Off Grid Solar System Cost (What Can You Expect to Pay?)
Taking your home completely off-grid with solar is a much more involved and expensive of a process than many people first think. The setup requires various different components, some of which are much more complex than the more common grid-tied solar installation. However, going completely off-grid with solar may be the only viable solution for a home that’s located in the middle of nowhere, or when the owner wants to rely solely on their own energy solutions. If this sounds like you, you may be curious about how much off grid solar system cost? Assuming electric consumption is that of the U.S. national average, an off-grid solar system would cost between 30,392 – 48,048. The major price fluctuation is largely due to battery bank type, with LFP batteries costing much more than flooded lead-acid. Lastly, before we continue going into detail on each off-grid solar system component and its cost, we need to make sure you understand something. Solar system cost is largely dictated by 3 things. Your country, peak sun hours, and electricity consumption. The average price we gave above assumes you live in the United States. Costs in Australia for example would be much different.
What Components Are Typically Used in an Off grid Solar Power System?
In this section we will outline all the different components that make up an off-grid solar system and how each will influence the overall cost of your system. Keep in mind each component that makes up an off-grid solar system varies in cost based on its size and brand. For example, if your home uses a lot of electricity it is going to need a larger-sized battery bank to offset your consumption on overcast days. The larger the battery bank, the higher the costs. We will factor in location in the next section, here we want to talk about each of the main components that make up an off-grid solar system and what you can expect their costs to be.
#2 Charge Controller
Charge controllers regulate the rate at which electric current is added to or drawn from the electric batteries.
The type/power rating of these devices generally determines the price.
We recommend installing MPPT charge controllers, Victron is a fantastic brand.
#3 Hybrid Power Inverter
Inverters are pretty much the life force behind your off-grid solar system. Without them, your setup won’t work.
They essentially transform the DC electricity from your batteries into useable AC electricity which you can use to power your appliances around the house.
#4 Battery Bank
Perhaps the most expensive component of your entire off-grid solar system setup.
Battery banks are one of the defining components of an off-grid solar system.
They allow your home to be powered during periods of overcast conditions or at night time.
Battery technology is still quite expensive, particularly lithium-ion technology.
For the most part we have covered the main components in an off-grid solar system.
However, there are of course a few more smaller components that will add to your cost. We have chosen to leave them out as they really all depend on the individual setup.
Off Grid Solar Systems: Estimated Costs Table
|Solar Panels||5,000. 30,000|
|Charge Controller||50. 1,000|
|Hybrid Inverter||3,000. 13,000|
|Battery Bank||10,000. 30,000|
The overall cost of your system really all comes down to what size you have installed.
The larger the size the more expensive.
The size you require all comes down to your energy consumption and your offset requirements.
For this reason we have included averages instead of exact amounts as the cost of an off-grid solar system varies way too much person to person.
Solar Tax Credits
One perk available to those of you who live in the U.S. is the solar tax credit. Our averages do not take into account your ability to claim solar incentives for your solar installation.
Congress passed an extension of the ITC, which provides a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022, and 22% for systems installed in 2023. (Systems installed before December 31, 2019 were eligible for a 30% tax credit.) The tax credit expires starting in 2024 unless Congress renews it Energy.Gov
Taking these credits into consideration, our average amounts get reduced to:
Off Grid Solar Systems: Complete Costs Table
|1.30 kW||Daily Summer: 5.80 Daily Winter: 2.90||Price: 8,349. 14,220|
|2.90 kW||Daily Summer: 13.00 Daily Winter: 6.50||Price: 11,559. 16,921|
|3.80 kW||Daily Summer: 17.30 Daily Winter: 8.60||Price: 13,916. 23,571|
|4.80 kW||Daily Summer: 21.60 Daily Winter: 10.80||Price: 15,634. 25,289|
|5.80 kW||Daily Summer: 25.90 Daily Winter: 13.00||Price: 18,303. 27,958|
|6.40 kW||Daily Summer: 28.80 Daily Winter: 14.40||Price: 22,654. 32,699|
|7.70 kW||Daily Summer: 34.60 Daily Winter: 17.30||Price: 24,451. 34,496|
|9.60 kW||Daily Summer: 43.20 Daily Winter: 21.60||Price: 33,462. 54,111|
|10.20 kW||Daily Summer: 46.10 Daily Winter: 23.00||Price: 32,065. 48,565|
|11.50 kW||Daily Summer: 51.80 Daily Winter: 25.90||Price: 32,815. 53,464|
|12.80 kW||Daily Summer: 57.60 Daily Winter: 28.80||Price: 35,653. 52,154|
|14.40 kW||Daily Summer: 64.80 Daily Winter: 32.40||Price: 47,263. 76,984|
|17.30 kW||Daily Summer: 77.80 Daily Winter: 38.90||Price: 51,180. 80,900|
(Table courtesy of Unbound Solar)
You may use the above table to figure out your estimated costs based on your homes solar requirements.
