When it comes to living in a tiny home there are still certain things that I would consider a necessity when it comes to appliances. You have several options when choosing tiny home appliances. Some people prefer to use full sized appliances. This is one option, but it does eat up a significant amount of your available square footage. Another option is to use compact appliances. Which you choose is up to your personal preference and whether on not compact appliances would work for your needs.
These are appliances which I would consider a necessity:
- Washer and/or Dryer
- Water Heater
Then there are some that I would consider optional. They are:
- Air Conditioner
There is also a whole host of small appliances that you could consider. Things like a toaster, coffee maker etc. Since there isn’t really a compact option for these, I won’t be addressing them in this article.
This is my list of what is a necessity and what isn’t. Personally, I want everything but maybe the dishwasher. I like my conveniences.
Tiny Home Appliances – Power
One thing to consider when purchasing appliances is what power you will have available. If you plan on living totally off grid, your choice for appliances is going to be a lot different than if you will be hooked up to power constantly. Also, if you intend to use solar as a main means of power, you will most likely want to limit yourself to smaller more efficient appliances. Running coffee makers, toasters, microwaves, A/C and other high draw items can be a challenge if using solar power alone.
Tiny Home Appliances – Refrigerators – Compact Electric
This is one item that you have a ton of options for. Refrigerators, both full size and compact, are plentiful. If you intend to always have power, you can easily pick up a fridge that will work somewhere like Home Depot.
Based off the tiny homes I have designed and worked with, I think a smaller, 6-10 CU. FT. refrigerator or refrigerator freezer combo would be best. They allow enough space to store a decent amount of food but do not take up too much of your available square footage.
When it comes to this size of a refrigerator, many of the ones at places like Lowes and Home Depot do not get very good ratings. There is a company called Compact Appliance that specializes in tiny home appliances. They have several options that rate well. One is made by Danby and is 7.3 CU. FT. It includes both a fridge and a freezer.
The other is made by Avanti and it is 7.4 CU. FT and also has a small freezer.
These units are small enough that they could be put in a space under the stairs or built upon a pedestal that could contain storage.
Tiny Home Appliances – Refrigerators – Electric Full Size
Full Sized fridges are a possibility. If you have power hook ups available all the time it wouldn’t really matter what size fridge you have. If you run solar, it is still possible. Gabriella at Tiny House Build said they ran their 18 CU FT fridge off of solar. Her figures were that it cost them an additional $3,000 in arrays and batteries to have enough power to run their fridge. Overall though, she said that it was more cost effective to be able to have a standard electric fridge than one that would constantly have to use propane.
Tiny Home Appliances – Refrigerators –
If you are looking for something that you could use without having to be hooked up to power all the time there are a few options for you. Propane or a DC powered fridge that could be run off solar panels. Any electric fridge could really be run off solar panels if you have enough of them, but it takes more to power a standard fridge.The previous example of Gabriella shows that it can be done.
Ben’s Discount Supply has a collection of propane fridges that you can choose from. At our cabin we have a propane refrigerator and freezer set. They are both about 8 CU. FT. and they work very well. You will most likely want more than just your standard 20 or 30lb propane tank to run these though. Most of these units will consume 1.1-1.5lbs of propane a day. Depending on how expensive propane is in your area this could be fairly costly.
Tiny Home Appliances – Refrigerators – Solar
Ben’s is also a good source for solar refrigerators as well. Solar units are fairly expensive. They do have their advantages though. One is that they can be run on DC power. You don’t have to have an inverter to operate them. Another is they consume significantly less than a standard fridge. A 25 CU. FT. fridge will consume about 634 kwh/year. A solar fridge of 10.3 CU. FT. will only consume about 191 kwh/year. Even a similarly sized (10.1 CU FT.) electric unit from Lowes shows it would consume 330 kwh/year.
Although the alternative power refrigerators may be more expensive to purchase, they may save you money in the long run. Even if they don’t save you money, the flexibility they provide for you to travel with your tiny home could be well worth the expense.
Just remember, fridges need space to breath. Wherever you decide to install it, make sure there is 3-4 inches behind it to allow it work properly.
Tiny Home Appliances – Stoves And Ovens
There are some people who could get by with just a stove and no oven. I am not one of those people. So for the sake of this article I am going to lump the two of them together. Some people will have just a stove and then have a toaster oven. This would work for some people, but not for me. We will discuss stove oven combos in this section.
You have a few of options when it comes to your stove as far as what it uses to heat. If you are building a Tiny Home On Wheels (THOW), then you are limited to propane or electric. Tiny homes built on a foundation could also consider using natural gas. If you are not going to have hook ups available all the time, I would highly recommend
going with propane vs an electric model. Stoves draw a significant amount of energy and powering one from solar is quite challenging.
Not all gas stoves can be used with propane. If you choose to go with a gas stove, I would recommend you find one that can be run on propane. Ben’s again is a great resource for stoves like this. They are compact as well as propane friendly.
Tiny Home Appliances – Stoves And Ovens – Electric
If you choose electric, Home Depot or another similar store has a huge selection. Summit Appliance carries a large variety of apartment sized stoves as well. They can be save space and fit nicely in a tiny home. You can find a dealer near you here.
If you really only wanted a hot plate, Home Depot has those too.
Depending on what you like to eat and how it needs prepared, you can determine which option is best for you. Remember, typically the smaller the item the more energy efficient it will be. Just make sure to get a stove big enough for your needs.
Tiny Home Appliances — Washer Dryer
Due to the fact that a tiny home is tiny, a combination washer and dryer is recommended. Another option would to be to get just a washer and to air dry all of your laundry. There are options from as small as a countertop unit, to larger combo units.
How many people will be needing to use the washer will help you determine how big of a unit you will need. Also, availability of water could be a big factor. Combo units can use around 7.5-16 gallons per
cycle. You will need to have access to water to be able to fill the washer as well as some way to dispose of the waste water. If you are living off the grid, using a washer may be more challenging and require a bit more planning.
Overall, having a washer dryer combo is a great convenience. It is also something I would consider a necessity. Having to find somewhere to do laundry all the time can be a real pain. Whether it be finding a laundromat or someone else’s washer and dryer to use.
Tiny Home Appliances – Water Heater
There are several options when it comes to a water heater for you tiny home. You could go with a traditional water heater but that will use a lot of gas or electricity. Also, it would require a significant amount of space for the tank.
The best option for a tiny home would be a tankless unit. This topic could be a blog post in and of itself. There are many things to consider when purchasing a water heater. Indoor installations or outdoor installation? Gas or electric? Size and venting requirements also play a factor into how you want to install it. How hot can it get? How fast can it deliver water?
Typically, the propane units will heat water faster and more efficiently than an electric unit will. Electric units though tend to be less expensive up front. Depending on how much hot water you expect you will need, an electric tankless may work for you.
This just barely scratched the surface on tiny home appliances. I will cover the optional appliances in a future post. It is nice to note though that just because you choose to live tiny does not mean you have to give up modern conveniences. There are multiple outlets for appliances that are built with tiny homes in mind. As the tiny home movement grows, so will the list of manufacturers who create great products that can make your tiny life easier.
Once you decide what appliances you need you can determine how much you need to budget to get them. Good quality appliances can be expensive but they will pay for themselves in efficiency and trouble free use for years to come. Have fun researching your options and make the choice that will make your life the easiest.