If you want the full benefits that solar power offers, you will need a house that can help your new system generate as much electricity as possible. Some of these factors are out of your hands. There are some aspects, however, that you can control. Try following these five tips to make your home solar ready.
1. Remove Any Roof Obstructions
Image via Flickr by mjmonty
The number of panels that you need to power your home depends on where you live and how much electricity you use. Chances are that your new solar panels will take up much of your roof. That means you may need to remove any obstructions, such as chimneys and pipes.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a place with abundant sunlight throughout the year, you may not need to clear everything from your roof. It’s best to talk to your contractor to decide whether you need to remove some or all of the items on your roof. As the efficiency and price of residential solar panels continue to fall, you may find that you have enough room left over to keep a chimney that adds charm to your house.
2. Move Big Trees
Big trees that cast a shadow on your roof will prevent solar panels from operating as efficiently as possible. You don’t want to go through the installation process only to find that the panels don’t give you enough power to run your home, so you may need to move the trees.
Some people will try to save money by cutting the trees down. That’s certainly an option, but it’s not a very good one. Trees offer several benefits such removing pollution from air, preventing soil erosion, reducing the heat island effect.
Trees are good. You just don’t want them covering your solar panels.
3. Build a Mechanical Room
Since you always see solar panels outside, you may not know that homes also need interior space for systems to convert light into usable electricity. Your solar system should come with monitoring hardware, an inverter, and other devices that go indoors.
If you already have an unused small room in your house, then you’re probably good to go. If not, you may need to build a room about the size of a large closet. 5 feet X 3 feet (1.5 meter X 1 meter) should offer just enough space. You’ll also need about a square meter of open wall space to mount equipment. Even if you don’t already have a good space for this, you and a few friends can complete the project in a weekend.
4. Have Conduits Installed
Your solar system will use conduits to transfer energy from the panels to machines in your mechanical room. That means someone has to install those conduits.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a DIY project. Unless you’re a certified electrician, you will need to leave this to a professional. The company installing your solar panels may know of someone in your area who has done this kind of work before. The company may even employ an electrician who does the work for its customers.
Make sure you get a permit before the electrician starts installing conduits.
5. Get Your Roof Inspected
Solar panels will put a lot of stress on your roof. The added weight could cause weak roofs to literally fall apart. Hire a qualified inspector determine whether your roof needs any upgrades to handle the solar panels.
With some luck, your roof won’t need any repairs or improvements. If it does, you might as well make sure that it sits at an angle that will help your solar panels work as efficiently as possible. Ideally, the south side of your roof will have a 45-degree pitch.
You can still get solar panels installed even if your roof doesn’t have the ideal pitch. The installers, however, may have to add to the panel infrastructure so they face the proper direction. This will add a little more weight to your roof, so you may want to talk to the inspector about how much weight he or she thinks the roof can handle.
Your home’s specific needs depend on where you live, how the house is situated, and how much power you want to generate. The above tips are helpful, but they are not written in stone. It’s always helpful to speak with an experienced contractor before you begin the solar panel installation process.