Call me paranoid. Call me crazy. Call me whatever you’d like, but I’d prefer to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to the house I’m building. I’ve made sure its frame is strong, its trailer is solid, and its walls are straight, but what good is any of that if someone can hook up a trailer and drive off with it? I’ve taken a 2 step approach, deterrence and tracking.
- Lock up your location with a heavy duty padlock. Whether you are building inside or within a gated area take a hot minute and just lock it up. Its the cheapest and easiest thing you can do to help your situation. If you have your tiny house in an open lot, close it in if possible with a cheap gate.
- Lock up your trailer with a trailer hitch lock. Makes it very difficult for someone to get easy access to your trailer. They’d need to have a blow torch or a lot of time to get through it. The one linked above is phenomenal.
- Last but not least check out the X-Chock Trailer Wheel Lock. These along with the padlocks above keep the wheels stable and lock them in place. These tires are going nowhere.
If someone gets past all the deterrence they are determined bunch and would get through no matter what one does. For everyone else its time for tracking. You could go out and purchase an expensive LoJack type tracking system but there isn’t a need. Not to mention you’d still need to somehow charge it. Below are the steps and products I suggest:
- First, lets start with your GPS tracking device. No need to purchase a dedicated GPS deivce when every recent smartphone comes equipped with GPS. You can either use an old one you have or purchase a burner (a.k.a. prepaid) phone. I’ve researched all of the prepaid providers and the best option for this type of project is TracFone. They run less than $7/month with enough data allotment to make this work. This Android phone works great. Remember, we aren’t going for tons of features, just a working Android phone for the TracFone service.
- Once you get your phone get yourself a 3 month TracFone subscription from tracfone.com.
- The last thing you’ll need to buy is a solar panel, charge controller, inverter, battery, and cables. Oh, or you could just buy it all in one tiny, cheap, and neat bundle like here. Plenty of juice to keep your phone charged without any of the fuss of having to figure out solar calculations!
- When it comes to gps tracking apps for your Android phone there are scores of options. Insta-mapper.com has one that works fairly well but in the past couple of months they’ve had several website outages so use with caution. While any GPS service would work well enough, I’d suggest one with 2 features; GPS Fence (to alert you if the Tiny House leaves a designated area) and either Web or multiple mobile OS support. You can easily find this type of thing in family locator type apps like this one, or even better Life360. Life360 even supports non GPS (a.k.a. Smart Phones) for a $5/month fee. Life360 apparently uses no GPS while sitting still and only does so once moving. It does this to save battery and data. Both important in this endeavor.
- Last, download a motion sensor app like this one. Using an app like this if your phone is properly mounted will either allow you to see your trailer hitch or to see inside your house. Any movement and you start getting emails or text messages. Security camera, check!
Now that your phone is up and running and you have your solar panel its time to install it. It couldn’t be easier with this set up:
- Hook your bracket to your solar panel (this part was a little frustrating due to my big hands and the small screws).
- Cut the cord to your solar panel. Doing so will allow you to drill a smaller hole through your roof.
- Test fit your Solar Panel
- Drill your hole and feed your cord through (check inside to be sure)
- Drill your solar panel holes into the roof
- Use Caulking to cover the hole you made for the cord and over the screw holes for the solar panel bracket
- Screw your roof screws through the solar panel bracket into your roof.
- Use caulking to cover the screws
- On the inside, splice your wires back together and use electrical tape to make it all neat
- Caulk the hole on the inside as well.
- Hook the solar panel up to your all in one unit and your cell phone up to that and viola, you are done!
Now, mount up your phone where the camera can see your desired location and you are now fully secure! If you choose not to go the security camera route you could also hide your phone. Either way, you are far better off. Enjoy the pix!