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5 Best Solar Kit for Tiny House Reviewed: The Perfect Solar Kit For Your Eco-Friendly…

5 Best Solar Kit for Tiny House Reviewed: The Perfect Solar Kit For Your Eco-Friendly…

    Best Solar Kit for Tiny House Reviewed: The Perfect Solar Kit For Your Eco-Friendly Lifestyle

    You may have moved into a smaller home to save yourself from the high upkeep that a large house demands. Even small homes need electricity for lighting, cooling/heating, and running appliances. You can go a step further to reduce your energy bills by meeting your energy needs with a home solar installation.

    However, it is natural that you have doubts about its feasibility as a tiny house comes with a limited rooftop and yard. You would be happy to know that there are readymade solar panel kits specially designed for small home dwellers like yourself.

    Read on to learn about the benefits of installing a small house solar system as well as tips and suggestions on how to find the right solar power kit for a tiny house.

    Why should you install a tiny house solar kit?

    The benefits of installing solar panels for small houses are somewhat the same as that for large ones. You can save money on energy bills, enjoy freedom from the grid, generate your own energy, and reduce your carbon footprint.

    A solar installation adds value to your property, irrespective of whether it is small or large. In the future, if you want to sell your home, having a solar system makes it easier and will fetch you a higher price.

    Most tiny homes are mobile. For small homes on wheels, solar power is the perfect solution, as you move from one place to another. This will eliminate the need to find a power source at each location, guaranteeing you power 24×7.

    Before you go solar shopping, here are some questions for you to consider and find answers to.

    Tips to buy small solar kits

    What is your energy expectation?

    If you are planning to go off the grid, you may have to consider your entire energy demand. If not, how much energy do you expect from the solar system?

    Just because you live in a tiny home doesn’t mean your energy consumption will come down drastically. It depends on the devices and appliances you have and whether you are choosing ones with a high Energy Star rating.

    You can calculate your energy expectation from your past energy bills or by adding up the wattages of all electrical installations.

    Do you want to stay connected to the grid?

    This is a vital question. If you want to go off the grid, you should have a solar system big enough to meet all your energy demands, together with a solar battery for your nighttime needs.

    On the other hand, if you can continue to stay connected to the grid, you can eliminate the need for an expensive battery. Using a bidirectional meter, you can take advantage of the net-metering arrangement. This allows you to export excess energy generated during the day to the grid and draw energy from the grid whenever your solar system is falling short.

    Where are you planning to install the solar panels?

    The rooftop is a natural choice as it receives maximum sunlight. However, being a tiny house, the roof space may not be enough to accommodate all the solar panels. over, if there are taller buildings or trees nearby, they may cast shadows on the roof, rendering them unsuitable for solar panels.

    The next best option is your yard. If your tiny home is built on a large piece of land, you may consider the ground-mounted systems.

    Before choosing the placement for the solar panels, you need to ensure that the spot receives sunlight at least 5-6 hours a day. If you are choosing rooftop installation, you need to make sure that the roofs are strong enough to hold the weight of the panels. If you are in doubt, you can go in for the light-weight thin-film panels.

    How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Run a House? (The Answer Will Surprise You!)

    Are you thinking about adding solar to your home? With over 2 million homes in the United States with solar now, many homeowners are recognizing how beneficial they are. If you’re considering having solar panels installed in your home and not sure where to start, then you’ve come to the right place.

    We’re going to go over the details of how solar panels work and how many you might need for your home.

    How Do Solar Panels Work?

    Simply put, solar panels absorb photons that then tap electrons free. Once they’re free from the atoms, it creates electricity! Solar panels take in light and directly turns it into a flow of electricity to use.

    • Solar panel cells absorb sunlight
    • They convert the light into DC power.
    • All systems need some type of inverter (string, Micro or hybrid) to convert that power to AC power.
    • The electricity is then sent through wires into your home
    • That powers everything connected to it
    • Any excess of electricity produced is then fed into the electric grid

    Solar systems are not complicated and easy to understand once you have the basics down. Now that you understand how they work, let’s take a look at how long they last –

    How Long Do Solar Panels Last?

    In short, a quality solar panel can last up to 25 years or even longer. Solar panels are designed to live a long life in the elements outside.

