I’m building and want to plan for solar – what do I need to include in the building plans?

1. When designing the roof: add 5 pounds per square foot above what is required by building code. 
  • This extra 5 pounds per square foot will cover the weight of the equipment and will avoid the need/expense for an engineer to come in later to assess the roof before installing solar.
  • We add solar to buildings without extra load added to the structure all the time and the engineers sign off – but the roof weight load standard is challenged when we get really heavy snows.
  • A recent heavy snow in Macon (2019) amounted to 22 ½ pounds per square foot for just the snow load. The standard roof weight rating is 20 pounds per square foot (total). Think about an old roof having a snow load that is already 2 ½ pounds per square foot above the “standard allowance” PLUS an additional 5 pounds per square foot of solar equipment on top of that.
  • We recommend clearing solar panels for production purposes. It can be the difference between them producing nothing (when they’re buried deep and it’s overcast) to running all your house’s lights for free (even with a bit of ice stuck to the panels and clouds are blocking the sun).
  • You don’t want to have to think about roof weight loads, especially with a brand new building that should last well past your lifetime.
2. Choosing an ideal angle of roof will give the same solar array more output.
  • A 6/12 roof angle is ideal (that’s close to a 30 degree angle).
  • Other angles will work, but you’ll sacrifice productivity of your solar equipment.
3. South is an ideal direction to face the array.
  • This increases the production by 15% over east and west facing options.
4. In terms of roofing material: If you use a metal roof with a standing seam we can do a non-penetration style roof mounting system.
5. We also do ground-mount arrays. If that’s what you’re planning to do, then all the above doesn’t matter at all.
  • Ground mounted arrays will cost more per watt because, instead of using a pre-existing structure (the roof), there are more materials required to build that structure (the ground mounted array – everything below the panels).
  • Pole ground mounts can change the angle for seasonal sun angle changes. The more adjustments it makes, the more it will cost.
  • Stationary ground mounts are the least expensive ground mount option. They can be made into shade structures, but the additional height will be additional cost. So if you want it done as inexpensive as possible, the lowest part will be close to the ground.
You’ll aways save money keeping panels up on the roof. 
Not only that, but the solar panels will protect your roof!

Category: General

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