The case for installing solar panels at your building is clear: when you generate your own solar power, you can lower your electricity bill, reduce your exposure to rising energy costs, and do your part in protecting the environment.
Solar has become more accessible to business owners on account of cheaper costs and more efficient materials.
If you’re like most building owners, you don’t want to go through the hassle of making a lot of changes before installing solar panels and generating your own electricity. Simply put, you want your building to be solar-ready.
But what does “solar ready” actually mean, and what need to be included when constructing your building? In this post, we’ll explore the key design and layout elements that are essential for any truly solar-ready building.
Solar readiness means designing and constructing a building in a way that makes it possible to install a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) system at a future date. A building designed with solar in mind makes future PV system installation more cost-effective by reducing the need for alterations to existing infrastructure.
The direction of your solar panels in relation to the sun is one of the primary factors that affects how much sunshine your solar panels will receive throughout the day. If the roof is sloped, positioning the PV system on the north-facing segment will produce more energy. East and West facing roofs can also work, but will generate about 20% less power than a North facing roof.
Make sure that nothing blocks your roof’s exposure to sunlight. Even a small amount of shade from trees or roof ventilators can limit the production of your system. Because of this, you should avoid placing rooftop equipment near the area where you plan to install solar panels. If necessary, trees can be trimmed to ensure your roof receives sufficient sunlight.
It’s best to have a good amount of uninterrupted space, especially if you use a lot of electricity and require a large solar panel system. To make your roof solar ready, obstacles such as vents and satellites need to be placed strategically. A good solar consultant can potentially design around these obstacles, but it can still impact your overall solar performance.
Your choice of roofing material is also an important decision in making your building solar ready. Some roofing materials are better suited for PV installation than others. Slate and wood roofs, for example, are fragile and more complicated to install on. They require specialised mounting components and equipment thus costing you extra money. Metal and asphalt roofs, on the other hand, can be easily worked on without damaging them.
If you think you might need a new roof within the next five to ten years or if your roof is showing signs of wearing out, it’s better to do restorations now rather than later so that you don’t have to pay to have the PV panels removed and reinstalled. Plus, the panels will also help extend the life of the roof by shielding them from the elements. A roof structural assessment is a compliance pre-requisite to determine whether the roof can withstand the weight of a solar installation.
Whether it’s an off grid solar system or a grid-tied solar system, going solar will be one of your business’ biggest investments. However, it can quickly become an overwhelming process if your building cannot be optimised for the installation of solar panels. The design and construction of your building can help pave the way for a more sustainable future for your business and ensure going green is as effective as possible.