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Solar panels constituting arrays of photovoltaic cells exploit sunlight to generate electricity for human’s daily use.
Being environmentally friendly in nature, solar panels harvest solar energy that is in abundance on our planet. As such, this technological intervention could help save the planet’s natural resources from depletion.
Solar panels are mountable on buildings and are typically retrofitted to the rooftops of existing buildings, usually on a south-facing roof slope that provides both aspect and tilt.
For the most part, there has been an increased uptake of domestic solar schemes globally. And with this increased adoption, more questions are being asked by homeowners. In today’s blog, we’ll particularly attempt to tackle the most common questions asked regarding solar panels for mobile homes.
1. Can you use solar panels for mobile homes?
Yes, solar panels can be installed on mobile homes. In fact, one can make significant savings on their utilities budget by offsetting their energy costs for their mobile home through solar energy kit installation.
And though most mobile homes possess smaller roofs than an average home, they can still fit a row or two of solar panels that harvest sufficient solar energy.
2. Will solar panels reduce the electricity bill for mobile homes?
Yes, solar panels can significantly reduce, or even eliminate one’s mobile home’s electric bill! The amount of savings, however, depends on multiple factors.
For example, the size of your mobile home (larger mobile homes dictate larger solar systems), average electricity costs in an area, and how much daily sunlight is received where one lives.
Typically, a conventional residential solar setup can generate anywhere between 350 to 850 kilowatts hours a month. In fact, the United States Energy Information Administration estimates a typical home employs approximately 893-kilowatts hours energy each month. Based on these statistics, solar panels can save you up to about 90% monthly on electric bills.
As a result, solar panel systems have been known to pay for themselves over a shorter period than initially expected.
Additionally, since solar power doesn’t cost anything after installation, you’ll be able to save even more money in contrast to other forms of renewable energy sources like wind or geothermal. Furthermore, a solar installation can qualify you for tax incentives.
3. Is it possible to put rooftop solar panels on mobile homes?
Yes, most mobile home roofs are conducive for solar panel installation. In fact, most mobile home setups are designed to be at an optimal level to harness sunlight.
This means there is no need to recalculate angles or perform re-adjustments, unless one plans on going off the grid, or desires to add more power systems in the near future.
But, one needs to ensure that their roof is structurally sound enough to handle the weight of solar panels. To determine if your mobile home can support a solar installation, have a professional installer inspect your mobile home prior, just in case.
This means most owners can install solar panels atop their roofs—as long as precaution is taken and proper safety measures are employed when mounting the systems onto mobile homes. The typical lifespan of a mobile home roof is approximately 20 years.
Also read: Rooftop solar panels
4. What type of solar panels are best for mobile/manufactured homes?
There are three types of solar panels that can be deployed to mobile/manufactured homes:
- Monocrystalline Solar Panels
These types of solar panels constitute PV cells made from the purest silicon available. As a result, they typically have the highest efficiency ratings of any solar panel type available on the market.
- Polycrystalline Solar Panels
Polycrystalline solar panels are quicker to produce than any other kind of panel. In fact, they are cheaper to acquire in contrast to monocrystalline solar panels.
Furthermore, they are also highly efficient, though not like their monocrystalline counterparts. Additionally, though they are reasonably priced, they are relatively inferior to the monocrystalline panels in terms of the volume of power generated over a set period.
- Amorphous Panels
Unlike polycrystalline and monocrystalline panels, amorphous panels are created from thin silicon layers. With this thin character profile, they are bendable. They are also more lightweight in contrast to their two aforementioned counterparts. Additionally, they can optimally function in low-light environments under high temperatures.
Read: Types of solar panels
5. What are the limitations of using solar panels on mobile home roofs?
When deploying solar panels to mobile homes, one should ensure they are structurally strong enough to hold the weight of several solar panels (these can range from 100-200 pounds per panel).
Furthermore, if a mobile home isn’t already equipped with a metallic roof, then it will need to be replaced or reinforced to support solar panels.
To aggravate things, if your mobile home maintains an outdated electrical system, you may be required to invest in having it repaired or replaced before solar panel installation.
Another requisite for solar panels to be installed safely is a permanent foundation. Without a permanent foundation, then the solar kit should constitute some solar panel mounts that can be attached directly to your mobile home’s roof.
Relatedly, if there are already tiles installed, this could pose another challenge since tiles increase the total amount of weight being placed on the roof. However, this doesn’t pose any challenge for mobile homeowners with asphalt or rubber roofs.
Mobile homeowners with flat roofs also face installation challenges since solar panel kits typically come with their own mounting hardware specifically designed for slanted rooftops.
So, if a mobile home rooftop doesn’t have much slope, these components will not be compatible for installation onto the mobile home.
In such instances, it’s wise to contact the mobile solar installer to find out if they can include components compatible with flat roof mobile home designs. You could also use the chance to seek advice on how to best position the solar panels onto your mobile home to increase the overall efficiency of your system.
6. What are lightweight solar panels?
Lightweight solar panels are designed to fit onto mobile homes without causing any damage when installed. Mobile home solar kits are easy for homeowners to install themselves. As such, they are mostly small in size.
Because mobile homes usually possess thin roofs, one can consider flexible or semi-flexible solar panel options. Such options make it easy to tear down, or to lay them across the roof.
