So, you’ve bought a mobile home and are looking for ways to lower your electricity costs. After getting hit with high utility bills month after month, you start wondering – can you put solar panels on a manufactured house?
The good news is you can use solar panels for mobile homes. This way, you can save a lot on power, enjoy freedom from the grid, reduce your carbon footprint, and enjoy free electricity from the sun.
With rising energy costs, solar helps you gain energy independence and stop getting crushed by high electricity bills.
The graph below shows surging electricity prices that spur the worst-ever crisis in late utility payments.
With the economy slowing down but high energy demand, energy prices are in a weird spot. Usually, prices drop when things slow. But this time, years of under-investing in energy means the supply can’t keep up. So even if growth slows, prices may stay high for a while.
Following this power price surge, more and more manufactured homeowners are discovering the benefits of harnessing the sun’s power. With rising energy costs, solar helps you gain energy independence and stop getting crushed by high electricity bills.
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about outfitting your mobile house with solar panels. We’ll look at different mounting options, wiring considerations, types of solar systems, and how to choose the right size for your needs. We’ll also dig into costs, available incentives, regulations, and finding the right installer.
- What is a mobile home?
- Powering Your Mobile Home
- Benefits of using solar panels for mobile homes
- Rooftop, Ground mounted, or Pole mounted solar panels on mobile homes?
- Solar Panels for Mobile Homes: Mounted or Portable Solar Panels
- Wiring considerations and regulations
- Issues if rending land
- Solar System Options for Mobile Home Energy
- Determining System Size
- Regulations and Permits
- Finding an Installer
- Costs and Incentives
- Solar Panels for Mobile Homes: Long-term Savings
- Solar Panels for Mobile Homes: Final Thoughts
What is a mobile home?
A mobile home is a prefabricated structure built in a factory on a permanently attached chassis before being transported to a site.
It can be towed or transported on a trailer.
You can use a mobile home (also known as a trailer home, park home, or house trailer) as a permanent home or for temporary or holiday accommodation.
And you can either semi-permanently or permanently live it in one place, but you can move it around. You may be required to move your mobile home occasionally for legal reasons.
The HUD Code, created in the 1970s and later amended in the 1980s, mandated the term “manufactured” to replace “Mobile” in mobile homes. While it is interesting to learn about the history of mobile homes, it is not within the scope of this article or the website.
Pros and cons of a mobile home
So what exactly are the pros and cons of living in a mobile home? Let’s break it down.
Here are the cons:
They are affordable
On the pro side, mobile homes offer an affordable way to own your own place. The cost per square foot is much lower compared to site-built houses. And you don’t have to deal with high monthly rent like an apartment.
Modular and Movable
Mobile homes are also modular and movable. If you need to relocate for a job or want to upgrade down the road, you can transport your home to a new location. Though trailering your house isn’t always fun, freedom is worth every hustle.
Have ample roof space for mounting solar panels.
When it comes to going solar, mobile homes provide ample roof space for mounting panels. And you don’t need a sprawling property to allow for ground installations. Even small home lots can accommodate solar with the right planning.
Also, read Can You Put Solar Panels on Metal Roofs?
Now for the cons:
Depreciate over time
Mobile homes depreciate in value over time, unlike average homes, which typically appreciate. So you likely won’t make a big return selling it down the road. Also, surrounding mobile home park conditions can impact your home value and resale ability.
Durability and weatherization issues
Durability and weatherization are other concerns in mobile homes. They must be properly leveled and anchored to handle winds and seismic activity. Upgrading insulation, windows, and exterior materials can help improve energy efficiency and costs.
At the end of the day, mobile homes offer flexible and affordable housing options. But like any home, they require proper maintenance and upgrades for comfort and performance. Weigh the pros and cons based on your needs to see if mobile home living fits your lifestyle.
Powering Your Mobile Home
When it comes to powering your mobile casa, you’ve got options beyond just plugging into the old electricity grid.
Though that tried and true electrical hookup will juice your double-wide just fine, there are some off-the-grid methods that can literally empower your home.
