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Solar for new homes. Understanding Solar Power

Solar for new homes. Understanding Solar Power

    Solar Power at Home.-

    Due to a record volume of solar applications received, reviews are currently taking longer than expected. Please see the application review status bar below for the latest update:

    This status is updated three (3) times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) and was last updated on 08/04/2023.

    We will continue to post updates as we review applications. If you submitted/resubmitted your application before the date referenced above and have not yet received a notification, please reach out to your contractor for a status update.

    Getting ready to “Go Solar”?

    Going solar for your home is as easy as following these 5 steps.

    Setting your home up with solar technology can reduce your energy bill and your carbon footprint. We have the information and resources to help you get started.

    Who: You How: Be sure to read the California Solar Consumer Protection Guide to understand the steps involved in going solar, know your rights as a solar customer and obtain information to decide if going solar is right for you. You can also check out our Ready to Go Solar fact sheet for additional information.

    Step 3: Choose a Contractor

    A qualified, licensed solar contractor will provide you with a free home evaluation and comprehensive quote. Obtain and compare multiple bids before beginning.

    Who: You How: If you can, get referrals from friends and neighbors. Search for active solar contractors in your area by using the California DG Stats Search tool.

    Another great resource is the SCE Solar Marketplace, an easy-to-use, one-stop shopping service; offering customers a reliable resource to search solar vendors, compare of rooftop solar systems, finance options, and receive the benefit of having multiple vendors bid for their business.

    Save 500 Off Rooftop Solar and Lower Your Bill

    SCE does not endorse or recommend any solar contractor. SCE partners with GRID Alternatives to promote the Disadvantaged Communities. Single-family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH) program (as described below). If you receive any claim by any other entity or contractor of an affiliation or partnership with SCE, please report to us by visiting Scam Alert and using one of the contact options.

    Step 4: Installation

    Your solar generating system must be installed, permitted, and approved for interconnection. Your city or county will perform an onsite inspection and provide the required permit(s). SCE will provide authorization to operate the solar system once proper installation and permitting are completed.

    Who: Your contractor How: In most cases, your contractor will coordinate and manage the following activities:

    • Apply for interconnection with SCE
    • Apply for a building permit with the city or county
    • Obtain the permit and direct the installation of the solar system

    What is a Solar-Ready Home?

    A solar-ready home is one that has been designed and prepared for a solar power installation to occur in the future.

    Building a solar powered home requires a few quick changes from standard construction practices such as completing a solar rough-in, optimizing the roof areas for solar energy generation and of course making the array look good.

    Solar-Ready Benefits

    The steps required to make your home solar ready are very inexpensive when done during the planning and design stage of the home building process.

    If you’ve had much experience with contracting services before, you’ll know that after-thoughts can be expensive.

    ‍Improve the Look

    Designing a house with solar panels gives the option of integrating the array into the building shape in a complementary way.

    Uniform shapes and large arrays can be more pleasing to look at than a patchwork of solar panels. Larger roof faces = larger arrays. Gables, dormers, vents and other obstructions will result in smaller arrays and may result in fewer installed solar panels.

    Roughing in a home for solar will hide any exterior cabling by installing the lines behind walls with your other electrical wires. This creates a much cleaner finished product.

    If you can’t make a large uniform face, we will still minimize exterior cabling and match the solar panels to the face shape as best as possible.

    ‍Better Performance

    Building a home for solar panels can greatly improve the output of your system. Minor adjustments to the tilt and azimuth of your home can yield tremendous solar energy gains.

    Alterations to roof faces can also make a world of a difference.

    Gables, dormers, and ridge lines will all impact the available area for solar.

    solar, homes, power

    ‍Prepare for the Future

    Maybe you don’t want solar now, but you might in the future as technology improves and drop. Preparing in advance is a wise decision that can save you contracting related stress in the future.

    Having a solar-ready home gives you the option of a simple installation whenever you want.

    If done with adequate planning, the solar rough-in will also negate any outer wall penetrations that may need to occur otherwise, which is important not only for aesthetic but to minimize risks associated with holes in the envelope.

    Even if you don’t wan’t to complete the project, selling a solar-ready home is an added feature that the next buyer may value.

    How to Make a Home Solar-Ready

    Below are a few solar ready guidelines and technical specifications to consider when designing a home for a solar.

    • Design roof areas for solar placement
    • Place mechanical obstructions (vents, plumbing stacks etc) away from solar area
    • Install conduit
    • Electrical panel size and space
    • Consider roofing and attic type

    If you want to set up a solar system for a home, follow these guidelines.

    Design the Roof for Solar

    Large rectangular unobstructed areas are ideal for installing solar electric systems. Designing a home and roof for solar is key to maximizing the aesthetic when it comes time to install the home solar panels.

    Solar modules are rectangular which make better use of available space on similar shaped roof areas. It is possible to install panels on triangular faces, but there will be more unutilized areas on the face.

