Question

I have a 2,000 sq. ft. mobile home that I'd like to transform to a self-sustaining structure with solar power. Help!

Asked by Ginny
Lanexa, VA

Answer

Sergio Grado

Answered by Sergio Grado

The Woodlands, TX

GradCo Structures & Homes, LLC

February 22, 2011

The first step is to control the total energy you use to either heat or cool your home.

I recommend you begin by insulating your home as much as possible.

  • In mobile homes, it is often difficult to get into the walls.
  • If you are able to expose the exterior walls from the inside, then I would recommend you fill them back in with spray foam insulation.
  • If this is not an option, you may want to consider adding an external layer of rigid foam insulation. This is going to be more of a challenge, because you will have to deal with removing windows and doors to reinstall after the rigid foam is in place.

Don't forget to insulate the bottom of the mobile home as well.

Windows and doors

You also need to pay special attention to your windows and doors.

  • Make sure there are not air leaks around the frames. Use spray foam from a can that can be found at all home improvement centers and fill these gaps.
  • Make sure to use the appropriate one for the windows and doors (it will be labeled for windows and doors).
  • Do not use the "Big Gap" one, as it will overexpand and warp your doors and windows.

Make sure your appliances are energy efficient too

Next, check all your appliances and make sure they are energy efficient. If they are not at minimum Energy Star certified, you may want to consider replacing.

  • An old refrigerator is going to use more electricity than today's Energy Star rated ones.
  • After you have done these upgrades, you should now wait a month or two to see how your electrical use has dropped.
  • Knowing how much electricity you use each month is key to knowing how much solar power you are going to need.

Solar

Solar can be expensive, so reducing the amount of power you need, with the steps above, will reduce the number of solar panels you will require.

  • Go online and search for solar kits that generate a certain amount of wattage. This should be similar to the wattage on your electric statement.
  • You will likely notice that you are going to have to spend a lot of money on solar panels to take your mobile home totally off the grid.

Start off small

I recommend that you start off small and add on more solar panels as the years go by. You don't have to do it all at once.

If you are good with your hands, you can even build your own solar panels. There are some great books on Amazon about how to make your own solar panels. Do the research.

There is no quick solution to becoming self-sustaining. It takes knowing your power consumption and adapting your lifestyle to match. Best of luck.

Tagged In: spray foam, solar power

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