Let’s start with generators. These rumbling, gasoline-guzzling beasts can keep your mobile oasis lit up when the power goes out.
Nothing like the sweet melody of a generator droning outside your bedroom window all night long!
If fumes and noise pollution aren’t your vibe, solar power is a clean way to energize your home. Install some sleek panels on your roof to soak up the sun’s rays and cut that electrical cord for good.
You’ll feel like a real tech mogul watching your meters spin backward as you feed energy back to the grid.
For off-grid living, battery packs let you bottle up extra solar juice for when the skies get cloudy. You can combine the battery bank with solar panels or a generator.
And your mobile palace can thrive on sun and storage alone – though everyone may need to cuddle together at night to conserve power.
But we have solutions for this problem: Bigger storage and more panels.
If you live somewhere windy, turbines can also generate eco-friendly energy. Just be prepared to chase panels flying across the trailer park when gale-force winds strike.
Benefits of using solar panels for mobile homes
At the end of the day, powering your mobile home is all about finding the right renewable source that fits your lifestyle…and budget. With the right system, you’ll stay powered up in an eco-friendly way.
You know very well that we sing SOLAR POWER all day on this website. And that is why we started by stating clearly that you can put solar panels on your manufactured home. So, GO SOLAR way.
Here are the benefits of using solar power on your mobile home:
Save Big Money with Solar
Going solar can put some serious cash back in your wallet. By generating your own power from the sun, you’ll slash your electric bills and keep more green in your pocket each month.
Over 20 or 30 years, we’re talking major long-term savings here. Pretty soon, your mobile home will be making you money instead of costing you!
Join the Fight Against Climate Change
Using clean solar energy means you’ll be doing your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and environmental damage. Your panels will churn out electricity with zero carbon footprint – take that fossil fuels!
You can feel good knowing your mobile house isn’t contributing to global warming.
Increase Your Home Value
Let’s be honest. Mobile homes don’t appreciate like traditional site-built houses. But installing solar panels adds value that home buyers go crazy for.
You’ll have an easier time selling your place down the road with attractive solar tech on the roof.
Declare Energy Independence!
Tired of being dependent on the Man for electricity? With solar power, you can take back control and flip the bird at utility companies. Harness the sun’s energy to run your own off-grid operation.
You’ll be watching your meters spin backwards as you sell energy back to the grid!
Ride Off into the Sunset
Unlike ongoing costs for propane or gasoline generators, solar panels are a one-time investment that will pay off for decades. Once installed, the sun’s energy is free!
Cut the cord and start riding off into the solar sunset in your energy-efficient mobile home.
Rooftop, Ground mounted, or Pole mounted solar panels on mobile homes?
When it comes to mounting your solar panels, you’ve got options well beyond just slapping them on the roof. Depending on your mobile home setup and lot size, ground or pole mounting can also be solid choices.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of each so you can decide what works best.
Rooftop mounting is often the simplest and most cost-effective way to go. Since your panels will be up high and angled, they’ll soak up the most rays during peak sunlight hours.
This can lead to greater energy production overall. Roof mounting is hard to beat for optimal sun access and lower costs.
Just be sure your roof is structurally sound enough to handle the panel weight and wind uplift forces. Reinforce those trusses and frames if needed!
If your mobile home roofing isn’t ideal or you rent your lot, ground mounting is the way to go. You’ll need adequate open yard space and southern sun exposure.
Ground mount systems use rails and poles secured in concrete footings to angle your panels just right.
Though more complex to install, it avoids roof penetration and lets you take panels with you if you move.
Pole mounted-solar panels
Pole mounting on a concrete pad offers a sort of middle-ground option. You elevate panels above the ground while avoiding roof work.
Just be mindful of high winds in open areas, which can apply heavy lateral forces on pole-mounted arrays. Proper engineering is key.