    Steeper tilts and southern exposures will produce the most energy throughout the year. on this below.

    Remove Obstructions

    Vents, plumbing stacks, chimneys, satellites, skylights etc can negate the placement of solar panels in those areas or require additional costs to move the devices.

    Placing the obstructions away from the solar face will allow more room to place panels. Ideally, the devices can be placed on faces that won’t have solar panels, but this is not always possible.

    If obstructions have to be placed on the face, grouping them together and near the crest, eave or edge will maximize the available space for installing solar panels on a new home.

    Install Conduit for Solar Panels

    Conduits for solar power systems are simple to install and will provide the benefits detailed earlier. This is the primary work required for a solar rough-in. It doesn’t seem like much, but this simple step will save hundreds or even thousands of dollars when it comes time to install solar panels for your home or business.

    At least 1 x 1.5 conduit should be installed from the electrical room to the attic. The conduit should be metal, rigid PVC, liquid tight flex or metallic tubing and be in a straight line if possible.

    Larger homes may need larger or more conduits. When in doubt, increase the size of the solar conduit. The material cost for this is minor.

    If a conduit is stubbed in the attic, ensure that the top is above the insulation and has a pull string. Installing an attic access hatch is required (hopefully that is obvious).

    The solar rough-in process is very similar whether it is being done for a home or a business, each requiring conduit or cable from the electrical room to the solar panels’ location. The key difference between commercial and residential solar rough-ins is sizing the conduit/cable properly. Since commercial solar installations tend to be larger than residential solar installations, a larger cable/conduit will be required.

    Electrical Panel Considerations

    Providing a small area near the electrical panel will provide more flexibility should the homeowner want to install a string inverter in the future.

    An area roughly 2′ x 3′ is sufficient for routing cabling and installing devices effectively.

    Additionally, it is best to increase the electrical panel busbar size relative to the main breaker rating.

    Your electrician will know what to do. The main service is protected by a main breaker, most often 100A or 200A. The panel itself has a different rating (determined by the size and thickness of the metal plate in the panel, called the ‘busbar’). It is best to make sure the busbar/panel rating is higher than the main breaker rating. This will allow one to maximize the amount of solar power.

    For future planning, it may be safest to increase the service size as well from 100A to 150A or from 150A to 200A. This will come in handy if an electric vehicle, hot tub, AC unit or other high-draw device is desired in the future.

    solar, homes, power

    Remember, if you increase the service size to 150A or 200A, increase the panel size to 200A or 225A respectively.

    Roof and Attic Considerations

    What roof type is installed may impact how to make the home solar ready.

    It is common practice to install a solar-specific junction box which sits on the roof, but is flashed/weatherproofed. Cables are routed through this junction box into the attic/home so no cables are visible from anywhere on the ground.

    Asphalt shingles can easily be worked with at anytime in the future, but other roofs can be a touch trickier.

    Standing seam, corrugated, and metal shingle roofs can often benefit from having a junction box installed prior to/during the roofing stage. It is possible to retrofit this in, but it will be easier and more cost effective during the initial construction.

    Metal shingle roofs may require additional support from your solar company and roofing company to install the racking supports. Once again, this is best done during the initial construciton/roofing stage to ensure the roof is sealed and all warranties upheld.

    If the home is to have a vaulted ceiling (no attic), then additional measures should be taken to make sure cables can be routed internally. Simply putting in a conduit will not suffice here. To rough in a home for solar with a vaulted ceiling, the roof-level junction box should be installed and the cables or conduit connected on the interior side.

    Solar Ready Guidelines

    Natural Resources Canada has produced a set of solar-ready technical guidelines. Use these specifications in conjunction with the tips we have laid out here and always contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

    Planning for solar during the design stage of a build is the best time to do so. In the end, you will have a far more optimized solar power system if you plan ahead.

    The ideal solar home will have a large (as large as possible) face with a southern exposure with little to no interference from vents, chimneys and other obstructions.

    Solar panels on West and East faces are also applicable, but will result in a slight efficiency loss relative to their south-facing counterparts. Solar panels facing due East or West, will produce at approximately 80% of the energy that the same solar panels would if they were facings south. Other factors, such as tilt, play into the exact efficiency loss from the azimuth, but 80% is an accurate ballpark estimate.

    The ideal tilt for solar panels are approximately equal to the latitude within 15 degrees. Designing your home as close to this tilt is ideal, but it is certainly not detrimental if it can’t be done. Most homes are built with a 4:12 pitch, or 18 degree tilt, which is still great for solar energy generation. Steep tilts are great for energy production but may come with added installation costs due to working at difficult angles.

    Snow will shed better on steeper tilts which is ideal for off-grid homes or net-zero homes.

    Questions, Комментарии и мнения владельцев or concerns? We would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Hit the buttons below to contact us/get a free solar quote or to read more articles.

