Tiny House Summer Camp 4

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Micro solar showers for tiny house living, camping, and off-grid homes

A Solar Shower Jug in My Backyard- the "Arnold Palmer" Shower....(it was a jug of Arnold Palmer Iced Tea)

 Solar showers DO work, and we'll be talking about them, and solar cooking, at "Tiny House Summer Camp"- July 6-9th, in Orleans Vermont- 4 days, with lodging space, of tiny house teaching, sight-seeing, and building!

-Well, they don't work well in the winter (at least here in New England), but here's a completely afffordable, environmentally-friendly (you're not using propane or electricity to heat your water) way to heat water for washing yourself, while off grid. While this could, or could not be, you primary source of (sunny day) showering and bathing, its a very simple option to at least consider (even for supplimental use), and one that is talked about as "squeeze showers" quite a bit in the "Dwelling Portably" books by Holly and Bert Davis- an outlandish, typewriter-written, journal-entry style, collection.
    I plan to use one or two of these for weekending on my little houseboat/shantyboat project, when its completed and launched. 

The Pros- (because there's always that large faction of people who will say/think "That's ridiculous"- before they ever (and will never) try it...

-Simple, and you can set up as many of them as you please in a sunny spot. They are simply recycled plastic jugs spray painted with flat black paint (NOT glossy black- it reflects some of the sun back).

-They're easy to control, work well (the water can get pretty hot- but not scalding hot). You can drill holes in the top too, so that when tipped, they flow more slowly. You'd be surprised at how little water you need to get clean- especially us Americans, who are used to 80 gallon-use showers.

With a $1.00 can of cheap Home Depot spray paint (the no-name brand)- you could make about seven or eight of these.

If placed in a sunny window, they can serve, tromb-wall/thermal mass-style, to retain a little solar heat/gain in your home after the sun has gone down- not much heat with small jugs, but with many of them, or a big barrel, it might make a noticeable difference.

Great for on the go camping- as you travel, leave one or two in the back window of your car while on the road, or in your parked car. If your car is parked in the sun all the time at your tiny house site, just leave 'em in there to warm up full time.

When stored (even just left outside) they don't take up much room at all. And when no longer in use, just recycle them. 

The Cons-

Its certainly different than a shower, you have a to conserve a little more, but once used to them, they work fine. They take getting some used to- you'll get the hang of it after 2/3 showers though.

What people will say/think- but who the heck cares!? You shouldn't.

The lack of control on the temperature of the water.

Cloudy/cold days, you're out of luck.
My book has a few pages on solar gain, solar showers, and more....  -Derek "Deek" Diedricksen


  1. Deek, what a fun portion of your workshop...that I'm bummed I will be missing!

    As a teardrop camper, I have tried to come up with numerous creative ways to shower in the outdoors. For a while I was using one of those solar camp shower bags that I hooked onto a pole I made with several lengths of conduit pipe with an elbow piece at the top. I pound a piece of rebar into the ground and slip the conduit over the top to hold the entire thing up. It works once in a while if the ground is not too soft.

    Check out the Burning Man website and forums for some creative solar shower ideas. I have seen a lot of great ideas out there.

  2. Deek, I saw this online, maybe your blog, maybe another, about using one of those garden pump sprayers for a shower. They range from 1 gallon to 5 gallons, and one could, as Mick would say, paint it black and leave it in the sun. Then, no hanging bags, just pump it up and spray yourself up and down with it. Positive pressure from a minute of good old fashioned elbow grease.

  3. I LOVE this idea! I am currently planning my tiny house build and was looking for simple off-the-grid shower ideas. I will definitely consider this as I would like to keep things as simple as possible when building.