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.
Why Use Solar Power in a Tiny House?
Solar panels offer a wide array of benefits for those with a tiny lifestyle:
- 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.
Consider your use of:
- 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.