If you didn’t buy the permanently-mounted Solar System and battery package for your Tiny House when you first bought it ($7,500 option from ITH at the time of this writing), but still want to find a way to generate some free electricity for your home from the sun, then this post is for you!
I’m going to lay out the system you see in the video above along with some different options if you want to size up or down your system or have different needs along with current prices so you can get a feel for what you can buy, how much it will cost and what it can do for you.
The main benefits again of such a system is it’s portable – so you can USE IT in many different applications and places but you can also CHARGE IT many different ways and places (the whole system is encased, making it very easy and practical to move around should you want to).
Another great benefit is it’s plug and play ability, again for charging devices and devices that use power. Very simple, nothing to really mess up. You will see other brands with similar devices and capability, but in my research the EcoFlow brand of devices seem to provide the best features, value and bang for your buck (and they work great for me, so I had no reason to try any others).
And you can get the exact size you need or your budget allows.
You can get all the unit particulars and details from the following links, but here’s the gist for the system I’m using above (and that I’m about to lay out for you below) that I feel is the best value for an energy-conscious tiny home on wheels’er:
Maximum power usage: 3400 watts (using any or all of the 6x 20 amp AC outlets, 6x USB outlets & 1x 12-volt outlet)
Battery Capacity: 2048 watts (just over 2kw, with additional 4,096 watts with 2x additional extra batteries, total of 6,144 watts total)
Max charge rate: 1800 watts AC, 1000 watts solar DC (can charge to 80% in just 43 min)
How a normal roof-mounted, built-in solar system functions compared to EcoFlow Solar Generator
Just for comparison sake, so you can see how simple this system is, here are the components needed and how you’d need to connect (and then configure) the multiple parts of a typical hard-wired solar battery system:
Solar Panels > Breaker > Solar Charge Controller / Inverter > Breaker > Batteries > 12v Inverter > Basic Voltage Meter > Home’s Circuit Breaker > Wall Outlets > Devices
The way I have my EcoFlow Solar Generator setup in the video above in the 8×16 RJO Tiny House:
Solar Panels > Solar Generator, Battery, Monitor All-in-One > Devices
(and/or Home’s Circuit Breaker > Wall Outlets > Devices )
10 Connections vs 3 (or 5 if using the home’s circuit panel & wiring)
So in a nutshell, it’s just simpler, smaller, portable and you can plug devices right into it and see your state of charge and remaining time before your battery dies (based on your current load/charging, updates instantly).
Oh, and did I mention it’s a cheaper way to go as well? This system as detailed in the video above, depending on varying promotions and sales, will cost you between $4,500 to $5,000 (depending also how you want to setup your solar panels).
So here’s the system & components:
Connect it all together in 3 simple steps:
- Connect southern facing Solar Panels together, plug into back of EcoFlow Solar Generator
- Turn on EcoFlow Solar Generator by pressing the button at the very front bottom of the unit
- Plug device into the EcoFlow Solar Generator (make sure those AC / DC / USB circuits are on) and use device as normal! Viola!
“So Easy a Caveman Could Do It…” 🙂
The Old Way – Connecting a More Traditional Solar System
Just to give you some perspective, traditional solar systems can use the same kind of solar panel setup, but from there it gets pretty complicated, with separate units typically required for a solar charger, power inverter, separate batteries that you also have to wire together and fuse, then you have to wire in a device to check the voltage and then do some math to calculate how much power you really have and how long it will last for (and then do it again a few minutes later…).
Then you have to have a way to add breakers or a panel that you then need to wire outlets from so you can actually plug something in and use the power. Sometimes they’ll combine a solar charger & inverter, but still lots of wires and connections and settings, with a lot that can go wrong.
Those systems have their place too, but this is just a much simpler and portable system (cheaper than the traditional system as well), which you can plug and play devices into and scale up or down by just plugging in extra batteries or solar panels or unplug them. Move them around, pack them up and travel with them, just all around much, much easier. And fun! The simple easy to read and understand at a glance display really tops it off as well!
