Best Solar Panel Kits for Your Tiny House

Want to be self-reliant in your tiny house? Solar energy could be the key to meeting your energy needs!

Fortunately for us, there has never been an easier time to live in a solar-powered tiny house. Advancements in recent decades have made photovoltaic technology more affordable, and more widely available, than ever before.

But before you get out your wallet, you have two things you need to figure out.

Grid-Tied vs. Battery Bank

Do you want a grid-tied system, or a self-contained battery bank?

If you ask me, you’re going to want to go with a grid-tied system for two reasons.

First, batteries are expensive, heavy, toxic as all-get-out, and they have to be replaced… frequently. (Not to worry though – this could change soon. Tesla is ON IT!)

Second, tying your home’s solar array into your local grid means that you can feed extra power into the network for your neighbors to use – in exchange for a nice fat check from your area utility company.

How many solar panels do you need?

Check out this convenient calculator from WholesaleSolar.com to figure out how many kilowatt hours, (kWh), you need to produce in order to supply home with adequate electricity.

Make sure to include an extra buffer to account for cloudy days – 20% extra is a good rule of thumb.

There are some additional considerations as well. You want to ensure that your panels are uniform in size; otherwise they will produce different quantities of electricity at different rates and throw off your controller/inverter combo.

You also want to make sure that you have a good place to install your panels. Even a little dappled shade from weeds or tree foliage can drastically reduce the energy output of your array. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure your brackets are sized correctly for the types of panels you are using, lest the wind blow them down.

If you’re still unsure which way to go, don’t worry. Over at Dancing Rabbit Eco-village, we can help you figure out all the details. We have numerous examples of functional solar arrays of various sizes for you to check out, before you spend any of your hard-earned money.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. These are the Tiny House Blog best solar panel kits for tiny houses.

Best Small Kits:

Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Recharging Kit with Nomad 20 Solar Panel

If you’re looking for something super-tiny to meet a few minimal electronics needs, I recommend the Sherpa 100 Solar Recharging Kit.

You’ll be able to power a laptop and keep your cellphone and MP3 player charged. It’s portable, too, which means that you can take it with you on the hiking trail, or stay connected while you’re living in a tent for several years during the construction phase of your tiny house project.

Total wattage: 20
Price: $537.27

Pros:
– Portable
– Easy to use
Cons:
– Expensive, per kWh
– Difficult to upgrade or expand

Grape Solar 100-Watt Off-Grid Solar Panel Kit

If a hard-wired installation is better suited to your plans, but you still only have a few minor appliances to power, then I suggest going with the Grape Solar 100-Watt Off-Grid Solar Panel Kit.

You’ll have adequate power to supply a laptop, and keep your handheld devices full of juice. Also, if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be able to get started for a low price and expand your system over time as your needs and budget increase.

Total wattage: 100
Price: $340.99

Pros:
– Affordable
– Easy to expand
Cons:
– Mounting brackets are sold separately

Grape Solar 400-Watt Off Grid Solar Panel Kit

The next step up would be a 400-watt system, if you need to supply enough energy for beefier electronics, or you plan on having more than one person in your tiny house using small electronics at the same time. My recommendation is the Grape Solar 400-Watt Kit.

Total wattage: 400
Price: $1399.99

Pros:
– Affordable
– Easy to expand
Cons:
– Mounting brackets are sold separately

Best Large Kits:

Grape Solar 3750 Watt Expandable Solar Kit

Are you planning on expanding your solar array over time to account for new appliances, or perhaps you need to account for the energy needs of a growing family over a time? If so, you’ll want to go with a larger system that can easily be expanded as your demand for electricity rises.

With that in mind, I suggest the Grape Solar 3750 Watt Expandable Solar Kit, which will allow you to daisy-chain new panels onto your system one at time as you bring new systems online for your tiny home.

Total wattage: 3750
Price: $11,299.99

Pros:
– Easy to expand
– Mounting brackets included
Cons:
– Lots of connections cause some line-loss of power
– Slightly higher maintenance needs

Lodge 6.8 kW 24 Panel SolarWorld Off Grid Solar System

The average American household uses around 900 kWh monthly, and if you expect your tiny house energy needs to play par for the course, then this system should power your washing machine, refrigerator and other juice-hungry appliances with ease.

