Solar Solutions for Tiny Houses

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As many of you know, the ‘Silver Bullet Challenge’ I set out to achieve back in 2012 took me a few years to attain. Building a good quality air ‘breathing’ building envelope, zero-waste, safe, sturdy, road-worthy, off-grid tiny house on wheels for less than $20,000 has been my pleasure to achieve.

As a reclamation artist and sustainability lifestyle educator I travel cross-country to give sustainable lifestyle workshops, presentations, find artistic inspiration and speak about the tiny house movement.

I and my Silver Bullet Tiny House will be at the Florida Tiny House Festival this week, November 18-20th at the Florida St. Augustine Fairgrounds. Come and see it!

Touring often takes me to urban or rural environments in freezing or warm weather so I built 4 portable solar panel holders for my Renogy 2000 Watt Solar System. I can set an array up quickly, keep them clean and maintain them easily. These robust panels have survived 9,000 miles of touring and provide me all the energy I need!

How to go solar can be challenging, but surmountable for a tiny house. My requirements were as follows:

  1. Good quality solar panels with a long life, durable, sturdy connectors, cords and brackets for my customized portable use.
  2. System expandability options, quality manufacturing, safe for tiny houses.
  3. Reasonably priced, easy to install and configure, mounting options for later permanent array completion.

Early this year I purchased a Renogy solar package as my 2nd generation solar solution for the reasons I listed above.*

First, I reduced my energy usage by solarizing everything I could and purchasing products that convert energy you use to cook into energy you need to charge. For most of the year, I cook on a Biolite grill/stove, which powers my tech toys while cooking. I also use both interior and exterior solar lights, 12 volt light fixtures, vacuum and heating, so I can easily function in any off-grid situation.

Secondly, I assessed my wattage usage. That calculation can be made with several online wattage calculators, based on your daily usage and wattage draw from your appliances.

In my case, as a single person at this point in my life, my appliances are minimal. When I called Renogy, they were very informative and tolerant of all my questions and came up with a customized kit based on my wattage calculation, my specific tiny house build and installation requirements.

This is my system:

Renogy 2000 Watt Solar System is installed inside my insulated and vented storage cabinet that sits over my extended trailer yoke. (4-250W solar panels, Midnite Classic 200 Charge Controller, Midnite Combiner Box, Midnite Circuit Breaker, 2000W Inverter, and assorted cables, quad enclosure, etc.)

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I love my clean renewable energy Renogy solution! It works for me.

* My first generation solar solution was a Yeti 1250 Kit from Goal Zero. That clean energy solution worked well for pre-living wattage needs and some small building tools; however, their product, by their own admission, last only “hundreds of cycles”. Thus, I was looking for a more permanent long-life solution.

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