It’s becoming more popular to power small remote cabins off grid with solar panels.
Panels are becoming smaller, more flexible in use, and more efficient – and private users are becoming more comfortable installing and using them.
There are some suitable and affordable options on the market these days, considering you are getting sustainable energy that pays for itself over time.
But, what are the best solar power options for small cabins?
We’ve identified for you below our picks, along with common cabin setups and requirements.
Solar Power For Small Cabin: What Are The Best Options?
For Those In A Hurry…Which Solar Panels Are Best To Consider For A Small Cabin Setup?
With a remote or small cabin, it’s common to go there for small retreats, or extended stays – particularly if you are spending weekend getaways/holidays, or retirement time there.
Some people even like to live off grid in their cabin for large parts of the year.
In this case, it’s more practical to have a permanent solar setup on the roof, so that you can immediately start using power in your cabin whenever you arrive for your stay.
Below are our picks for permanent roof mounted solar panels that can be used to power common small cabin setups:
Solar Panel Kits
- Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Bundle Kit (on Amazon)
- WindyNation 100 Watt Solar Panel Off-Grid RV Boat Kit (on Amazon)
NOTE: the kits come with the basic setup you need to your battery/s, but you can add accessories like inverters, regenerators and additional panels as required for your cabin requirements.
What Is Solar Power Used For With Small Cabins?
Solar panel setups in small cabins can be used for the following:
- Cellphones and smart phones
- Small battery or AC items like GPS systems, radios, tablets
- Small-medium Tv’s
- A fridge
- LED lighting
- Other small to medium devices
What Solar Setup Do You Need For Your Small Cabin?
A common solar setup for a small cabin might look something like this:
- Solar Panels – 100-500 watts spread out across 1-5 solar panels depending on how many DC batteries you are running, inverters, regenerators/back up batteries and how many devices all up you are running. Total A/h and voltage will also be important
- Solar Panel Mounting rack is optional to angle the solar panels
- 6 or 12 volt batteries – organised as a bank of batteries usually (NOTE: it’s important when charging the batteries to take note of the total voltage of the bank – otherwise, you can charge individual batteries separately with separate solar controllers). 4 x 6 volt, or 2 x 12v volt batteries would probably be OK for most small cabins
- Inverter – to convert DC to household AC for any devices that run off of household mains electricity. A 2kw inverter would probably be OK for most small cabins
- Solar Controller rated for the total wattage of the panels if the panels are banked together, or separate controllers if connected to separate panels. A 45 Amp solar controller would probably be OK for a 400-500 Watt
- LCD display monitor to track performance and health of panels and state of charge of the batteries – you can see what power each panel is giving you in output each day
- Possibly a regenerator to store DC power for when the solar panels aren’t in sunlight. Some of these regenerators come with built-in inverters so you can charge several AC items at a time, and/or different inputs/outputs like USB ports to charge mobile and tablet type devices
- Connectors, cables and attachments – make sure cables are long enough to run from your panels to where you will be storing your battery bank
NOTE: check the ratings and manufacturer instructions of all the accessories above to confirm compatibility with your system.
What Size Panels, and How Many Do You Need For A Small Cabin?
Most cabins will be running off several 12v batteries, or sometimes 6v.
You can read more about powering 12v batteries with solar panels in this guide.
The guide contains informational guidelines only on how many, and the size of panels you might need.
Total voltage of the battery bank, A/h (amp hours) used per day, and number of sunlight hours available are all important considerations.
It’s also very important to check with your battery manufacturer and solar manufacturer to confirm compatibility not only of the batteries and panels, but the rest of the setup accessories
Generally speaking, if you are running 4 x 12v batteries at 400-500 total A/h, you would probably be looking at somewhere around 4 x 100 Watt 12v panels – this is just a guide though.
For smaller cabin setups, you could easily have 1-2 100 Watt panels for 1-2 12v batteries – it depends.
Need More Information?
If you are still unsure, watch this useful video (on Youtube) which runs you through a small solar setup for an off grid small cabin.
If you are unsure about your power requirements or the specifics of installation – to save a lot of time and money – it could be worth getting a quote from a professional solar installer or electrician, to help you select and install the systems for your cabin.
Solar Power For Small Cabin: Resources