    Your typical solar panels come with a warranty that lasts 25 years, so you are guaranteed to reap the benefits for quite a long time.

    According to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, solar panels last 80% longer than their warranty.

    This can save you thousands on utility bills down the road!

    How many Solar Panels Do You Need?

    To find out how many solar panels you’ll need for your home, you need to consider everything that uses power. Taking a look at your utility bill can also give you a good idea of how many you might need.

    How Many Watts Do You Use?

    When looking at your utility bill, you should be able to see kilowatt-hours (KWH). KWH for homes can vary greatly depending on location. A home in the south is more likely to draw massive amounts of energy from air conditioner units.

    Finding the average daily energy usage will help you calculate your solar needs. Once you have your usage you can look at how much wattage you’ll need to be able to run everything.

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    Peak Sunlight Hours

    Keep in mind that solar panels only work when they are in direct sunlight. After the sun is no longer shining down on them, they aren’t producing energy. Peak sunlight hours are when your panels are in direct sunlight.

    Depending on your location, your peak sunlight hours can vary.

    Multiply your home’s hourly energy usage by the peak sunlight hours your home has and then divide that by a solar panel’s wattage. You can do this both high and low wattage panels to find a range of what you might need.

    Most reputable solar companies can also help you determine this by providing them with this basic information as well!

    Solar Panels For a 1500 Square Foot House

    The average home in the United States is roughly 1500 square feet. With a home of this size, the typical electric bill comes in around 100 month. In order to cover the electricity for this home, you would need an estimated 15-18 solar panels.

    For example, a typical fridge may be rated for 250 watts and runs for 4 hours a day. 250 watts X 4 = 1000W. A 1k watt is equal to 1 kWh of energy in a day.

    This, of course, is a general estimate and eclectic usage, sunlight hours, location, and the type of panels can change this amount.

    Types of Solar Panel Systems

    When it comes to solar panel systems, there are three different types. Gid-tied, grid-tied with battery backup, and off-grid. Let’s take a look at each one.

    Grid-Tied System

    The most popular type of system used by residential houses is the grid-tied system. This type of system is tired directly to your home and the utility grid. This allows homeowners to seamless switch between power from either the solar system or the utility system.

    If the system produces more power then the house needs, the excess power will be sold back to the utility company or it will be used to prorate your bill.

    These are generally the cheaper systems out of the three.

    Grid-Tied With Battery Backup

    Similar to the grid-tied system, this solar power system is also connected to both your house and the utility grid. However, it also comes equipped with a battery bank.

    When the panels produce electricity while in direct sun, it stores any excess power in its battery banks. This power can then be used at a later time after the sun has gone down and the panels are no longer producing power.

    The power can also be sold back to the utility companies as well – This system is much more expensive though because of the expensive price of batteries.

    Off-Grid System

    Unlike the other two, the off-grid system is not connected to the utility grid at all. This system is only connected to your home and a battery bank. The battery bank is essential in this setup in order to continue producing power for your home 24 hours a day.

    This tends to be the most expensive system because you need an excessive amount of battery in order to store the amount of energy your house will need.

    How Much Do Solar Panels Cost?

    Solar energy has become cost-effective most recently. The have gone down and they are much more available to the public. The average cost of a solar panel is almost less then half it was a decade ago.

    A typical solar panel can run between 50 cents to 70 cents per watt. At 50 cents a watt, a 350W panel would cost 175. In a typical home needing 15 solar panels, the total cost for panels would be 2,625.

    That is for the panels alone though, the cost of installation needs to be considered as well. It takes professional that know what they are doing to properly install a solar system in your home.

    How Much Does a Solar Installation Cost?

    This can vary depending on the company, but for an average installation, it can run you between 15,000 and 30,000.

    Many solar companies offer incentives and financing. There are a ton of other financial benefits that come along with installing your home:

    • Electricity rates have risen across the nation and are higher now than they have ever been
    • You can save thousands on electricity bills and will only continue to save more over time
    • The resale value of your home skyrockets. Many home buyers now are searching for homes that come with a solar system already installed
    • The government offers a massive tax credit when it comes to solar systems. Some states also offer a rebate program
    • The systems come with a warranty that secures your investment for at least 25 years

    How Much Does it Cost Total For a 1500 Square Foot House?

