Here are some surprising facts about mobile homes you may not know:
- They have their roots in gypsies.
- They are popular with the rich and famous.
- They can withstand harsh weather conditions.
- 82% of American searching for factory-built housing online use the word “mobile home.”
FORGET the facts; let’s answer the question at hand.
Can you put solar panels on my mobile home? Solar panels can be put on almost any exterior surface of your mobile home, including the roof. In addition, manufactured homeowners can go solar. But the PV panel installation process for mobile homes is not similar to site-built homes.
I will explain how you can put solar panels on a mobile home in this guide.
If you are also wondering whether you can put solar panels on a metal roof, I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.
Can I Put Solar Panels For Mobile Homes On The Roof?
When most people think about solar panel installation, they visualize solar panels permanently fixed on the roof of their homes. Of course, there are also single-axis and dual-axis solar panels, but the first concept that comes to mind is fixed solar panels.
So, can you install rooftop solar panels on a mobile home? Unlike stable and concrete-built homes, manufactured homes are not constructed to carry the regular PV panels on the roof. These homes often have smaller roof joints, and putting solar panels on the roof could weaken the house and leave the whole thing crumbling. An array of photovoltaic panels could be too heavy for a mobile home’s weak roof.
And there is more; mobile homes do not have concrete foundations to strengthen their integrity. Adding weight on top is a recipe for disaster.
You may also have to contend with the local building codes, which may not allow rooftop solar panel installations on a moving structure.
Hey, I am not spelling doom for mobile homes, they are awesome, and you still have some hope to go solar with them.
Some local codes can give you the go-ahead if the structure of your mobile home is stable. But even if the verdict from the local council is a big NO, you still have other practical ways to tap into solar energy while leaving in a manufactured home.
However, before we get into the business of how to install solar for mobile homes, let’s find out if solar panels are suitable for these structures.
Will Solar Panels Reduce My Electricity Bill In a Manufactured Home?
The short answer: Yes. We invest in solar panels to produce electricity and lower energy costs. In most American states, installing solar panels on your mobile home is cheaper than paying for electricity bills during a solar panel’s lifespan.
Here is the point: installing solar panels on a mobile home costs the same as site-built home installations. You only need regular installation equipment to finish the job.
Here is an example of a regular house installation to help you see costs and savings:
Let’s assume you own a home in Indiana, your energy consumption is 1265 kWh monthly, and you spend $0.15 kWh for energy from the utility (these are the state’s averages). You will need an 11.0kW solar panel installation to offset 100% of your yearly energy usage, which equals 30 solar panels.
But when you measure your home’s roof, you realize the space can only carry 15 panels! Don’t sweat; you can still cover 50% of your monthly energy with solar.
I bet you will still save a lot of money from the 15 solar panels on the roof.
But before we jump to conclusions, remember that mobile home consumes more energy. We will use a rough estimate to determine how many solar panels you need for a
If you are also wondering about the average electric bill with solar panels, I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.
How Much More Power Will a Mobile Home Consume Than a Regular Building?
Mobile homes are inefficient in terms of energy usage. They can consume 50% more electricity per square foot than a regular home.
This energy wastage is caused by the following:
- Poor insulation
- Inefficient cooling
- Poor heating.
Your monthly energy consumption will also be influenced by the type of appliance running in the home, its efficiency, and how long they run. On average, manufactured homes consume around 4.4 kW.
What Size Of Solar Panel System Will I Need For My Mobile Home?
If you go with our estimate of 4.4 kW daily, you can determine the number of solar panels you need and the size of your system. Online solar energy calculators can help you with math.
If you have installed 100-watt solar panels and get 400 watts daily, you will need 11 solar panels to produce 4,400 watts (4,400/400).
If the space on your mobile home roof is small, you can install 200-watt solar panels.
Why Can’t I Install Solar Panels On My Mobile Home?
As we already see, mobile homes are not designed to carry solar panels on the roof. It has weak structural components on the foundation and roof that cannot bear the additional weight.
However, if you have reinforced your roof, the local authority may inspect it to see if it can handle the weight.
I am talking about the weight of the panels, aluminum rails that carry the panels, electrical conduits protecting wires to the breaker box, attachment points bolted on the roof, and installers installing the panels!
Remember when I said all is not lost? Let’s examine ways you can still harness solar energy for mobile homes.
Places To Install Solar Panels For Your Mobile Home
Can’t you install solar panels on a mobile home’s roof? No problem; you still have other options. Look around your property for stable buildings you can use for solar panel installation.
Do you have a garage, patio, or outbuilding? You can install solar on these buildings and connect the power to your mobile home.
However, the criteria are the same as for homes. They need to be structurally stable and big enough to hold solar panels.
You can also install your solar panels on the ground (ground-mounted panels). But ensure the panels are not affected by shading from your mobile house or buildings.
If the space is limited, you can install dual or single-axis solar systems on the ground since they take less space.
Remember that ground-mounted solar panels cost more than roof-mounted ones, so consider the installation cost when deciding.
But even if you have no space for solar, you can still increase energy efficiency for these structures.
Practical Steps You Can Take To Improve Your Energy Efficiency In a Mobile Home
Whether you can or can’t install solar panels on a mobile home, you can upgrade your home’s energy efficiency by doing a few things.
We know that old manufactured homes are notorious for being energy inefficient. They have thin, unsealed windows that leak out conditioned air. Their walls are often uninsulated.
In fact, one study even found that households living in mobile homes built in the 1970s consume 1.5x more energy than all home types.
Consider these 5 practical things you can do to enhance your mobile home’s energy efficiency:
- Install storm windows.
- Seal air leaks and furnace ducts.
- Add insulation to the home’s belly.
- Tune up the furnace to ensure it works efficiently.
- Blow insulation in the home’s attic space.
- Replace old lightbulbs with LEDs.
- Replace the old dishwasher and refrigerator with the Energy Star model.
Innovations That Will Make Solar Panels For Mobile Homes Possible
Although conventional PV panels are heavy for mobile home roofs, new light solar products continue penetrating the market. These options make it easy to build solar panel mobile homes.
Consider some examples:
1- Tesla Solar Roof Tiles
Tesla solar roof tiles brought many changes in the solar industry. These roof tiles are colored and textured glass fitted with solar cells. And since they look like shingles, they can replace your mobile home roof shingles.
Instead of using metal roofs and installing solar panels, you can use Tesla solar panels to replace your Shingles. This innovation will significantly cut costs and weight on the roof while harnessing solar power.
2- Thin-Film Or Flexible Solar
Thin-film solar is light and easy to install on any roof. They have adhesive backing that helps the stick on your mobile home shingles.
They do not have traditional PV panels’ heavy aluminum frames, making them ultra-light. And unlike traditional solar panels that weigh 35 to 40 pounds, flexible panels weigh 17.5 pounds.
What to read next:
- 6 Best Batteries for Solar Power Storage (Including their pros and cons!)
- Are Solar Panels Worth It in Texas? (Including their pros and cons)
- How Long Can Solar Panels Last Without Sun?
Yes, you can put solar panels on your mobile home roof. You cannot put traditional PV panels on your manufactured home because they are heavy for the roof structure.
But innovation has led to the production of lightweight panels (Tesla solar roof tiles and thin-film solar panels) that you can install on your roof without fear.
But if you don’t like these innovations, you can install traditional solar panels on the ground on your property. You can also upgrade your home’s energy efficiency and reduce electricity costs.