Solar Tips for New Builds.
If you are building a brand-new home from the ground up, it’s the perfect time to consider installing a solar system and that is why we have compiled a list of tips to help you get the most out of your solar power investment.
A new build offers you a unique opportunity to optimise your solar system so it is important to consult ALL the professionals from your architect or builder and of course your solar installer during the planning process in order to avoid common installation issues such as these.
- Roof Design
Whether you are planning on installing solar panels from the get go or at a later stage, talk to your builder or architect to ensure your roof can support at least 6.6kW of solar panels which equates to approx. 18 panels. Your builder or architect can also ensure the design of your roof is tailored to your environment to make the most of the sun’s rays by avoiding shading. You can identify possible locations by viewing neighbouring homes and seeing if they have solar panels and where they are positioned.
Ideally you want your roof to be designed to be able to support as many panels as possible and have the northern orientation of your roof as one continuous roofline in order to get the most out of your system in the winter months when power generation is lower. This will enable you to produce more power and charge your battery if you choose to install one.
Your clean north facing roof line should be well clear of ventilation pipes or skylights in order to maximise the roof space for as many panels as possible, choosing to position any antennas or satellite dishes on your southern side where they will be out of the way of valuable sun rays.
- Pre-wire/Rough in
Having your wiring hidden is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye and keeps your design lines clean so having your wiring done in the build phase is perfect. In our expert opinion though, we highly recommend having this done by your qualified solar installer. Not only can this be a far cheaper option than having it added to your building contract, but it ensures your wiring is up to code. Solar cables can reach up to 600V DC and they can’t be protected by installing a circuit breaker or safety switch and it is because of this that there are strict regulations around the wiring and installation of solar power. Your solar installer takes full responsibility when it comes to flicking the switch of your solar system, so they need to know that everything is in order in the pre-wire phase. Even if your builder says they have it covered, 9 times out of 10 we find inadequate wording within the contract to ensure the internal wiring is up to scratch. With comprehensive proof of photos of the wiring behind panelling as well as detailed notes and information and a ‘certificate of test and compliance’ then you are potentially facing having all your wiring redone for your installer to sign off if you want all your wires and cables hidden behind wall cavities.
If you plan being in your home long term, it is well worth the investment in choosing panels with a low degradation rate. Superior panels will maintain their power production far into the future saving you money in the long term without need for upgrades. The added cost will also see added value with superior panels generally also offering better warranty periods or conditions, higher tolerance for light and shade, durability and panel efficiency. If your new build is your forever home, then you will definitely see these added benefits in the long term.
- Inverter location
When you are building a new home, you get to choose the best locations for your services such as your switchboard, meter box, inverter and batteries. We find positioning on a southern wall or even inside the garage for your inverter is a great spot if it’s as close to the switchboard as possible. This will also work for positioning your battery whether straight away or down the track.
When it comes to your monitoring system, we recommend hard wiring them to data via a LAN line even though they are Wi-Fi enabled. This will allow continuous and uninterrupted monitoring at all times from the day of installation.
- Single or three phase power?
Most new build homes are equipped with single phase power unless they are larger or have ducted air installed. Three phase power at building and planning stage can actually pay for itself in the long term allowing you to export more power back to the grid. In Queensland there is a 10kW inverter capacity for single phase power with only 5kW being able to be exported back to the grid while three phase power will allow for up to 15kW export meaning more money in your pocket. Even if you don’t choose to install such a large system from the start, it really does open opportunity for you in the long term should you change your mind.
Three phase power can also be a great option for future appliances including an electric car. It feels like a lifetime away but time seems to fly these days and the future of electric cars in more and more homes is only around the corner.
So, you can see, a little forward planning in your build phase and with a little foresight, can end up having some huge positive effects on your long-term savings. Power Up Solar have been installing solar systems in the South East for over 20 years and we are experts in helping you identify the best solar system for your needs. Our friendly team are ready to help you get the most out of your new solar installation.