The table below compares the pro and cons and where each method is best suited:
|Mounting Method||Pros||Cons||Best Suited For|
|Rooftop||-Optimal sun exposure|
-Uses existing roof space
-Easier access for cleaning/maintenance
|– Roof must be structurally sound |
-Roof penetrations required
– Limited adjustment ability
|– Sound roof structure|
– Owned mobile home/land
– South-facing roof
|Ground||– Adjustable angle/position|
-No roof penetrations
– Can relocate if moving
– Suitable for uneven land
|– Requires open yard space|
– More complex installation
– Higher cost
– Exposure to weather/debris
|– Rented mobile home/land|
– Old or fragile roof
– Large open lot
|Pole||– Elevates panels above ground|
– Adjustable angle/position
– Avoid roof penetrations
|– Requires concrete pad|
– More wind loading
– Higher cost than rooftop
|– Small or uneven yard|
– Roof not suitable
– High wind areas
When deciding on mounting, you also need to consider local permitting and regulations. Some mobile home parks or neighborhoods restrict ground-mounted panels. And if your lot lacks usable yard space, only a rooftop will work.
Solar Panels for Mobile Homes: Mounted or Portable Solar Panels
So for your sweet mobile home paradise, which types of solar panels should you choose?
Should you go for portable ones you can drag around or mount systems on your roof, ground, or poles? Let’s weigh the far-out options.
Portable Solar Panels
If you’re still finding yourself in the wanderlust years, groovy portable panels are the way to go. These convenient rollups let you follow the sun and avoid bummer tan lines.
When it’s time to split the scene, just stash ’em with your lawn chairs and head out towards new horizons. Don’t leave your eco-power behind, man!
Mounted Solar Panels
But for cosmic cats looking to settle into a permanent pad, mounted systems on your roof, ground, or poles will pump up your digs with maximum solar juice.
We’re talking serious sun-sucking arrays strong enough to run the hot tub, A/C, and all your appliances at once – even that beloved lava lamp collection.
Try that with flimsy portable panels, and you’ll end up sweating in the dark with warm brewskis. Not very far out.
The catch is some mobile home structures may not handle the weight or forces of large-mounted solar systems. Unless you reinforce that framing or foundation, your groovy panels could end up crashing down when the weather gets gnarly. Don’t let your green dreams become a bummer nightmare!
The bottom line? Choose flexible, convenient portables to take power with you on new adventures, or splurge on mounted systems for max stability and durability. Either way, your mobile oasis will be soaking up the sun’s glorious rays and saving cash. Far out!
Here is a table comparing the advantages and disadvantages of mounted vs. portable solar panels for mobile homes:
|Mounted Solar Panels||Portable Solar Panels|
|Advantages||– Higher efficiency and power output|
– Can customize the size to energy needs
– Durable and long-lasting
– Professional installation services available
|– Completely portable and movable|
– Easy set up and use
– Flexible positioning to maximize sun exposure
– No mounting or roof work required
– Can take panels with you if moving
|Disadvantages||– Higher upfront cost|
– Permanent installation
– May require structural reinforcements
– Can’t reposition throughout day
|– Higher upfront cost|
– Permanent installation
– May require structural reinforcements
– Can’t reposition throughout the day
Wiring considerations and regulations
Slapping some solar panels on your mobile home’s roof, on a pole, or on your yard is just the first step – you also have to wire those babies up properly so they juice your home instead of just looking pretty.
Depending on your setup, you may need to run cables through walls and route conduit connections to your electrical panel. Be sure to use copper wiring suitable for solar systems.
Consult local building codes so your electrical work passes inspection with flying colors. Nothing like having the permit office shut down your mobile home solar endeavor!
Follow these electrical guidelines so you don’t end up off-grid permanently!
- Use copper solar cables, not aluminum. Copper is more efficient over long distances and less prone to overheating and fire hazards.
- Size your wiring appropriately based on panel wattage and distance to the main panel. Thicker gauges prevent voltage drop.
- Install DC disconnects and inverters properly. Disconnects allow safe shutdowns while inverters convert DC current to usable AC.
