Rent a Van Home to Test Van-Life

The newest trend in mobile homes seems to be converting a nondescript cargo van into a tiny home. While space is limited, a van home can be parked practically anywhere that a car can go. But converting a van into a home is not an easy task, nor is living out of one suitable for everyone. But now there’s a solution. A Colorado start-up, Native Campervans is renting out van homes to anyone wishing to test out this type of living or travel solution. (more…)

By |April 20th, 2017|Modern design|0 Comments

Net-Zero Tiny Home Designed by Students

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How much space does a person need to live comfortably? Not that much, according to tiny home enthusiasts. And tiny homes are certainly one way to combat the increased demand for affordable homes in urban areas. The students of Laney College in Oakland, California, have designed and built a solar-powered net-zero tiny home to help combat the housing shortage in the area. The home was entered into last year’s Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) competition and won the “Best Architecture” and “Best Design” accolades.

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The tiny house is called the Wedge and measures just 202 sq ft (18.8 sq m). It rests atop a 20 ft (6 m) long trailer and is primarily aimed at those who have been priced out of their homes by gentrification and the rising rents it brought. The home was designed in a way that ensures low maintenance and running costs.

The home produces as much energy as it consumes, and it gets its power from a solar panel array mounted on the roof, while excess power is stored in a battery bank. An inverter converts the power from the 24 volt DC bank of batteries to the standard 120 volts AC for the appliances and devices that require it. However, most of the lighting, devices and appliances, including the water heater, are powered directly from the battery.

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The Wedge has an interesting shape, which is how it got its name. A part of it juts out and the main purpose of this design choice was to create additional interior space, but keep the same footprint. The home features a sitting area, two sleeping lofts, a kitchen and a bathroom. The sitting area is fitted with an L-shaped sofa, which hides a storage area. As for sleeping, the home can accommodate a family of three. One of the lofts fits a queen-sized bed, while the other is big enough for a single bed. The larger is accessible via a storage stair, and the smaller one via a ladder. Although, since the lofts are just large enough to fit the beds, I would like to see some protective railing installed to prevent falls.

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The kitchen features a long counter that has all the necessities incorporated into it, namely a sink, a small fridge, a pantry and a two-burner induction stovetop. There is still ample amounts of counter space left over. Opposite the kitchen is the working/dining area, which is fitted with custom-built furniture and has seating that can be stored underneath the desk when not in use. The bathroom is fitted with a composting toilet, shower and sink.

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The home is also fitted with a natural gravel and wetland plant based greywater filtration system. This water can then be reused for irrigation, since the plan for these homes is to be used as part of urban farming initiatives.

The Wedge is currently on sale for $55,000 via Tiny House Listings.

By |April 18th, 2017|Modern design|0 Comments

Water Producing Solar Panel

Zero Mass Water, an Arizona State University startup has created solar panel which produces water as well as electricity. The device is called SOURCE and it is standalone, meaning that it does not need any wiring or water input to harvest solar energy and produce drinking water at the same time. They have been running a pilot program since 2015 to test the system, which is already installed in a number of homes and communities.

One SOURCE unit measures 30 sq ft (2.8 sq m). It is capable of generating electricity via the solar photovoltaic panel, while it also has an integrated lithium-ion for storing the used electricity. The device then uses that electricity to power a cycle of condensation and evaporation, which produces 2 to 5 liters of water a day. (more…)

By |April 17th, 2017|Solar|0 Comments

Solar Powered Clothing

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Back to the Future II is one of those movies that continue to influence our imagination even though it was released way back in 1989. It foretold a bunch of advancements that we would have by the year 2015, some of which came very close to coming true, some not so much. The movie also inspired a nanotechnology scientist at the University of Central Florida’s NanoScience Technology Center, Associate Professor Jayan Thomas, to try and create solar powered textiles. And he has now succeeded, so something like self-lacing shoes as worn by Marty McFly in the movie could well be available soon.

Thomas has successfully developed solar-powered filaments, which are able to harvest energy from the sun and store it. They can also be woven into textiles to create smart textiles, which would basically be a type of wearable solar-powered batteries. These batteries could then be used to charge our gadgets, while they’d also be able to perform various other functions. (more…)

By |April 14th, 2017|Green Tech|0 Comments

Take Your Hobbit House With You

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Fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are going to love this tiny home. The so-called, and very aptly named, Tiny Hobbit House on Wheels is exactly that, a Hobbit-worthy abode that’s also towable. It was designed by the company Incredible Tiny Homes and looks awesome.

The Tiny Hobbit House on Wheels rests atop a 20 ft (6 m)-long trailer and boasts of a total floorspace of 160 sq ft (14.8 sq m). The exterior is clad in cedar shake siding, while entry is gained via a custom-made circular door. This is also the only opening in the whole house, since it has no windows. This was requested by the customer who commissioned it. The home also features a curved roof. (more…)

By |April 11th, 2017|Modern design|0 Comments

An Awesome Portable Pyrolytic Biomass Stove

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The so-called Enki stove was made by the Italian firm of the same name. It’s a biomass stove, which can cook anything under the sun while converting the fuel materials into biochar. It was created for camping adventures, but it would do equally well for picnics and backyard cooking.

The biomass stove comes in two versions, namely Enki Wild and Wild+. It is a so-called pyrolytic stove, since the fuel materials aren’t burned directly, but rather first converted into gas that is then burned. For this reason, it can also be called a gasifier stove, and it creates a smoke-free flame. It’s also designed to be fed small biomass scraps such as twigs and bark. Furthermore, the waste material it produces can also be successfully used for carbon sequestration and building healthy soil. It is not, however, meant to be an indoor, daily-use stove alternative. However, for barbecues, camping trips and picnics, it’s an excellent choice, and much better than charcoal or gas fed cookers. (more…)

By |April 10th, 2017|Green Tech|0 Comments