Best Solar Panels for Mobile Homes

Jan 20, 2022

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Own a mobile home and looking for the best solar panels? Building codes and the construction of your mobile home may prevent you from installing solar panels. Sadly, a majority of mobile homes are not feasible to install solar panels on or it’s not permitted due to building regulations that require a permanent foundation to the home.  

Let’s look at the conditions required for installing solar panels on your mobile home and discover the best solar panels for mobile homes. First, what are the pros and cons? 

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Pros and cons of solar panels 

Pros 
  • Solar panels will reduce energy bills, and in some cases, you may receive energy credits for energy supplied to the grid 
  • You may be entitled to federal tax credits which will reduce the cost of installation of solar panels by 30%. 
  • Your mobile home will be non-reliant on the energy grid, capable of producing its own power 
Cons 
  • Most mobile homes are ineligible for solar panels due to building regulations and structural limitations 
  • Solar systems are expensive to purchase and install for smaller capacity systems as used on mobile homes 
  • Solar panels may take up a lot of room and are likely to require fitting on the ground due to the structural limitations of mobile home roofs 

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What you need to know first 

Before choosing your solar panels and solar system, you need to know whether or not you can install solar panels on your mobile home and calculate how much energy you use.  

Check building permissions and mobile home structure 

First, check that your mobile home is structurally suitable for rooftop-mounted solar panels and that your local authority permits the installation of solar systems on mobile homes. If your mobile home does not have any foundations, be sure to double-check this information with your local building authority before purchasing any solar panels or equipment.  

If your mobile home’s roof structure is not sufficiently strong enough to allow for roof-mounted solar panel installation, it is also worth considering a ground-mounted installation. In this configuration, you can perfectly align the panels to the orientation of the sun. 

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Ground-mounted panels are fitted on frames and can be easily accessed and cleaned throughout the year. The frames are usually static and fixed to one angle, although with ground-mounted frames, it is possible to easily adjust the angle for the best orientation of the sun from one season to another.  

Another option is to use a portable solar kit that can provide a small amount of charge throughout the day and does not require building permits. Portable kits are usually designed to be laid on the ground in a sunny area.  

portable solar kit mobile homes

Calculate your annual electrical consumption 

Once you’ve been given the all-clear by your local authority to install a solar system on your mobile home, the next step is to calculate your electricity needs for your mobile home to assist in designing the solar system.   

To calculate your annual consumption, you’ll need to check all appliances and calculate how many hours you use them. Ultimately, you’re looking to find out how many kWh (kilo-Watt hours) you use per year. Check your most recent electricity bill for this figure, if it is billed monthly, find the median amount you use each month and multiply it by 12 to calculate your annual kWh usage.  

Once you have your annual kWh figure, you can estimate how many solar panels you will need.  

Annual consumption (kWh)  Solar panels required  Consumption profile 
1000 to 4000 kWh  2- 6   Low 
4000 to 8000 kWh  6- 15  medium 
Over 8000 kWh  16 +   High 

 

Now that you’ve got the required building permissions and have allocated the structural requirements to install solar panels to your mobile home, you can start to look at what solar panels are on the market for your mobile home solar system.  

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Best types of solar panels 

1. Tesla Solar Roof tiles 

Perhaps a little pricey, but Tesla Solar Roof tiles are a great option as they do not add significant weight to the existing roof structure and may be suitable for certain types of mobile homes.  

Tesla claims that their solar tiles are only around 2% less efficient than traditional solar panels, but their purchase and installation cost may be prohibitive for the average mobile homeowner.  

2. Monocrystalline Solar cells 

There are three main types of solar cells on the market today and not all are created equal. All solar panels have an efficiency rating that can vary from as low as 8% to around 23% for the most efficient.  

If you’re looking for the most efficient solar panels, choose monocrystalline cells as they will offer anywhere from a 16 – 23% efficiency rating. Coming in a close second is Polycrystalline cells, offering an efficiency rating from 15 to 19%.  

The most expensive solar panels are typically the panels made with monocrystalline cells, so it’s important to weigh up the cost vs electrical return, which we’ll look at next.  

Brand of panel  Minimum efficiency rating % Maximum efficiency rating % Averaged efficiency rating %
LG Solar  18.4  22  20.04 
Axitec  18.96  20.45  19.78 
REC Group  16.5  21.70  19.05 
Hyundai  16.2   19.4  18.49 

Calculate cost of installation and annual electricity rebate 

Before installing solar panels to your mobile home, you should also calculate the costs of installation and work out approximately how much your electricity bill will be reduced by.  

A 3.2kW installation would cost approximately $6,400 based on the national average installation cost of $2.93/watt. This figure also includes the deduction of the 30% Federal tax credit which is currently available until 2022. 

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Mobile homes are often less efficient in storing heat due to less insulation and virtually no thermal mass. This should be taken into account when calculating the electrical heating needs of your mobile home throughout the year. It is almost certain that your mobile home will require significantly more heating in the wintertime compared to a traditional static home.  

Summary 

Sadly, a majority of mobile homes will not be permitted to install a solar panel system due to the lack of foundations and structure of the home’s roof. In some instances, a mobile home may be permitted solar panels. However, it’s worth consulting with a specialist before purchasing any solar equipment.  

You’ll also need to carefully consider the overall cost and potential electricity yield from installing a solar system. Mostly because, some smaller systems are not financially feasible.

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