Solar Burrito Cabin
This blog is about small cabins, off grid living, renewable energy, alternative building, shacks, shelters of all types, homesteading, camping, and other things that interest me.

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About Me

I live in Seattle, Washington, USA and like being outdoors and away from the city as much as possible. My friends and I share this attitude and a few years ago we bought some property in Washington State to get away from it all. The property is a few miles up a dirt road half way up a small mountain, far away from power lines and water service, somewhat remote just like we always wanted.

Living off grid at solar burritos cabin

Our Cabin

We built our small cabin in 2010 to replace our yurt that collapsed under the snow of a “30 year storm” in 2008. The cabin is a 10 year project that I suspect may never be done, but that’s half the fun.  I didn’t know anything about building when we started and have been learning as I go with some help from friends, books and especially the internet. Still lots to learn but it’s great to be able to call my mistakes “rustic” :).

If you can’t build something with a chainsaw… Is it worth building?

off grid rain water collection

We use rain water collected for washing water, solar panels provide the small amount of power we need for our weekend cabin. Currently we have 150 watts of solar power and a 550 gallon tank high on the hill to provide plenty water pressure washing hands and dishes.

Off Grid Cabin Stats:

  • Size: 200 sf plus loft
  • Wood stove for heating
  • Covered Porch
  • Solar power: 2 x 75 watt panels = 150 watts
  • Batteries: 2-4 Deep Cycle
  • 550 gallon rain tank 200′ above cabin for non potable uses
  • Shed for storage
  • Composting Toilet in cedar outhouse
  • Land: 5 acres


00v0v_li0IOCEAElW_600x450Future Plans

Some future plans include a covered porch, wood-fired sauna in the woods, outdoor shower either solar or wood heated, a tree house for guests, and a camping spot to pitch a tent above the cabin on the hill.

2014-08-24 08.47.14

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45 Responses

  1. I don’t have any protection currently so I have to watch the water level. It would be nice. There are several upgrades I’d like to make. Also I’d like to put the pump underground or in a pump house so I can run it year around without freeze damage.

  2. Bart Stewart says:

    On your rainwater collection system, what did you use to protect against running the pump dry?

  3. Shera Konen says:

    Hello There ~ My name is Shera Konen, I’m the Casting Director for a MT based television production company called Warm Springs Productions. We recently sold a special about an off grid yurt build. The network has come back asking us to follow other off grid, unique builds. I was wondering if you have any leads on projects that are just beginning in this space? This is a project with pay. Thank you! ~ Shera

  4. I haven’t, I do know it’s hard to find land on the internet. Call a bunch of agents in the area you’re interested in is what I can reccomend. They don’t always list raw land since it’s hard to get loans on it.

  5. Yes it is because the charge controller will prevent the batteries from getting overcharged. Higher watt panels will charge faster.

  6. Ian Barron says:

    just a quick question is it ok to use a 20 watt solar panel with the same batteries as used in your solar off grid battery pack and a 30 watt solar charger? ive got everything heading this way now just not a solar panel

  7. Sorry, I post on here then forget, I don’t have my notices set up so I just happen to find this later. I had a feeling looking at your topography that you were on the west side of Hood Canal. There are some good property deals out there.
    If you take the Fauntleroy Ferry then follow Sedgwick Rd on your way to Hood Canal then you will drive right by one of our projects. As a parent of two, I feel your joy/pain.

  8. Very cool, I’m in west seattle just across the water from you. Our property is near the west side of Hood Canal. Your lighting project looks very cool, very high quality. I will check out for sure. My free time is now consumed by 2 little kids but I hope to do more solar projects at the cabin soon! Thanks for the comment and I would love to check out your setup someday.

  9. So…years later and we have even more projects going. I’m not sure where you guys are located but if you happen to be near Southworth/Port Orchard I think you should stop and check us out. We have a couple of solar projects going largely inspired by you! http://www.instructables.com/id/Super-Basic-Solar-Lighting-under-75/

  10. Josh says:

    Have you written at all about the process of looking for and purchasing off grid property? I’m also in the Seattle area so all of your cabin-related articles are super interesting to me!

