Can I Use Solar Power on a Manufactured Home?


More and more middle and entry-level home buyers are considering living in manufactured homes. These prefab structures cost less and can be as energy efficient, if not more, than their than stick-and-mortar counterparts. The lure of increased energy efficiency has prompted many who’ve gone this route to ask: Can I use solar technology to power my new home?

Absolutely! Solar energy is an ideal way to heat these new cost-efficient homes, making them a marvel for environmentalists everywhere.

Check Wind Loading Requirements

When installing a solar panel system on a manufactured home, it must be done by a professional to ensure the installation meets state and local wind loading requirements. In some cases, these homes need to be modified to provide a secure enough attachment to meet specific codes. In these instances, ground-mount and pergola installations can be used to supply energy for the home.

Calculate Your Energy Needs

Your professional solar panel installer can recommend the size and number of solar panels you’ll need to meet the energy needs of your manufactured home and its appliances. The PVWatts Solar Calculator by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides a fairly accurate estimate of how much energy your solar panels will produce. You just enter a few key variables for your location and proposed solar system and the calculator does the rest. Try to be as accurate as possible with the calculator’s derate factor, which takes into account system energy losses like inverter and transformer inefficiencies, wiring, shading and age.

Start Small

Ideally, you’ll want to start with a conservatively small system and add panels as needed. In doing so, you’ll want to consider panels with the new built-in microinverter technology. These inverters work directly and independently under each solar panel and allow you to add additional solar panels after your solar system has been installed—something you can’t do with normal inverters.

Look Into Built-in PV Systems

Factory-built modular homes with built-in PV systems are gaining in number and popularity. This is made possible by a joint project with homebuilders, PV suppliers, building material manufacturers, utilities, engineers and researchers. PV-integrated modular homes were developed by Fully Independent Residential Solar Technology (FIRST), a non-profit research and development organization in New Jersey. The modular manufactured homes feature 2kW rooftop PV systems, passive solar design and a built-in solar hot water system. The 2kW panel systems provide enough power to meet all the home’s energy needs based on conservative energy use and energy-efficient appliances. The homes can be either stand-alone or connected to the grid, with most using a grid connection for backup and selling power back to the electric utility. Factory-built and shipped in four modules to the homesite, these solar powered dwellings look like site-built homes. The homes range in size from 900 square feet to 4,000 square feet.

Going solar on a manufactured home is an ideal way to reduce your carbon footprint and save on energy costs.


Posted on Wednesday, February 18th, 2015