View Full Version : Green Houseboat

11-10-2009, 07:16 PM
Well , This should be good fodder for fun. Here goes anyway. My goal is to build a "green version of a house/riverboat. My intent is to have a style and design reminiscent of the African queen with power options of both jetstove fired steam engine, solar powered drive motor, or petroleum distillate engine driven. 2 Person live a board accomodations. I welcome all input. even sarcasim is amusing fun. I know welding , fabrication, woodworking , ac and dc circutry, I have just never built a boat before.
That will be changing shortly. All input is welcome. Sarcasim will be enjoyed as well. Size goal is less than 10' wide and less than 24' long

11-10-2009, 08:37 PM
Well , This should be good fodder for fun. Here goes anyway. My goal is to build a "green version of a house/riverboat.

Ok - you asked for it... buy a can of paint....

11-10-2009, 08:39 PM
I'd recommend a house of lattice. Yep, the plywood with square holes stuff that your grandmother's tomatoes crawl up each year. Cover with Kudzu or suitable fast growing, difficult to kill crawling plant and you'll have real green home in no time. Maybe a splash of Purple Passion, just for contrast, carefully applied Round-up for windows and doors, you'll be good to go.

11-10-2009, 08:44 PM
Green more or less implies efficient. Basic boat efficiency, like all means of transport, starts with keeping weight down. Having different on-board power sources to give options is adding weight and is inconsistent with the basic objective.

Solar powered electric is realistic for moderate speed but panels are expensive. They require a good size cabin top to be spread over as well.

The steam is likely to be heavy for the power it will deliver and still quite expensive if engineered to applicable codes.

The distillate is likely to be the overall most economic considering moderate use over say a 10 year life. There is a good chance that the price of distillate will increase to better reflect its growing scarcity within the next 10 years.

The greater the use the more competitive the solar electric will become.

Rick W

11-10-2009, 08:58 PM
Aww jeez Rick... did you have to go and spoil our fun by being all serious and stuff...;)

Ok. Before there can be answers, there has to be questions.
I'll start with 4:

How much do you want to spend?
How long do plan to spend aboard at a time?
How far do you plan to go?
Where do you plan to go?

BTW - I thought Paul's suggestion of using roundup to create windows was truly inspired...

11-10-2009, 09:36 PM
With new wind generators and better battery systems or Steyr additions the modern sailboat or motorboat should be able to rely on electric power to gain mileage.Admittedly the slower speed will require better planning and certainly better refrigeration for cruising boats.
Motorsailers are the answer to most larger vessels and many smaller vessels as well.The ability to add a centerboard should allow many motorsailers to put up far more sail than presently employed.With more ballast in the battery packs a higher aspect sail should not pose too many problems.

11-10-2009, 10:42 PM
I see no reason to get especially serious about this project just yet. My Kudzu walls are light weight and regenerative, which translates into less of anything used to propel it. Lets face it, propulsion isn't the big energy user aboard a houseboat. Climate control and cooking are. Combination's of wind and solar will probably cover all the vessels needs, if lived aboard like a boat, not a floating condo.

I have several quite efficient houseboat designs, though nothing approaching the dimensions you've suggested Tbreen. You said houseboat, so this means a craft large enough to actually have the tings you need without having a fart blow out a window or two. Generally this means length, if efficiency underway is of any concern, as elbow room fore and aft is more economical the excessive beam (the typical route). I can't imagine spending more then a few days on a craft with the internal volume of a dumpster (10'x24'). This size would be a baby for even Winnebago.

If you did get serious about a really green houseboat then you'd need a designer that can think out of the box, plus several other "experts" to sort out the various systems for the most efficient forms.

11-10-2009, 11:53 PM
Hey - I wasn't being sarcastic about the windows...

I agree with your comments too. Hence a couple of my questions. Reality is that this vessel is unlikely to go very far, nor is it likely to enjoy a big budget. A small 4-stroke outboard, whilst on the face of it, not overtly green, is likely to be the best propulsion choice. You can pick a 2nd hand one up quite cheaply, allowing the $ to be spent on the real energy consumers - people... (ie, refrigeration etc).

