Give Good Advice

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Photo courtesy of Alternative Energy Southeast
ARE THERE ANY REASONS TO PASS ON SOLAR?

The answer here is yes. There are several reasons that would make adding solar to a project less than ideal. All of them should be considered before making any decisions.

For most of the state, the only site considerations would be tall, mature trees or large nearby structures that could obstruct a clear view of the sun. Areas to the northern part of the state with hills or mountains may not be ideal if the southern or western sky is obstructed.

A new solar installation might not be a good fit for those who plan to move within a few years. Due to the long term nature of solar investment, those not looking to retain a property for the long term will probably not fully realize all the benefits.

For some, the upfront costs might just be too high to be appealing. If the expenditure seems daunting now, it’s ok to wait. The prices for equipment are expected to continue to drop while the quality improves over the coming years. This means patience can be a virtue if a customer doesn’t feel ready for the investment presently.

ADVICE FROM AN EXPERT

A client may not always know the right questions to ask. This doesn’t mean you can’t still give them good advice. For that reason, we spoke to Montana Busch, master electrician specializing in solar and founder of Alternative Energy Southeast in Athens. His experience and certifications are too long to list here, but can be found on the AES website, altenergyse.com.We asked Mr. Busch for any additional tips about modern residential solar that builders should know to provide the biggest benefit for their customers. Here are a few of his suggestions:

••For renovations, it can be cost effective to consider rooftop solar when getting a new roof or just before. Once the panels are installed, they would need to be removed if a new roof were to be installed later. Any shingles under the cover of solar panels will gain a great deal of protection and last longer as well.

••For both new construction and renovations, another idea to consider is installing the panels somewhere other than a home’s roof. Garages, outbuildings or barns can be great options. Ground mounting is also available in most cases although it will increase the cost. For projects that involve multiple homes, combining solar panels with a communal parking structure is extremely practical and can add a modern appeal without changing the appearance of the homes themselves.

••In new construction projects, Mr. Busch pointed out that some decisions will be made before the final homeowner is involved. A few of the best contributions possible will be in making preparations for solar to be added later.

••Providing unobstructed southern and/or western roof exposure is a basic step to consider at the very beginning phase of new construction that will allow a system to function as efficiently as possible.

••A forward thinking builder could make sure that the wiring is prepared to have solar integrated later and market these homes as “solar ready” This may make an excellent perk to a prospective home buyer. Technology that commonly accompanies solar power, like energy storing batteries and chargers for electric vehicles, is becoming more prevalent in modern home construction, so make sure the wiring is ready to incorporate them as well.

••It’s a great idea to prepare a project for solar installation, but don’t install a whole system assuming the customer will want it later. The federal tax credit on solar panels will only go to the end consumer, so a builder will not be able to benefit by covering the costs themselves, even with the intent of passing the savings on later.