Final Off Grid Power Thoughts
Understanding the costs involved with your off-grid solar system is the first step in figuring out whether this is a viable option for your household.
An off-grid solar system may allow you to live in more isolated areas, ones closer to nature without grid-tied electricity supply.
This in itself would generally reduce the overall purchase cost of your household. Perhaps this is some incentive to justify the large cost of an off-grid solar system.
Is Off Grid solar expensive? Off-grid solar systems are expensive. A solar panel setup that supplies all the energy needs of a home tends to be very expensive. Compared to a grid-connected solar system, an off-grid solar system requires more panels, an inverter with a higher voltage capacity, and a large amount of solar battery storage.
Does solar increase home value? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that every dollar saved on energy through solar increases home value by 20. That’s a return on investment of 20 to 1 According to Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for approximately 4 percent higher on average than homes without solar energy.
How much does a 100kW solar system cost? The average commercial solar panel cost for 100kW solar system in the US is about 325,000 with average ranging from 50,000 for a 25kW system to 600,000 for a 250kW solar system.
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In this article, we will explore why reducing our reliance on fossil fuels is essential and how we can go about doing so in the first place.
How much does a tiny house cost?
A tiny house costs 30,000 to 70,000 on average to build, including materials and labor. Tiny home are 150 to 450 per square foot, depending on the size, finishes, and if it’s on wheels or a foundation. A prefab tiny home is typically cheaper than a custom design.
|Small (90 – 250 SF)||12′ – 20′||15,000 – 50,000||30,000 – 70,000|
|Medium (250 – 300 SF)||22′ – 28′||30,000 – 80,000||50,000 – 125,000|
|Large (300 – 400 SF)||30′ – 40′||45,000 – 100,000||80,000 – 150,000|
|Extra-large (400 – 600 SF)||40′||70,000 – 125,000||100,000 – 200,000|
Cost to build a custom tiny house vs. buying a prefab
A custom-built tiny house costs 50,000 to 140,000 on average, depending on the size and features. In comparison, a prefab tiny house costs 4,000 to 80,000, depending on if it’s an unassembled kit, a finished exterior shell, or a fully finished home that includes all fixtures and appliances. A prefab tiny house costs 150 to 250 per square foot, while a custom-built tiny home costs 250 to 450 per square foot.
- Includes blueprints and materials to build the tiny home yourself
- Typically does not include materials for interior finishing, fixtures, or appliances
- A fully assembled and finished exterior shell
- Does not include interior insulation, wiring, plumbing, finishes, or fixtures
- May include a trailer
- A fully built tiny house with a finished exterior and interior, including all fixtures and appliances
- May include one or two lofts
- May include a trailer
- High-end prefab models come with luxury finishes
- Custom design from an architect or design/build firm specializing in tiny houses
- Flexible size and finishing options
- Can be built on a trailer or foundation
- two-story options than a prefab house
2-bedroom vs. 3-bedroom tiny house cost
A 2-bedroom tiny house costs 45,000 to 150,000, depending on if it’s a prefab or custom-built home. Though 3-bedroom tiny houses are less common, some builders offer two-story models like the Denali Bunkhouse, the Charme, the Elmore, or the Pemberley with extra bedrooms or lofts on the upper floor.
|Studio||15,000 – 50,000||30,000 – 70,000|
|1 bedroom||30,000 – 80,000||50,000 – 125,000|
|2 bedrooms||45,000 – 100,000||80,000 – 150,000|
|3 bedrooms||70,000 – 125,000||100,000 – 200,000|
For a fully assembled and finished prefab tiny house.
Consider installing a murphy bed, trundle bed, daybed, or fold-out couch to expand the sleeping capacity in a tiny house without space for a separate bedroom.
Tiny home by base type
|Foundation||3,000 – 8,000||33,000 – 78,000|
|Trailer / wheels||4,500 – 11,000||30,000 – 70,000|
|Shipping container||1,500 – 8,000||20,000 – 50,000|
|School bus||4,000 – 10,000||30,000 – 50,000|
Not including the cost of land to build on.
Tiny house on wheels cost
A tiny house on wheels costs 30,000 to 70,000, including the trailer, and offers you the ability to travel with your home. However, before purchasing a tiny home on wheels, consider how you will tow it and where you will park it.
- Some cities do not allow you to park a tiny house on wheels on a residential property, even if the house is deemed a permanent residence rather than an RV.
- Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) certification may reduce property costs but permanently classifies the tiny house as an RV. Many cities do not allow RV parking in residential areas.
- RV or campground lot rental costs 250 to 1,500 per month, depending on which utilities are included. Some RV parks offer discounts for long-term stays.
