Off Grid Tiny Living - Graywater

Many people interested in tiny living also have interest in becoming off grid or having a fully sustainable system in place for their home. There are many different avenues that one can choose when wanting to live off grid. With that, there are also many questions that can arise when wanting to know which system is best for you. Join us in this blog series where we’ll tackle some of the commonly asked questions when it comes to off grid living. Up first: Graywater (greywater) Systems.

Normally we terminate the graywater in an RV style connection or plain ol’ 1 1/2" pvc with a valve, whichever the client chooses. Most tiny home owners are going to be in either a semi-permanent situation (own a piece of property or renting long-term) where they can engineer their own gray water filtration system or are going to be at a place where they can hook up to an RV graywater hookup (RV park, Campground, etc.).

With that said, there are several other options that are available for graywater. One would be to use a tank system similar to an RV. We would permanently mount a large gray water tank under the house (available up to about 150 gallons in size) that would need to be emptied every week or two at an RV dump station. This option would work well if you were planning on moving the house often as you would an RV. 

The second version of this would be to have one or two portable "tote tanks" under the tiny house that you would put in the back of a truck or trailer when they were full and take offsite to empty. This option would make sense if you were going to have a house that would remain stationary for longer periods of time, but you didn't have access to RV graywater hookups or other means of disposal.

The third option would be to use a portable gray water filter and either let the filtered graywater soak into the ground (rural location) or let it run into a storm water drain (urban location). You could also use the filtered water for gardening or some other productive use since it is filtered. Depending on local laws this may be legal, semi-legal, or illegal. You will have to research the graywater ordinances for yourself in the area where you are planning to have your tiny house.

The forth option would be a combination of the second and third options. You could utilize tote tanks when you were in an area where the graywater filter was impossible to use and could use the graywater filter when that was an option. Since they are both portable, they could be transported empty in the back of the truck or van you use to tow the tiny house. This would be for a situation where you were planning to be mobile, but wanted flexibility.

The setup you use will depend on your intended use for you tiny home (how often you plan on moving it, where you will be parking it, etc.). Personally we have been using a DIY engineered graywater system with three 55 gallon drums connected inline and filled with activated charcoal and gravel to filter my graywater which then soaks into the ground. This is actually more environmentally friendly than a typical septic tank setup. We use all natural soaps and cleaners to make sure we aren't doing anything nasty to the environment. We are able to do this because we live in rural TN and own the property where our tiny house sits so this solution makes sense for us.

If you’re interested in having a home built for you, we’d love to engineer a graywater system that works for you!