Solar ready checklist

| by Heather Ferrier Laminack
Solar ready checklist

Considering the upfront cost of solar, many new homes offered by high-performance builders are designed so that homeowners can add solar arrays years down the road. In light of this, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed a set of Renewable Energy Ready Homes (RERH) specifications to educate the builders & individuals on how to assess and equip new homes with a set of features that make it easier and less expensive for homeowners to install solar energy systems after the home is constructed.

The RERH specifications and checklist guides you through the necessary steps of assessing the home's solar resource potential and outfitting a home with the necessary minimum structural and system components needed to support a complete renewable energy system.

Here is an overview of the EPA's advice:

Site Assessment

  • Designate a proposed array location & square footage on the architectural diagram
  • Identify orientation & inclination of proposed array location
  • Conduct a shading study documenting impacts on proposed array location
  • Assess if proposed array location supports a solar resource potential of more than 75% of the optimal solar resource potential for the same location using the online RERH Solar Site Assessment Tool (SSAT)

Structural & Safety Considerations

  • Provide code-compliant documentation of the maximum allowable dead load and live load ratings of the existing roof
  • Install permanent roof anchor fall safety systems, if necessitated by roof pitch

Renewable Energy Ready Home Infrastructure

  • Install & label 4'x4' plywood panel area for mounting an inverter and balance of system components
  • Install a 1" metal conduit for the DC wire run from the designated array location to the designated inverter location (cap and label both ends)
  • Install & label a 70-amp dual-pole circuit breaker in the electrical service panel for use by the PV system (label the service panel)
  • Provide architectural drawing and riser diagram of RERH solar PV system components

Homeowner Education

  • Record electric utility service provider's contact information
  • Provide homeowners with a copy of the checklist and all of the following:
  • Copy of the Renewable Energy Ready Home specification guide
  • Fully completed RERH checklist
  • Architectural drawings detailing proposed array location & square footage
  • Electrical drawings and riser diagram of RERH PV system components that detail the dedicated location for the mounting of the balance components
  • Shading study with percent monthly or adjusted annual shading impact(s)
  • Site assessment record generated by the online RERH SSAT indicating that the proposed site meets a minimum solar resource potential of 75% of optimal
  • Code-compliant documentation of the maximum allowable dead & live load ratings of the roof

Builder Best Practices (optional)

  • Develop a detailed landscape plan with a clear emphasis on low-growth vegetation
  • Place roof penetrations above or north of the proposed array to prevent casting shadows on the array location

For more information, visit the EPA's Renewable Energy Ready Homes website.

Heather Ferrier Laminack
Representing the fourth generation of the Ferrier Companies, Heather Ferrier Laminack functions as the marketing manager for Texas-based green home builder Ferrier Custom Homes, utilizing her passion for sustainable building practices and her first-hand experience of green building techniques. View Heather Ferrier Laminack's profile on LinkedIn

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