    The typical 1500 square foot house can use around a 6kw solar panel system. The total cost of the panels and full installation can be estimated at about 18000.

    To get an estimate for your home and how much you can save, contact a local energy consultant. They can provide you with an installation quote and answer any questions you have about solar systems for your home.

    Things to Keep In Mind

    Solar panels are a great way to save money and go green. However, they only work effectively when using the correct products and proper installation.

    You want to make sure to only use quality solar panels and solar equipment. Using cheap or knock-off brands won’t produce as much as quality products.

    Ensuring proper installation is key to a solar system. Not having it properly installed can cause ineffective panels, failure, or fires. Make sure to always have a Professional company conduct the install for your home.

    Wrapping Up

    Now that you have an in-depth understanding of how solar panels work and how many you’re going to need, Its time to go green and start saving money. Contact a professional solar company and receive a quote to have your solar system installed for your home.

    If you have further questions about solar panels or are ready to get them installed for your home, send us a message today.

    How Many Solar Panels are Required to Run a House Off–Grid

    Off-Grid solar systems work independently of the grid compared to on-grid solar systems. Many people are under the assumption that off-grid solar systems are easy to put together compared to their other counterparts. This may be true for small houses like a cabin but for homes and businesses it has to be carefully planned. The main parts of an off-grid solar system include solar panels, solar inverter, and battery. Advantages of an off-grid system include:

    • The main advantage is they are independent of the grid.
    • It can be used in remote areas where there is no access to the power grid.
    • The generated power will be more than enough to be used at night even when there is a power shutdown.

    Figure 1: Off-Grid Solar System

    The most important thing to know when trying to get an off-grid solar system is how much electricity is being consumed throughout the day and year. Getting this right is the most important step to start with. Once the yearly and daily estimation of energy is done, then setting up the solar panels is the next step. Setting up at the right angle is an important factor. Choosing the right area to prevent excessive shading and to ensure proper access and passive cooling for your solar panel can more than double the efficiency of your solar panels over their lifetime.

    Once this is done, choosing the right no of solar panels, size of the charge controller, size of the battery power pack, and choosing the right inverter and AC/DC loads are some of the many choices to be considered.

    Choosing the Right Size Off Grid Solar System

    You will need to size your solar system so that it can produce enough power to cover your winter and summer needs, which often means most of the year you will be producing more power than you can use. No system is 100% efficient same way solar systems are not 100% efficient.

    Energy is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). To determine how many kW of solar panels are needed the first step is to determine how much energy you are using. After measuring the kWh for different appliances, it should be calculated with the no of hours it operates throughout the day. One thing to remember is that the daily energy will fluctuate throughout the year as during winter you may use the heater for much longer. Knowing how your power usage varies session ally is extremely important for off-grid solar because solar power production also changes throughout the year.

    So, it is easy to over or undersize your system if you only use a yearly average to plan for your system. For off-grid systems, it is better to have a table for summer, winter surge load, peak demand, etc.

    Choosing the Battery Capacity:

    Batteries are an essential part of the off-grid solar system. They store excess energy and can be used in the case when the system doesn’t produce enough power to run the loads. They also help level out power consumption between sunny days. All off-grid inverters are designed to be used with a specific nominal DC battery voltage of 12V/ 24V or 48 V depending on the sizing of the system. This is the most common one available.

    Battery capacity is measured in kWh (kilowatt/hours) it is the total amount of energy a battery system can store. The exact math for sizing your battery system is based on your daily power usage and the battery type.

    So for example, if the energy consumption is 10kWh per day, then you would need lead-acid batteries of 24kWh (10kWh x 2 (for 50% depth of discharge) x 1.2 (inefficiency factor)) and for lithium batteries, it will be around 12 kWh. (10kWh x 1.2 (for 80% depth of discharge) x 1.05 (inefficiency factor)) In terms of Amp-hours(Ah), it would be 500 Ah at 48V for lead-acid batteries. There is another term for battery capacity as Amper Hours (Ah). As an example, a 10 Ah battery shows if the battery is discharged by 10 A, it will work for 1 hour and if it is discharged by 1 A it will work for 10 hours.

