How to plan for solar when building a home

Building a new home is an exciting yet challenging process. Researching the best suburbs, finding the perfect block of land, choosing the right builder and the seemingly endless decisions about colours, fittings and furnishings - so many things to consider! Have you included solar power on your list?

If you're thinking about installing solar power in your new home (either as part of the build or later on) we highly recommend you start planning for it now. The following tips will save you money, time and regrets later on, by getting your solar installation right, from the start.

 

Lay of the land

The way your block of land is shaped can have a surprising impact on the efficiency of your solar panels. For example, if you buy a block of land with a steep hill on the northern or eastern side, the sun won't hit your solar panels until much later in the day compared with a flat block or one with a hill on the southern or western side.

If you’re considering buying a coastal block, it’s worth checking with your electricity provider whether you’ll need to install solar panels with a higher than average salt and wind corrosion rating. Power authorities like Western Power need to make sure your panels will be able to withstand our harsh coastal conditions. If you’re keen to live by the coast, just make sure you budget accordingly.

 

Shade

Once you've taken the landscape into account, you need to consider whether other objects are likely to pop up nearby (usually out of your control) that might cast shade onto your solar panels. How close might your neighbours build? Imagine the impact of a multi-story building going in right next door, shading your roof for half the day! Also consider the type of vegetation surrounding your block of land. Are large shade trees likely to be a problem?

 

Roof design

In most cases, a north facing roof will enable your solar panels to capture as much sunlight as possible. If north facing isn't an option, a western orientation is your next best bet.

What else are you thinking of putting on your roof that might cast shadows onto your solar panels? Satellite dishes, TV aerials, chimneys, awnings, shade sails or air conditioning systems all have the potential to reduce your solar output. Try and position these items well away from your solar panels. On a pitched roof, consider installing these objects on the opposing side.

If you’re considering a home with a flat roof, don’t forget that you’ll need to position your solar panels on an angle to capture as much solar energy as possible. Bearing this in mind, you may be better off choosing a more conventional (and more solar-friendly) roof design if you have your heart set on going solar.

 

Seek advice

Along with your designer and your builder, it's worth talking to an experienced solar installation company like Solargain to help you properly plan for solar in your new home. Our experienced team of solar technicians can advise you on the best wiring, orientation and design options for your home, based on your specific location and individual needs.

 

Rebates and solar incentives

It’s a fact of life that government rebates and solar incentives often change from year to year. Don’t stress out trying to work out what you’re entitled to. Solargain has you covered. We pride ourselves in keeping up-to-date with changes to government policies on solar power. We take this information into account when processing your paperwork, saving you lots of headaches.

 

Pre-wiring and pre-laying your solar panels

It's much quicker to run electrical wiring before your walls have been gyprocked. If you have the option of pre-installing the wiring for your solar power system during the build, it will make life much easier for your solar installer, saving them time and saving you money. We also recommend you consider installing a solar-ready electricity meter right from the start, so you won't need to replace it when the time comes to connect your solar power system.

If you’re building a multi-story home, it’s a great idea to pre-lay your solar panels on the roof before your scaffolding comes down. This will save you the additional cost of erecting scaffolding again at a later date.

 

Let’s work together

The key to ensuring your build and solar installation progresses as smoothly as possible is good communication. Talk to us when you’re brainstorming initial build ideas, so we can ensure your design is as solar-friendly as possible. Keep us posted on any power-related details such as whether you’re installing three-phase or single-phase power. Then, when it comes to pre-wiring and pre-laying your panels, don’t leave it until the last minute! Get organised and get in touch with us three to four months before your expected handover so we can work with your builder and tradies to schedule the work in.

 

Contact us

For help incorporating solar power into your new build, give Solargain a call on 1300 73 93 55 or contact us online.