The Utah-based firm Alpine Tiny Homes recently completed another interesting tiny house build, which is a home and a studio rolled into one. The so-called Artist can run completely off-the-grid, and is the full-time home for a mom and her 12-year old son.
The Artist rests atop a triple axle trailer and is 28 ft (8.5 m) long. It features tongue and groove siding, with sparse metal accents. The total interior floorspace is just 280 sq ft (26 sq m), which is quite modest for two, but in this case, it works. The home features bamboo flooring and countertops made of beetle kill pine.
Most of the ground floor is taken up by the living room and kitchen, which has a breakfast bar that serves as the main dining area. The kitchen is quite spacious, and features full-sized appliances, plenty of storage space, and a copper sink. The bathroom is fitted with a bath and shower, a composting toilet, and a sink, which is also copper.
The main bedroom is in a loft, in the gooseneck (raised) area of the trailer and is accessible by a storage-integrated staircase. The bedroom is separated from the rest of the space by a sliding door, which offers privacy, while the headroom is quite generous here, with room enough to stand. The house got its name from the artist’s loft, which is located next to the master bedroom. The owner is an artist and uses it as her main working area. The son’s bedroom is in the second loft, which is also accessible by a set of stairs. The headroom here is not quite as generous as in the master bedroom, but is otherwise quite spacious.
The Artist features a roof-mounted 1.5 kW solar array, which is connected to a Goal Zero battery system and is enough to power the home around the clock, even in cloudy weather. The home also features a propane-powered oven and water heater.
As you’re probably already aware, perovskite solar cells have the greatest potential of being the most prominent source of solar energy in the near future. They’re cheap to make and flexible enough to be applied to most any surface.
And now a team of researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia has made a breakthrough by creating the biggest perovskite solar cell so far, and setting a new efficiency record with it.
According to them, they have managed to achieve a 12.1 percent energy conversion efficiency rating for a 6.3 sq in (16 sq cm) perovskite solar cell. This cell is also about 10 times larger than any existing high-efficiency perovskite cell. The team also managed to achieve 18 percent efficiency for a 0.5 sq in (1.2 sq cm) single perovskite cell, as well as 11.5 percent for a 6.3 sq in (16 sq cm) four-cell perovskite mini-module. They are also confident that they can achieve a 24 percent efficiency within a year or so.
These cells get their name from the crystals they are made of, which are grown into a structure called perovskite. Due to their special characteristic, such as the smooth layers of perovskite with large crystal grain sizes, these cells can absorb more light than solar cells made of silicon. They are also much cheaper to produce.
Perovskite cells can also be created in different colors, or be transparent due to their chemical composition. This means that they can be used to cover virtually any surface, such as the sides or roofs of buildings, gadgets, cars and even windows.
One of the major downsides of perovskite solar cells is the fact that they are not very durable. However, the team believes that they can also improve their durability as they strive for even higher levels of efficiency.
The so-called Cliff Haven is a home that was built into a cliff in Utah, back in the mid 1980s. Located in the picturesque Montezuma Canyon, it is entirely self-sufficient and can function completely off-the-grid. They are currently selling it in a closed auction, and while they’re promoting it as the perfect place to hide away from the world, it is also a great example of innovative and sustainable architecture.
Cliff Haven has a total floorspace of 2,100 sq ft (195 sq m) and has more than nine rooms. It features three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a lounge, kitchen and dining area, as well as a large outdoor deck. There is also a separate two-car garage, which measures 900-sq ft (83-sq m). The home also features ample glazing throughout, which lets in plenty of natural daylight and aids ventilation. Cliff Haven is being sold together with 12 acres (4.85 hectares) of land on which it stands.
To make it entirely self-sufficient, the home features quite a few innovative solutions. There is a tunnel behind the home that allows water runoff to escape, as well as circulating cool air. The tunnel can also be used as a fire escape. The home also has its own well, as well as a grove of apple, cherry, peach and other trees, which supply all the needed fruits. There is also a vineyard.
Rainwater is collected and stored in two 2,000-gallon (7,570-l) tanks and used by the household, and to irrigate the garden. The home gets its power via a solar power array and battery system, though there is also a diesel generator as backup. The home also has and Internet and phone connections.
France has quite a budding tiny house movement going on and the local company La Tiny House has just unveiled yet another great creation. They’re calling it Christine, and it is a modern small home, with plenty of glazing and a warm and cozy interior that is reminiscent of Scandinavian homes.
The interior is clad in unfinished plywood, which covers all the walls, while all the shelves, cabinets and work surfaces are also made out of it. This creates a lovely uniform and clean look. One entire wall is covered in windows, which lets in plenty of light and makes the interior look more spacious.
The Christine features a living area, kitchen, bathroom, and two lofts. The sitting area only features a single armchair that doesn’t look incredibly comfy. The working/eating surface runs the entire length of the home, eliminating clutter and freeing up space. The kitchen is quite spacious for a tiny home, and takes up an entire corner of the living space. It features a stove, fridge, sink, plenty of counter space and storage, and even a washing machine. The bathroom is also quite large and features a shower, sink and a composting toilet.
The bedroom is located in one of the lofts and is accessible via a staircase with shelving built into it. The loft is big enough for a bed but not much else besides, and I would really like to see some sort of a guardrail here. The second loft is used for storage.
Overall, they really made the most of the available space in this build. And the wall of windows makes a huge difference in terms of making this home feel more spacious, which is important when it comes to living in tiny homes. There is no word on how much this home cost to build.
It’s always great to see green tech used to better the world. The so-called Dominican Light Project has set out to provide a source of light in the form of solar power lanterns to the poor in the Dominican Republic for only $5 per person.
The area where they intend to launch these lanterns is prone to frequent blackouts, so people are forced to burn harmful kerosene, and inhale candle smoke to be able to see. Even a single solar lantern can light up an entire home, giving children more time to do schoolwork, and extend the time in which adults can perform the necessary domestic tasks. Charging the lamp for 6-8 hours will provide about 12 hours of bright, LED light. The lamp itself also has a very robust design, which means it should last for quite a while.
Candles and kerosene lanterns are the main source of lighting in this area, which leads to a lot of fires, and creates a lot of indoor air pollution. They also cost about 25% of an average working class person’s wage. Which is why the Dominican Light Project was started. They are currently trying to raise funds through crowdfunding campaign, to be able to provide solar lanterns to the community.
They have set quite a high goal, since an estimate $25 million would be needed to light up the entire Dominican Republic with solar lanterns. However, they have set their Indiegogo campaign goal much lower at $10,000, which will cover the costs of providing the lanterns to about 2500 families. There are no perks for backers, except the knowledge that they are doing something good for humanity, so I hope they meet their goal. The donations start at $25, which I think is a bit too high, but they are currently quite close to the goal.