    The two main batteries for off-grid are Lead Acid and Lithium. Lead-acid batteries are sensitive back in the day they needed to be recharged every day today there are different types of lead-acid batteries that need to be recharged every day, where Lithium batteries can stay at a partial charge without any adverse effect. Depending on the budget, Ambient temperature, and seasonal factors the sizing of the battery can vary as these factors play a role.

    Figure 2: Lead-acid and Lithium battery

    Choosing the right off-grid solar inverter

    The inverter’s job is to convert the power from DC to AC for the house but for an off-grid system, the solar panels feed the power into the batteries and then the inverter takes the DC power from the batteries and supplies it to the load. There are some tips for selecting the proper off-grid solar inverter for your solar power system.

    First is the inverter’s output voltage which corresponds to the nominal load voltage of 240 V in Europe. Inverters are available from 1kW to 16kW most off-grid homes would require somewhere between 4 kW to 8 kW. The solar charge controller built into the inverter will be an MPPT tracker (Multiple power point tracker) or a PWM (Pulse width modulator). With a PWM controller, the current is drawn just above the battery voltage whereas for MPPT controllers the current is drawn at maximum voltage.

    PWM is a good option for small systems and small solar systems and it is much more compact and is available at a low cost.

    The MPPT controller is a good option where the solar array IS large that is it can handle high voltage inputs. Off-grid inverters are much more sophisticated and come in a wide range of available options in the market. Assessments have to be done carefully to make sure the system is sized correctly so that it functions without any failure.

    Figure 3: inverters in a solar farm

    This isn’t a technical guide on how to install off-grid solar systems rather this article will give you an idea when it comes to the components and the sizing of the off-grid solar systems. Some of the key considerations mentioned above would include. The daily energy consumption, and peak load consumption, when it comes to setting up solar panels one needs to consider the location, climate, shading, and also other backup power options too.

    How To Install Solar Panels For Your Tiny House | Step-By-Step Guide

    If you’re reading this right now, there’s a really good chance you’re doing it on your phone or computer.

    Both of which you probably charged up from a wall outlet without thinking about it.

    For tiny dwellers and those interested in alternative lifestyles though, it isn’t so easy.

    Thankfully there’s a solution.

    Solar power systems have improved massively over the last decade or so. They’ve finally reached a point where they can provide all the power needed for a comfortable off-grid lifestyle.

    Today we’ll cover the basics of sizing your solar system, the major components, and give you a primer on putting the whole thing together.

    Taking the First Steps to Solar Self-Sufficiency

    When you’re planning a tiny home solar power system, you should start by writing down exactly what you need to power. Include things like:

    • Appliances
    • Laptops
    • Phones
    • Lighting
    • TV’s
    • Game Consoles
    • A/C Units

    Once you know everything that will draw power, you can calculate how much solar you’ll need.

    It’s always a good idea to add a little wiggle room to this total in case you need extra power for anything.

    This allows you to size both your solar panels and your battery bank.

    Next, you need to decide if you want to DIY your tiny house solar system or go with a commercial solar setup.

    The Basics of a DIY Solar System

    Off grid solar systems seem intimidating at first, but are actually quite simple once you break them down.

    Solar panels convert the photons of the sun into electricity.

    That connects into a battery bank through a charge controller that then flows to an inverter and becomes usable household power.

    There’s definitely more in the details, but the bones of the system are quite easy to figure out.

    One big disclaimer before we go any further.

    Working with electrical power always involves risks. If you aren’t 100% comfortable wiring your tiny home, it’s a very good idea to hire an electrician.

    They have the specialized training and know how to properly hook together with your solar system and the rest of your tiny home’s electrical setup.

    Even if you decide to build the system, you should probably have a licensed electrician look it over before turning everything on.

    They may be able to spot something you missed that could have serious consequences.

    Solar Panels

    Solar panels are the largest and usually most labor-intensive part of building your solar array.

    You need to position them for maximum sun exposure and mount them properly.

    If you’re installing them on a Tiny House On Wheels (or THOW), it’s imperative you make sure your attachments will stand up to the wind while driving.

