So you’ve decided to install solar panels – that’s great! You’re on your way to reducing your carbon footprint and improving the environment. But, before you can start saving the world, you have to actually put those solar panels in place. Check out this quick guide to help you prepare your home for solar power installation.
Call a Contractor to Discuss Your Energy Consumption
Unless you know what you’re doing, you’ll be working with a solar power contractor to plan and install your system. Prepare for your initial consultation by having a one-year history of your electrical usage on-hand, usually measured in kWh per month or year. This is what will help determine how much space you need for your system to generate an equivalent amount of energy. Once you have these recommendations from your contactor, you can begin planning where to place your solar panels and preparing the space for installation.
Plan for a Sunny Location
Solar electrical systems need full sun to work properly. For most people, installing solar panels on the roof is ideal, but ground-mounted solar panels are also an effective solution. You may have already talked with your installer about where you’d like to place your panels, but if you’ve chosen a slightly shaded area, now is the time to call a tree trimmer or landscaper to optimize the area for full sun.
Repair or Replace Your Roof
If you’ve chosen to install solar panels on your roof, it’s worth considering replacing the roof before the solar panels go into place. Solar systems are designed to last over 20 years, which is generally longer than the lifetime of your roof. If your roof is in need of an overhaul in the next 5-10 years, you will need to maintain and reinstall your solar panels after you replace your roof. If you’re refinishing your roof already, now is the best time to install solar panels.
If you’re planning to install your panels on the roof, there are several steps to preparing it for installation. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Consider which direction your house faces. In the Northern Hemisphere, those facing south are able to capture more sunlight, so if your roof is facing any other direction, your system may be more efficient mounted on the ground.
- Contact a building professional to evaluate whether your roof can support the extra weight. If not, you may have to reinforce the roof to accommodate the panels.
- Consider the pitching of your roof. Some contractors may not install on sharply pitched roofs.
- Your roof should allow at least 200 to 400 square feet of space to accommodate a solar power system, so measure your space before making a commitment.
- Be sure there aren’t any vents or other fixtures within that space. You may have to call a plumbing contractor to reroute such vents.
No matter what your roof’s condition, be sure to call a contractor to take a look and ensure your roof is a decent candidate before committing to prepare it for solar panels.
Preparing your home for solar panels isn’t a huge endeavor, especially if you have a qualified solar contractor there to help you out. At the very least, be sure you’ve chosen an area that is able to accommodate the amount of solar panels you need, that you’ve checked with your county or state laws regarding solar panel installation, that you’ve cleared the space of shade and, if you’re going with a roof-mounted system, that you’ve recently replaced the roof to accommodate it. How will you prepare your home for your solar system installation?