How Do Tiny Houses Get Electricity?

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Tiny houses have been growing in popularity thanks to their affordability and minimalist appeal. These small dwellings can be easily towed by a pickup truck (if they have their own integrated wheels), or moved on a flatbed trailer. This mobility is also driving their mass market appeal, especially among young professionals without families who relocate frequently for work. 

Best of all, they fit just about anywhere on a property lot no matter how small. This raises one of the most important questions about tiny houses: how do they get electricity, especially “off grid”? The answer lies in what forms of electrical generation are available and practical for each one. Let’s check out the different ways tiny houses get electricity, even when they are off grid.

Power Generator

Champion Power Equipment 76533 4750/3800-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Generator with Electric Start

Many tiny homeowners choose to power their homes with a standard electrical generator. Generators are preferred for a variety of reasons, but here are the top four:

1. More Control

Mobile power generators allow owners to simply relocate their tiny house wherever it is most convenient for them. Access to local power and water grids are irrelevant when you have the means to generate your own electricity and purify your own rainwater.

Also Read: DIY Solar Generators

2. Saves Money

The upfront cost of a tiny house generator can be high (as much as $2,000 USD for a reliable model), but the long term savings are significant. If you don’t need electricity throughout the day (say when you are out at work), then your energy cost during those hours is zero. If you are working from your tiny home, your cost will still be lower because tiny homes require far less electricity to operate than a full size home.

3. Fuel Options

There are two fuel options for traditional electrical generators: gasoline and propane. Propane is the preferred generator fuel for most tiny homeowners since it has a lower emissions profile and carbon footprint. That being said, using a traditional generator will require you to fuel it with some type of fossil fuel.

4. Clean Energy

Another option is to use a generator that runs on clean energy. New advances in technology are being developed all the time, and these include clean energy portable energy. They tend to have a more prohibitive cost than traditional electrical generators, but time and mass manufacturing assure that those costs decrease over time. Opting for solar power for your tiny house to generate electricity is currently the most economical practical method of generating electricity with one hundred percent clean energy. Are solar panels a good option for tiny houses? Read on as we discuss the practicality of using solar energy to power your tiny home.

Solar Energy

Renogy 100 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit

There are already many pre-fabricated and custom-built tiny homes that use solar panels for purposes other than generating electricity. Keeping tiny homes warm in cold weather and improving interior lighting are just two ways that solar energy is already in common use. So, is it worth it to switch to solar power for electricity in your tiny home? Here are four very good reasons to go solar:

1. Cost Efficiency

Tiny homes use less energy, so they need fewer expensive solar panels than traditional homes. With a battery storage bank, solar panels can supply all the energy your tiny home needs and more to keep you comfortable in any climate at any location. Moreover, despite the upfront cost of panels being somewhat expensive, many manufacturers offer amazing installation incentives. Homeowners can pay as little as twenty percent down on the total cost of the system and professional installation up front.

2. Tax Breaks

Governments around the world offer tax incentives for switching to solar power. In the U.S., up to thirty percent of solar panel installation costs can be deducted from federal income tax. Some state and local tax authorities offer even further tax breaks, so it’s well worth investigating to defray the total cost of your tiny home solar panel system.

3. Green Energy

Generating electricity from sunlight creates zero emissions and significantly reduces your overall carbon footprint. You also never have to worry about fuel costs again.

4. Quick & Easy Installation

Many homeowners avoid investing in a solar power system for their home because they believe it will be a time-consuming hassle. However, a full-service solar panel installation contractor can have your system up and running in less than a day. There’s truly no downside to going solar for your tiny home.

Key Questions For Tiny House Solar Panel Systems

How much electricity do you want to generate?

The kilowatt hour (kWh) electricity demands for your tiny house are determined by how many appliances and gadgets you power daily. Add up the total kWh draw per day for all of your appliances, device chargers and electronics (check the boxes or user/operator manuals for this information). Using this total, you can easily determine exactly how much electricity your solar power system needs to generate each day.

Should you install a rooftop or ground-mounted system?

Roof mounted systems are more convenient because they stay in the house and don’t have to be packed up if/when you relocate. That being said, ground mounted panel systems are highly durable and allow you to pack the system up securely when you move to prevent damage in transit. More importantly, if you don’t have enough roof space on your tiny home, you aren’t limited in how many panels you install.

Is your tiny house connected to the grid?

If you don’t have another electrical source or a battery backup, solar panels may not be the best energy solution for your tiny home. Tiny homeowners who want to live off-grid would need to keep a generator for off-grid locations. Moreover,  a solar charging battery system would be an absolute necessity for on-demand electricity.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many solar panels does it take to power a tiny house?

You need as many solar panels as will generate the required amount of kWh per day that your tiny house uses. If you are using a roof mounted system, this number probably won’t vary much since tiny homes have limited roof space. For this reason,  ground-based solar panels are often the best solution in most cases.

Also Read: How To Calculate Power Output

How much does it cost to power a tiny house using solar panels?

The cost to power a tiny house using solar panels is determined by the cost of your equipment and installation. If you decide to install a battery backup system it could increase the cost a bit, but it does make using solar power significantly more convenient.


As you can see, tiny homes get electricity from existing city grids where available, but they can be easily powered using generators or solar power systems. Solar power is the best choice for long term cost and minimizing your carbon footprint. Due to the limited roof space of tiny homes, you may want to opt for ground-based solar panels. Additionally, it’s usually wise to install a battery bank to keep electricity flowing during non-daylight hours. If you are considering solar power for your tiny home, don’t wait. Contact us today to learn more about how you can eliminate your energy costs and go completely off grid in your tiny home.

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