April 24, 2024
Yurt Resources

Adding Modern Conveniences and Windows to an Off-Grid Yurt

Adding Modern Conveniences and Windows to an Off-Grid Yurt

Are you considering adding modern conveniences and windows to your yurt? Embracing the traditional beauty of Mongolian gers while homesteading or living off grid doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort or functionality. With work, you can integrate modern amenities into your yurt while maintaining its unique charm. Let’s explore adding windows and other modern conveniences to your yurt. 

Windows for Natural Light & Ventilation

Adding windows to your yurt can be a fantastic way to increase natural light and ventilation. However, care is required because windows are not original to the yurt structure. If you opt for our bow windows, you should regularly check the caulking around the base of the windows where they connect to the platform and where the glass pane and window frame meet. Add extra caulking if necessary.

Our Bow Windows are single-paned. Adding a layer of felt or insulating curtains to your windows can increase heat or solar gain. Alternatively, replace the single-paned windows with double-paned options. The Bow Windows are available in two options: a fixed window that remains closed, or an open window that allows you to open it as you wish.

The bow windows follow the yurt's curve and are available in individual sections. Each section can be inserted into the circumference of the yurt as is, or connected to one or more windows. They can also be connected to the main door. Each one comes with a small wood awning and a canvas cover that we recommend using in harsh weather conditions or when the yurt is not in use. Each window section is made of two 4mm single-tempered glass panels. 

These windows can be retrofitted into a yurt that has already been set up by cutting the lattice walls, or by overlapping two sections of lattice to create the necessary gap, thus allowing you to revert to the original structure. We recommend up to 2 windows for gers up to 6-walls (or a wall of 2 windows connected for a large bay window) and not more than 3 separate windows for gers of 7-walls and larger (or a wall of 3 connected windows). Another possible configuration is to place the fixed windows on each side of the door, allowing for a nice view outside, while keeping the most of the circumference for furniture and other amenities.

Skylights for Added Light

Each yurt from Groovy Yurts includes a toono, the center dome, revered as the most sacred part of the yurt. This exquisite feature symbolizes the connection between earth and sky, where layers of tension converge and radiate outwards, embodying the meeting of the earth with the sky, and spirits with the universe.

Our toonos are equipped with eight window sections. Three windows are covered with clear vinyl, one serves as an opening for a basic stove pipe (a simple metal sheet), and the remaining four spaces are left open for ventilation without inserts. The toono is opened and closed using an insulated urgh (top flap) and secured with four outside ropes, with each yurt including an urgh.

For enhanced natural light throughout the day, even in buggy or rainy seasons, we offer various toono options and add-ons. These include chimney flashing & brackets, mosquito netting, clear acrylic inserts, and a clear vinyl urgh. It's important to note that while these additions provide additional light and ventilation, optimal weather protection in cold weather, strong winds, and heavy rain is best achieved with the insulated urgh.

Kitchen & Bathroom

Innovative yurt dwellers have ingeniously added kitchenettes and small bathroom areas to Mongolian gers, even in off-grid settings. Let's explore these two essential living areas in more detail:

Kitchen: Using propane-powered appliances and cooking inside the yurt is possible, but ventilation is key to avoid condensation. Designing rounded shelves for storing food and dishes, while using the roof rafters to hang pots and pans are some ideas that have been used. Some have added a sink for dishwashing, with a bucket below to catch grey water for later disposal or a direct drain outside. An 'indoor fridge' can be fashioned by digging a hole below the platform and inserting a cooler accessible inside the yurt - covering the opening with a blanket or other insulating material can maintain cold temperatures for longer. This applies for off-grid situations, but the sky's the limit and we’ve even seen plumbing being brought into a ger. Keep in mind it is a sturdy tent - simplicity is key! 

Bathroom: Off-grid yurters often opt for an external outhouse for bathroom needs. Alternatively, adding a composting toilet inside the yurt is a great choice. A simple wood chip layer helps control odours, and the resulting compost can be used for gardening. An outdoor shower is a delightful option, especially in warmer months. Some have opted for in-yurt showers, but here again, ventilation must be optimal to avoid condensation issues

Yurt Furniture & Décor

If you're fond of the traditional Mongolian yurt design, consider adding authentic Mongolian furniture, hand-painted to complement the interior woodwork. Maximizing space will likely be one of your bigger challenges. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your space:

  1. Multi-Functional Furniture: Use furniture that serves multiple purposes, such as a sofa bed, storage ottomans, or a dining table that can also be used as a workspace.
  2. Vertical Storage: Utilize vertical space with tall shelves, wall-mounted cabinets, and hanging organizers to keep items off the floor and maximize storage.
  3. Foldable and Collapsible Items: Opt for foldable chairs, collapsible tables, and nesting bowls to save space when not in use.
  4. Built-In Furniture: Consider furniture like benches with storage underneath, built-in desks or folding desks to save floor space.
  5. Mirrors: Use mirrors to create an illusion of space and reflect natural light, making the yurt feel larger and more open.
  6. Lighting: Use solar energy for overhead, task, and ambient lighting to create a bright and inviting space.
  7. Curtains or Dividers: Use curtains or room dividers to create separate living areas within the yurt without the need for walls, this is especially useful if you’re adding a bathroom.
  8. Compact Appliances: Opt for compact and energy-efficient appliances to save space in the kitchen and maximize counter space.
  9. Minimalist Décor: Keep décor minimal and clutter-free to create a sense of openness and maximize the feeling of space.

Outdoor Living Space

If you’re worried about downsizing, increasing the functional space surrounding your yurt can enhance your living experience. This can be accomplished by building a substructure below the yurt platform, or in some cases the yurt is installed directly on the substructure. This is a great space for an outdoor cooking area, woodshed, shower or bathroom. 

Final Notes

Adding modern conveniences and windows to your yurt can greatly enhance its functionality and appeal. Whether you're looking to increase natural light, improve ventilation, or add modern amenities, there are options to suit your needs and budget. With planning and creativity, you can create a comfortable and stylish living space that embraces the beauty of yurt living.

If you’re looking for more ideas, we recommend joining a yurt living group on Facebook, this is a great way to join in on maintenance and solution discussions with fellow yurt dwellers.

Groovy Yurts custom heart design.