Most tiny houses are just hooked up to standard utilities. In some cases people place their homes where utilities are not provided, so their house needs to be 'off-grid'. Sometimes it is a combination of the two. For instance, you may be able to get power and water to your house, but not a sewer hookup.
Below are the specific options for getting both standard and off-grid utilities to your tiny house.
The standard hook-ups are what you would use if your house was at an RV park or on a lot that had all the standard utilities available, for instance in someone’s back yard.
If you have a spigot on the outside of the house, then you have water. I know what you are thinking: “That water tastes horrible!” Well the problem is the hose, not the water. If you use a RV white hose you will find that your water tastes exactly the same as tap water at your kitchen sink. Many people choose to have a filter in their tiny house as well.
Bet you didn’t know that extension cords can burn up. Make sure that you get a cord that is suitable for the load of your house. If you have a regular house with normally 110 appliances, a Heavy duty extension cord will do you fine. If your house has 30 amp service, you may need an electrician to install a special heavier duty outlet. Most RV parks offer at least 30 amp service by default.
If the property that you are keeping your house is hooked up to city sewer or has a septic tank, you can probably splice into the existing sewer. Just make sure the connection between the house and the sewer line can be removed like with an RV. This semi-permanent connection is often desired not only by the owners but by many legislatures that need you to verify that the house is truly “mobile.”
It doesn’t get much easier than this: Standard cable provided by a service provider. If you are at a campground or RV park, most have a cable hookup as well.
These hook-ups are what you would use if your house was located where no utilities are provided, for instance in a remote location or undeveloped land. Keep in mind that “going green costs green.” These options may look money saving, but most have a pretty high up front price tag to consider.
Most people feel that they will just use their rainwater for all of their water needs. Typically, tiny houses are not large enough to collect enough rain water for daily use. Which means that you are either going to need to supplement your supply by bringing water in, or an accessory structure to increase the collection area's square footage. Don’t forget you are also going to have to supply room for tanks, too. Read more on our blog post about rainwater collection.
Solar or wind power are the most common ways of powering your tiny house off-the-grid. This is DC power stored in battery banks, then converted to AC as needed by using an inverter. It may sound complicated but believe it or not, there aren’t that many components and installation is pretty easy. Estimation on the other hand can be tough as you have to be careful to account for all of your consumption. Unlike rainwater collection, solar power is also pretty expensive. For a solar calculator and more information check out our resources page. Keep in mind that you are going to have to make room to store those batteries and when it comes to wind you may have local height restrictions that you have to contend with.
There are a few choices when it comes to removing the waste from your tiny house. A composting toilet or container toilet (with onsite composting) with grey water draining to flower bed or French drain is the most common. Some people even use portable collection tanks. Dan talks more about these decisions in one of his Ask Dan videos.
There are several different ways to get internet in your tiny house. In remote locations wireless and/or satellite internet access is available. These options don’t necessarily have the best speeds or run in the best price range, but it is out there. We have covered these option in a blog post about getting internet to your tiny house.