It’s an option now, but more people are turning to green energy.

Installing a solar energy system for your home used to be a costly consideration – even if it ultimately went beyond paying for itself. The technology has gotten more efficient, and the components making up a solar energy system have become far less complicated.

While the number of existing homes adding solar systems continues to grow, it makes more sense to incorporate solar into new home construction. There are many good reasons, but the one that makes the most sense is to integrate solar into the cost of building instead of having to pay more to retrofit the home later. Here’s what you need to know.

1.  Upon the roof

One of the top areas of focus for a house that will include a solar power system is the roof.

  • Layout: Chimneys, dormers, and roof vents can cause shading on panels and decrease the capacity of solar panels.
  • Orientation and steepness: The ideal roof for solar panels faces south and has a pitch angle between 30 to 45 degrees. Ideally, the panels should face true south – which is not the same as magnetic south on a compass. However, even panels that don’t face directly south can still produce dependable energy, depending on shading. And speaking of shade, a tall tree or anything that blocks the sunlight is not your friend.
  • Load: Solar panels have become lighter and more efficient. It’s still important to take into consideration the additional weight of a solar system on the roof. The panels will require mounting points. Installing them during construction can save time and money, and reduce the possibility of damage to the roofing material.
  • Roof material choice: Slate tiles or cedar shingles are attractive but somewhat impractical for solar panel arrays. These types of roofing material are fragile and may require additional equipment to support the solar panels. Clay tile roofs may be highly decorative, but they are a good choice to combine with solar panels because roof infrastructure will already be able to accommodate the extra weight of the panels.

2.  Inside

Most of what we see of a solar energy system is up on the roof. There are important considerations inside the house, as well. These are easier to accomplish during construction than later on in a retrofit.

  • Conduit: There’s a vital connection between the solar panels on the roof and the house’s main electrical panel. It has to be protected by conduit from the panel and back up to the roof.
  • Service panel and breakers: A standard household service panel and circuit breakers may not be able to accommodate a solar panel array. This will be an expensive substitution.
  • Extra space near the service panel: Most of the solar system is up on the roof. There are still some components that must be installed near the main service panel.

3.  Home appliances

It can be overlooked. The appliances for a home that will have a solar energy system get spec’d for natural gas. The debate will rage on as to whether natural gas heating is more efficient than electric heating. But, it might not even be necessary to bother with the infrastructure cost of natural gas with a solar energy system.

Heads up from California

With the goal of sourcing at least 50 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, the California Energy Commission has approved new building rules requiring all single-family homes and condominiums up to three stories to be built with solar panels.

It may be an option now, but as this NBC News article notes, California is a trendsetter. It’s likely that other states will follow California’s lead when it comes to solar installations. The current national average cost for this ranges from $11,380 to $14,990 – and that’s after tax credits.

Home builders approach projects with a portfolio of options. The costs of those options are researched so that the appropriate profit margins are maintained. If solar is a new addition to your portfolio of homebuilder options or one you plan to offer soon, make sure you integrate it fully into your margins. Proper planning and meeting with a professional will help you analyze the costs and benefits of your home building business.

The tax experts at No Boundaries Advisors have a keen understanding of the construction industry. If you’re considering building green, our friendly accountants can help make sure you keep costs to a minimum.

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