Getting Ready for Rooftop Solar Power; A Few Basic Steps

Blue Gray Exterior Paint Color. Boothbay Blue by Jame Hardie. That is a prefinished siding from Jame Hardie. It is cement fiberboard, and the color is 'Boothbay Blue'. #BlueGrayExterior #Exterior #PaintColor #BoothbayBlueJameHardie Kipnis Architecture + Planning

 

What steps should you take before purchasing a solar panel system for your home? Great question. Let’s see if I can put a checklist together that helps you answer that question.

 

Check your Utility Bills

LEED Farmhouse. Green Farmhouse Design. Eco Friendly Farmhouse Design. The roof is Pac-Clad Metallic Silver. It was chosen not only for its color but also for its reflectivity. This helps keep the roof cool, which is always a good idea.  #LEEDFarmhouse #GreenFarmhouse #GreenFarmhouseDesign #EcoFriendly #FarmhouseDesign Kipnis Architecture + Planning

The first step is to check your own expenses for heating and electric in enough detail to really understand what your money is covering. Do you have high heating bills and low levels of electric use? Is most of your home’s energy demand going to heat up hot water or run air conditioning units? You need to figure this out – the more information, the better.

This will help you assess your home’s long-term energy needs. Can you cut down on heating demand by changing to a different system – going from electric to natural gas or creating heat reservoirs that hold onto the sun’s energy even in the winter? Figure out your long-term needs and try to anticipate changes. Will you retire and stay in the home, start working from home, or sell the home? All this could influence your decision.

Check Around for Local, State and Federal Incentives

Metal Roof The roof is Pac-Clad Metallic Silver. It was chosen not only for its color but also for its reflectivity.  #MetalRoof Kipnis Architecture + Planning

Yes, there are regional and state-to-state differences in solar installation policies and tax credits that can help you afford to install a solar panel system in your home. Not to mention, the quality of service will depend on the level of experience of installation companies in the area. A San Diego Solar Installation looks different from an installation in Maine, Nebraska or Minnesota, and these each will look different from one another.

Not only do incentives differ from state to state, but the installation itself will vary. From region to region, there could be very different roof styles to contend with – from barn-like hip roofs in New England to angular A-frame roofs in Colorado.

Consult a General Contractor & an Electrician

Solar thermal panels. Roof Solar thermal panels. The rear view of the house shows the standing seam metal roof set at an optimal angle for the solar thermal panels. Barely visible to the left is the other roof form, set at a lower angle for the PV panels. The overhangs are designed for winter sun penetration and summer shading.  #Solarthermalpanels #RoofSolarpanels Kipnis Architecture + Planning

Solar panels don’t weigh very much, so the stress on your home’s roof is likely to be negligible at most, but you will want to assess what kind of impact the installation will have. Usually, solar panels are mounted on the roof, but they can certainly be installed on poles in an unused section of your lawn.

On the roof, installations are installed on strong brackets or mounts so that you have the fewest number needed to have a sturdy installation without disrupting your roof’s integrity. Each mount needs to be flashed, so the roof doesn’t leak after installation. So the fewer mounts the better.

Consult with an electrician and plan how the system will work with your present wiring. Remember, you also need to find space to store large batteries if you use them. You also need a convenient location for the meters that monitor your system. You don’t want to have to climb into the attic or dash down into the basement every time you need to monitor your home’s energy use and battery storage.

Local Codes & Ordinances

James Hardie Monterey Taupe. Contemporary Home Exterior Paint Color. The siding is from James Hardie. The 5" exposure lap siding on the right side is 'Monterey Taupe' while the large format panels are 'Arctic White'.  James Hardie Monterey Taupe. James Hardie Monterey Taupe #JamesHardieMontereyTaupe Kipnis Architecture + Planning

Call your local government and speak to the building code officers about what can and what cannot be done and what kind of inspections may be required. Even if you know the solar panel systems are permitted in your area, you still need to know what regulatory steps might be needed from obtaining approval for the project to having the work inspected after it is done.

A Safety Plan

Modern Farmhouse  with Roof Solar Panel. Modern Farmhouse  with Roof Solar Panel Exterior. Modern Farmhouse  with Roof Solar Panel Ideas #ModernFarmhouse #RoofSolarPanel #SolarPanel #FarmhouseSolarPanel Palo Santo Designs LLC

Once you make the decision to install a solar panel system, put together a safety plan so that you can have an accident-free installation process.

This may require installing temporary guard rails or fencing arrangements on your roof. It may involve the use of harnesses to ensure the safety of someone working on a slanted roof.

Contracts

Barn Doors. Modern Farmhouse with barn doors. The patio features cut flagstone. #BarnDoors #ModernFarmhouse #farmhousebarndoors #patio #flagstone Palo Santo Designs LLC

If you are a contractor, a roofer or an electrician, there are parts of the solar array installation that you could do yourself. But largely this is a time to look through the phone book and find out who has the experience and expertise to install your system for you.

In general, unless there are special circumstances in your case, installing a solar system for your home is not prohibitively expensive. We’re talking about installing brackets on your roof, flashing around each bracket to make sure the integrity of the roof is intact and doing what could be one or two days worth of wiring.

 

Images: 1 to 5: Kipnis Architecture + Planning.

6 & 7: Palo Santo Designs LLC. (Kate Russell Photography).

 

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