I have maintained for some time that building tiny houses is not an endeavor for the weak of heart. Neither is it something that should be taken lightly. It is an exercise in design and construction like building any other structure. It should be able to protect you from the outside elements; keep rain off your head, dirt off your feet, and wind out of your hair. The perks are that (and thanks to Thomas Edison and Sir John Harrington) they may also add lights over your head and flush water in your commode! Those two services however are not as innate as one might think. There is a reason it takes up to four years to become a licensed electrician. Between book study, on-site training, journeyman training, and then board certificate testing, it is a highly skilled trade and one that can make or break a house. Improperly done and it can even harm the “electrician.” I know first-hand the frustration that comes from wiring your tiny house only to flip the switch by the door and have no light come on anywhere. One bad connection can fry your nerves and possibly your entire wiring schematic. Thanks to author, blogger, and entrepreneur Ryan Mitchell of The Tiny Life help has arrived.
Shockingly Simple Electrical For Tiny Houses is an 135-page resource PDF of core content that starts with making a basic electrical circuit (read: beginner) to designing and installing solar and wind systems (read: extremely difficult). What’s in the middle pages though is tiny house gold.
Did you know that the average dishwasher pulls between 1200 and 1500 watts? It does. And because I happen to know that I often scoff at tiny house conversations that mention the inclusion of dishwashers. The power requirement simply isn’t worth the exchange. But because of Shockingly Simple… you too can know information like that as well as the energy consumption of dozens of other appliances in order to plan and build an effective electrical system in your tiny house.
I want to call special attention to pages 22 – 44 though. They deal specifically with the panel box, diagramming the box, installing breakers, and then bringing pole power into the box. Talk about instrumental. In just twenty-two pages Mitchell brings together images and resources that may otherwise take literally days of Google research to find. And to have it all in one, concise, guide available on your smart phone (if you so desire) is ideal. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the book is that it uses illustration, diagram, photography, and outside resources (Dept. of Energy maps for instance) to thoroughly reveal the magic behind electricity and electrical installation.
For just $20 the book can’t be beat. And while reading through its pages won’t make you a licensed electrician or a professional electrical resource or even a good electrician, it will offer you tools that are imperative to installing electricity in your tiny house. Please be advised. My endorsement or recommendation of the book does not mean that had I read it prior to my own tiny house project I would not have shocked myself 4 times and placed a power outlet 6’3″ high on a wall located behind a kitchen countertop that is functional only when the back bedroom switch is turned on. No book an rescue you from a “learning opportunity” like that!