If you’re planning a new build and you’re thinking about having solar panels and a water heater installed as part of the project, then you need to plan for it right from the start. Don’t wait until your house is up before looking at your plans for a solar array, because you may be limiting your options and spending more money than you need to.
Here are some tips for building solar with your new build.
Look for the right plot of land
The shape, angle, and orientation of your block of land can really affect your panels’ efficiency so take your solar project into account when you’re scouting. If you’re on an eastern or southern-facing hill then you won’t get much sun until later in the day. Look for a flat or northern-facing plot.
If you’re coastal, then you’ll need panels with a higher-than-average resistance to salt and wind. This can cost a bit more initially (but save money in the long run), so factor this into your budget.
Look at the shade factor
After your landscape, you need to look for anything that might cast shade onto your array. Are there plans to put up a tower block next door? Is there a huge tree in the neighbour’s plot? How near to your array’s proposed location is your neighbour’s house (or planned house)? Can you cut any big trees down?
Your roof design
A north-facing roof will give your panels as much light as possible; failing that, try for a western orientation. You also need to think about what else might go on your roof that could cast shadows – TV aerials, chimneys, shade sails and so on. Aim to keep things like this as far away from your array as possible or on the other side of a pitched roof.
If you’re planning a flat roof, your panels will need to be set at an angle. If you’re deadly serious about going solar, however, a conventional pitched roof is much better.
Talk to an installer early on
A good installer will be able to take one look at your blueprints and your location and give you advice on the type of panels you need, where they should go, as well as your wiring and design choices.
Your installer will also know all about the current state of play in the ever-shifting world of rebates and incentives, as well as how to get the best prices for you. By bringing the installer on board early on, they can work with your tradies and builders so that your solar “grows” alongside your building. For example, your wiring can be pre-laid, saving everyone time and money.
Get your panels up before the scaffolding comes down
Otherwise, you’ll have to pay for a whole new set of scaffolding!