Solar panels for tiny house living:

Solar panels for tiny house living:

A comprehensive guide

Published 8/31/2023

Understanding your solar needs for tiny houses

When it comes to harnessing solar energy for your tiny house, the number of panels required hinges on several factors. These include your daily energy consumption, the panels' efficiency, and the sunlight your location receives.

Gauging your energy needs

To gauge your energy needs, start by scrutinizing your current utility bills or tallying up the consumption of all the appliances you plan to use in your tiny house. By adding up these numbers, you can get a ballpark figure of your daily energy consumption.

Calculating the number of panels

On average, a single panel can generate between 250 to 400 watts per hour. Therefore, if your average energy consumption hovers around 21,631 watt-hours daily, you would need approximately 11 panels to generate enough power. However, this number can fluctuate based on the efficiency of the panels and the amount of sunlight they receive.

Decoding the cost of solar installation for tiny houses

The cost of installing solar panels on a tiny house can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the size of the house, the amount of energy consumed, the cost of equipment, and regulatory considerations.

Consider Your energy consumption

The amount of energy your tiny house consumes will influence the overall cost of the solar system. A tiny house that uses modern appliances like a microwave, TV, air conditioning, cooker, and water heating would require a certain energy capacity.

Additional equipment costs

In addition to the cost of the panels themselves, you'll also need to account for the cost of additional equipment such as batteries, control panels, an inverter, and breakers. These components are essential for the operation of your solar system and can add to the overall cost.

Taking advantage of incentives

It's worth noting that the cost of installation can be significantly reduced through various incentives and tax credits. The federal solar tax credit can lower the total cost by at least 30%, and some states offer additional incentives for installing solar batteries.

Evaluating the pros and cons of solar energy for tiny houses

Solar energy offers numerous benefits for tiny houses, but there are also some drawbacks to consider.

Advantages of solar power

  • Reduced Energy Bills: By generating your own power, you can significantly cut down on your monthly electricity costs.

  • Living Off-Grid: Solar power with battery storage allows you to live in remote locations that might not have easy access to a power grid.

  • Increased Property Value: Solar panels are seen as a valuable addition to a property, offering potential savings on costs for future owners.

  • Lower Carbon Footprint: By generating power from a renewable source, you can reduce your reliance on oil and gas.

Drawbacks of solar power

  • High Initial Cost: Buying a solar system outright can be expensive, and it may take several years for the savings on electricity to cover the initial investment for panels.

  • Dependence on Sunlight: Panels require direct sunlight to generate power, which means they may not be as effective in areas with less sunlight or during certain times of the year.

  • Space Requirements: A tiny house may not have enough roof space to support all the needed panels, requiring additional installation complexity and cost.

Financing your solar dream: a guide to solar panel financing for tiny houses

There are several financing options available to make solar energy more affordable for tiny house owners.

Solar lease / PPA

With Sunrun's monthly solar lease plan, you can gain control over your electricity without any upfront costs. Sunrun owns and maintains the solar panels, allowing you to lock in predictable rates for clean, resilient energy. 

The plan also includes Sunrun's industry-leading guarantee, 24/7 system monitoring, and maintenance for up to 25 years. You even have the option to add a solar battery for blackout protection.

Loans and mortgages

You can take out a solar loan or an energy efficiency mortgage from the federal government to finance your system. Fannie Mae and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offer home loans for solar systems through their Energy Star program.

Monthly solar loan from Sunrun

The Sunrun monthly solar loan simplifies the process for homeowners who want to switch to solar energy, making it both accessible and practical. With the flexibility of little to no upfront costs and fixed monthly payments, this plan streamlines the financial aspect of going solar. The loan comes with competitive interest rates and a streamlined approval process, reducing the typical hurdles associated with solar panel installation. 

Moreover, the plan positions you to directly benefit from various solar incentives, including federal and state tax credits. For those looking to bolster their energy resilience, the option to add a solar battery is also available.

PACE programs

Some states establish public solar financing programs known as Property Assessed Clean Energy programs. Under a PACE program, the state or local jurisdiction loans the homeowner the cost of the system, and the homeowner pays the money back through higher property taxes.

Personal loans and home equity financing

Personal loans and home equity financing are other options to consider, with personal loans typically offering faster access to cash and often coming with no origination fees.

Installation and maintenance: safeguarding your solar investment

The installation process for panels on a tiny house can be a DIY project or handled by professionals. Protecting your panels from the elements is crucial for their longevity and efficiency.

Installation process

The installation process involves selecting the right location, mounting the panels, connecting them to a charge controller, connecting the charge controller to the battery, and finally connecting the battery to an inverter. 

If you choose to lease your solar panels with Sunrun, we own and maintain the system, offering a 25-year warranty and 100% service coverage. And as the #1 U.S. residential solar installer, you can trust that installation will be top-notch. 

Maintenance tips

Solar panels are resilient, but they might occasionally need to be cleaned. Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate on the panels over time and impact their energy production. Monitoring the performance of your panel system is also essential to ensure they are working optimally.

Maximizing solar incentives

The federal government offers a significant tax credit for panel installation, known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which allows the owner of the solar system to deduct a portion of their solar costs from their taxes. 

Many states offer additional tax credits or rebates, and some utilities also provide rebates or incentives for panel installation.

Remember, taking advantage of these incentives can significantly reduce the cost of installing a system, making solar power more affordable for many tiny house owners.

To all tiny house owners and enthusiasts, remember that sustainable living is within your reach, and there are resources available to help you. 

At Sunrun, our expert Solar Advisors guide you through the complexities and details of solar for your tiny home—from understanding your energy bills, to sizing your ideal system and more. 

As the nation's #1 home solar & battery installer, we provide dedicated support from initial system design to powering on your system. Our personalized approach ensures that you make the right decisions about system size, enabling you to harness the full potential of solar energy without the stress.

Get a free personalized quote

Learn about the incentives in your state
Find your system size and battery details
Get your solar cost and energy usage