    When you’re comparing solar panels. you should look at two basic figures:

    A watt is a unit used to measure electricity.

    The wattage of a solar panel tells you how much power a specific panel will produce under perfect sun conditions in an hour.

    Most modern home panels will produce about 100 to 200 watts per panel.

    Cell efficiency determines how effective a solar panel is at capturing the energy of the sun.

    A panel with 20% efficiency would produce 100 watts of power per square meter.

    Solar panels with higher cell efficiency produce more power for their size but are generally more expensive.

    If you are looking for solar panel recommendations, I provided my top suggestions in this recent review I wrote on flexible solar panels. Make sure to check it out.

    You also need to decide how you want to wire multiple solar panels together in your solar system. You can wire them together either in parallel or in series.

    Parallel Wiring

    Wiring your solar panels in parallel requires you to connect all the positive terminals together and all the negative terminals together.

    This has the effect of increasing the amps produced by the panels additively.

    The benefit of parallel wiring is in it’s redundancy. If one panel or connector breaks down, the whole system won’t stop working, and power will continue to flow from the other panels without interruption.

    If you’re using a PWM charge controller, this is how you’ll need to wire your panels.

    Series Wiring

    Wiring in series requires you to connect the positive terminal of one solar panel to the negative of another, in series, until you’ve connected the whole solar bank into the charge controller.

    This has the effect of increasing the voltage produced by the panels additively while leaving the amps the same.

    A good way to think about wiring in series is old Christmas lights.

    The power flows from panel to panel through the system the same way it would from bulb to bulb.

    This has the same downside those old Christmas lights had as well: if one panel goes out, the whole system will stop functioning.

    The benefit of wiring panels in series is that there’s less line loss.

    For most tiny dwellers, this isn’t a big consideration, but if you’re building an off-grid homestead with your solar panels a good distance from your house, it is something to consider.

    If you’re planning to use an MPPT charge controller, you should definitely wire your panels together in series.

    Charge Controllers

    A charge controller takes the power produced by the solar panels and regulates it to charge your batteries.

    Batteries are actually pretty delicate, so it’s essential you have a high-quality charge controller in your system.

    Charge controllers work by controlling the voltage and speed batteries charge.

    They also prevent your batteries from overcharging and damaging themselves.

    They each rely on different principles to charge your batteries, but operate in a very similar manner.

    PWM charge controllers were a major breakthrough once upon a time, but have now been overshadowed by MPPT charge controllers.

    While PWM are adequate for small scale solar systems, they are not the most optimal choice.

    MPPT charge controllers, on the other hand, are able to capture up to 30% more power from solar panels than PWM charge controllers.

    One of the biggest downsides to Direct Current (DC) power is line loss from low voltage transmissions.

    And while PWM charge controllers can only handle voltages of up to about 18v, MPPT charge controllers are able to handle significantly higher voltages and convert them into amps.

    This has the effect of limiting line loss and capturing the extra power that would have been lost.

    In summary, when it comes to the quality of charge controllers, it is without question: MPPT charge controllers are the best option. (Sorry PWM…)

    Build Your Battery Bank

    The solar panels are just one part of a solar powered tiny house.

    In order to use the power your panels are generating, you need a way to store and regulate it. That’s where solar batteries come into play.

    Sizing Your Battery Bank

    When you’re sizing your battery bank, it’s very important you consider how much power you’ll need between charging cycles.

    Most batteries will have a shorter useful lifespan as you increase their depth of discharge (DOD).

    This is based on a percentage of their total battery capacity, measured in amp hours (Ah).

    As you increase the depth of discharge, you lower the number of charge/discharge cycles the battery has before it fails.

    A good rule of thumb is to take your power demand figure and double it.

    That gives you about as much power as you’ll need on a regular basis, while still preserving the useful lifespan of the batteries.

    Types of Batteries

    There are tons of different battery types available, but for most tiny house and off grid needs, only lithium and lead acid batteries will work.

    They hit the sweet spot of functionality and price that makes them perfect for our purposes.

    Lead Acid (AGM)

    Lead acid batteries have been in use for decades. Your car battery is a lead acid battery, as are most of the large batteries you’ll have encountered in your life. They work using lead plates suspended in a solution of sulfuric acid.