Confirm your vehicle has the required engine capacity to tow the combined weight of the trailer, the tiny home, and all the home’s contents.
Tiny house trailer cost
A tiny house trailer costs 4,500 to 11,000 on average, depending on the length, width, material, and style. Purchasing a high-quality trailer is crucial as it acts as the foundation for a tiny home on wheels.
Tiny house trailers come in three different styles:
- Bumper pull hitch – Attaches via a ball hitch on the back of a truck or tow vehicle.
- Gooseneck – Extends over the bed of a truck to attach via a ball hitch mounted in the bed’s center.
- 5thwheel hitch – Similar to a gooseneck but attaches via a hinged-plate hitch instead of a ball hitch.
Cost to build a tiny house on foundation
The cost to build a tiny house on a foundation is 33,000 to 78,000, not including the land. Building a foundation costs 3,000 to 8,000 on average, depending on the type. A concrete slab foundation is the cheapest, with pier footings and crawlspace foundations priced at the higher end of the range.
Shipping container tiny home cost
A shipping container home costs 20,000 to 50,000 for a small, one-container home or 100,000 to 250,000 for a larger home built with multiple containers, depending on the interior style and finishes. A used 20′ shipping container costs 1,500 to 5,000, while a 40′ container costs 6,000 to 8,000.
Cost to convert bus into a tiny home
A bus conversion costs 30,000 to 50,000 on average, including the bus and labor and materials to finish the interior. The bus alone costs 4,000 to 10,000, depending on the size, mileage, and condition.
A school bus converted into a tiny home is also known as a skoolie.
Cost breakdown to build a tiny house
|Land (for a tiny house on a foundation)||5,000 – 18,000 per acre|
|Foundation||3,000 – 8,000|
|Lot rental (for a tiny house on wheels)||250 – 1,500 per month|
|Trailer||4,500 – 11,000|
|Lumber / framing / sheathing||1,000 – 14,000|
|Door Windows||1,000 – 6,000|
|Roofing||500 – 2,000|
|Insulation||500 – 3,000|
|Siding||1,000 – 3,000|
|Electrical wiring||750 – 3,500|
|Painting||200 – 1,000|
|Flooring||300 – 2,000|
|Plumbing labor||500 – 3,000|
|Shower||300 – 1,500|
|Water heater||300 – 1,200|
|Toilet (standard or composting)||100 – 1,500|
|Fixtures (lights, fans, sinks)||600 – 4,300|
|Appliances||400 – 3,000|
|Heater (wood stove, propane, or electric)||200 – 1,100|
|Air conditioner (mini-split or window AC)||150 – 2,500|
|Interior finishing||500 – 7,000|
|Solar panels||3,500 – 8,800|
|Permits||1,000 – 1,400|
|Design plans||100 – 750|
|Utilities hookup (for tiny house in permanent location)||4,000 – 12,000|
Including materials and labor.
Buying land for a tiny house
Buying land for a tiny house costs 5,000 to 18,000 per acre on average or up to 150,000 total, depending on the location and property size. Preparing the site for the house may involve these additional expenses:
- A land survey costs380 to 540 on average, depending on the survey type, property size, and terrain.
- Land clearing costs1,500 to 6,700 per acre to remove trees, stumps, brush, and rocks.
- Excavation costs1,000 to 2,500 to dig a foundation for a tiny home.
- Grading land costs500 to 1,000 to level a small area or contour the slope for proper drainage.
Tiny house permits and zoning
Tiny house building permits cost 1,000 to 2,000, depending on the location. Discuss local building codes with your builder when designing the home as some areas require residential homes to have at least one room of 120 square feet or more.
Most cities require permits and inspections to ensure the house meets local building codes.
Research zoning laws in your desired area before committing to building a tiny house. Zoning laws vary significantly by city and state, and these restrictions are one of the most challenging aspects tiny house owners encounter.
- Many cities do not allow you to use a tiny home on wheels as a permanent residence or park it in a residential yard.
- Some cities classify tiny houses as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and require the home to be placed on a permanent foundation on property that already has a separate larger structure on it.
- Many cities require the tiny house to be connected to the city’s water and sewer systems separately from any other structure on the property.
- Several cities have passed laws limiting tiny homes to specific residential zones.
Rural areas typically have fewer zoning restrictions than urban or suburban areas.
Tiny home construction labor cost
Labor makes up 40% to 60% of the total tiny home construction cost and includes some or all of the following specialties. Costs typically fall on the higher end of the average range because most contractors charge minimum project fees or higher rates for small projects.
- General contractor – A general contractor charges50 to 150 per hour on average or 10% to 20% of construction costs.
- Designing a custom tiny house:
- Architects charge2 to 15 per square foot or 8% to 15% of the construction cost. Many tiny house builders have architects on staff who specialize in designing small homes.
