Tiny Homes HVAC Options

HVAC Solutions for Tiny Homes

How Do I Heat & Cool My Tiny Home?

Tiny Homes HVAC OptionsIf you have been paying attention in the greater San Diego area, you may have noticed the uptake of a global trend: tiny homes. We love the tiny house trend and we’re happy to see tiny homes in San Diego because they’re energy efficient & sustainable and because they challenge the status quo and that’s what we’re all about. In their efforts to maintain a lifestyle that is both energy conscious and affordable, many tiny home owners and builders will find themselves with questions:

How can I cool my tiny home?
Which HVAC system is best on such a small scale?
What is the HVAC load calculation for my tiny house?

 

HVAC for small spaces is completely different than a typical home or commercial location. However, fear not – maintaining your thermal comfort index in a tiny home is easy, affordable, and eco-friendly. Here are the major tiny home HVAC solutions you have to consider:

 

Passive Cooling / Passive Heating

 

Passive cooling and passive heating refer to ventilation which is not motivated or generated by an electrical fixture, with ductwork and other technologies. Passive heating or cooling would not require a thermostat or other active controls. Tiny home builders in California may prefer this avenue because they may not be required to make modifications to suit the system, or the modifications will be minimal. For the homeowner, these solutions are often less expensive but can also be less effective. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Windows
    In a tiny home, you’re not cooling a massive space and you can probably achieve a decent cross-breeze just by opening cross-home windows and letting freshness in. The trouble starts when the heat or humidity – especially here in the hot San Diego weather – end up inside your home with no recourse for removal. Also, this doesn’t work as well to heat the home later in the winter.
  • Ceiling Fans
    Ceiling fans can manage to cool or somewhat “heat” your tiny house. While they do not generate their own temperature air, they do effectively circulate cool air and generate a breeze. In the winter, you can turn your ceiling fan in the opposite direction and it will push warm air that has risen to the rafters of your home downward into your living space for an effect of warmth. The drawbacks to ceiling fans include that they are a threat to air quality if not cleaned well and often, they do not generate temperate air so you’re still working, essentially, with the temperature given in the home, and they can sometimes make a small room feel smaller.
  • Floor Fans/Window Fans
    If you are willing to part with the space in your tiny home, a floor fan will make you feel cooler by drawing a draft across your skin. Whether you insert one in a window to draw warm air out from your home or stand one in the room and let it oscillate you will find an increase in comfort. However, these fans struggle to warm up a room and in the warmest of conditions, will struggle to cool it to comfortable levels also.
  • Roof Vents/Attic Fans
    These are a little pricier than the options listed above because they do require a hole to be cut in your roof. One potential drawback to this is that if the unit is not sealed well, moisture leakage can become imminent. That said, these units can warm or cool your tiny home and will provide an increase in ventilation which will increase your comfort. If the weather is hot and heavy, however, this solution will feel uncomfortable.

 Air Conditioner Options for Tiny Houses

Active Cooling / Active Heating

Simply put, when we refer to active cooling or active heating, we are referring to air conditioning units. These will require some type of controls, either by thermostat or on the unit itself. While all of the following examples would require some installation for your tiny house, they are all effective. There are many active air conditioning systems that are highly energy efficient as well. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Window AC Unit
    Say what you will about the aesthetic of a window air conditioner, this solution will work for your tiny home. Of the active cooling solutions here, this is the most affordable and the easiest to install yourself. That said, if your tiny home only has 1-3 windows, as most do, it may feel foreboding to eliminate one by stuffing it with one of these bad boys.

All of the following active cooling systems will require an HVAC technician for installation and maintenance.

  • PTAC
    The term PTAC, which stands for Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner, may not sound familiar but if you’ve stayed in an economy hotel room, you’ve likely used one. This will take up precious wall space in your home but it will effectually heat and cool your space with ease and in 2016, these come in highly energy efficient AC models.
  • RV-Style Roof Unit
    This is another solution, commonly used in RVs, which will both cool your tiny home and heat your tiny home. It is installed into your roof so it takes up less living space. However, if your roof operates at a slant greater than 15 degrees, you will find that this unit shuts down easily. Flat-roof tiny homes will love this option.
  • Mini Split System
    A common mini-me to the traditional air conditioning system, the Mini Split is such that your home will have an interior ventilation unit and an outdoor cooling unit, similar to your large home counterparts. The difference is in the size alone as the Mini system will use a compact air conditioner. To calculate your tiny home’s BTU, follow the same BTU calculation instructions as with a larger home, subbing in your actual square footage and accounting for any outlying factors such as multiple occupants, the probable use of a kitchen, and accounting for sun vs. shade.
    Shop Compact AC Units

 

{Builders: Are you curious about how to design and engineer an HVAC system in a tiny home from scratch? We’re happy to partner with you, too!}

 

If you’re looking to cut down on your tiny home costs and still heat and cool your space with ease, no worries! There are many passive and active HVAC solutions available for your tiny house. For more information or to request an estimate on HVAC services for your tiny home in San Diego or the surrounding area, contact Airmaxx today! We’re happy to help.

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