Total wattage: 6840
Price: $19,154.00

Pros:
– Comes with everything you need to install it on your tiny home
– Qualifies for 30% tax credit, based on the overall installation cost
Cons:
– This system is big, so you’ll need plenty of space for it

Best Grid-Tied Kits:

Grape Solar 5830 Watt Grid-Tied Solar Kit

If you’re looking to minimize the maintenance you’ll have to do, then you want to go with fewer panels.

This system will give you about 35% more power than the 3750 watt expandable kit mentioned above; along with the inverter you need to tie your tiny house to your local grid, for just a few bucks more.

Between being able to earn an income from supplying energy to your area grid and the money, (and space,) you will save by not buying batteries; this kit could prove the best bang for your buck if you need a larger system for your tiny home.

Total wattage: 5830
Price: $12,999.99

Pros:
– Good bang for your buck
– Income generating potential
– No need for a battery bank
Cons:
– More difficult to expand to increase capacity
– Requires a local electricity network to function

Wherever your project fits on the spectrum of solar energy needs, one of these models should suit you just fine.

However, if you still have questions, or you’d like to scope things out first hand to help determine how much capacity you need to install, consider visiting Dancing Rabbit Eco-village.

We have a number of experts in renewable energy in our community who can show you the ropes and help you figure out whether other renewable energy sources might be better in your particular situation.

You’ll also have a chance to see several solar panel arrays in action, and get a firsthand view of how the technology works before you lay your cash on the table for a system of your own.

 

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Solaris - February 23, 2016 Reply

Hey Collin,

For tiny houses (depending on location), I also believe grid-tie kits are more beneficial due to the propensity for returns from the local utility company. However, many of these tiny houses may be located in an area without the ability to hook-up to the grid, and are forced to get a battery back up system.

Batteries are pricey, but Tesla is working on a nice solution, may still be costly though. There are some other suppliers which carry solar power kits (at rival prices), which readers might be interested in. I know our local business – Solaris-shop.com carries custom made kits that can really push the bar when it comes to value and quality.

Josh - July 27, 2016 Reply

I also agree that being tied to the grid is one of the best options when choosing to go solar. But, as the person above mentioned, Tesla has released their Power Wall. I think this technology is great for those who have tiny houses. Especially for those who want to live off the grid.

Mark - August 17, 2016 Reply

Powerwall is not at all an off-grid product. It is only for shifting load times with a grid-tied system. They originally talked about a battery that might be for off-grid but have since dropped it.

Michael - December 24, 2016 Reply

The Tiny Solar House I live in has 6 280W panels, total of 1,680 watts worth of solar, and a 750Ah battery bank at 12V. This is enough to power the entire house (full size fridge, water pump, lights, fans, etc.). I encourage readers of this article to visit tinysolarhouse.com to learn more about solar and get a realistic understanding of the components needed to functionally take a tiny house off the grid.

http://www.tinysolarhouse.com
Powered By The Sun

Bernard Clyde - January 26, 2017 Reply

Thank you for your comparison of the grid system with the battery system. It is good to know that grids typically last a bit longer. I wasn’t aware that future improvements for the battery system are seemingly in the works though, so that is good news too!

Tiny Solar Power – The Tiny Home Blog - March 24, 2017 Reply

[…] Best Solar Panel Kits for Your Tiny House – Tiny House Blog […]

Katy Perry - April 13, 2017 Reply

My best solar spot is far away from my cabin. Can I build a portable battery bank and move the batteries from panel site to house to eliminate power loss and cable distance?

creektilghmank45 - July 3, 2017 Reply

Im using inplix instructions to make it and I do it already 🙂

How to Cut Costs with Tiny Living - The Simple Dollar - November 14, 2017 Reply

[…] price of solar panels can run anywhere from $340 to $20,000, depending on the size and complexity of the system you […]

How to Cut Costs with Tiny Living | Top Level Sales - November 20, 2017 Reply

[…] price of solar panels can run anywhere from $340 to $20,000, depending on the size and complexity of the system you […]

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