- A draftsperson charges0.35 to 5.00 per square foot to create blueprints.
Plumbing cost for a tiny home
Plumbing costs for a tiny home are 1,000 to 7,000, including the water heater. depend on if the home has a tankless or traditional water heater, a standard toilet versus a composting toilet, other water-consuming appliances like a dishwasher or washer/dryer, and the number of tanks required.
- Plumbers charge45 to 150 per hour or 500 to 3,000 total for labor.
- Plumbing pipes cost4 to 6 per square foot installed.
- A tankless water heater costs300 to 1,200 for the unit alone, depending on if it’s a propane or electric model. Tankless water heaters are ideal for tiny homes due to their compact size.
- A traditional water heater costs350 to 800 for a 20-gallon unit alone. Tanks larger than 20 gallons are impractical for tiny homes due to the space they require.
- A rainwater collection system costs200 to 2,500, including water storage tanks and a UV purifier.
Plumbing is typically cheaper and easier to install in a tiny home on wheels than a traditional home due to more direct access to piping from beneath the trailer.
Cost to wire a tiny house
The cost to wire a tiny house is 750 to 3,500 on average. This price includes the electrician’s labor and all wiring and supplies, a breaker box and circuit breakers, outlets, and switches, but does not include lighting fixtures or bulbs.
- Electrician rates are 50 to 130 per hour, depending on their location and experience. The electrical rough-in for a tiny house takes 1 to 2 days on average, and electrical finishes take 1 day.
- Electrical wiring costs5 to 17 per linear foot for materials and labor.
Most tiny houses on wheels use a 30-amp or 50-amp cord to plug directly into the electrical supply from a traditional home or an RV park, similar to an RV connection.
Tiny house utilities cost
Connecting a tiny home to local utilities involves additional costs:
- Installing a new water main costs 32 to 53 per linear foot, not including the new meter. Some cities charge as much as 2,000 to 3,000 for the meter itself.
- A sewer line costs50 to 200 per linear foot installed, depending on the pipe width. The total cost depends on the distance from the home to the street. A tiny house without a septic system typically must be connected to the city’s sewer line.
- A septic tank system costs3,300 to 5,000 installed. A composting toilet is a popular alternative to a septic tank for off-grid tiny houses.
- Connecting a tiny house to the local electrical grid costs 250 to 1,500, depending on the distance to the nearest utility pole, and typically requires installing a new utility company meter. Running new lines to a tiny home on rural property may cost 2,000 to 5,000.
- A tiny house on wheels parked in an RV lot or campground can take advantage of the lot’s electric supply, though some lots do not include electricity in the monthly rental fee.
- Solar panels cost3,500 to 8,800 for a 2 kW to 4 kW system with installation after subtracting the 30% federal tax credit. Because roof space on a tiny house is limited, solar panels may require ground mounting instead.
Tiny house heating and air conditioning
Heating and air conditioning options for a tiny house include:
- A window AC costs150 to 800 for the unit alone, depending on the size and features.
- A ductless mini-split AC costs1,000 to 2,500 with installation for a single-zone unit sized for a tiny house. A mini-split heat pump can provide both heating and cooling.
- A wood stove costs400 to 800 installed. Look for a compact stove suited for the small space.
- An electric baseboard heater costs200 to 1,100 installed.
- A propane or electric heater costs 200 to 800.
Tiny house appliances and furnishings
Keep these considerations in mind when buying appliances and furniture for a tiny house:
- Interior designer – Interior designers charge50 to 200 per hour or 500 to 1,500 to design a tiny house interior, not including furnishings or appliances. Look for an interior designer who specializes in tiny homes or has extensive experience designing small, multi-use spaces.
- Many manufacturers offer smaller versions of appliances that are ideal for tiny homes, though the smaller size often comes at a premium price.
- Choose 120V appliances as most RV parks don’t provide the 220V or 240V electrical hookups required for larger appliances like traditional ovens and clothes dryers.
Tiny house property taxes and insurance
Tiny house insurance costs 35 to 125 per month, depending on the policy, location, and whether the home is on a foundation or wheels. Most tiny houses don’t qualify for standard homeowners insurance and instead must be covered by a mobile/manufactured home or recreational vehicle (RV) policy.
- A tiny house on a permanent foundation is subject to local property taxes, which vary by location.
- A tiny house on wheels that is deemed an RV requires a vehicle registration and is subject to local excise taxes and liability insurance requirements.
Tiny houses built by certified builders typically have lower insurance rates than DIY tiny homes.
