When you’re living off-grid in your tiny house, having a process for water collection, storage and filtration is essential.
It is possible to filter dirty water so that it is clean, however this is not very practical or economical on a long-term basis.
Methods such as rainwater harvesting or water collection from a well or spring, then followed by filtration, are much better for off-grid living. If you’re able to, filling up your water supplies at a near-by on-grid location and then transporting them back to your tiny house is also a good option.
In this article, we’ll go over why you need to filter water when off-grid, some basic methods of doing so, as well as the best tiny house water filter options available.
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Why you need to filter off-grid water
Harmful things that need to be filtered out from water include, but are not limited to, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, toxic compounds, pathogens and viruses.
Disclaimer: Please consult a professional before filtering water to ensure that the methods used produce water that is safe and legal to drink. This will vary depending on your location. We will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website and related content.
Your country and local jurisitiction will have certain rules and regulations on the water that you use, including what needs to be removed from water to make it safe to consume and use.
In the USA, the Safe Drinking Water Act was created to ensure that drinking water is safe.
The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of national primary drinking water regulations that list all of the chemicals, microorganisms, disenfactants, etc and their safe amounts in water. You can read the full list and find other useful information here.
DIY tiny house water filtering systems
There are a few different methods you can use to filter water in your tiny house.
Firstly, the simplest way to remove germs from water is to boil it for one minute.
This changes to three minutes if you’re above an altitude of 6500 feet.
Although boiling can remove most germs from water, it won’t filter toxins from the water.
Special chemical tablets can be used to disinfect water. These can be things like chlorine and iodine.
These won’t filter all toxins from water either.
Again, this is a process that disinfects water, but does not filter it from all toxins.
UV light treatment works by shining UV light through the water which damages the cells of germs.
There are many different types of filters you can buy or even make yourself.
These can filter out harmful toxins, such as heavy metals, flouride etc from the water, but they won’t disinfect the water by killing germs.
Activated charcoal is one option. When water is passed over, it absorbes and stores toxins.
We reccomend some easy to use water filters in the section below too.
Because it is difficult to filter grey or black water so that it is suitable for drinking, you will have to combine multiple methods in your filtration system. Simply boiling your water or just using UV treatment won’t suffice.
It’s fairly straightforward to filter water for purposes such as washing, cleaning and cooking. This can be done with an inexpensive water filter you can buy for around $100.
Best tiny house water filters
There are a few different types of tiny house water filter.
Here are a the different features you need to decide on:
Gravity vs Powered
Most tiny house water filters will be run by gravity.
These work by entering the water into the filter from above and it will slowly trickle through the filtration system downwards, into a collection chamber.
Gravity ran water filters can also be portable and used when hiking, since no power is required.
These will filter water much slower than solar powered water filters, but at least they are cost-effective.
Here’s an example of a portable gravity water filter:
The Berkey is a well-known gravity ran water filtration product. It comes in various sizes, the largest of which can hold 3.25 gallons in its tank.
Flow rate is important for your tiny house water filter.
This is how much water can be filtered in a given time period. The Royal Berkey can be configured to purify up to 8 gallons of water per hour.
There is a difference in flow rate between water filters that use gravity and ones that are powered. Gravity filters, like the Berkey have a much slower flow rate.
Water filters that are placed under the sink in your tiny house can filter out heavy metals, sediment and some harmful chemicals after the water has been made safe to drink and pathogens removed.
These have a high flow rate and can filter about a gallon of water per minute, like this one:
Placement in System
Here are some more examples of water filters that are inserted at the end of your tiny house water system, under the sink:
These are not a substitute for correct water filtration with a proper system and chemical treatment, if you’re using a dirty water source to begin with.
They are great fore reducing the levels of harmful chemicals such as lead and chlorine, while leaving helpful minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Reducing these can also help reduce the build up of scale on your household appliances such as your kettle.
Water filters must be used at the start of your water system in your tiny house. Ideally, all of the water you use is treated before it enters.