Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Some things just take longer than you think they will. I've been working on the electrical system for our tiny house (so we should have a tiny electrical system, right?) for a few days now, and it is still not done. Part of the time was spent consulting with my friend Mike, who is an electrician. We started by creating a list of our electrical needs.

From this list we find that we can do pretty well with just 15 Amps (a good heavy duty extension cord). But we are wiring it for 30 Amp capacity. We will still be able to plug into a standard outlet, but we could take advantage of a 30 Amp outlet too. Once we had the list, we made map of wires, outlets, lights, switches and the circuit breaker box and junction boxes. Then I got to work.

Certainly, drilling holes, running wire and connecting up the circuit breaker box took a long time, but one of the biggest time drains was going to the store.

I'd get moving along and realize I need a certain kind of connector, or I'd run out of wire. I never tried to figure out how much wire I'd need. I assumed the leftover roll of romex 14 gauge wire that we got for free was enough. When it wasn't, I bought another 50 feet. Then another. But it does make sense. The trailer is 18 feet long and the wires go up and down and from this light switch, to that light...

Anyway. I have completed what my friend Mike calls the "rough wiring". I still need to skin the wires and hookup the switches and outlets. The light fixtures will come a bit later.


  1. Any 12v wiring and circuits? Any plans for a house battery as in an RV or boat? Wiring for future solar panels? Could be nice to run some extra circuits for a solar expansion in the future, if you aren't planning one now. I did both when building my tiny house/house truck and found that I ended up not using my 120v wiring much, mostly went to 12v chargers, and lighting. Only turn the inverter on now occasionally.
    Love the updates guys, It will be a great resource for our next project, a tiny house on a trailer, not a truck frame.

  2. Hi LebnJay,
    No 12 volt this time around, but from what I've read, we should be able to go solar at some point if we want (can afford and have the time to set up) too.

  3. While it's unfortunate that you've had to make so many trips to the store I'm really glad that you guys are sharing experiences like this.

    I'm curious to see what all of your electricity consuming devices look like as you move ahead on your house. I was surprised to see that you're using flourescent lights and even more surprised to see that you only expect to use them for 1 hour/day each.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  4. The 1hr/day is really just an estimate. One or two will be used very frequently and others rarely. Also, we're looking into LED lights as an option too. They burn cooler and use less energy (and aren't as toxic when you dispose of them).

  5. I think it's pretty amazing that the printer uses more amperage than the refrigerator!

    I had always read that it was good to rent a right angle drill for running the wiring, did you choose not to do this?


  6. Elements:
    Actually, what was in the paper and what is here is really an abbreviated version of my electrical demand/usage analysis. I developed profiles for max/min/summer/winter/peak usages, as well as estimated yearly kwh usage. It is in a spreadsheet and is fairly dull, but let me know if you want to see it.

  7. Brett,
    Didn't really need too. If the holes line up and are a bit bigger than the wires, the wire is easy to pull. And that is the issue - that pulling the wire through one hole at a time sucks. Threading it and pulling it through successive holes is fast and easy.

    Plus, no one is going to see these holes so it doesn't matter if they are at perfect right angles.

    Thanks for the question.

    Yeah, I was surprised too, but our referig is a small one, and the printer will only be on and plugged in when it is needed.

  8. I'm trying to figure out the best place for breaker box. Where did you put your breaker box?

    1. It is actually in one of the closets, which is generally not to code standards. The only reason I did it was that we tended not to use enough electricity to heat things up to dangerous levels.

  9. Where's the breaker box located?

  10. Wow! What an eye opener this post has been for me. Very much appreciated, bookmarked, I can’t wait for more!
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