If you are currently building or thinking about building a home you have probably already considered incorporating a solar energy system into your structure. You know it’s the right thing to do, the state and federal tax incentives are among the strongest in the country, and you know there are options out there that can help you generate part or all of your hot water and/or electricity costs.
Even if Going Solar isn’t in your immediate plans it makes sense to make a renovation or new construction “Solar Ready” Making your home solar ready involves placing all of the rooftop, structural, wiring, and plumbing infrastructure in place during the planning and construction stages of a project.
Planning in advance for solar will result in better looking solar power systems that cost less to install when you are ready to take the solar plunge. If making your home “Solar Ready” read on to find out how.
Roof Considerations for all Solar systems
- Design and plan the roof of your home as if you were installing solar from the beginning. If possible choose a design that will give you enough room for your desired system size.
- Keep obstructions like chimneys, sewer vents, and ventilation fans on North facing roof areas, or at least focus them on the upper perimeter of your South, East, and West roof planes. If they are currently in the areas of you roof that are optimal for solar speak to your contractor about moving them. It’s not difficult when done in the planning stages.
- Anticipate shading from surrounding buildings and trees. Solar doesn’t perform well in the shade so it is important to locate your solar equipment out of shade zones.
To Make Your Home “Solar Ready” for Solar Electric
- Plan to have about 48” of unobstructed wall space next to your utility meter area for the inverter and disconnect mounting. Visit out portfolio to see examples.
- Leave extra space for a 2-pole circuit breaker in your outdoor power panel. This is where the system will feed power into your home system.
- If you do not plan to have circuit breakers outside you will need to install an appropriately sized 3-conductor cable leading from the metering and disconnect location to the indoor circuit breaker panel.
- Install a metallic raceway running from the attic area down to the inverter mounting location. The raceway must be EMT or stronger metallic material to conform with article 690.31(D) of The National Electrical Code. Installing this raceway in the walls will add the the appearance of your system because the pipe will not be run on the outside of your home.
To Make Your Home “Solar Ready” for Solar Hot Water
- Locate your hot water tanks as close to where the rooftop collectors will be as possible. This will minimize the need for extra pipe and labor costs
- Install an extra set of drain and pressure relief valves inside the walls. Code requires them and it will look better to have them enclosed in the walls. Clearly mark the pipes in the attic for “Future Solar Storage Tank”
Tankless and Solar
If you are installing a tankless system buy one that has a “Self Modulating Gas Valve” This means that the unit can turn the gas up or down depending on the incoming water temperature, allowing you to save energy by using preheated water from your solar system. During the summer this unit may not operate at all. During the winter the tankless heater will make up the difference during cloudy periods.