Did you know there’s now enough solar energy in the United States to power 23.3 million homes? Sadly, it seems that solar panel technology in the past was made strictly for residential and commercial buildings.
This left out smaller structures like mobile homes from having access to solar energy. So, has anything changed? Can you put solar panels on a mobile home?
If you’re short on time, the answer is YES. However, just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it will be easy.
The reality is that certain conditions make it a lot more challenging to get traditional solar panels on a mobile home. Specifically, local building codes, which all solar installers are required by law to follow.
For your safety, these codes put limitations on what you can put on certain roofs. For mobile homes, this makes sense. After all, the average solar panel weighs roughly thirty-five pounds each.
So, if you have a ten-panel system, that would be three hundred fifty extra pounds on your mobile home’s roof. That’s not even including the workers installing it and any snow you get during the winter.
The installers will need to make sure the joists on your mobile home are strong enough to support a system. Sadly, most mobile homes come with joists that are too small to support a system.
However, if you have a larger mobile home, or you want to reinforce the joists, you can make it work. We’ll also go into some ways to get mobile home solar power without putting it on your roof later on in the article.
You also want a mobile home that is hooked up to a typical electrical grid. If you live in a mobile home community that gets power off-grid, then a solar system likely won’t be compatible.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Panels on a Mobile Home?
There’s no denying that solar panels for mobile home represent a significant investment no matter what size it is. So, what are the benefits that come with it? First, there are cost savings.
While there is an upfront cost hurdle to jump, once you have a solar system installed you will start saving on electricity. And since solar panels last for decades these savings add up over time.
Most of the time the system will even pay for itself if you live at the property long enough. Many people also cherish the ability to live independently from the utility company.
No more relying on expensive power sources to get the energy you live. When you switch to solar you’re also reducing your reliance on fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases.
So, not only are you helping your wallet, but also the planet at large. Lastly, there’s little to no maintenance required for solar panels.
That’s because there are no moving parts. You can rest easy once it’s installed knowing you won’t have to touch it.
What Are the Best Solar Panel Materials For Mobiles Homes?
There are three main types of solar panels that you can use for your home. They include monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film. Let’s start with monocrystalline.
This is the premium material when it comes to solar panels. It’s more expensive, but for that price, you get both greater efficiency and performance.
Polycrystalline doesn’t come with all of the performance capabilities as monocrystalline. But, it is more affordable which makes it a good option for families on a budget. The last option is a thin film.
This solar panel material is both flexible and portable. In terms of price, it’s about the same as for polycrystalline. But, it comes with slightly better performance as well.
The crystalline panels are by far the more popular option, making up 85% of PV market sales. But, the thin-film material is starting to gain more traction for specific uses.
So, which one of these makes the best portable solar panels? It’s a toss-up between monocrystalline and thin-film. Monocrystalline is great because of its efficiency.
You have significantly less roof space on a mobile home so you need to make every square foot count. Monocrystalline material is a great way to do that. That being thin-film panels are ideal for unorthodox roof designs.
And, there are few designs as unorthodox as a mobile home. They’re also a good option for RV solar panels.
How Much Energy Does Your Mobile Home Need?
If you want to be fully reliant on solar energy you will need to know how much energy your home consumes. Unfortunately, this can vary widely from home to home.
As you can see from this study on household energy consumption the greatest users of energy are heating/cooling units, lighting, refrigerators, and televisions/video games systems.
If you’re using all of these things in a five hundred square foot mobile home, then you’re likely using roughly 4,500 watts of electricity per day. But, keep in mind that it’s just an estimate.
You should consult your energy bill to see exactly how much power you use in any given period. So, if you want to rely fully on solar energy you need enough solar panels to produce this amount, right?
Well, not quite. In truth, if you buy a 300-watt solar panel it’s not always guaranteed to produce this max output. So if you want to rely fully on solar, you will need to have more solar panels than you need.
That way, on low forecast days you can still have power. Alternatively, you can have enough solar power to offset your bill, but still rely on the electric grid when you need it.
How Much Does a Mobile Home Solar System Cost?
There is no easy answer to this question. That’s because it depends on a variety of factors like the type of panel material you choose, the size of your system, and the nature of the set-up.
Usually, you can expect an average system on a manufactured home to cost somewhere in the 20k price range. However, that price goes up if you need ground-mounted material, reinforcing joist work, or monocrystalline material.
The good news is that there are a variety of financing options available for families that want solar.
You can also still take advantage of the federal solar tax credit that’s in place. It lets you subtract a percentage of your solar system cost from your tax return at the end of the year.
Places Besides the Roof For Solar Installation
If you met with a solar installer and panels on the roof aren’t an option you might be feeling down. But don’t fret. There are alternatives for solar power on mobile homes if they can’t go on your roof.
One alternative is to look for different areas where you can install them. For example, you can ground-mount solar panels in locations where they receive enough sun.
This is usually a little more expensive, but it’s a good option for people living in mobile homes. Another option is to get a portable solar panel kit.
These are basic kits that can be stuck onto the side of mobile homes, RVs, and other structures. They’re much lighter than traditional panels which helps them bypass any building codes.
The only problem is they don’t produce much energy compared to a fully functional system. Still, they can help you save a little money on your solar bill. And, a drop in the bucket is better than nothing.
As you noticed, there are certain obstacles you’ll encounter when you decide to go for a mobile home solar system.
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