Guest Post by Ben Cooper
The sun is a powerful resource and through solar panels you can start to produce clean, free power for your tiny house. In this article we will look at the feasibility of installing a solar system to produce enough energy to power the electricity and heating in your tiny home.
First thing’s first – you need to work out what you want to power and how much this will use. This will vary depending on what appliances you want to be able to run from it. If your cooking runs off gas then you might need less electricity, alternatively you might only want to use solar for hot water which there are systems specifically designed for.
If you are planning on running electrical appliances off solar power, consider purchasing energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs. Also consider insulating your home to a high standard and look for opportunities to let more light into your home to reduce the dependency on electric lighting. This will help the power you can generate from solar go further a reduce the size of installation you need.
By looking at your electricity and energy consumption, you can now decide if you can run a stand-alone solar system completely off the grid. This leads us on to looking at how much space you have available for solar panels and other required equipment; batteries, panels and inverters.
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Solar systems can be designed to meet any electrical requirement, no matter how large or how small, however this does depend on the space, and budget, you have available.
Have you considered how much sunlight is generated in the spot you are planning to erect your solar system? Make sure your site has enough solar energy to meet your electricity needs efficiently and economically, you can use a solar calculator to help estimate the solar yield in your area based on the amount of available space you have, which can help determine whether you will be able to mount enough panels directly on your home or if you’d need a free standing array.
It is also important to consider the climate of your chosen location as this can greatly affect the overall performance of your panels, for example some panels are less efficient in higher temperatures.
Solar panels should ideally point south at a 40 degree angle to maximize the collection of the sun’s rays. Its also worth remembering that hours of daylight and temperature will drop during winter so you’ll need to consider this when working out your annual consumption and output.
Whether your home is in a temporary or full time spot we are all aware that location is everything. Make sure that you have room to place panels away from trees and shrubs or any other obstructions that may block sunlight or require regular cleaning.
Bear in mind that the system is outdoors throughout the year and in all weather conditions, so it will need cleaned and maintained to maximize performance, especially keeping it free of leaves and debris.
In essence, it is absolutely possible to install a solar system in a tiny house and it’s a great source of free energy, especially if your home is in warmer climates; just remember space and sunlight availability and always make calculations which give you a little leeway.
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