11-11-2009, 02:53 AM
The African Queen was restored so you can go have a look at it. There isn't much space to live in around the boiler. The accomodations, if you remember the movie, was a ratty old tarp. However, a Katharine look-alike can make it all worth your while. I don't know about the leeches though.

Tiny Turnip
11-11-2009, 07:52 AM (

Escargot is pedal/solar electric powered.

Not an African Queen though! How seaworthy does it need to be? The size of living accommodation that would fit onboard a 24' x 10' African Queen shaped hull would be pretty tiny- not far off the Escargot.

Perfectly possible to make a zero (heating/cooling) energy living box. (the house bit!) Cold climate: 300mm plus insulation. Air tightness. Heat pump maybe. Some thermal mass will help, but obvious payoff against displacement/drag, depending on how much the houseboat is to move about.
Hot Climate: open(able), high ventilation, shading devices, thermal mass (as before) Energy use and maintenance have a much higher environmental impact than the embodied impact of the build. 'Luxuries' like cooking, lighting, fridge, will need power. possible to achieve with solar/wind, depending what compromises you are prepared to make.

This holiday cabin:

is built of straw bale, on a mobile home chassis, and is off grid, using solar hot water, PV and wind generation.

And a composting toilet, which might be a challenge on a houseboat!

Can't see a zero energy box with 300 mm plus walls sitting on a 24' x 10' African Queen though!

11-11-2009, 08:42 AM
The African Queen is maybe 7' beam

11-11-2009, 11:18 AM
It has been proven time and again that a vehicle any vehicle that is built to last is kinder to the environment than haphazard and usually flimsy built "green" machines . If it can last 50 years before it needs replaced then it is more environmentally sound than if it only lasts 5 years .

So build a river boat out of 8mm steel , then set up your batteries so the flow of the river charges them while you are moored . You won't travel much but you might just save the planet !

Oh and if you buy a rifle you could while away the hours shooting cows at the riverside thus reducing the methane they release into the air .

11-11-2009, 11:21 AM
What's the green rating of getting on a pedal powered generator and turning a beer gut into electricity?

11-13-2009, 06:03 PM
Following on a bit from Helen's idea, here is what I did/happened to me a few years ago. I took control of a 32 foot ketch so that it wouldn't bash my 28 footer to pieces. I was aquainted with it's recent history and knew it to be abandoned and unregistered by it's most recent occupant. Tracked down last legal owner, who had sold it 15 years earlier. Girlfriend got POA to get title cleaned up. I bought the boat for 1 dollar. It was not a green boat.

I didn't want the thing, but I had to get it in some sort of working order before someone else would take it away. Unloaded three pick-up loads of stuff. 2 went to the dump and one went home to be sorted out. I invested 106 dollars in repair, sold the boat for 3000 to a guy who fixes up boats. He lived on it all winter; fixed it up; and sold it again for a profit. It is now in a nice marina and complies with applicable laws regarding sanitation etc.

I don't know what a green boat is; but I know there are thousands of disgusting hulks out there poluting the waterway. Turning one around would do far more good than any new build possibly could.

11-13-2009, 11:16 PM
This is indeed a green houseboat.I have seen so many trawlers abandoned on the West Coast for it the West Coast is now a fish refuge.
I have also witnessed so many terrible attempts to clean up waterfronts without regard to the housing costs pressed upon the locals.With modern onboard sewage recycling available,I cannot see why these trawlers cannot become an essential part of the waterfront housing market.The local authorities should offer special incentives from bringing these water homes into the tax stream.

11-14-2009, 10:56 PM
It's simple Tarheel, floating homes, even those that formerly were boats are more costly from a municipality services point of view and more importantly chew up huge chunks of tax revenue from waterfront properties that now must be listed waterview. Without the tax base, communities die. The premium properties bring in the largest portion of these taxes, so it's cutting your own revenue throat.

View Full Version : Green Houseboat