Are you planning to build a new building for your business or a new home? We’ve compiled a list of 5 tips that you should take into consideration during the planning phase of your next building project. Planning with these tips in mind will help you control the installation cost, and put your system in a position for optimum performance.
Perhaps the most obvious item of importance when building with solar in mind is to consider the impact of shade from external obstacles. Trees, utility poles, silos, and other obstructions need to be considered.
Design as close to south facing as possible. Note that this should be true south, not magnetic south.
Design with the tilt close to the latitude of the building. Our install area ranges from about 37° (central Virginia) to about 44° (northern New York). It is also important to consider that it will be easier to install solar panels on a lower roof tilt, and therefore will be slightly cheaper to install. Any tilt between 30°-35° will be very close to optimal for both production and ease of installation.
If it is not possible to orient the building true south, it may make sense to have a lower tilt roof. For example, a 30° roof that is facing due east or west would lose approximately 15% from optimal production. However, if the roof is 10° and facing due east or west, the array would lose approximately 10%, since it would get more sun for a longer portion of the day.
Electrical interconnection point:
Most solar arrays are connected to the customer’s electrical system at the utility meter or at the main electric service panel. Ideally, these two pieces of equipment would be installed on the building with the solar array and at a location that is accessible. If this connection point will be remote from the building, keep in mind the further the distance the greater the cost of the installation.
Internet source connection:
Since all solar projects should be connected to the internet for ongoing monitoring, it is important to consider how far your modem will be from the location of the solar inverters. Alternatively, a cellular data connection can be purchased for an additional charge.
There are two main parts to a roof-mounted solar array: the solar panels and the inverters. The solar panels are installed on the roof, but there will need to be consideration given to the location of the inverters. Inverters can be installed inside or outside the building. If they are installed inside, it does not need to be in a climate controlled space, but it does need to be installed in a ventilated space. If installed outside, the preferred location would be in a shaded area. Regardless of installation location, consideration needs to be given to allow for enough space to install the solar inverters.
All roof mount solar systems need at least one conduit run from the roof to the interconnection point. Consideration should be given as to where the conduit can be run, considering both aesthetics and ease of installation. In some cases, it may be possible to run the conduit within the building during construction.
Roof cover (material) plays a part in the overall system cost. For example, it generally is significantly cheaper to install a solar system on a standing seam roof versus a slate roof. Below is a list of roof cover types from least expensive to most expensive in relation to installing a solar system:
What Types of Roofs Are Good For Solar?
Remember, these suggestions are to help lower installation costs and position your system for optimum performance. If you are not able to build a building to match the perfect solar conditions, it’s okay. Solar still makes financial sense for a lot of businesses, farms, and homes. Ground mount solar systems and carports are also options for properties that don’t have the ideal roof for solar.
Let us review your building plans and provide suggestions for adding solar. Our solar consultants are very knowledgeable in this area and are available to help guide you during this process. Give us a call at 877-851-92369 and we will connect you with your local solar consultant.