Planning for solar on your new home

Many people want to add solar panels while they are building a new home, and others prefer to do it later, sometimes years down the road. If you want to go solar while building, that's great! Just give us a call and we can work with your builder to make it happen. But if you're thinking of adding panels later**, there are a few things you can do to ensure you'll be able to add panels without a hitch.

Roof structure

Most new homes are built with pre-made engineered trusses made of 2x4 lumber and spaced every 24". If this the case for your new home or garage, you should have no problem adding solar panels in the future. These modern engineered trusses are designed in a way that very nicely facilitates the addition of solar panels - now or at any time in the future. If your roof will be constructed with anything else, such as a different type of truss, timber beams, or I-beams, you'll want to give us a call and ask if solar panels might still work for the roof in question. You'll also want to give us a call if the roof is over a vaulted ceiling, because the roof will likely not be constructed of a typical truss system.

Roof tilt

Solar panels can be installed flush to any roof between 10 and 50 degrees, but if you're building a new structure, you'll want to consider a pitch more optimal for solar panels. In general, if you don't heat and cool your home with a geothermal system, the best roof pitch for solar panels will be between 30 and 45 degrees. If you have a geothermal system, the best pitch will be between 35-45 degrees.

Roofing material

Most homes in Wisconsin have asphalt-shingles roofs, and if this is the case for your new home, great! Incorporating solar panels will be no problem either now or anytime in the future. We are often asked if we need to install the solar panels before or while the shingles are being installed, and the answer is no - we always wait to install the panels until after the roofing is complete. If the roofing material is standing-seam or corrugated metal, give us a call so see if it is compatible with solar panels - some styles are and some are not. And if your roof will be covered by metal shingles, clay or concrete tiles, or slate, we will not be able to incorporate solar panels.

Electrical Service

If your utility is not WE Energies. The main electrical panel in most new homes is rated at 200 amps. In general, this allows you to add about 30 solar panels to the home, but given that more than half of customers want more than 30 panels, chances are that you might as well. We can always make accommodations for a customer who wants more than 30 panels and only has a 200A main electrical panel, but having a simple discussion with a solar contractor before construction can help avoid additional expenses.

If your utility is WE Energies. We don't need to worry about the size of the main electrical panel if your property is in the WE Energies territory, but we do need to make sure that the meter pedestal has two meter positions, one for the house and one for the solar array. The most common model is Milbank U1783.

Garages

If your garage will be connected to your home, we will typically have no problem tying the solar array to the home's main electrical panel. But if your garage will not be attached, please give us a call to discuss your options to ensure you are setting yourself up for success.

Internal conduit

When installing a solar array we will need to connect the solar panel wiring on the roof to the wiring near your main panel in the basement or garage. We can always attach a small inconspicuous conduit to the outside of your home if an internal conduit wasn't installed when the house was built, but why not plan ahead? You'll want to talk to a solar contractor about the size and location of this conduit. The home electrical contractor can install it, and will probably do it for free.

 

**Keep in mind that the 30% federal tax credit will go down to 26% for systems installed in 2020 and down again to 22% for those installed in 2021. Starting in 2022 the credit will no longer be available.