Tiny house vs. small house cost
Compared to a tiny house, the cost to build a small house is 60,000 to 155,000 for a 600- to 1,000-square-foot home, not including the land. Building a traditional house costs 100 to 155 per square foot on average or up to 400 per square foot for a high-end custom home.
|Cost||30,000 – 70,000||60,000 – 155,000|
|Insurance costs||35 – 125 per month||100 – 200 per month|
|Time to build||2 – 4 months||7 – 8 months|
|Lifespan||20 – 50 years||70 – 100 years|
|Maintenance costs||Minimal||Higher than a tiny house|
|Safety||As safe as a traditional house, except in hurricane zones||Safer than a tiny house in hurricane zones|
|Energy-efficiency||energy-efficient than a traditional house||Less energy-efficient than a tiny house|
|Environmental impact||Minimal||Higher than a tiny house|
|Zoning restrictions||Many cities do not allow tiny houses.||Most cities allow homes of 600 square feet.|
|Financing||Limited financing options available||Many mortgage and financing options available|
|Resale value||May depreciate in value||Typically appreciates in value|
|Resale market||Niche market limits the number of potential buyers||Large pool of potential buyers|
Frequently asked questions
Are tiny homes worth it?
A tiny home is worth it if you’re seeking home ownership at a lower cost, energy efficiency, or the freedom to travel with your home. However, tiny house living comes with some challenges, such as limited storage space, minimal privacy, and the difficulty in finding property with compatible zoning laws.
- Lower total construction cost than a traditional home
- Lower utility costs and property taxes
- Energy efficiency
- Lower environmental impact due to less building materials required
- Easily customizable
- Less maintenance required
- Less space to clean
- Freedom to travel (for tiny houses on wheels)
- Limited storage space and privacy
- structural wear and tear
- Minimal space for entertaining guests
- Loft bedroom access may be difficult for individuals with mobility issues
- No walls separate the kitchen to prevent odors from spreading
- Value may depreciate over time
- Difficult to find locations with compatible zoning laws to park or build the home
Do tiny homes appreciate in value?
Tiny homes typically do not appreciate in value, though resale values depend greatly on the home’s condition and features. Tiny houses are still a niche market, limiting the number of potential buyers. However, real estate experts predict resale values will increase as tiny houses grow in popularity.
Many tiny houses on wheels depreciate in value due to wear and tear on the trailer.
How many square feet is considered a tiny house?
The American Tiny House Association and the International Residential Code (IRC) consider a tiny home any house that is 400 square feet or less. However, some tiny house builders now offer models ranging from 400 to 600 square feet.
The average tiny house size in the U.S. is 225 square feet, including loft space.
How long does it take to build a tiny house?
Building a tiny house takes 2 to 4 months for a custom-built or fully finished prefab home. Building a tiny house yourself takes 500 to 1,000 hours or 6 to 12 months on average, depending on your construction experience and how much time you dedicate to the project each week.
Some builders currently have longer-than-average delivery times due to high demand and recent material shortages.
Can I put a tiny house on my property?
You can put a tiny house on your property only if local zoning laws allow it. Zoning regulations for tiny homes vary by city. Check the zoning laws in your area, as putting a tiny house where it is not allowed may result in code enforcement citations and fines.
Which states allow tiny houses?
Though most states allow tiny houses, the regulations and restrictions vary in each state. Check your state’s zoning laws and building codes before investing in a tiny home. Keep these details in mind:
- Many states have a minimum square footage requirement for residential homes, which most tiny houses do not meet.
- Some states deem a tiny house on wheels a recreational vehicle (RV) that cannot be used as a permanent dwelling. RVs also have separate licensing requirements, inspections, and fees.
- Some states only allow tiny houses on permanent foundations or as Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) placed on a property that already has a larger residential structure on it.
The American Tiny House Association works with state and local government agencies and legislators to craft tiny house-friendly zoning policies and ordinances.
Explore tiny house communities in your desired location. Tiny house communities are typically constructed in areas without zoning restrictions and often feature a larger central structure, communal resources, and gathering spaces.
Can you finance a tiny house?
Yes, you can finance a tiny house purchase. However, most banks and mortgage lenders don’t finance tiny homes as the total dollar amount and square footage fall below their minimum requirements. Consider these other options:
- Many tiny house builders partner with specialized lenders for financing, typically requiring a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price.
- A tiny home built on a permanent foundation may qualify for a manufactured or mobile home loan from lenders like Lendingtree or LightStream.
- A tiny house on wheels may qualify for an RV loan if certified by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Most tiny homes are not eligible for an FHA home loan. FHA mortgage rules require that the home is no smaller than 400 square feet, is on a permanent foundation, and meets all state and local building code requirements.
Are tiny houses safe?
Yes, tiny houses are safe and must meet the same building codes and construction standards as traditional homes. However, tiny houses are more vulnerable to wind and storm damage in hurricane zones. Confirm your tiny home has metal tie-down straps to anchor it to the ground in a storm.