- Follow all local building codes and pass inspections. Cutting corners can lead to fines or systems getting shut down.
Issues if rending land
Now for the depressing news – if you rent your mobile home lot, getting approval for solar can be trickier. Your landlord may not want you drilling into their precious property.
Play nice and have a chat about your plans – offer to restore the site after installation or go with ground or pole mounts. If they still won’t budge, appeal to their charitable side by highlighting the environmental benefits.
If that fails, give your landlord the old puppy dog eyes and say solar will help you afford rising rents. That should do the trick.
Now for some tips if you’re sunning on rented land:
- Review your lease agreement carefully for any clauses on home modifications. Don’t violate your lease terms!
- Present the benefits of solar power to your landlord – lower bills, eco-friendly, minimal appearance changes with ground mounts.
- Offer to restore their property at move-out or exchange solar installation for slightly higher rent to offset value concerns.
- Get any negotiated solar approval for your rented lot in writing before proceeding with installations.
Solar System Options for Mobile Home Energy
When going solar for your mobile home, you’ve got choices for how to set up your solar system. The three main options are grid-tied, off-grid, or hybrid configurations.
Let’s dive into the pros, cons, and key components of each.
Grid-Tied Solar Systems
In a grid-tied solar system, your panels connect to the existing electrical utility grid.
During the day, when your solar panels produce more energy than you use, the excess power gets fed back into the grid. This is called net metering.
At night or on cloudy days when your panels aren’t generating electricity, you draw power from the grid.
- No batteries are needed, reducing system costs
- Net metering can earn you credits from your utility company
- The grid acts as a backup for cloudy days
- Requires grid connection, not fully independent
- No power in a grid outage unless you add batteries
Off-Grid Solar Systems
For the true solar pioneer, off-grid systems fully disconnect you from the electrical grid.
Your panels charge a bank of batteries that store enough energy to power your mobile home day and night.
An inverter converts the DC current into AC to run appliances and devices.
- Total energy independence and self-reliance
- Power during grid outages
- More complex and costly with batteries required
- Battery maintenance and replacement over time
Hybrid Solar Systems
If you’re not ready to fully cut the cord, hybrid systems let you keep a grid connection while also having battery backup for outages. Essentially the best of both worlds!
- Can net meter excess energy but still functional off-grid
- Backup power even if the grid goes down
- More expensive than grid-tied only
- Batteries still require maintenance
So explore your options and see whether grid-tied, off-grid, or hybrid makes the most sense for powering your mobile palace!
PRO TIPS: Picking the right solar system for your mobile home is all about your needs. If you wanna dip your toes into solar without going all in, choose reliable, affordable grid-tied power for your mobile home. But if you’re aiming for total freedom from electrical overlords, head for off-grid solar independence. And for cowpokes not ready to abandon the grid yet, hybrid systems let you straddle both worlds with battery backup when the lights go out. Figure out which solar trail suits you best and ride your home right into the energy sunset!
Determining System Size
Figuring out the just-right solar system size for your mobile home isn’t rocket science, but it does require some savvy planning.
You want a system that’s not too big, not too small, but juuuust right.
Let’s look at the key factors to help you find solar panel heaven.
Crunching Your Power Usage Numbers
First up, pull out your last 12 months of utility bills to analyze your average monthly kilowatt-hours.
For a standard 2-3 bedroom single wide mobile home, average usage falls around 500-800 kWh monthly.
If your lifestyle or appliances are power-hungry, plan for the higher end. Either way, your past bills hold the key data.
Accounting for Home Size and Layout
The square footage and floorplan of your mobile home matter when determining system size.
A deluxe 70-foot double wide with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths will need a larger solar array than a modest single wide.
Be realistic about your home’s power demands.
Considering Energy Efficiency
Upgrading to LED lighting, efficient appliances, and better insulation can reduce your mobile home’s electricity usage by 20-30% or more.
And less power demand means you can get by with fewer solar panels.
So maximize efficiency first before purchasing your shiny new array.
