While both RVs and tiny houses are built on wheels and are smaller in there isn’t much of a comparison between the two. Each will serve a very different purpose and the choice really lies with the ultimate desires of the owner.
Recreational vehicles, travel trailers, and motor homes are all designed to be on the road. They are manufactured with regard to an established set of regulations provided by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). They are designed to be light weight to allow them to travel long distances and will have electrical, water, and waste hook ups that are comparable for use in commercial campgrounds.
On the other hand, tiny homes are traditionally framed and finished houses using all the same techniques as large size home builders. They are frequently built using a trailer as their foundation. While this allows a tiny home to be transported from place to place they aren’t necessarily intended to be traveled with on a regular basis. There aren’t currently guidelines in place for building tiny homes but some tiny home builders are becoming RVIA certified to be able to provide a legal path to owning a tiny house on wheels.
One of the most noticeable differences between RVs and tiny houses are the way in which they are constructed. RVs use thinner materials which help reduce the weight of the vehicle making it easier to drive or tow for long distances. This typically means that an RV doesn’t have as much insulation and isn’t as energy efficient as a tiny home.
The iconic image of a tiny home on a trailer, as popularized by Jay Shafer, was designed out of necessity. Because Shafer couldn’t legally build a home smaller than 100 square feet he placed his first building on wheels to avoid the code and zoning restrictions of his area. Many people believe that building on wheels can help them avoid these laws but this isn’t exactly true. People interested in building a tiny home in their area will still need to consult with local authorities.
Whether or not a tiny house is better than an RV is largely dependent on the way in which an owner plans to use the home. If travel is more important then an RV may be a better choice. If the desire is to have a relatively traditional home that can be moved occasionally and where space is kept at a minimum then a tiny house would be the optimum choice. There is no one-size-fits-all tiny house solution so it is important to determine your needs before making a decision.