    In the past, lead acid batteries required significant upkeep and care, but advances in absorbent glass mat (AGM) batteries have made them much easier to work with.

    These are sealed batteries that require almost no maintenance compared to older generation lead acid batteries.

    They still require venting for safety’s sake, but you won’t have to add distilled water to them.

    Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP)

    LFP batteries have only recently become available for tiny home solar use.

    They have a number of advantages over lead acid and other battery types but can be quite costly.

    One of the best things about LFP batteries is their allowed depth of discharge. You can run a lithium-ion battery all the way down to 80% regularly.

    This gives you significantly greater usable power than a similarly sized AGM battery.

    They’re also lighter and allow far more cycles than AGM batteries.

    Many come with up to a 10-year warranty compared to, at best, a 3 year warranty for AGM batteries.

    They cost more upfront, but are much easier to work with and provide you with superior energy density.

    If you can afford the initial costs, LFP batteries are always the way to go.

    Inverters

    An inverter is designed to step up the DC power of your batteries to the standard AC power used by modern appliances. They come in two different varieties:

    Modified sine wave inverters are cheaper and less effective.

    They’re okay for things like large appliances but aren’t great for delicate electronics.

    If you want to charge your smartphone, laptop, or use your TV, you’re going to need a pure sine wave inverter.

    Pure sine wave inverters are more expensive than modified sine wave inverters but much more effective.

    They allow you to provide nearly the same quality of power from your DC batteries that you would receive from a standard home outlet.

    Breakers, Fuses, and Disconnects

    This one will be highly subjective to your design and how much additional protection you want to build in.

    However, there are a few components that you should always use to protect your investment. These include:

    In-line fuses should go between the solar panels and the charge controller, the charge controller and the batteries, and the batteries and the inverter.

    These allow you to protect the different components of your system from a short or overload that takes out one part of the system.

    The fuse you place in them will vary based on the size of your solar system and how much power each line is carrying.

    The disconnect switches should go in the same places so you have the option to totally power down the system for maintenance.

    Make sure you follow the proper shut down sequencing.

    Start by disconnecting the solar panels from the charge controller, then the batteries from the inverter, and then the charge controller from the batteries.

    The low voltage disconnect goes between the inverter and the batteries. It prevents the inverter from over-discharging the batteries if you go too long without sun.

    All of these systems should be connected on the positive cable.

    Putting it All Together

    When you’re hooking the various parts of your solar system up, there’s a very specific order you should do it in.

    You should also make sure that all the disconnect switches are turned to the “off” position as you’re connecting the system.

    First things first, never connect your solar panels to your charge controller before connecting your charge controller to the battery bank.

    The solar panels should be the last thing you hook into an otherwise complete system. If you hook the panels to the charge controller, first you can burn out the system or even cause it to explode in extreme cases.

    Once you hook the batteries to the charge controller, it should turn on and cycle through some settings.

    Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for set up and then connect the inverter to the batteries.

    Only then should you connect the solar panels to the charge controller.

    Ready Made Solar Systems

    If you’re looking for something more plug and play, there are several options available to you.

    By far the best is going to be from a company, known as Goal Zero.

    They make totally self-contained solar power generators that combine a charge controller, battery, and inverter into one easy-to-use device.

    This allows you to hook them up directly to either Goal Zero portable solar panels or to your own.

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    Yeti 1250

    The Goal Zero Yeti 1250 is a complete solar power generator that provides you with a ready to use system right from the get go.

    It’s designed to hook directly to any of Goal Zero’s solar panels, but can also be connected to standard panels through an adapter.

    It’s capable of accepting up to 240W of power from solar panels.

    The basic system includes a 100Ah AGM battery.

    It’s rated to provide power for up to 10 devices at a time and is capable of powering a standard fridge for 20 hours without additional charge.

    This gives it significant capability on it’s own, but what really makes it special is its chaining function.

    You can connect the Yeti 1250 to other 12v batteries to be charged as well.

    This means you can have up to several hundred Ah of power on hand at a time.

    The Yeti 1250 is a great system if you have very limited power demands and don’t want to go through the trouble of fully wiring your tiny home.

    It allows you lots of flexibility while still giving your excellent utility.