  11. Shaantio says:

    Can you give more info about your composting toilet?

  12. I think it’s about 12 watts so that will be great. .6Ah sounds about right.

  13. ginabella says:

    I am buying the components for the solar cooler piece by piece and hope to complete this by mid summer. As far as the solar panel – is this one adequate?


  14. michaelsakowich says:

    Hi Linda,
    This solar charger is for ebikes-but would work for your wheelchair as well.

  15. Linda says:

    My charger is 24 Volts. I haven’t figured out how many amp hours yet.

  16. Hi Linda, yes I can help you. Sounds like a good plan to have a battery backup. Do you know if your wheelchair is 24volt or 12 volt? It may say on your charger. Also do you know how many Amp hours the batteries are? This will effect the size and number of solar panels. Without knowing that I’d say getting a 75watt solar panel with a charge controller would be a smart investment. If it’s a 24volt system, get two 40 or 50 watt panels and wire them in series to charge at 24volts.

    Here’s a solar panel and charge controller bundle. Buy this a large deep cycle battery from walmart or costco and you’ll be pretty much set. Easy to hook up and you can charge your wheel charge from the battery or from a inverter.

  17. Linda says:

    I am a person with a disability. I use a power wheelchair to get around. I have been working on an emergency plan for if things aren’t going will in the US. The problem I am having is I haven’t found anyone the can tell me how I could use solar energy to recharge my wheelchair that is cost effective. I have never built anything electrical so I am a complete beginner. My power wheelchair is power through two 12 volt batteries and plug in to a 120 outlet to charge. Can you help Me?

  18. I’d figure out what you want, view, privacy etc, and your needs like power or water then call the 2 real estate offices in Hoodsport. They can show you wants available and help you narrow it down. Now’s a great time to buy, better than when we bought in 2006!

  19. Hi Joel, thanks for the kind words.

  20. Hey Solar Burrito,

    My dad just build a cool little “Shed” and got me thinking about my own again. I know you guys are in the hood canal area, any advice on how to find a lot like yours? Or where about’s in hood canal would be a good place to look?

  21. Hey Solar Burrito,
    I was searching reddit for some advice on building an off grid solar system in the Pacific NW and someone turned me onto your blog. Keep up the good work! I also live in Seattle and have a few random projects going in Kitsap and near Yellowstone. I will keep following your inspiration. We even bought the same trail camera as you for security.

  22. We bought our plans with the lumber package from Pennypincherbarns.com. This kit is called the Owls Clover Mini Cabin.

  23. Emily says:

    I checked on several websites and couldn’t get the plans for this cabin. Help?! It would be a dream come true 🙂

  24. Ya we drain ours and some winters we forget and it freezes and expands out the top of the barrel. I think there is some food safe anti-freeze you could check out if you don’t use it for drinking. I find it easiest just to drain it and haul water in Winter.

  25. Andy Fitch says:

    Dude I love the project and have enjoyed the YouTube videos. I have got a similar project going out on the east coast. My buddies and I are restoring a barn to use as a hunting/hang out cabin. It’s not quite as secluded as your spot but it’s got a ton of character. Anyhow, I’ve looked into a lot of the off the grid ideas that y’all have utilized and I had a question about your rain water collection system and what you do to winterize it. I’m thinking about doing something similar at our spot but I’m worried about it freezing and haven’t found a whole lot on the Internet other than to drain the barrels come winter. Any advice would be appreciated. My blog is http://www.flintshiresforge.blogspot.com.

  26. Matt says:

    This project is incredible. I want to do something like this so badly. Thanks for the inspiration!

