One of the best new construction practices is to complete a solar rough-in in order to make one's home "solar-ready." Being solar-ready simply means that a properly sized conduit or cable has been ran from the electrical room to the attic/roof (or wherever the solar array will be). It doesn't seem like much, but this simple step will save hundreds or even thousands of dollars when it comes time to install solar panels for your home or business.
The solar rough-in process is very similar whether it is being done for a home or a business, each requiring conduit or cable from the electrical room to the solar panels' location. The key difference between commercial and residential solar rough-ins is sizing the conduit/cable properly. Since commercial solar installations tend to be larger than residential solar installations, a larger cable/conduit will be required.
To view the Natural Resources Canada solar-ready guidelines, click here.
Getting an electrical rough-in for solar is a very quick and inexpensive task when done during the construction and design stage of the building process. Additionally, getting a solar rough-in will create a much cleaner look for your property, with all the unsightly wires being hidden behind the walls. If done with adequate planning, the solar rough-in will also negate any outer wall penetrations that may need to occur otherwise, which is important for both aesthetic and other risks associated with punching holes in walls.
Being solar-ready gives you the option of a simple solar installation whenever you want. If you plan on selling your home, being solar-ready is a nice selling feature as well due to the ever growing popularity and ever shrinking price of solar panels.
Planning for solar during the design stage of a build is the best time to do so. In the end, you will have a far more optimized solar power system if you plan ahead.
The ideal solar home will have a large (as large as possible) face with a southern exposure with little to no interference from vents, chimneys and other obstructions. Solar panels on West and East faces are also applicable, but will suffer an efficiency loss relative to their south-facing counterparts. Solar panels facing due East or West, will produce at approximately 80% of the energy that the same solar panels would if they were facings south. Other factors, such as tilt, play into the exact efficiency loss from the azimuth, but 80% is an accurate ballpark estimate.
The ideal tilt for solar panels in Edmonton is 45 degrees to 53 degrees (latitude). Designing your home as close to this tilt is ideal, but it is certainly not detrimental if it can't be done. Most homes are built with a 4:12 pitch, or 18 degree tilt, which is still fine for solar energy generation.
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