If you live in a tiny house that’s off the grid, you’re going to need to get creative when it comes to lighting your abode. You can build your tiny home to let in tons of natural light, but you’ll also need some off-grid means of powering your home.
If you have solar panels or a generator, you may be able to use some of the same lighting solutions that people in on-grid houses use. However, if you don’t have access to solar power or a generator, or a means of connecting your tiny home to the grid, you’re going to have to turn to other sources of light – including gas lights, oil lamps, battery-operated lights, and even candles.
Letting in natural light is the cheapest way to light your tiny home, but it only works during the daytime. There’s also a trade-off to be made – more windows means less insulation, so the more windows you have in your tiny home, the more trouble you’re going to have keeping it warm in the winter.
That said, windows can really brighten up your space and give you beautiful views. You can gaze at the starry night sky through a skylight over your bed, and wake up gently in the morning with the sunrise. Windows can also let in plenty of light in your kitchen and dining areas. Go for smaller windows no bigger than four feet by four feet to strike a balance between getting enough natural light and maintaining the integrity of your insulation.
Off-Grid Electric Light Sources
When you live in a tiny house off the grid, you’re going to need to use off-grid sources of electricity. Solar panels are the best option if you get enough sun to run them. A generator is the next best option if you don’t get enough sunlight to power your solar panels – or don’t have enough battery storage to run solar-powered electric lights at night.
If you have your tiny home wired to connect to a solar panel or generator, you can use ceiling lights and wall sconces just like the ones you’d use in a regular house on the grid. You’ll probably want to avoid hanging fixtures like ceiling fans, chandeliers, and pendant lights, unless your tiny home has high ceilings – and even then, a large hanging fixture can overwhelm the space. Plus, you’ll have to design a way to hold the hanging fixture steady while you’re moving your tiny house, and that can be a real pain.
The best way to illuminate a tiny home with ambient or task lighting is to use light fixtures that take up minimal space. Avoid floor lamps, unless it’s one of those corner lamps that can be attached right to the wall. Table lamps are also right out. Go for recessed lighting in the ceiling, or wall sconces that match the aesthetic of your home decor.
LED lighting technology has opened up a whole world of lighting solutions for tiny homes. You can buy LED light strips and ropes that you can hang anywhere in your tiny house you want. Put them under the stair risers to illuminate your staircase. Attach LED strips underneath your kitchen cabinets to add task lighting in the workspace. Hang LED rope lights around the ceiling for soothing ambient lighting. For more security at night, attach solar-powered, motion-activated flood lights to the outside of your tiny home.
Of course, battery-powered portable lights and portable lights with their own built-in solar panels will also have their place in your tiny home. You can buy work lights, headlamps, and camping lanterns to give you extra illumination where you need it, even when you’re not able to use solar panels or a generator.
Pre-Industrial Light Sources
There may be times when you can’t or don’t want to use electric lights. It’s always a good idea to keep candles around the house, in case something goes wrong with your electricity. Candles can also create a romantic ambiance in the house at night. Paraffin lamps are also a good way to light your space when electric lights aren’t feasible.
Lighting your tiny house off the grid requires a source of electricity and the right choice of light fixtures. You’ll want to choose recessed lights or wall sconces that don’t need to be secured during travel and don’t take up a lot of space in the home. With the right lighting solutions, your tiny home can be both cozy and functional.