In this edition of our regular blog, we thought we’d discuss a topic a bit out of left field. As a Melbourne based company currently recognised to be setting the benchmark for the neatest solar installations, we have always been at the forefront of technology, and have a very close finger on the renewables industry pulse. We have at times exercised our limited influence to try and make improvements to the industry from a standards and even regulatory perspective.
There is a particular issue that quite regularly plagues us, and I am sure many other solar companies out there. It is an issue which we believe could, and should be addressed via a simple update to existing building codes and requirements. If you are planning to build a new home yourself, we advise you to take careful head of the following…
So, what is this issue all about? Let us explain.
We quote a lot of solar systems for new builds, some under construction, and some yet to begin, and as such, we are able to work out the available and suitable roof space for solar installations based on the plans. As is commonly the case, new builds are often small double story dwellings and town houses. Many architects like to design new houses with fancy multifaceted roof lines, which can complicate any future solar installation.
Our issue is not so much with the architects designing complicated roof lines. Our issue is with builders and plumbers who do not ever seem to think that one day their clients might wish to install a solar system, and as such they do not pay any consideration to allowing for this. This is a problem that constantly plagues our industry.
Consequently, we often see solar hot water panels deliberately installed smack bang in the middle of a main north facing roof facet, when they could very easily have been installed more considerately over to the side of the roof space, or in some case either higher or lower on the roof so as to allow a row of solar panels to be installed either above or below it in future.
Solar Hot Water panels are not the only culprits. Just as often we see vents, TV antennas, evaporative air conditioners, whirlybirds and other such roof top obstructions that can prevent or complicate future solar installations, all installed without any consideration. Now, sometimes there is little flexibility with the placement of various roof top items, and if so, we will either avoid installing solar panels on surrounding shaded roof space or otherwise install optimisers or Micro inverters, but in most cases, these objects could have been installed in other areas, or otherwise installed with greater consideration paid to future solar installations, not discounting any placement due to street aesthetics.
On most occasions, we have advised our clients to instruct their builders in no uncertain terms regarding the placement of these objects. For example, we would recommend an evaporative cooler be placed on a south or east facing section of the roof, or reposition solar hot water panels to the side of the main north facing aspect, and ensuring vents and whirly birds are located closer to the top ridge line or pointing, or otherwise angled to exit on a south facing aspect. Even skylights domes/covers can usually be shifted to some degree.
We can recall many cases where our clients have advised their builders of these concerns, and yet the builders have completely disregarded their own client’s wishes and still end up dumping all these various roof top items in the worst possible place so far as future solar installations are concerned, to the point where it has made several solar installations completely unviable, especially on those smaller double story town houses with those complex roof lines.
This issue has resulted in many people being unable to install solar systems (outside of getting these items relocated), or has otherwise resulted in smaller than optimal solar systems being installed. Whilst we as a company will often relocate items like TV antennas, which is easily enough accomplished, many of these items cannot be relocated without significant added costs, and often having to involve 3rd party specialist like plumbers.
Total Solar Solutions is calling on the building industry to make some changes. We are calling on the various building and governmental regulatory bodies to step in and require builders to take heed that the homes they are building will most likely need a solar system installed at some future date. Where possible and practical, we are calling on builders to be required to ensure the primary roof areas suitable for solar are kept free of these various obstructions, or otherwise can show that they have attempted to locate these items in an unobtrusive and considerate manner.
As the Federal, state and local governments are always eager to be promoting sustainability, and clean green energy, given the various building codes and requirements already contain so many rules and regulations, it should not be too difficult to update these requirements with guidelines that prescribe where and how all the various roof top items should be located, with consideration to future solar installations, so as to enable those households to become more sustainable.
Beyond the building codes, builders and plumbers should be made to attend a training day to help shift their way of thinking in this regard, especially when the home is small and with complex roof lines with limited usable spaces for solar installations. We can all work together to ensure we don’t cause problems for other people in future, to be more considerate and thoughtful. We can change our attitudes and not encumber home owners from going green and being able to install appropriately sized solar systems now, or in the future!