How to buy a tiny house
Before buying a tiny house, consider whether you want a completely custom-built home, a prefab house with minor customization, a prefab kit to build your own tiny house, or a preowned house:
- Custom build – Consult with a tiny house builder to design a custom-built home. Tiny house builders employ architects and designers who specialize in maximizing the usage and flow of a small space. Check out the Tiny House Builders Directory for builders near you.
- Prefab tiny house – Explore the floorplans and available options on tiny house builders’ websites, and tour models available from nearby builders.
- DIY tiny house – Consider buying a prefab kit or a finished exterior shell as the starting point for a DIY tiny house.
- Preowned tiny house – Visit Tiny House Listings and Tiny House Marketplace to view homes for sale, including builder models and preowned homes. Preowned tiny house are 20,000 to 80,000 on average, depending on the size and features.
Getting estimates from tiny house builders and sellers
Before hiring a tiny house builder or purchasing a prefab kit, be sure to:
- Search online for tiny house styles and models that appeal to you.
- Look for builders specializing in tiny homes.
- Read their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
- Browse the builder’s online portfolio and tour their tiny house models in person.
- Ask for references from past customers. Contact each reference and ask what they are happy and unhappy with about their home, what it was like working with the builder, how the team handled problems, and whether they were communicative.
- Discuss your space needs and lifestyle with the builder.
- Take a tiny house workshop to learn more about construction techniques, space planning, and zoning laws that will affect your new home.
- Consider renting a tiny house through Airbnb or A Tiny House Resort to confirm the space is enough to meet your needs.
- Get a complete set of architectural drawings and specifications.
- Get a detailed contract, schedule, materials list, and warranty in writing before the project begins.
- Develop a payment schedule tied to progress. Don’t make the final payment until the home has passed all inspections and you are completely satisfied.
Questions to ask
- How long have you been in business?
- How many tiny houses have you built?
- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
- Do you have a portfolio of tiny homes I can review?
- Do you have any pre-built models I can tour in person?
- Can you provide references I can contact?
- What size tiny home do you recommend for my needs?
- Do you use prefab kits or design custom homes?
- Do you recommend putting my tiny house on a foundation or on wheels?
- Which trailer do you recommend for a tiny house on wheels?
- What is and is not included in the estimate?
- Are there any finishes, fixtures, or appliances I’ll need to purchase separately?
- How long will it take to build my tiny home?
- Will you handle all the permits and inspections?
- How much do you charge to deliver the finished home to my location?
- Do you offer financing?
- Do you offer a warranty, and if so, what does it cover?
We track millions of estimates homeowners get from contractors and share those with you. We adhere to strict editorial integrity.
Solar Panels for Tiny Houses
Whether you want to get off the grid, have a backup source of power, or just embrace a greener lifestyle, installing solar panels for your tiny house is one way to go about it. In this guide, we will go over the basics of what you need to know to get started with solar power in your tiny home. We will discuss calculating how much power you need, what components you require, costs, mounting options, and more. We will also give you our top recommendation for where you can pick up a solar system for your tiny house. But first, let’s go over a few reasons to install solar panels for your tiny house.
- Become more self-reliant. One reason to install solar panels in your tiny home is to reduce your reliance on the energy grid. Your lifestyle will become more self-contained and sustainable.
- Live where you want. An advantage of getting off the grid is that you can place your tiny house in a more remote location since you no longer need to worry about hooking up for your electrical needs.
- Fight climate change. If you want to help protect the planet, it makes sense to switch to solar power since it is a renewable energy source. You will be reducing your carbon footprint and doing your part to combat climate change.
- Protect yourself from blackouts. One of the consequences of climate change has been increasingly harsh and unpredictable weather conditions. These are making energy blackouts more common. When you have access to your own power through solar, you can continue to use electricity when others in your area lose it. In some scenarios, this could even help you to stay safe since you can continue to operate heat and air conditioning on inhospitable days.
- Save money. Finally, you can reduce or eliminate your monthly electrical bill by relying on solar power. Think how you could make use of those ongoing savings!
How Much Solar Power to Run a Tiny House?
To figure out how much power you need, you will have to consider your appliance use.
- Cooking appliances
- Cleaning appliances
- Entertainment systems
If you do not know exactly how much power your appliances pull, there are calculators online that can help you make estimates and add everything together.
This is also a Smart time to revisit some of the solutions you are currently using and see if there are more energy-efficient products you could replace energy-hogging devices with.
Once you know how much power you need to generate, you can calculate how many solar panels your system needs.
Your tiny house solar system will need the following components to be functional:
- Solar panels
- A converter for battery charging
- An inverter to convert your power from DC to AC
- Surge protection devices, breakers, control panels, power inlets, and other accessories
Along with energy requirements, you should also consider the following when selecting a solar panel setup for your tiny house:
- System size and weight. The weight and size of your system and its components is most relevant if you move your home from location to location.
