How to Make a House ‘Solar Ready’

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The following tasks should be completed to make a home “solar ready”.  By completing these tasks, home builders can simplify the installation of the solar system and reduce the cost. These tasks may vary according to location due to building codes, utility requirements, and solar installer preferences. 

overview image of solar panels on house.

Reserved roof space oriented for solar panels

A minimum of 240 square feet (for a 4kW solar system) of unobstructed and unshaded roof space must be reserved for future placement of solar panels, and the area must be marked on the plan set or roof diagram as the ‘Solar Roof Area’. This roof space generally needs to be oriented between the southwest to the southeast to maximize solar exposure. Due south is the optimal solar orientation.  Reserve roof space early when it is easier to locate roof penetrations to the roof edges or to the non-solar roof plane.

Preinstalled conduit

The installation of a 3/4-inch or greater non-flexible metal conduit allows for a future solar trade installer to fish the system’s electrical wiring from the attic to the electrical panel more easily. Additional conduit should be run from the main breaker box to the exterior electric meter area for installing the solar system’s AC disconnect.  If the conduit is not installed during the electrical rough in, conduit can be installed on the exterior of the home.  If planned during the design phase, the installation is inexpensive, easy and efficient.

Reserved space adjacent to the electric meter

Solar electric systems require additional equipment – such as a string inverter or a combiner box – that will be mounted on the outside of the home next to the electric meter (in addition to the AC disconnect). To prepare in advance for this equipment, it is recommended to reserve a 48-inch by 48-inch unobstructed wall area next to the electric meter (on the outside of the home), as dictated by the solar system design. 

Electrical equipment in a home ready for solar panels.

Reserved electrical panel space

photo of home's circuit box with solar installed.

Finally, the electrical panel must be sized accordingly to accommodate a minimum 40-amp double pole breaker on the opposite end of the panel from the main service feeder. When the verifier inspects the home they will install labels on the electrical panel to show that the home is ready for solar!