In the same way you’d tape off areas before painting a room, or stretch before running a marathon, there’s some steps you can take to prepare your house before switching to solar.
- X2 check permitting guidelines
Often times the most difficult part of converting to solar is dealing with local regulations and permitting processes. Most city utility companies require the following documentation before installation can begin:
- Level 1 interconnection Application and Agreement for inverter-based generating systems
- Electrical diagram of proposed generating system
- Specifications of inverter
- Application for electrical service (if you’re going to use meters)
If you’re the do-it-yourself type of person, perhaps the best place to spend money on outside help is on a solar design and permit service. Municipalities are not known for their speed, and a red-flagged permit takes longer to get through the second time than the first. Also, it makes sense that you know the rules before you play the game. In some cases you might even uncover hidden rebates or government incentives.
- Make sure your roof can handle the weight
Consult with a building inspector or engineer to determine the maximum load that is safe to put on your roof. Solar arrays can be heavy, and the weight of these plus any racking systems and microinverters can add up. So think of this maximum load number as Gandolf…
…and make sure to tally up the weight of every item you install.
3) Check your roof’s condition
Any repairs you’ll need to make to your roof after installation will require the removal of the solar panels. Make roof repairs before adopting solar energy and don’t cut corners on using the best materials. Saving a few dollars in the short run could end up costing you thousands down the road.
4) Plan your angle of attack
In the northern hemisphere most panels are mounted on south-facing roofs to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. If you have a roof with an east or west orientation you or an installer will need to position the array at optimal angles. If it’s too flat it will collect water and if it’s too tilted you’ll miss out on precious rays of power. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy has helpful guidelines on how to optimally angle your array.
5) Build a Sun Cabinet
Call it a utility storage nook or sun cabinet–we just like the fancy name–but build or designate a closed space to house all your solar equipment. Batteries, inverters, Balance of System (BOS) modules all help enhance a home’s existing electrical system. The room should be free of water and moisture and in an area that doesn’t heat up much during the day. Additionally, keep an eye towards the future when constructing this room as larger batteries such as Tesla’s Powerwall will take up more space than the smaller batteries many systems currently use.