- How you will wire up the system and where you will keep all the components.
- Ease of installation. You can either take the DIY approach and install your own solar system, or you can hire a contractor to do it. The installation requirements are important either way, but are extra critical if you will be doing it yourself.
- Pricing. There are variations in price range for solar kits. Try and balance cost and quality considerations to find the best value.
Solar Panel Mounting Options for Your Tiny House
You have a variety of options for mounting your panels:
- Roof mounting (this is what most people think of first)
- Wall mounting
- Ground mounting
When possible, you may want to use racks that allow panels to swivel. That way, as the sun crosses the sky, you can angle the panels to pick up more power.
While roof mounting can be a great option in some situations, you should think seriously about racks on the ground. They keep your solar panels readily accessible for cleaning or maintenance.
Roof mounting also confines you to the limited space your roof has to offer, whereas with ground mounting, you can use more panels and generate more power.
Plus, it tends to be cooler close to the ground, which is conducive for solar panel efficiency.
What Will It Cost to Start Using Solar in Your Tiny House?
There is a really wide price range for solar systems for tiny houses. At the lower end, we have seen tiny house solar kits for as low as 1,500. At the upper end, some premium systems for generating a large amount of power can cost more than 40,000.
Also, do not forget that you need to factor in installation costs as well. You can save money on installing your solar panels by doing so yourself. Of course, you may need to factor in time spent out of work on your project.
Where Can You Buy a Solar Panel System for Your Tiny House?
Now that we have talked about how much power you need, what components you require, mounting options, and costs, let’s talk about where you can pick up a kit for your home.
Our favorite source for tiny house solar kits right now is Unbound Solar. This company sells an assortment of off-grid and grid-tie systems, and has an entire selection of products specifically for tiny houses.
Here are some examples of their tiny house solar kits:
0.4 kW 2-Panel Solarland Off-Grid Solar System
If you are looking for a really basic system to get started, you could consider this kit that includes a pair of 180W solar modules.
Along with the panels themselves, you receive all the other components you need to get up and running.
According to Unbound Solar, this system should be enough to keep your lights and some basic electronics on without drawing power from the grid. Consider it as a starting point to scale up from, or as backup power for those basic items if the grid goes down.
4.8 15-Panel Heliene Off-Grid Solar System
Here is a system that comes with 15 panels, each of them 320 watts. As with the less expensive 2-panel system, it comes with all necessary components to get your solar system up and running.
With these panels installed, you should have enough power to not only run the basic electronics we mentioned above, but also a wide range of appliances and power tools. That even includes items with significant power draw such as your washing machine or well pump.
7.7 Off-Grid Solar System with Sol-Ark Inverter and 24 Heliene 320 watt Panels
Boost the power available for off-the-grid living even more with 24 panels, each 320 watts. Unbound Solar says, “With careful energy management this system can power most medium sized off-grid homes.” So, this could provide what you need for a tiny house and maybe an additional shed or other structure or technology.
Get Your Tiny House Solar Kit Now
Ready to save money on electricity, reduce your reliance on the grid, and live more sustainably in your tiny house?
To get the kit you need now to harness the power of the sun in your tiny home, click any of the links in this guide.
Sunny Days Ahead: Our Favourite Tiny House Solar Panel Kits
Being self-reliant and never receiving a power bill again sounds pretty good to us—how about you?
That’s part of the appeal of solar panels. Solar energy is eco-friendly, increasingly affordable, and has a fixed cost i.e. that of your initial investment. After all, there’s no risk of price hikes when it comes to sunshine. And with grid-tied solar panels, you can even earn money by giving power back to the grid.
So whether you’re a tiny house dweller, proud skoolie owner, or van lifer, investing in solar panels could be a great option.
That said, solar panels are a significant initial outlay—one that you’ll have to factor into the overall cost of buying or building your tiny house. Plus, choosing the right solar panels for your living setup can be tricky. There’s lots of complicated technology to wrap your head around—and lots of options on the market.
The bonus of solar panel kits is that they come with all the necessary accessories and parts, including panels, charge controllers, and inverters—although not always batteries.
So we’ve selected the 5 best solar panel kits available today, including the cheapest solar panel kit, the smallest solar panel kit, and the best kit for those who want to stay hooked up to the grid.
A few tips for your solar panel search?
Make sure the kit you buy has a good warranty. And remember that a tiny house roof is typically quite small so can’t accommodate that many panels. A ground-mounted solar array is a better choice as it’s also easier to clean the panels and position them for maximum sun exposure.
best solar panel kits for your tiny house
Best overall solar panel kit for tiny houses
This is our pick for the best all-purpose solar panel kit.
