All Energy Solar

Key Considerations for Solar in New Construction

If you plan on building a new home, doing a major renovation or addition, or constructing a secondary structure to your property, now is a great time to think about adding solar to your project. If you’re considering solar for your business, check out this article on including solar in your new business build.

There is a wide range of construction types that fall into the category of new construction. ​It can include from-the-ground-up new homes, home additions, or accessory structures like pergolas or detached garages. ​If the project requires structural considerations or new/upgraded electrical work, it presents an excellent opportunity to integrate solar into the home. ​

Talk early and talk often

Early awareness is crucial when considering solar for new construction. Talk to your builder about the possibility of adding solar early during the design process to ensure the project is optimized for solar integration. ​

Once the building plans are set and you have selected a builder, a preliminary meeting should be held with the solar installation team and your builder. This meeting helps set expectations and outlines the installation process. ​It also establishes construction site protocol and procedures for collaboration between the team. ​

Before construction begins, a design construction meeting should be held between the owner, builder, and solar installation team. This meeting identifies critical needs such as open roof space for solar panels, mechanical room space for electrical equipment, and space near the utility meter for exterior electrical equipment. ​

An Engineering Site Visit (ESV) is an essential step in the process. During a new construction project, multiple ESVs may be required. ​These visits help locate mechanical and plumbing roof vents to avoid obstructions for solar installation and prevent redundancy in tasks like trenching. ​

The type of construction can impact the needs for solar installation. From-the-ground-up builds may face challenges in obtaining interconnection (Interconnection is the process of connecting a solar energy system to the electric grid, allowing for the exchange of electricity between the system and the grid) until permanent meters are in place. Applying early for tax incentives or rebates can also be challenging due to potential delays. Accessory structures may require trenching for power delivery, and communication with the builder and installer is crucial to ensure tasks are completed in conjunction with each other. ​

Account for size and demand

The system size for solar installation on new construction is determined differently than on existing homes. For existing homes, data from the previous 12 months is used, while for new construction, the system size can be based on the home’s total square footage or the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index. ​

Accounting for added demand is important when determining system size. For example, estimating the energy usage of an electric vehicle (EV) involves considering the EV’s fuel economy and annual mileage. Adding estimated future demand to the home’s total electrical usage helps determine the right system size. Some utilities have policies for estimating future demand, and some may require owning the EV before increasing the system size. ​

Benefits of adding solar early

With the soaring cost of building a new home, it may be tempting to skip solar for now and consider adding it down the road. But new construction presents an excellent opportunity to better integrate solar into a home or accessory structure with the added benefits of cost savings, efficiency, and improved aesthetics. The cost of solar installation can be worked into the construction loan, and shared labor helps eliminate redundancy. The location, placement, and installation of solar equipment can be designed to be more appealing, including hiding conduit inside the building’s envelope and ensuring uninterrupted placement of panels. 

Alongside all of these benefits, home solar offers the dual advantage of reducing energy bills while also contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. Contact us to see how we can help integrate solar into your new construction project.

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