    Are you interested in diving a little deeper into solar products? We have an awesome in-depth review here, Best Off-Grid Solar Kits.

    Sustainable Solar Living

    With a properly set up tiny house solar system, you’re free to go anywhere you like without being dependent on the power grid.

    This gives you the flexibility to live in the middle of a city or the middle of nowhere.

    Now that you’ve got your tiny home solar system figured out, don’t forget to plan for your water and bathroom needs as well.

    Interested in learning more? Check out our other great content on solar:

    Solar for tiny houses: what you need to know

    In an effort to minimize energy usage (and possession of material items), homeowners across the country are moving into tiny houses. Even though these houses are much smaller than the average home, they still need energy for lighting, heating, cooling, and other appliances. If you’re living in or planning to build a tiny house, you can cut your energy bills even further by generating your own clean, free electricity with solar panels.

    Benefits of solar panels for tiny houses

    The benefits you’ll reap from installing solar panels on a tiny house are similar to the benefits of installing on any other larger building: you’ll save money on electricity bills, help protect the environment, and take control of your own electricity generation. Solar panel systems will also help increase the value of your tiny house should you decide to sell it in the future – prospective house buyers will value of free, renewable energy, and typically pay more upfront for it.

    Additionally, many tiny houses are mobile, moving from various plots of land over time. If you have or are planning to build a tiny house on wheels, solar power is the way to go: you won’t have to rely on finding power sources wherever you end up placing your home for a bit of time. Rather, you can have a guaranteed source of electricity, no matter where you end up.

    Key questions for tiny house solar panel systems

    The type of solar panel system you will need for your tiny home depends on the answers to a few key questions:

    How much electricity do you want to generate?

    In general, tiny houses use much less electricity than the average home. However, every tiny house is different, and how much electricity you use to power your tiny home will depend on its size, how many people live in it, the appliances you use. and more. To maximize your savings, you’ll want to aim to generate as much of your overall electricity needs as possible. This may mean only installing five solar panels or installing 15 of them.

    If you don’t know how much electricity your tiny house will use, the Department of Energy’s Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use Calculator is a good place to start. You can enter individual appliances, along with how often you use them, to get an estimate of the amount of electricity they use per year.

    Should you install a rooftop or ground-mounted system?

    Rather than installing rooftop systems, many tiny house owners choose to install solar panels on the sunny plot of land close to their house. These systems require additional racking and mounting equipment, but you’ll have more freedom to place your panels in an optimal direction and often have more space to install on. Regardless of whether the panels are on your roof or the ground, you’ll want to make sure your panels are tilted so that they capture the maximum amount of electricity.

    Is your tiny house connected to the grid?

    Alternatively, if your tiny house is off-grid, you’ll need to pair your solar panels and inverter with a battery and charge controller – that way, you can charge your battery during the day and use that electricity after the sun goes down. If you’re using a battery, you’ll probably want to put it indoors: batteries are sensitive to temperature extremes and can degrade at a quicker rate if operating in hot or freezing weather.

    If your tiny house is located in the backyard or in close proximity of another building, you can also run it on solar power by installing solar panels on the larger building. Once that building is running on solar power, you can connect your tiny house to its electrical system with extension cords, supplying your tiny house with clean, solar electricity. As a bonus, you won’t only save on electricity costs for your tiny house, but for the larger building as well.

    Solar options for your tiny house

    Even tiny houses with low electricity needs can benefit from solar power. If your tiny home uses only a little bit of electricity and you only need a few solar panels to meet your needs, it’s often most cost-effective to do a DIY solar panel installation. There are many companies that sell complete solar kits (such as those from Grape Solar or Reongy ). Many sellers offer batteries as part of a solar kit if you’re looking to install an off-grid system. As with any type of electrical work, it’s a good idea to work on the project with an experienced electrician if possible.

    Alternatively, if your tiny home uses enough electricity to require more than 3 kilowatts (kW) of solar power, you should consider working with a solar installer that can assist with the work. By signing up on the EnergySage Marketplace. you can receive turnkey solar quotes that will include the costs of equipment, labor, permitting, and more. You can provide notes in your account to indicate the type of solar panel system you’re looking to install for your tiny house.

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