PV

How to Save Money on Solar Power for Your Tiny House, Camper, or RV

How to Save Money on Solar Power for Your Tiny House, Camper, or RV

PS - TinyCamp, the learning community for people ready to live a tiny life, is now open for registration until February 10th. TinyCamp is 3 months of community, live calls, support, expert guidance, resources and more. So if you need help designing your PV system, or your tiny home, trailer, or RV, and you have lots of questions about this kind of thing - TinyCamp is the place to get answers and personalized help for your unique situation!

If you’re thinking about using a photovoltaic solar power system for your tiny home, trailer, camper, or van, this post is for you.

I have given many presentations and talks about simple solar power (I've spoken at more than 25 tiny house workshops and events in the last 2 years),  and I get the SAME question every single time. Everyone wants to know...

Off-The-Grid COMET models

Hello! I've been working up some 3D models (using SketchUp) of the COMET as she may end up, or the "end result" models. These are likely to change as the design process continues and ideas solidify, but here was what I first envisioned The COMET to look like. Perhaps the rainwater harvesting system will change, and the solar modules might be in different places or as a separate array that pops up and can move around in order to collect optimum sun, but here's my totally self-contained version of The COMET of the future.

What do you think? Is there anything else that a comprehensive info sheet about the project should include? I need some feedback!

All-DC Solar Power System in The COMET

Here's a follow up to the last post, where I talked about how to calculate your (kilo)watt usage and shared my own table showing what electricity-using appliances I will have. Here's why that "AC or DC" column is important.

I want to design a PV system for The COMET that is DC-only, and has no AC inverter (which turns the DC power from the panels into the AC power that comes out of your wall sockets). The reason is because of the nature of inverters for PV systems: inverters are the single most expensive component of a PV system. They also are the point at which 20% of efficiency from what the panels are actually producing gets lost. That means it takes 20% of the energy you are producing with your panels to power the inverter. That's a lot of lost energy, especially in a small system! So I am devising a unique system that requires no inverter.

Mobile Solar Electricity with PV

Hey everyone! Happy Monday! So as you may know all last week I was in Vermont attending an intensive photovoltaic design/installation class (at the Yestermorrow Design/Buidl School - check it out here). By the end of the week, I realized it would be very difficult to sum up everything I learned, so I think I'll just get into it little by little. There are so many factors and variables when designing a PV solar electric system for your (tiny) house or mobile house. Weight and stability came up a lot, as well as mobility concerns with roof mounted systems.

For today, I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some of the stuff we covered in the course with an activity you can do yourself. It's really enlightening and will definitely surprise you if you've never really thought about how much energy you use.

Photovoltaic Installation at Yestermorrow School

The last 5 days I have been in a very intense class learning the ropes of PV installation. We've done sizing of a system (I haven't done this much math since high school!), flash-mounted roof mounts, and we've wired up our solar panels. Based on my calculations, I think I have way more than enough PV power with the three panels I recently got from Cotuit Solar. Tomorrow is the last day, when we finally plug the panels into the combiner box (then charge controller, then AC breaker, then batteries, then inverter - whew!) and see how it all fits together. This class has been super enlightening and I can't wait to share what I've learned. The Yestermorrow Design/Build School offers a learning experience like no other. It is really amazing here. Every person I meet is either building a tiny house (or has built one) or is working on an Airstream retrofit/renovation or already lives in an Airstream. My kind of people!

Anyway, this is all I have to show you for now, more later!