat meat the day we buy it and keep the foods that can last longer throughout the week. We do have a Coleman Stirling Engine Cooler, which is unfortunately no longer available, that we keep under our house hooked up directly to our batteries. It is very energy efficient and we only turn it on when we need it. We primarily use this to keep our beer cold.

Now it’s your turn! What kind of appliances do you think are essential to your tiny house experience? 

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6 Comments → “Tiny House Appliances”


  1. Cinny

    Feb 18, 2014

    I am a backpacker who is getting ready to build a Vardo wagon to park at wilderness trailheads.I learned that home-dehydrated meals can be almost as delicious as fresh cooked. I even wrote a book about it called Backpackers’ Ultra Food. Check it out on Amazon if you are interested. No refrigeration and light-weight storage.

    Reply

  2. Tom

    Feb 18, 2014

    The Coleman Cooler is still manufactured by a Japanese Co. called Twinbird.
    http://fpsc.twinbird.jp/legacy/en/sc_c925_box_e.html

    Reply

  3. E. Gwin

    Feb 22, 2014

    I have used a small gas stove in our camper on trips and found it thoroughly adequate for baking and broiling. One of these propane stoves would work just as well and is compact. One way to conserve fuel and heat a small area is to run one burner with a terra cotta flower pot upended on it. Radiates enough heat to keep a camper sized room warm enough. We never used the heater as it tended to be feast or famine with the heat output.
    Wood heat would be great if you are parked in an area that allows its use. Many communities and towns are nixing wood because of air pollution when many fires are used close together.

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  4. Marsha Cowan

    Feb 22, 2014

    I have a propane single burner about 12 inches square on which I cook everything and heat water for coffee or bath. Because it is designed for outdoor use, I made a tiny “hobbit” door in the wall through which I can reach and turn the propane off after each use, then turn it on again when I am ready to cook. Otherwise, I have a cooler I use without ice to store eggs, bacon, sausage, cream, and sugar, but I am seriously thinking of getting a Coleman 12 volt electric cooler as soon as I up my solar wattage. My heater is propane, and other than that, I have no other appliances. Once a week, I take a small basket of clothes to my son’s house and wash, but otherwise, I haven’t missed having an oven or lots of appliances. My life is lived doing other things; this is just a place to come back to-my nest.

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  5. DeWhit

    Feb 22, 2014

    I just cannot understand the reasoning or the appeal of a dishwasher.

    I have been broken of my old habit of letting the old house dog do the prewash when I washed the dishes. The dog appreciated it as there was no scrap food from those meals.

    Reply

  6. Cyndi Ann Lopriore

    Feb 24, 2014

    I would someday love a Tiny House if could buy a spot for permanence. I do believe that the most important things for me will be a wood burning stove as I live in the North East, (in case of power outage), then at my age, a bed on main floor, a bath with shower and nice deep single sink in kit. area, all electric as I (imagine) my roof with solar paneling and a particular windmill that I’ve seen that only takes up approximately 4″x4″ of space in yard or atop roofing if permitted.

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