Author Options:

What would be the average solar panel wattage needed for one person to live off the grid in a 32 ft. travel trailer? Answered

Just want a ball park figure -- this would mean just simple living needs, not many electrical appliances (no A/C, washer, dryer). Anyone doing this who can give me an estimate? I know normally you would need to add up your wattage of usage, but I'm just trying to get feedback or an idea from those who are doing it.


No heavy duty appliances means you can get away with a LOT less power than the average house.

Lighting will kill you - switching to low wattage alternatives, and a few lifestyle changes (like living in the mostly dark at night) save you a tonne.

Electric water heating is also pretty killer - low flow showerhead and solar preheaters are a good bet (and relatively efficient for the good ones).

At night I live off 5 watts of LED cabinet lighting for my entire apartment. Every other light bulb is unscrewed to keep it darker (and cheaper).
The cabinet lights should be on a timer, but they run all the time. For me thats 5w x 24h x 30 days = 3.6kwh/month

An always on computer can run you 60-300 watts, in a month thats
43-216kwh/month Consider a smaller lighter weight laptop or netbook (in the 20 watt range)

fridge you have to check energystar ratings...

Then you use an environmental data website (like government of canada geological studies, or usgs) to find out your average hours of sunlight/day or year for your lattitude. Figure out how much you use, and match that number of kwh in hours of sunlight / 'required panel size'. (or kwh of use divide by hours of sunlight to get wattage required)

May I politely suggest that very low lighting causes more problems than it solves. Accidents increase as well as eye compaints and headaches. If there was a'luxury' I would not do without it would be lighting, so with that in mind you could have a sun/moon roof, but that would reduce your renewable energy area on your roof. Or you could just sit outside and get bitten to death by mozzies, as I did last night...

I find that 'adequate' light and 'lots of light' are 2 very different things. When doing anything other than relaxing, I find it nice to have night dark and day light (via lots of windows). I feel my vision is more sensitive overall for being in a lower light natural environment. I can see 'accidents' increasing - which is reasonable, but then being left handed has a similar effect.

Do you think that the Instructables Community could do with a Left-Handers section?

I think about 9% of the instructables community would have a use for the section, others might comprehend it but not need it.

I think that it might be higher-lefties tend to be more creative and some right handers live with lefties and are willing to make modifications.

i can type wit my hands recersed on the keyboard.

That was awkward. Pinkys are bad at spacebarring.

Thank you for all the information. I'm just trying to live simply and cheaply without all the "comforts" -- I really don't need them. Curious to know if anyone else is homesteading it without the grid and all the extras we get sucked into "needing". I appreciate all the answers and input. If anyone else has something to share, please do.

I lookd into this for myself last year and the calculations given to me by the company was that I'd need a roof area 3 times the size I have now (3 bed semi house) hust to provide me with about half of what I need. So I can say quite confidently you don't have the area you need to live off grid until solar panels become *much* more efficient.

That said you could try water solar panels which preheat your water as I'd guess this would be a major factor in your lifestyle. These are remarkably compact.

Good luck! ;-)