Tiny houses are the latest big thing. Homeowners are ridding themselves of clutter and scaling their lives down for greater energy efficiency and a sense of freedom from conspicuous consumption. Whether your tiny house stands on a permanent foundation or goes mobile on wheels, solar panels for tiny houses amplify the possibilities of a small energy footprint.
Dive into some big questions about tiny living, like how small a house has to be before it’s considered tiny and how many solar panels are required to power a tiny house. Whether you’re going off the grid or need a good backup plan, we’ve got all the products you need, including all-in-one custom solar kits.
How Small Is Tiny?
There’s no definitive rulebook on what constitutes a “tiny” house. Basically, whatever size floorplan covers all your daily needs but nothing more could be considered tiny. In general, though, most tiny houses run between 60 and 400 square feet, with the average hovering around 200 square feet. When you consider that the average college dorm room is 150 to 200 square feet, you get a good idea of how tiny these homes are.
How Much Power Do You Need?
To determine how many solar panels you’ll need to power a tiny house, start by calculating how much power your household needs. Consider whether you’ll need electricity for cooking, heating shower water and so forth, as many tiny houses rely on propane grills and a community shower facility for extra savings. The average (non-tiny) American house requires around 30 kilowatts a day for heating, cooling, lights and all appliances. A 150- to 200-square foot house needs only 3 to 4 kilowatts per day.
Solar Tips: How Many Solar Panels to Power a Tiny House
Once you’ve determined your power needs, calculating how many solar panels are required to power a tiny house is simple. Divide the total wattage you need by the wattage output of the solar panels to arrive at the total number of panels you need. For example, if your household needs 4,000 watts (4 kilowatts) of power a day and you’re looking at 275-watt solar panels, your equation looks like this:
4,000 ÷ 275 = 14.545 (round up to 15)
That means you’ll need at least 15 275-watt panels to reach your mark. If you opt for four six-packs of 275-watt polycrystalline solar panels, you’ll have 16 panels total, which should be more than enough to supply your entire tiny house.
Where Should Your Solar Panels Go?
The most common place to install home solar panels is on the roof. Most solar panels measure about 5.5 feet by 3.25 feet, which means they require almost 18 square feet of space per panel. If you’ve already done the math on how much space those 16 panels will require, you know it exceeds a 200-square-foot home’s footprint. Consider these alternatives to roof mounting:
- Ground Mounting: If you’ve got some land around your tiny home, this is an excellent choice that allows you to have a large solar panel array. Solar racks can accommodate up to six panels, stay cooler and more efficient than roof mounts and are very easy to keep clean of debris and snow.
- Pole Mounts: If you have an existing pole to use, adjustable side pole mounting brackets that hold one or two panels are a convenient option. You may combine these with a few roof panels to meet the full number you need.
- Carport Mounting System: This solution pulls the dual duty of shading your vehicle while generating power and leaves lots of room to scale up your system in the future as well.