Solar Installations for New Construction

We often get calls from future customers who are in the process of building a house. With an existing home, we have data from a recent electric bill that tells us how much electricity the home requires. With new construction, we have to estimate the kilowatt usage.

First Electric Cooperative has created a free online tool for estimating electricity consumption.

Electricity Consumption Estimator

When you complete the survey, you can download the results in a PDF and send them to us. This will help us provide you with an accurate quote for your PV system.

With respect to how the home is constructed, there are a few things you can do to make a new build ready for an easy solar installation. In the Roanoke area, good solar begins with southern exposure. The best location for solar panels is on the side of your roof facing due south. As you choose the design of your new home, you can ask your builder about orienting the future home of your solar panels in a southern direction. A large rectangle roof area with no dormers is the best clean slate for solar.

The roof surface does not matter in terms of installing solar. We regularly install solar on asphalt shingle and standing seam metal roofs. It’s always nice to put solar on a new roof because you know you won’t need to replace the roof anytime soon.

The color of the roof only matters slightly. The REC modules (panels) we install are bifacial. That means that they will absorb sunlight from both the front and the back. You will get slightly more sunlight on the back of your panels with a white roof as opposed to a black roof. That said, there’s really no way to measure the added benefit and we do not recommend putting a white roof on your home solely for this reason.

It helps if you have your builder install conduit from the attic area to electrical service panel. The service panel is usually located in the basement or utility/laundry roof. We need to run wires from the roof area to the service panel so if there is already conduit waiting, that’s less drilling we need to do. The picture below is the conduit we ran for our own PV system here at the SolShine office.

The most significant thing you can do it to limit or completely eliminate roof penetrations on the roof faces that will have solar panels. A roof penetration could be a vent pipe, TV satellite dish, or roof vents. We need to keep your panels a certain distance from any roof penetrations in order to allow for future maintenance. In the picture below, you can see that we arranged the PV modules around two white vent pipes.