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Can solar work for tiny homes?

Tiny houses are great for homeowners with a more minimalistic lifestyle and/or looking to reduce their footprint. While they are smaller in size than the average home. They still need to function as regular homes and have the same requirements, albeit in smaller amounts. While smaller homes are cheaper to run and maintain they can still benefit from solar energy. We’ll run through the different types of tiny homes and how solar can benefit them as well.

What are the different types of tiny homes?

Tiny homes can come in different forms, styles, and layouts. What they do have in common is their compact size. Tiny homes stay below 400 square feet in size, as it’s part of the certification requirement to classify as a tiny home. They are more often designed uniquely for the homeowner and their needs. Whether they need to reduce costs for financial freedom, sustainable and environmentally friendly living, or to downsize for simpler living. Tiny homes are flexible, and we’ll explain some of their forms.

Tiny homes on foundations (THOF)

These tiny homes are built on a foundation like a home. Although they are more compact, don’t have to follow the 400-square-foot requirement, and are more flexible in their construction. They require the same permit process as building a normal home, although they may find difficulties in reaching the minimum square footage requirement of a location. They can be made like traditional homes, container homes, cabins, or cottages.

Tiny homes on wheels (THOW)

These tiny homes are a structure built onto a trailer with wheels that can be hitched and transported around with a truck like a travel trailer or gooseneck. Although the difference is that travel trailer homes will look more like homes. Gooseneck layouts are suited for longer trailers, with the trailer tongue in the center and a portion of the structure extending above it. Builders will work with the homeowner to consult, design, and build the home. THOWs are required to be street legal, stay less than 400 square feet in size, and have a height limit of 13.5′ and a width limit of 8.5′. Their size will depend on the trailer, as trailers can range between 16 to 40 feet long. They can be transported without permits if they meet RV or tiny house certification requirements.

Park Model RVs (PMRVs)

Park Model RVs are similar to THOWs, although they have different dimensions and require a permit to be moved. These tiny homes are seen in permanent-type parking communities which allow you to customize your PMRV and purchase or lease land. PMRVs are certified for part-time living, although they feel like permanent residency. Homeowners looking for a more stable, long-term parking location will opt for them. Park Models are generally built less or up to the 400 square-foot size limit and can reach 12 feet in width. Making it a more spacious option compared to THOWs, and a middle ground between THOFs and THOWs.

How can solar benefit Tiny Homes?

Solar energy systems can benefit tiny homes the same as regular homes. Saving money on electricity bills will help homeowners who opt for tiny living to reduce costs and reach financial freedom. Controlling their energy generation will give mobile-type tiny homes more flexibility, and fixed tiny homes more resilience in case of outages. Solar panel systems are also proven to increase the value of homes, and tiny homeowners can see this benefit if they choose to sell in the future. While there are many benefits to going solar with your tiny homes, there are some considerations to make before transitioning your tiny home to solar energy.

Going solar with a tiny home; what to consider?

There are a few considerations to make when going solar with a tiny home. While some of these considerations are similar to going solar with a regular home. Some considerations are unique to tiny homes and their specific types and layouts. Understanding these points will help you decide what kind of solar energy system will be suitable for your tiny home.

Electricity requirements

Tiny homes require less energy than a normal home. Knowing how much electricity your tiny home consumes daily and annually. Will dictate how much energy your solar energy system will need to produce to fulfill those needs. Calculating your energy usage for solar panels can be tedious. But we have an article that can help you through this process. Resources like the Department of Energy’s Appliance Energy Calculator can help you out.

Mounting options for your tiny home

You will need to consider how you want to mount your solar panels. If you want to mount solar panels on the roof of your tiny home. You will need to consider the available space for your panels and structural strength. You will also need to consider the pitch, and which sides of your roof face the sun. There are lighter and smaller panel options for tiny homes, with limited space, or lighter roofs. Thin film panels have the benefit of easy installation and are lightweight, although lack the performance of typical solar panel models.

You may choose to place your solar panels on some clear sunny land around your small home. Ground mounting will offer more options when it comes to placing and aligning your solar panels. Although it will require different mounting equipment, and adjustments to make the most out of them.

Grid Connection

If your tiny home is connected to the grid through a utility company; your solar energy system will be similar to one for a regular home. Grid interconnection will allow your home to run on solar energy when your system produces power and pull from the grid when it doesn’t. Excess electricity generated will be sent into the grid and turned into credits that you use when pulling energy from the grid. You will only be billed for the net amount of electricity you consume. This is net metering, an incentive that utility companies have for homes with solar energy systems. The benefits of this arrangement are both financial and energy resilience.

Your tiny home’s energy resilience can improve by installing a battery bank as energy storage. With a battery bank, charge controller, and islanding-capable inverter. Your tiny home will stay powered in case of an outage. If your tiny home is close to, or part of a larger solar-powered household. You can also power your tiny home from there using extension lines. Allowing both homes to be run on a solar energy system.

Solar energy can suit tiny homes, no matter their shape, size, or purpose. As solar technology advances, we’ll see more appealing options for solar that can suit more tiny homes and provide them with greater benefits. Whether your tiny home is mobile or static, off the grid, or on the grid. Solar energy can help you make the most of your tiny living.

Get started with solar energy today

If you are looking to start your transition to solar energy, we are here to help. Our website also has a free online estimate tool that generates a personalized report for you from a simplified questionnaire. That report will contain the potential savings you can net, and the cost of a solar energy system installed on your property. You can also contact us directly via phone at +1 (602) 363-8919 or via email at Scott@elitesolarenergy.org for more information regarding solar energy for your property.