7. Can you use small solar panels for mobile homes?
If you purchase a mobile home and find out there’s limited space for solar panel installation; you can opt for small solar panels. However, the other option is to replace specific roof sections with materials like shingles, metal sheets, etc.
8. Can you buy used solar panels?
A used solar panel is a solar panel previously owned by a person or a utility company. In fact, a solar panel that was purchased, and never installed on a rooftop is also considered used.
On the other end of this spectrum is a solar panel that has been used for over 10 years and has broken cells or worn-out frames. Such a solar panel is also considered a used product.
Refurbished solar panels are panels that have been rebuilt, restored or repaired to appear ‘like-new’. These typically cost 50%-70% less than new solar panels. However, they cost more than used solar panels since they have been restored to an acceptable condition or standard.
If you have a choice, it’s advisable to choose refurbished solar panels over used ones since they have been restored to an acceptable working condition.
Furthermore, some refurbished solar panels may come with a refurbished warranty. This is helpful because solar panel output degrades at a rate of 0.5% annually, and refurbished products are typically reconditioned, tested, and inspected by a specialist.
9. What are portable solar panels?
Portable solar panels are specialised panels that are built for off-grid use. Fundamentally, off-grid solar systems aren’t attached to the central utility grid.
Portable solar panels can provide a small amount of charge throughout the day and do not require building permits. In practice, they are typically designed to be laid on the ground in a sunny area to charge.
10. How many solar panels are needed to run a mobile home?
The average mobile house can use up to 23,000 watts per day, with over 80% of this going to heating and cooling. Based on these figures, a solar system of 10 x 300-watt panels should suffice to support the average mobile house.
However, this assumes that the house receives 8 hours of sunlight daily and uses 300W panels to produce 2.5kW daily. For the most part, mobile homes utilise an average of 9.1-kilowatt hours of electricity per square foot.
Generally speaking, to power the average 1000-1500-square-foot home, one will require approximately 30 solar panels. However, if you scale down the size of your mobile home to 500 to 800 square feet, you’ll need about 15 PV modules.
Remember that for all their ability to harvest clean energy, solar panels work best in bright, direct sunlight. This means that overcast and rainy days can limit energy efficiency.
11. How much does it cost to install solar panels on a mobile home?
The precise cost of installing solar panels on a mobile home varies widely, largely depending on the size and nature of the installation. Because solar energy is a long-term investment, larger solar panel arrays provide mobile homeowners with the potential to capture greater savings, if installed correctly.
One can utilise online solar panel cost calculators available to calculate the cost of installing solar panels on a mobile home. Disclaimer though, the generated figures are an estimate until you get an actual quote from professionals.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that since some tax credits are available for homeowners who install home solar, the final adjusted cost of the system may be lower.
12. How much power do I need to generate for a mobile home using solar panels?
The average mobile home should employ a 2 x 300W solar panel system at the least. By all accounts, such a system should be able to generate 5,000 watts per day. This amount of power should be adequate for a mobile home that employs basic home appliances and is between 500 to 780 square feet in size. However, this assumption is based on the panels accessing 8 hours of sunlight per day.
13. How can I get better efficiency from my mobile home solar system?
The first step is purchasing panels with highly concentrated photovoltaic cells to get better efficiency from a mobile home solar system. The best conventional solar panels averagely peak at 22% efficiency.
Furthermore, you can buy a more efficient model of solar panel. However, be careful to avoid installing solar panels in shaded areas as the shade will negatively affect the electricity output.
Also read: How to increase solar panel efficiency?
14. What is a mobile home solar kit?
A mobile solar kit typically includes several PV panels and accompanying components to create a functional system. These include inverters, cables, and mounts/racks.
It’s important to purchase a full mobile home solar kit rather than purchasing each component individually. Not to mention, cheaper! And, depending on your preferred kit size, you can power anything from a small shed to an entire home.
Bottom line, mobile home solar kits usually come with everything needed to get going with solar energy, such as two or more solar panels, an inverter, mounting brackets, or other extra accessories depending on one’s mobile home’s needs.
15. How to maintain solar panels on a mobile home?
If it frequently rains where you live, you might not need to clean your solar panels as much as in a dry area. In dry areas, it’s imperative to regularly spray the panels with a water hose if they’re dirty. If it’s snowy, brush off the snow with a broom or leaf blower.
If you can do this on a monthly basis, then you should be on the safe side with maintaining your solar system’s efficiency. As a word of caution, never employ abrasive powders and pads when cleaning your solar panels.
Better yet, have your panels cleaned and inspected by a professional at least once a year, especially if you live in a dusty area. Hiring a professional allows you to handle potential damage to your solar panels before it worsens.
For example, cracked glass, burn marks, loose wiring, corroded electrical enclosures, or even discolouration and missing bolts on the solar panels. All these factors can reduce your panel’s efficiency.
Read more on “solar panel maintenance” here!
The global demand for electricity is increasing whilst its environmental concerns become more pressing. This is consequently resulting in a global move towards a decarbonised electricity landscape. As a renewable technology, solar energy has the potential to shape a clean, scalable and affordable electricity system for the future.
There are hundreds of companies worldwide involved in the manufacturing of PV modules with varying efficiencies.
Concurrently, installation costs now differ from system to system. Nonetheless, the proliferation of solar energy will only increase because of cost drops and favourable green policies supported by governments. So, now is the best time to get solar for your mobile home.