Installing solar at the time of construction can significantly reduce your total installation cost. To protect your bottom line, we would like to share some practical steps to become solar-ready early in your construction program.
Cost is a consideration for any builder and the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems has significantly reduced with new technology and manufacturing processes. Over the last 10 years, the cost of solar panels has reduced by a factor of 25 and we have seen widespread adoption of solar in all types of residential buildings.
As an unlimited energy source, there are many benefits to residential solar PV. There are no greenhouse gas emissions, PV systems need little maintenance, and this shift over the last decade is motivated by a simple fact: buyers are prepared to pay significantly more for homes with solar panels than homes without them.
This is because future buyers see their new homes as an investment. Installing solar for any property will reduce energy costs, make homes more independent from the grid and increase their overall value.
Start with these solar-ready steps
Many buildings have the potential to achieve net zero energy status and increase their energy rating in the process by covering 50% of the rooftop with PV, and many of them could produce even more electricity than they consume. But this is heavily dependent on the features and location of the build, which makes those first steps the most important in the project.
The solar-ready process starts with the roof. Photovoltaics are usually installed on rooftop areas, and in an ideal scenario the design will allow for long straight rows of panels and orientate the roof to face north as much as possible. You will also need to design the roof and the pitch to support the extra weight of the solar PV panels (15Kg/m2).
Likewise, you should identify and attempt to minimize the shade over the roof by positioning the house away from tall trees.
Plan space for antennas and satellite dishes to be installed on the south-facing roof surface away from the solar panels. This also includes any ventilation pipes or skylights.
You should anticipate and eliminate potential issues at the time of construction. This will be easier and more cost effective than trying to work around them later. Before installation, the model of the home should include the wiring specifications and electricity meter for the solar power system. Install a larger electrical switchboard to accommodate the solar PV and battery circuit protection and metering requirements. Switchboards can be segregated for normal and backup circuits.
You should ensure a large clear, shaded section of wall is available if you are considering installing a Solar Storage Battery, even if at a later stage, and incorporating fireproofing walls during construction if required to be compliant with local standards. You should also consider the best position for the inverter – a shaded, south-facing exterior or garage always works best.
A customer first focus
But most important for you as you plan your solar-ready journey is the help of a local expert. You’ll need to find a local energy partner that offers your home buyers the tech to take control of their ongoing electricity use, keep their costs down and maximize their investment.
In sunny Australia, where about one in three households has installed solar PV panels, Clipsal Solar is helping consumers to take control of their energy use. An independent adviser and a certified installer plays an important role in the transition to cheaper energy. Clipsal advisers maintain an ongoing relationship to support homeowners long after installation.
Learn about the Cornes’ experience of installing Clipsal Solar and a LG Home Battery for their family home.
About the Author: Preeti Bajaj is the CEO of Clipsal Solar, a Schneider Electric Venture, based in Sydney. Clipsal Solar empowers their customers to make better energy choices. Insights from sensor technology in their Pulse Analytics Kit provides customers with visibility into their electricity consumption habits, from the Pulse app on their mobile phone. Pulse continually evaluates ways to save money in real-time; whether it be from changing behaviours, storing energy with a battery, selling solar back to the grid, or assessing their retail electricity provider. Pulse is the only app that tracks solar savings compared to initial investment to see when your solar system has paid for itself. Clipsal Solar is part of an Australian brand that’s already been trusted for over a century, and provides a full service solar energy solution – from consult, to install, and beyond.