  27. Hi Lindsey, I’d love to be on the Bob Vila Nation. I’ll I don’t have your email address, but post it here and I’ll email you. Otherwise hit me up at jebsworth(at)gmail.com

  28. Lindsey says:

    Hi guys,

    I’m currently looking for blogs to be featured on Bob Vila Nation, and Solar Burrito would be a perfect fit!

    Visit the site and email me back if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.


  29. Oh nice man! it was so so fun to build! In my full time Job I work with some stainless steel fabricators so they helped me with welding the Propane heater tank. Hey I am working on another cabin at the moment, would you like to check out my ideas?

  30. Josh Travis says:

    Thanks for the response. I understand about the plans. I have ordered a few books that will help with the overall design. That roof looked like a nitemare but it looks awesome. It really makes it look like a larger cabin.

    I was concerned about the major guts of the cabin. Like what size the floor joists are? How many Legs are going to the foundation stuff like that. Ridge beam size?, Is everything else 2X4 construction?

    Looking forward to more videos. thanks for all the info.

  31. sola9986 says:

    Penny Pinchers wouldn’t like if I gave you the plans but I can tell you there is no words only 9 pages showing each wall on each page. The roof was really hard. I didn’t have much construction experience but it was pretty easy to frame the walls and the roof rafters would have been easier if we didn’t do the 2 intersecting roof lines or dormer. Not sure the right term but same your money and time and do a simple 12×16 or similar cabin with one roof line. Let me know if you have more questions. Rough carpentry is easy, just keep things level and get help with the roof angles.

  32. sola9986 says:

    It’s a rad place. I was all over your blog last night. I’d like to make a wood fired hot tub similar to yours at my property. Great job, looks like it was really fun to build. How did you know how to weld that tank for the propane heater?

  33. I saw you posted a story about my tree hut (the best hut, NZ)! I’m glad you liked it 🙂

  34. Josh Travis says:

    I would really love to see the plans you worked off of from penny pincher. I am wanting to design my cabin to be close to what you have, ( maybe a little larger) but I am wanting to draft my own plans and get the lumber locally and hopefully break ground soon. Maybe when you have time you could do a detailed construction video of how the main parts of the cabin. Emphasis on the roof sizes and pitch etc. Thanks so much, love your channel.


  35. I’ll right away snatch your rss feed as I can’t find your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please permit me understand in order that I may subscribe. Thanks.

  36. sola9986 says:

    I’m not sure you’ll need a permit for a yurt if it’s under 200 sf and the deck is under 30-36″. If you going bigger you may, I’m not really sure though. The main issue that people run into is when they want to live in their yurt. I think Kitsap is not ok with that based on the http://www.mellishfieldswest.com/.

  37. Tammy says:

    What can you tell me about getting Kitsap permit approvals for a yurt as a primary home? I’m just now learning about yurts and wondering if this is a “do-able” for me. I’m thinking about Burley-Ollala area. Thx 4 any info!

  38. sola9986 says:

    Were near Hood Canal. I know where Anderson island is. Lots of cheap land out there. We technically built a shed as big as we could in our County, 200 sq foot. How big is your “shed” building limit in your county?

  39. Nate says:

    Hey guys, I had a questions for you. I used to own a 1/2 acre on Anderson Island in the upper sound, but they had a lot of regulations for building. So I was curious what Island you were on or the area, because I want to start building a man shack. Your project is sweet.


  40. John Delp says:

    Hey! Just wanted to give you a thumbs up! We’re doing a whole bunch of alternative building, material salvaging and yurt living on the Kitsap Peninsula and are always happy to find like-minded Washingtonians out there. Keep up the good work, love the blog!

  41. Thanks for your blog. I will put it on http://www.mayapplestrawbale.blogspot.com
    Thanks to LLoyd Kahn for telling us all about it!

  42. Robin Rogers says:

    Hi There Burrito, Just wanted to let you know that I added your website to my website. Cheers! Robin

  43. Julie Graff says:

    ok…I figured it out. Thanks.

  44. Julie Graff says:

    How do I SUBSCRIBE to the Solar Burrito Blog?

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