It’s suitable for most tiny homes and RVs and those households with moderate power needs. While not the cheapest solar panel kit around, it’s our favorite thanks to its superior efficiency and the fact it comes complete with the fuses, wiring, controller, mounts, panels, and all the necessary bolts and screws. And it will generate enough energy to power most of your appliances, including a refrigerator.
The kit is easy to install, making it a good choice for beginners. Plus it comes with monocrystalline panels—more efficient than polycrystalline ones.
Another bonus? If you find you need additional power at a later date, you can add extra solar panels later on. And Bluetooth connectivity means you can monitor the entire system remotely.
Best value solar panel kit
If you want to invest in solar panels but you’re on a tight budget, then this kit by WindyNation is our top choice for an affordable solar setup. It has all the basic elements you need for a simple solar installation, is reliable, comes with decent warranties, and provides 1.6 KW per day—enough power for a van, RV, or for smaller tiny houses.
You’ll get high-quality polycrystalline panels, as well as a 30-Amp charge controller with a battery temperature sensor, a solar cable, and all the necessary connectors, mounting hardware, and installation manual.
Best small solar panel kit
Those with vans, skoolies, RVs, or THOWs need a solar panel that’s fairly compact and portable. Our top choice is this one by Goal Zero. Despite being small enough to transport with ease, the system can power up to 7 devices at once—ideal for charging phones, tablets, laptops, and other small electronics. It could also work as backup power for small household appliances.
The panel itself is built from hardy tempered glass with an aluminum frame and an integrated kickstand means you can position it as necessary to get access to the sun. But our favorite thing about the Yeti 400 is its simplicity. You just plug it in. No need to stress about charge controllers or regulators.
Best large solar panel kit
For larger tiny homes, you need a serious solar panel kit that’s up to the task of powering all your appliances. This one by Renogy is the perfect choice for remote tiny homes that are totally off-grid, offering a huge power output of 3600 watts with 12 highly efficient 310-watt polycrystalline panels.
The kit includes everything you need apart from the battery packs while the MPPT charge controller is one of the safest on the market. It will shut down automatically in the event of any weak points being detected, safeguarding your home against electrical fires.
Plus, a voice-guided system will walk you step-by-step through the installation process.
Best grid-tied solar panel kit
It’s certainly not cheap but this advanced solar panel kit is the best option for those looking for a grid-tied system so they can send any unused energy back to the grid and earn credit.
Any grid-tied system needs to be UL certified by law and this one is. Plus, with six 240 watt solar panels that can be attached to either your roof or mounts, it’s easy to set up and is capable of producing 3000 KW of energy each year. What’s more, the panels have a 25-year warranty and the system has a 5 year one.
Remember that you’ll need approval from your electricity company before feeding electricity back into the grid. Your tiny home will also need to be a permanent residence.
Frequently asked questions about tiny house solar panels
How many solar panels do I need for a tiny house?
To decide how many solar panels you need for your tiny house, first work out your energy needs using a power monitor or an online calculator. On average, most solar panels produce around 300 watts of energy an hour or around 1.5 KW a day. And so if most tiny houses use around 4 KW of energy a day, then you’ll need between 3 and 6 solar panels. Bear in mind that more modern solar panels are more efficient so you’ll need less of them.
How much does it cost to put solar panels on a tiny house?
The cost of putting solar panels on a tiny house will depend on the brand of solar panels and how many you decide to install. Solar panel kits are available to suit a range of budgets and range from 500 to 3,500. Cheaper options usually include polycrystalline rather than monocrystalline panels but these are less efficient.
Can tiny houses have solar panels?
Solar panels are a great option for tiny houses. Because of their smaller footprint, it’s much easier to power tiny houses using solar energy compared to larger conventional houses. Tiny houses are often designed with sustainability in mind and solar panels are both a cost-efficient and eco-friendly solution. The only issue with tiny houses and solar panels is that there’s not as much room on the roof but ground-mounted solar panels are a good alternative.
How many kilowatts does a tiny house use?
The number of kilowatts of energy used by a tiny house will all depend on how many people there are living in your house, the size of the house, and the kind of appliances you have. You can either use a power monitor to work it out or this government calculator. Bear in mind that the wattage values supplied are only estimates and it’s best to enter the actual appliance you own for greater accuracy.
How much solar power do I need for a tiny house?
The easiest way to work out how much solar power you need for your tiny house is to buy a cheap power monitor. This can tell you how much power you’re consuming using real-time data. Use these figures to work out how much energy you need to produce on a daily basis as well as what size inverter you need. Most tiny houses require between 3 and 4 KWs per day, but it will all depend on the kind of appliances you have and how often you use them. Things like LED lights, mini-split heating and cooling systems, and on-demand hot water heaters will help keep power consumption down.