written by: Envirowords•edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi•updated: 2/25/2010
A green hybrid trailer home can be an biodiesel electric RV or even a prefab home made out of a shipping container. The only requisite is that it is transported on a road and it results in minor environmental impacts; some homes are even suitable for living off the grid.
slide 1 of 5
All hybrid trailer homes use green energy for electricity and heat. The miniHome, the most sustainable hybrid trailer home, uses solar panels to generate electricity, passive solar for heating and cooling, includes composting toilets (considered waste treatment) and a rainwater collection system. On top of all that, the miniHome is small and utilizes energy efficient appliances, including LED lighting, to limit its impact on the environment. The miniHome can be transported via a truck and is suitable for off the grid living. Basic models sell for $145,000.
Clayton Homes has developed the iHome which looks the most like a traditional trailer but uses solar panels, energy efficient appliances, thick walls with heavy insulation, rainwater collection systems, tankless water heaters, and dual flush toilets. The 1,000 square foot home costs $140,000 and comes completely furnished.
slide 2 of 5
Hybrid trailer homes are emerging as a key component of sustainable design for communities looking to avoid suburban sprawl. The Loft Cube can be transported anywhere, even to building rooftops via a helicopter, is stylish and is designed to take advantage of passive and active solar power. Floor to ceiling windows achieve passive solar warming and the cube can be positioned to achieve optimum solar power via a panel system. According to Ms. P. Staebler, Loft Cubes have been modified with solar panel systems in Germany but are currently not available in the United States. Basic models sell for $111,000.
Many innovative hybrid trailer homes have evolved from disaster relief efforts. Hurricane Katrina taught emergency agency a powerful lesson in deployment of healthy, self-sufficient trailer homes for displaced populations. The recent earthquake in Haiti enforced the message.Green Horizon took the design challenge and created the SFH40, a trailer home made from 100% recyclable or recycled materials, that is 100% self sufficient with zero environmental impact. The 13X40 foot unit can be shipped in a standard shipping container and is DOT certified to be towed behind a 3/4 ton pickup. It relies on solar panels, batteries, biodiesel generator, water storage tanks and water purification equipment. It can be set up in less than two hours by unskilled workers. The SFH40 is for use primarily in disaster areas but is a good example of hybrid trailer design that can be transferred for urban planning goals. Large quantities sell for about $80,000 per unit; smaller quantities sell for $120,000 per unit.
slide 3 of 5
Existing trailers can also be modified to become green homes. These hybrid converters use antique trailers, to which they add efficient retrofits and sustainable materials. One modified airstream added clay earth plaster walls to increase insulation. The interior features bamboo counters and cabinets, eco-friendly fabrics and energy efficient appliances including LED lighting.
slide 4 of 5
Hybrid Recreational Vehicles
For all of you searching for wild places, new hybrid recreational vehicles are in the works to make sure your road trips getting out of the city to natural places do no harm to the environment in the process. These RVs will contain a specialized ecoFred chassis to run the vehicle on electricity as well diesel fuel, possibly biodiesel. Winnebago's Adventurer hybrid prototype features this integrated design. According to Kelli Harms, Winnebago Industries is not producing these homes for sale on dealer's lots right now, but it will someday be a natural progression to have these coaches available.
If you can't wait for them to be produced you can easily convert your current RV by adding solar panels to the roof. The conversion is incredibly easy because RVs already rely on Direct Current (DC) generators. DC is the type of electric solar panels produce effortlessly.
slide 5 of 5
Green Hybrid Trailers
All green hybrid trailer homes can be transported on a road and use only clean energy sources, mostly solar power. Some can be completely self sufficient while others can use power from the local utility. Most hybrids incorporate some sustainable materials and energy efficient appliances. Hybrid trailers are useful in good urban planning designs and most beneficially, can provide healthy refuge after severe climate events.