Can You Get Solar Panels on a Mobile Home? All You Need to Know

Can You Get Solar Panels on a Mobile Home? All You Need to Know

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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An eco-friendly, energy-efficient home is an appealing option for many homeowners today, and mobile homes are not left behind. But how do you power your mobile homes? Can you get solar panels on a mobile home?

While installing solar panels on your mobile homes depends on several factors, harnessing the sun's power is a great option for setting up power for your mobile home. So if you want to take things a step further, solar panels can be a great investment for powering your mobile home sustainably.

Let's look at all you need to know regarding solar panel installation on mobile homes.

Is Mobile Home Solar System Possible

A mobile home solar system is possible. But, not all mobile homes are compatible with PV installations. For instance, if your mobile home is installed in a community that runs off the grid or uses its septic system, it will most likely be incompatible with solar panel installation.

Image Credit: qoraxenergy.com

Alternatively, mobile homes that aren't installed in communities and receive their power from a typical electrical grid are compatible with solar panel installation. When sized correctly, solar panels can provide up to 100% of your electricity needs

Note that this may depend on location and how much sunlight your area receives. For example, cloudy regions require more wattage than sunny locations.

Additionally, mobile homes on private land or in RV parks have access to many open spaces for installation purposes. Remarkably, installing solar panels on the ground is often more efficient than putting them onto your mobile home's roof if you're in an RV park. This is a better idea for tenants because PV installation may not be ideal when placed on someone else's property without their permission.

 How old is your manufactured home? If your home was manufactured after 1990, you likely have electrical wiring that allows installing off-grid power systems like solar panels. However, if your mobile home is older (manufactured before 1980), chances are slim that your house has the requirements for installing a full solar kit.

Is it Possible to Install PV Panels on a Mobile House Roof

Mobile home roofs are compatible with solar panel installation. However, PV panels are heavy and require that your structure is sound enough to handle the weight of solar panel equipment. In addition, rooftop solar power panels for mobile homes may not be legal in every jurisdiction and every mobile home park.

Image Credit: pv-magazine.com

If shingles or tiles are already installed, installing solar panels will increase the total weight placed on the metal roof, which could cause damage. Instead, mobile homeowners with rubber or asphalt roofs can install rooftop solar panels without worries.

Also, mobile home roofs usually have a steep pitch and are designed at an optimal level for harnessing sunlight. Therefore, you can install solar panels without worrying about the angle of your roof.

However, in the case of a flat roof, it is challenging to install a solar panel system. Solar panel kits often come with mounting hardware designed specifically for slanted rooftops. Therefore, if your mobile home doesn't have the required rooftop slope, the solar kit components are likely incompatible with installation on your home rooftop. 

In this case, consult a mobile home solar installer to see if they can include components compatible with mobile homes with flat rooftops before purchasing any equipment.

It is best to have an installer inspect your mobile home before beginning any solar panel installations. However, the archetypal lifespan of a mobile home roof is about 20 years. Thus, most owners should be okay with installing their panels on top while taking precautions and following proper safety measures.

Alternative Places for Solar Panel Installation on a Mobile Home

Solar panels can be installed on any mobile home's exterior surface with direct sunlight. So, how can you go solar if you can't install rooftop solar panels on your mobile home?

Image Credit: tinytrackhouse.com

You could choose another structure for your PV panel installation, including an enclosed patio, garage, or storage shed with the structural integrity for a photovoltaic array.

Alternatively, you could adopt solar power using a ground-mounted PV installation. In most cases, ground-mounted photovoltaic systems are the smartest option for manufactured homes. But, installing ground-mounted solar panels cost more than rooftop panels. In addition, their output is lower than rooftop panels because sunlight falls much lower than on the roof-mounted panels.

Advanced Options of Solar Panels for Mobile Home Solar Systems

Heavy mounting equipment is not the only option for solar panel installation on your mobile home roof. New products are continuously being introduced, and more options could be used for mobile homes.

a) Tesla Solar Roof Tiles

Image Credit: cotuitsolar.com

Tesla solar roof tiles have been a game changer for the entire solar industry since they were introduced. They are made of textured and colored glass embedded with a solar cell. Tesla solar tiles look like any other roof shingle, and you can use them as your roofing material. So the PV panels aren't mounted on the roof but are the roof to your manufactured homes. This cuts cost and weight. Great news for manufactured homes!

b) Stick-On Solar

Image Credit: pinterest.com

As the name suggests, these tiles are stuck on the roof. The solar panels have an adhesive backing that perfectly sticks to the shingles. The installation is faster and simpler than traditional hardware, and you don't require shafts and racks. The best part of this solar panel is that it is ultra-light and doesn't have a heavy aluminum framed body. Unlike the traditional solar panels that weigh 35 to 40 pounds, the stick-on solar's weight is only 17.5 pounds

The stick-on solar panels and Tesla solar tiles have opened up solar to mobile homeowners who couldn't install solar on their roofs.

Factors That Affect Solar Panel Production Of Mobile Homes

Several factors affect solar panels' energy production in mobile homes. These factors emphasize the need to preserve extra power for unexpected situations. A solar generator or battery bank can help in reserving solar energy.

Image Credit: offgridworld.com

1. The peak output determines Solar Panel ratings. For instance, a 300 Watt panel cannot continuously produce the same energy level. However, if all the factors are favorable and the time is at a peak, the panel would have 300 Watt energy. 

2. Though solar panels work more efficiently during winter, production can decrease significantly.

3. Your location plays an important role in solar energy production. Colder regions may produce only up to half of what the panels can produce. Only if there is sunshine can your panels produce sufficient electricity

Pros:

  • Reduce carbon footprint
  • Save money on the energy bill
  • Increase property value
  • Lower maintenance cost

Cons:

  • Orientation of the roof
  • Space constraints
  • Purchasing and installation cost of solar panels

Frequently Asked Questions

i) Does a Solar-Powered Mobile Home Require Batteries

Manufactured home solar kits do not require batteries to store excess energy since they are already converted into an operational power source by the inverter. But you cannot only depend on the panels but also on other components, including the battery, controller, and inverter.

ii) Do Solar Panels Need to be on a Specific Side of the Mobile Home

Solar panels can be installed on any part of the roof with adequate exposure to sunlight.

iii) Will Solar Panels Reduce the Electricity Bills

Yes, it is cheaper to purchase and install solar panels on your roof than to continue purchasing electricity from your utility for the next 25 years (estimated life of solar installations).

PV panels for mobile homes cost as much as any other rooftop installation, and there is no special equipment

iv) What are Solar Panel Kits

Solar panel kits include several solar panels and other components needed to create a functional system. It includes inverters, cables, and mounts/racks. Buying a kit saves you time and money compared to purchasing each component separately

v) What Inverter Do I Buy for a Mobile Home Solar Kit

Mobile home solar kits use a small inverter or none. Inverters are normally in-built into mobile home solar kits. Hence no additional work is needed.

Final Thought

Image Credit: tinyhouse.com

You can get solar panels for your mobile homes. But, the structure of the home must meet the requirements for installation. Don't give up if your roof doesn't support the solar panels. Instead, consider other places, including a patio, shed, and ground-mounted solar panels.

But most importantly, consult an expert to check your structure and ascertain that it's up for the challenge. For example, the roof should be strong enough, and some building codes in different places may require a permanent foundation, something a bit challenging with manufactured houses.

 Featured Image Source: qoraxenergy.com

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.