Make Your Home Solar Sustainable

An example of ground-mounted solar panels.

If there’s room on the lot your manufactured home sits on, a ground-mount solar system is a possibility. It will need to be set up in an area that faces south and is free of obstructions that will cause shadows during the day. There are also solar water heaters that can be set up outside on the ground to help reduce the cost of making domestic hot water.

Just because the roof of your home won’t allow you to put a full solar-panel array up there, solar power is still an option. In fact, according to some sources, only 8% of the roofs in the U.S. are suited to solar installations either because they face the wrong way or don’t have the proper slope to take maximum advantage of the sun’s rays. Also, lots of people live in apartment buildings or condos that have no roof space at all.

Ground-Mounted Options

Ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV)  systems are usually large, utility-scale power stations. The PV array consist of solar modules held in place by racks or frames that are attached to ground-based mounting supports.
Ground-based mounting supports include:

  • Pole mounts, which are driven directly into the ground or embedded in concrete.
  • Foundation mounts, such as concrete slabs or poured footings
  • Ballasted footing mounts, such as concrete or steel bases that use weight to secure the solar module system in position and do not require ground penetration. This type of mounting system is well suited for sites where excavation is not possible such as capped landfills and simplifies decommissioning or relocation of solar module systems.

Outside-the-Box Solar Solutions

Community solar is designed to bring clean, renewable power to those who can’t benefit from rooftop solar. Here’s how it works. A solar entrepreneur constructs a solar farm out in the countryside somewhere but sells the individual panels to those with no access to rooftop solar. A person can buy one or more panels. Each month, a portion of the electricity generated by each panel becomes a credit on the subscriber’s utility bill. It is a simple, easy way to “go solar” without having any solar panels on your property at all. Check Google for community solar projects in your area.

If enough owners are interested, a community solar installation could be constructed on land surrounding a mobile or manufactured home park and would benefit all the residents. That would require getting enough people in the park to participate but if you can get over that hurdle, everyone who joins the group would get the benefit of solar power. It’s a far more efficient solution than everyone having their own ground mounted solar system.

American Solar Power’s 400 MW installation in a manufactured home park in Riverside, California provides power for the community and shade for parking.

American Solar Power’s 400 MW installation in a manufactured home park in Riverside, California provides power for the community and shade for parking.

Here’s another alternative. SolPad, a Silicon Valley start up, will soon be selling individual portable solar panels that you can set up on the ground or on a deck.

SolPad’s panels include a built-in battery-storage unit and an inverter. All you need to do is plug it in to a regular household electrical outlet. Two or more can be interconnected for more power generation.

Get Creative With Solar

So the answer is, if you own a mobile or manufactured home, you are not excluded from enjoying the benefits of solar power. There are things you can do to reduce your energy consumption and there are avenues available like community solar and portable solar. Local codes and regulations will apply, so check with your local building official first. But with a little initiative and a dollop of good old fashioned stick-to-it-iveness, a manufactured home owner should be able to participate in the green power revolution.

With thanks to the following for information:

Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica

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