Here’s the different components for my simple portable Tiny Home Solar System as laid out in the figure above:
- $1,499 x1: EF ECOFLOW Portable Power Station DELTA 2 Max, 2048Wh Solar Generator
- $999 x2: EF ECOFLOW DELTA Max Smart Portable Extra Battery, 2016Wh Capacity
- $249 x5: EF ECOFLOW 2PCS 100W 12V Solar Panels, High Efficiency Monocrystalline PV Modules
- $37.99 x2: BougeRV 28in Adjustable Solar Panel Tilt Mount Brackets with Foldable Tilt Legs
- $35.99 x1: ZkeeShop Solar Connector to XT60i Adapter 12AWG Cable for EcoFlow Solar Generator (25FT)
- $8.99 x1: BougeRV Solar Connectors Y Branch Parallel Adapter for Solar Panel (1 Pair M/FF and F/MM)
- $18.19 x1: Southwire Romex Brand Simpull Solid Indoor 12/2 W/G NMB Cable 15ft coil
- $7.89 x1: Leviton 520PV 20 Amp, 125 Volt, Plug, Grounding
- $19.99 x1: EF ECOFLOW Solar Angle Guide
$4,909 Total (at time of this writing, before taxes and shipping, etc)
And if you want some additional options for additional power capacity (more kw!) or the ability to use more than 3400 watts at once, or if you’re trying to run all your electric devices 100% off battery and solar (with a grid backup only for emergencies), EcoFlow also has a Pro series, which for around $2,600 (vs $1500) gives you the ability to use up to 4500 watts (vs 3400w) at one time with a capacity of 3600 watt hours (vs 2048 Wh), will accept up to 1600 watts charging from solar panels (vs 1000w), has an additional 30 amp outlet, and is expandable up to 25kw in size (with additional batteries, etc).
(Note: Special amazon pricing as of this writing is $3,899 for 7200 watts: Delta Pro + Extra battery = best deal!)
Or if you want something a little smaller or cheaper, you could choose the 1,024 watt version of the EcoFlow Delta 2 with 1,024 watt extra battery (2,048 watts total system) on sale for $1,098, you just wouldn’t be able to add any additional batteries beyond that for this smaller system. (2200 watts usage, charge with up to 500 watts of solar panels)
Or for even less money and yet smaller size, you can get the Delta Mini for $499 with 882 Wh, up to 1800 watts usage, and charge with up to 300 watts of solar panels.
Here’s a better breakdown comparing the different EcoFlow Delta Solar Generator units at a glance, if you’re not sure which one would work best for you:
And if you don’t know how what battery capacity you might need, here’s a quick chart to give you an idea. Simply add up the total power consumption you expect to use within a 24 hour period to figure out your rough daily usage.
Then figure in perfect conditions on a nice sunny day you’ll get about 6 hours of light. Multiply 6 x total wattage of solar panels and you’ll know what your best case total amount of solar power you could generate per day (will be much less on party cloudy days and if raining probably close to zero for that day, so you want 3x more battery capacity than your daily usage to account for those non-sunny days if trying to live off grid (and an additional backup power source like a generator or grid in case you use more power or have poor solar conditions for longer). If you’re just trying to cut back on your grid usage then you could cut back quite a bit). Others may give you different numbers or suggestions, these suggestions are simply based on my experiences.
Some other last Tiny Home Solar System considerations
Again, keep in mind that if you’re trying to use as much solar power as possible for your electrical needs, you may need to look at changing your usage habits to use less energy and/or changing some of your high-draw devices to gas.
For example, some of the highest wattage devices you might find in a tiny house would be devices that put out heat: a clothes iron, a clothes dryer, a water heater, a hair dryer, a coffee pot, a microwave / oven, a space heater, a mini-split HVAC, an AC unit, and a range/stove top.
More than likely on a small solar & battery system, you’d need to cut out as many of those devices and appliances as you can, namely the hot water heater, microwave, oven, range/stove top, and dryer. Luckily, there are LP/propane-type devices you can replace these electric devices with, you’d just then have to regularly exchange out your propane tank when it gets low (or have several), and propane is typically more efficient than electric as well, especially for heating. (Plus, an on-demand propane water heater is more efficient than a tank heater and only uses gas when you need hot water in that moment, vs heating a tank all day).
The heating devices you could keep, because you’re only using them for minutes at a time despite their high power usage, would be a hair dryer, clothes iron, coffee maker (as long as its just on while making coffee – though an electric kettle might work even more efficiently), microwave, and an induction cooktop (need special compatible cookware).
A mini-split is also very efficient and doesn’t run at full power to keep temp, especially in a well-insulated tiny home, but you may need a space heater for really cold days which will either draw your battery down pretty good or you could get a propane space heater like a Mr Buddy which can be used indoors (I’d crack a window when running it, with a CO detector as well).
(Oil filled electric radiant space heaters are probably one of the best electric heat options as the oil gets heated and then radiates from the unit for a while even after its turned off as the oil slowly returns to the room’s temperature.)
Let me know if you have any other general questions on this setup for use in a tiny house in the comments below and be sure to refer back to my video above as well. Keep in mind Amazon pricing and specials with these units seem to vary a lot, but typically there’s always some kind of sale on some of the components.
Also note: “As an Amazon Associate we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases though this website.” (Doesn’t change the price you pay, we just get a little bit for sharing and helping you find these potential solutions)