We have seen so many photoshopped dreams that it is wonderful to see one turn into reality.
Remember that scene in Galaxy Quest, when Captain Nesmith finally contacts Brandon and admits that it's not just a set and a TV show, "It's real!" Well, by Grabthar’s Hammer, the same can now be said about the Ecocapsule, a prefab off-grid solar and wind powered tiny home.
When we first covered the Ecocapsule, designed by Bratislava-based Nice Architects, I had doubts that it would ever be anything but vaporware. Looking at their website it is still hard to tell what is real or really good photoshop, but Inhabitat shows photos of real people climbing in and out of it, and a helicopter dropping it on a Bratislava roof. Ecocapsule describes the idea:
Ecocapsule is a self-sustainable smart house powered solely by solar and wind energy. It allows you to live off-the-grid, with the luxury of a hotel room. Ecocapsule is your design way to independent housing. It can serve as a cottage, pop-up hotel or even as a charging station for electric cars. We have engineered the product from scratch to be as self-sufficient, practical and functional as possible. With Ecocapsule, you will achieve a new level of freedom. Now, for the first time ever, we are opening orders and pre-orders. Join us and change the world - starting with yours.
When I first wrote about it I wondered how it could live up to its claims of not requiring any supporting infrastructure and bringing "civilization’s standards into the wilderness". I concluded:
Everything needs supporting infrastructure; waste tanks have to be emptied, gas bottles for cooking have to be filled. Truly going off grid is hard work, a lot more than just airdropping an egg. But hey, it is lovely to look at.Now that it is for sale (cheap at €79,900 or US$98,193, just US$1,115.82 for each of its 88.26 square feet) we can really see its specifications too, which are actually pretty impressive.
The body is "made from high-capacity insulated fiberglass shells overlaid on an aluminum framework." It comes with a 750 watt wind turbine and 880 watts of solar, connected to a 10kWh battery. Water is collected from the roof and put through a reverse osmosis filter; the toilet is a waterless composting and urine separating, likely something like the Separett. They say they are working on an incinerating toilet for the next version; that's a bad idea because they are noisy and need a lot of fuel.
It is very light, with a dry weight of only 2976 pounds; I could tow it with my Miata on its custom trailer or its little wheels, and the shape would have low drag. There are even hooks on the roof for moving by helicopter. It is sized so that two units will fit in a standard 40' shipping container so it can be transported anywhere at reasonable cost.
Imagine. A warm mountain cabin in the great outdoors. A beach cabana on a remote island. A quiet studio in the countryside. A geeky hotel pod near your house. A spot for your loud teenager… Imagine an opportunity to getaway and enjoy an authentic life in nature.
Ask anyone from Jay Shafer, who pretty much started the tiny home movement, to me, who is still paying for my prototype, and you will find that it is really hard to get these things built and to create a business around it. It requires grit and perseverance and money and far more time than you ever think it would take.
I still have a few problems with the design of the Ecocapsule but to me, the wonder of it is that it exists at all and is for sale. For that, the Ecocapsule team deserves congratulations and the best of luck.