Recommended Panel Amounts
For the average mobile home that uses 500-800 kWh monthly, solar installers recommend a 3-6 kW system size with 10-25 panels.
Match this range to your particular home’s needs. And voila, you’ve found the Goldilocks solar sweet spot!
However, the number of solar panels you need depends on various factors. They include:
- Size of the mobile home – Larger square footage requires more panels to meet energy needs.
- Number of occupants – More residents means higher electricity usage. More solar panels needed.
- Major appliances – Things like AC, heaters, and hot tubs use a lot of power and impact panel number of panels you will need.
- Energy efficiency – Upgrades like LED lights and insulation reduce energy use, allowing fewer panels.
- Electricity usage – Analyze your monthly kWh from bills to understand your average energy needs.
- Sunlight in your area – More sun exposure equals higher panel productivity, reducing the number needed.
- Panel wattage – Higher-watt panels produce more electricity, so you may need fewer of them.
- Obstructions – Nearby trees or buildings that shade panels will decrease their output.
- Future expansion plans – Allow for potential increased energy needs down the road.
- Budget – Panel costs may dictate size limitations or influence brand/wattage choices.
Regulations and Permits
Before you solar slap those panels on your mobile home, you’ll need to pass Go and collect some permits.
Local Requirements and Inspections
When it comes to slapping solar panels on your mobile home, Big Brother is watching!
Local building codes and permit requirements vary widely, so make sure to check in with your local zoning office before getting started.
You may need an electrical or building permit and inspections during and after installation.
For example, in sunny Arizona, you’ll need both a building permit and an electrical permit to install solar on your mobile home.
The city will send out inspectors at various stages to make sure you’ve safely secured the panels and correctly wired any electrical components.
Failure to get proper permits can result in fines or even having to remove the entire system!
Zoning Laws and Homeowner Associations
You may have found the perfect mobile home park, but don’t start daydreaming about your new solar panels just yet!
Local zoning laws and homeowner’s associations sometimes place restrictions on installing solar.
Thankfully, many states have passed laws preventing unreasonable restrictions.
For example, In Ohio, recent legislation limits HOA restrictions on solar installations. Under the new law, HOAs and COAs can only establish “reasonable restrictions” on a solar panel’s “size, place, and manner” of placement. However, they may still impose “reasonable” restrictions regarding placement or aesthetics. So be sure to review the rules before signing any HOA contracts.
When in doubt, go straight to the source and talk to your local zoning office. They can specify permits, fees, restrictions, and required inspections.
Pro Tip: Regulations and permit requirements for installation of solar panels for mobile homes vary widely depending on where you live. Be sure to check with your local permitting office first to find out exactly what will be required for your specific area. These rules can range from minimal oversight to strict inspections and detailed paperwork. It’s better to know what you’re getting into ahead of time rather than face headaches and delays down the road! The last thing you want is to install your panels only to be told you need to remove them due to a lack of proper permitting.
Finding an Installer
In this section, we’ll cover the importance of finding experienced mobile home installers and key questions you should ask potential contractors.
Vetting solar pros thoroughly is critical for safety, compliance, and system performance.
Importance of experienced mobile home installers
When installing solar on a mobile home, experience matters! Here’s why you’ll want to hire a seasoned pro:
Masters of Mobile Home Systems
Your average rooftop solar guy probably can’t tell a load-bearing beam from an aluminum awning.
But mobile home solar scene veterans have all the specialized expertise for these unique structures down pat.
They’ve dealt with weak roof frames, quirky wiring, and other challenges that will leave newbies scratching their heads.
Red Tape Ninjas
Navigating the permitting and inspection bureaucracy for any solar project is a hassle, but it’s a whole other ballgame for mobile homes.
Strict regulations that vary from town to town require Matrix-level permitting kung-fu.
Leave it to the mobile home solar black belts to get your approval documents in order.
Saving You from DIY Disaster
Over 70% of DIY solar projects end up requiring expensive corrections, says EnergySage. And slip-ups on mobile homes can be downright dangerous.