    Solar For New Construction in Maine

    If you’re building a home and thinking about going solar, there’s no better time than during construction. When you incorporate solar into your new home’s design, you not only take advantage of solar’s environmental and financial benefits right from the start but make the process easier, less costly, and more aesthetically pleasing.

    Many of our new construction customers are building high-efficiency, net-zero homes. Often they are well-insulated, all-electric homes with the latest technology like heat pumps, energy-efficient appliances, and heat pump hot water heaters.

    In many cases adding a solar electric system to your new home allows you to bundle the cost of electricity, heating, and hot water into your mortgage payment.

    Adding solar to an efficient all-electric home will enable you to have one fixed monthly payment that covers the cost of your home and the power that it takes to operate it. After your solar array is paid for, a properly designed solar system will significantly reduce your energy bill or eliminate it almost entirely for 25 years.

    Plan Ahead for a Seamless Solar Installation

    When designing a solar-ready home, there are design features to pay attention to, such as roof space with the proper orientation with limited obstructions, conduit runs to the electric panel, and leaving room for future components (such as preparing for an electric car charger or battery backup). At Maine Solar Solutions, we work directly with the customer, architects, electricians, and builders to ensure the site and home design are best suited for present and future energy goals.

    While your solar energy system doesn’t need to be at the center of all your home design decisions, anticipating and eliminating potential issues at the time of construction can help save time and money later. If you aren’t quite ready to add solar right from the start, we can help ensure that the design is aesthetically pleasing when installing the solar panels later.

    One more benefit of adding solar to the new home you may not have considered is an increase in your property value. Research has shown that homes with solar panels sell significantly more than similar homes without them. Buyers see the benefits of buying a home that can generate its own electricity, so installing solar panels can help you sell your home faster and likely at a significantly higher price. In a study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley Labs, homebuyers were willing to pay a premium of 15,000 more for a home with an average-sized solar system. People see their value when deciding to purchase homes, and it’s been shown homes with solar panels sell faster.

    How to Get Started with Solar for New Construction

    We are always happy to have introductory conversations as you think through your initial design. However, where we usually start is when a client has a set of building plans and a site map, if possible. The things we’ll need to see on the building plans include:

    • The home’s front, side, and back elevations.
    • Roof plan (from a top-down view).
    • The home’s measurements.
    • Roof pitch should also be included, and which way on the site map points south.

    When sizing a home’s solar system, we typically look at the homeowner’s historic electric bills to understand their energy needs. The information won’t be available for a new home, but we can still gather other details to estimate your energy consumption and appropriately size the solar system. During our intro call, we will discuss your desired electrical and mechanical systems and how solar might fit into the home’s design. We will also likely address any potential shading with a visit to your site.

    Building A Solar Ready Home with Maine Solar Solutions

    If you are considering going solar for your new construction home, the best time to let us know is now. The sooner we can look at your site plans, the better, so we can discuss the possibility of wrapping solar into your mortgage and sync with your build schedule.

    We have worked on hundreds of new construction projects throughout Maine and bring our expertise to every project. Our reputation, professionalism, and extensive new construction experience will put both you as the homeowner and your builder at ease. We will work together to make the solar process straightforward, easy, and cost-effective.

    Pros and Cons of Solar Panels for Your Home

    Like most things, solar power has its benefits and drawbacks. At the same time, some economic costs may be defrayed by the social benefits to the environment and lowering your carbon footprint, which may be more important to you than a purely monetary evaluation.

    • Green energy that lowers your carbon footprint
    • Net metering allows you to sell back excess energy produced
    • You may be eligible for certain tax breaks
    • Installation and maintenance costs are still high
    • Solar only works when the sun is out
    • Parts of the system need to be replaced every few years
    • Some tax breaks may have expired or will be expiring

    Can a House Run on Solar Power Alone?

    Practically, it is not often possible. This is because solar only works when the sun is shining—when it is cloudy or nighttime, they do not generate electricity. There are some battery solutions to provide power during these times, but they still tend to be quite expensive. Most homes with solar panels still rely on the grid from time to time.

    Depending on where you live, it is possible that the system can pay itself back and more over time. This is because you won’t be spending as much money buying electricity from your utility. If net metering is in place, you could reduce your bills even further.

    How Much Does a Solar Panel Cost?

    have been coming down steadily over the years. The total cost will depend on how many kilowatts of power your array will generate. According to consumer reports, after solar tax credits are accounted for, the cost for a solar panel system on an average-sized house in the U.S. in 2021 ranges from 11,000 to 15,000.

    Depending on where you live and the size of your system it can take, on average, anywhere from 10 to 20 years to break even on a solar installation.

    The Bottom Line

    Determining whether to install a PV solar system may seem like a daunting task, but it is important to remember that such a system is a long-term investment. In many locations, solar power is a good choice from a financial perspective.

    Even if the cost of solar power is found to be marginally more expensive than electricity purchased from a utility, homeowners may wish to install solar power to avoid future potential fluctuations in energy costs, or may simply wish to look beyond their personal financial motivations and use solar for green living.

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