What’s the worst thing you can do to a teenager? Right. Take away their internet access. The prospect of living with the family in a Tiny House without connections and therefore without WiFi will spark many a teenager in screaming and pounding protest. The Internet has become a basic necessity of life. Are there any off-grid internet solutions in a Tiny House? Yes, but also limits.
Since we started working at home en masse and the children are being taught at home in Corona time, the need for good internet has become extra clear. Children from 0 to 6 years old already have an average of 2.5 hours screen time a day. The average teen’s screen time will be considerably higher. Anyway, we need a good connection and fortunately that is fine with 4G and, also, almost with 5G (I will not get into the 5G discussion here).
Internet via your mobile hotspot
There is quite a lot of choice in unlimited mobile internet providers these days. I myself have a subscription with which I have 5 GB of data per day. If I don’t make it with that 5GB, which happens occasionally when I have to download large files, I can add 1 GB for free. And I can do that unlimited. By making my smartphone a hotspot, I can work on my laptop at home, and I never really experience any problems with it. If you live alone and are not a heavy data consumer, you can make good use of the internet this way. When you work a lot at home in a graphic profession, where quite robust software is used and a lot of heavy files have to be sent back and forth, or you have a lot of video conferences, it becomes less workable.
4G of 5G with router
If you live with several people in one Tiny House, a 4G subscription with a router may be a better solution. At the moment you do not have a lot of choice of providers, but in the Netherlands, you can go to T-Mobile, KPN and evenwifi. Unfortunately, KPN has a number of restrictions and I have no experience with evenwifi. At T-Mobile you can choose between a normal indoor router or an extra fast router outdoors. You are of course still dealing with a data bundle that can run out. Increasing your data bundle by 1 GB while watching a movie, with an angry teenager in the background shouting that he or she again has no internet, is not very conducive to a relaxing evening at home. ;) Clear agreements about data use are not an unnecessary luxury.
Do you have a connection?
Not everyone lives off-grid in a Tiny House and sometimes a connection is possible, even if you live off-grid. It is a good idea to check whether you can get a connection to your address. You can do that with any provider on their website. If a connection is possible, you can of course go completely crazy and even take out an all-in-1 subscription: internet and TV via cable, in your Tiny House. No bundles that can run out; no problem if four people are Netflixing at the same time. This is perhaps the best solution for a family with children. ;)
We’ve talked about the internet and television, but not about gaming yet. Keep in mind that certain computer games are graphically demanding and therefore consume a lot of power. If you live off-grid, that is certainly a factor in the months with limited solar power. I speak from experience! For me, it applies that I do not play games in the dark months, or only play older games that are not so demanding. That is not a problem for me. It may be for your teenage daughter or son.
I realize that I am brushing a whole generation of teenagers together a bit here and pretending that they are doing nothing but sitting behind a screen. Of course, there are also adults who cannot be dragged away from their screens, just as there are teenagers and young people who do not spend that much time on the internet or in front of the TV. Living in a Tiny House surrounded by nature and perhaps in a friendly neighbourhood encourages you to get away from that screen more often and spend time outside and with each other. Who knows, you might discover the ancient and almost forgotten art of idling! :)