Save yourself the stress and potential hazards by hiring seasoned mobile home crews with proven safety records.
Questions to ask potential contractors
Here are some questions to ask potential solar contractors for installing panels on a mobile home:
- How many mobile homes have you electrified with solar power? I need a true expert, not a rookie!
- What’s the latest gossip on permits and inspections where I’m located? I don’t need the solar police knocking.
- Which solar panels can handle being on the move? I need durable over delicate, darling!
- Got mounting solutions that won’t turn my roof into a bumpy rollercoaster? Smooth sailing only!
- My landowner is so behind the times – help me make a case for solar they can’t refuse!
- Show me receipts for your safety record! No janky fly-by-night operations for this mobile homeowner.
- What rebates and incentives can I collect to cut costs on my solar system? Mama’s gotta save those coins!
- How many watts will my mobile pad need for optimal solar power flow? I don’t need an undersized or oversized system.
- Should I stay connected to the grid or go completely off the grid? Give me the tea on which choice is right for my situation!
- Real talk – how much of my electric bill can I wipe out yearly with solar? I need the financial facts!
Costs and Incentives
When installing solar panels on mobile homes, it is important to consider the costs and incentives associated with the installation. Here are the main points to know:
Average system costs
The typical solar system for a mobile home runs about $3 per watt. So for a modest 3 kW system, expect an installation price tag of $9,000 before incentives—as much as a Hermès Birkin!
After federal tax credits and other incentives, the cost of a solar system for a mobile home can be reduced.
You should obtain quotes from multiple contractors to compare costs and ensure competitive pricing.
Tax credits, rebates
Thankfully Uncle Sam dishes out tasty rebates and tax credits to cut costs. The federal solar tax credit lets you keep up to 30% of installation costs in your pocket at tax time.
And your state may offer additional rebates—some covering up to 50% of your system cost!
But wait, there’s more! Many solar companies now offer fab financing options to help you pay off your panels over time. No need to plunk down the full price upfront.
Make reasonable monthly payments while enjoying lower electric bills from your glam new solar setup.
Solar Panels for Mobile Homes: Long-term Savings
Solar power can bring some sweet savings over the long run that’ll have you rolling in the green!
Cut Down Your Electric Bill
Once your sleek new solar system starts soaking up the sun’s rays, you’ll see your electric bill shrink faster than my skinny jeans in the dryer!
Most mobile homes save around 50-75% on utilities after going solar. For a typical $150 monthly bill, you could see $75-120 in energy savings each month. Cha-ching!
See Returns Within 5-7 Years
The upfront cost of solar may give you sticker shock, but focus on the big picture. With incentives and monthly utility bill savings, your system will likely pay for itself in 5-7 years.
After that, it’s just soaking up all that free sunshine for another 20+ years! Not a bad ROI.
Increase Your Home Value
Going green can make you some green when you sell! Studies show that solar power adds an average of $15,000 to your mobile home value.
That shiny new solar system signals an efficient, cost-saving home to buyers. One that could sell faster and for a higher price!
Solar Panels for Mobile Homes: Final Thoughts
From power bills crushing your wallet to rising utility costs threatening your mobile home paradise, the solution shines brightly from above. Solar power lets you take back control, harnessing free sunshine to run your off-grid oasis. Or stay grid-tied and watch your meter spin backward!
We’ve walked through all the solar panels for mobile homes secrets – daunting permit quests, mounting options galore, and sizing your system just right. Now comes the fun part. Pick your solar savior and watch the panels transform your mobile palace into an energy-sipping dream machine.
The road ahead is bright for manufactured home living. With solar technology more accessible and affordable than ever, you can turn sunlight into savings and kiss electrical dependence goodbye. It’s time to declare energy freedom and let your mobile home bask in the solar glow. The power is yours!
So soak up the sun, save some green, and blaze your trail. A bright new dawn is rising on the mobile home horizon. And that solar-powered paradise starts with you. Onwards and upwards to energy independence!