If you’re thinking about building, buying, or living in a tiny house, you may be wondering how you’ll get your electrical power.
This is a great question because a big part of why people choose to move into a tiny house to begin with is to experience a mostly off-the-grid lifestyle and to live more sustainably in general.
Some people who live in tiny houses get their power through an extension cord plugged into an RV park style electrical hookup, a nearby building, or other stationary power supply. Other people turn to generators to power their tiny homes.
However, more and more tiny homeowners today are turning to solar power to power their small spaces. Whether you know much about solar power or not, you may question whether or not it’s possible for a tiny home to rely only on solar power for its electrical needs.
Can people invested in tiny home living rely on solar power all or most of the time? Read on to find out.
Three Things to Consider
When trying to determine whether or not your tiny house can subsist on solar power alone, there are three main things you need to consider. Once you take time to think about the following categories, you’ll have a much better idea of whether or not you’ll be able to power your tiny house with solar panels alone.
1. Electrical Needs
First, you’ll need to figure out how much energy you actually need. There are many solar calculators available online that can help you determine your probable usage. Most tiny homes are only a few hundred square feet in size at most, so the vast majority of these small spaces use only about four kilowatts of power per day.
The biggest usage of power in any home is heating and cooling, and this is true in tiny homes as well. Therefore, if you want to lower your electrical needs, you should make sure your tiny house is well-insulated, and that you don’t run the heating and cooling systems when they are not needed.
The electrical needs of other appliances in your tiny home are much lower, but you can still benefit by making wise choices regarding them. Switch your lighting to LED lights. Remove your electrical stove and add a propane one. Choose an energy-efficient refrigerator. Turn off your television when you’re not watching it. All of these things will help reduce your electrical needs.
2. Sun Exposure
The next thing you’ll have to consider is the amount of sun exposure in the location you plan to park. If you are someone who wants to move your tiny house to a new location on a regular basis, this can will be impossible to determine, but if you’ll be in one place most of the time, you can figure out the average number of sunny hours for each month of the year and for the year overall.
Contrary to a belief held by some, solar power continues to work even if it’s cloudy, rainy, or dark. Solar panels store up energy during bright days and hours that can be used when the sun is not visible. However, if you live in an area that has short days or a majority of cloudy days, you may be challenged to get enough solar rays to power your tiny home all the time.
On the other hand, if you live in a very sunny environment with long days, you should be able to collect enough energy so that your tiny home can rely on solar power alone.
3. Your Solar System
Solar panels and their related batteries are large and heavy. This can be problematic for tiny house residents who wish to travel with their homes. When you are in transit, you will need to find a place to store all of these things, and that can be extremely challenging when you only have a few hundred square feet to work with to begin with.
However, if you are planning to remain stationary, you have a lot more wiggle room in this realm. You can set up a permanent solar array that uses not only your home’s roof but the land that surrounds it. It is much easier to power a tiny home with solar power if it stays in one place than it is to power one that relocates frequently.
Can You Rely On Solar Power For Your Tiny House?
So, can tiny homeowners rely on solar power for their tiny homes? The answer to that question is maybe. It depends on how much power you use, how much sun exposure you enjoy, and whether you plan to move your tiny home or stay in one place. Each of these factors plays a part in the answer to this question, so the answer is different for everyone.
What You’ll Need
If you do decide to try solar power for your tiny home, you’ll need four main things to make it happen. A solar generator consists of solar panels to collect the sun’s energy, solar batteries to store power, a converter to charge your solar batteries, and an inverter to turn DC power into usable, AC power.
Keep in mind that your tiny house will likely need at least fifteen solar panels to collect enough sun to meet your electrical power needs. An average-sized solar panel generates about 300 watts of power per day from the sun, so you’ll need a bunch of them working together to read the four kilowatts needed to power most tiny houses.
Because your tiny house is small, you won’t be able to put many panels on the room as regular homeowners do. Instead, you’ll have to set the majority of them up on the property surrounding your home. You can mount them in an angled way to capture the largest quantity of sunlight at ground level.
Your Tiny House Needs Solar Power
Even if you discover that you are unable to completely power your tiny house with solar power, adding a few solar panels to it is still a fantastic idea. You may need to plug into standard power to run your heating and cooling and some appliances, but your needs will be decreased, and you will be contributing to a sustainable future. Even one or two solar panels can make a difference; give them a try!
New Mexico is the perfect place for using solar power, due to our wide-open spaces and numerous sunny days. If you’re interested in learning more about what solar power can do for you, please give us a call today.