If you are considering solar for your new commercial building or home construction, we urge you to engage your solar contractor early for the design and engineering process. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve had clients who prepare a set of plans for a new building, send them to us once they are 100% complete, and are then surprised that the choices they have already made in the design and construction plans negatively impact the ability to adopt solar on the building.
In all other construction-related trades – electricians, plumbers, roofers, framers, you name it – before any estimate is provided, they require a set of construction plans to determine what the owner intends to build and what it will look like once it’s complete. You can’t get a quote from an electrician by simply providing a home’s square footage or daily power use. A homeowner can’t expect an accurate estimate of a repiping by a plumber by only providing the home’s location and number of bathrooms; an expert must come in to plot out the job as well as make a plan to contend with any challenges presented by that particular structure.
In the same vein, there are many elements that must be considered before an accurate estimate can be provided for any solar energy system. Additionally, there are numerous costs that can be mitigated if the structure is designed and built with the solar array in mind from the outset.
There’s an old proverb, “Measure twice and cut once.” It means that if you plan and prepare thoughtfully and carefully, you can save time and resources by doing things right the first time. The same holds true in solar. If you are planning new construction and expect solar to be a part of the facility at any point in the future, we strongly suggest you engage your solar contractor early on, to weigh in on the design, building orientation, roof plan, electrical plans, etc. This will ward off any potential barriers to installing solar on your new building.
To be sure, you may get pushback from architects and engineers about the need to bring in a solar expert early on but, in our experience, most architects and engineers (structural and electrical) do not have adequate knowledge to advise their clients on the various considerations related to a solar PV installation. This is not their fault as solar is still very new in the construction industry – plumbers have been plumbing for well over 1,000 years and electricians have been doing their thing for less than 150 years, but solar has only been around for about 40 years at most (and, in real volume, for only about 10 years). This means you need someone on your design team who really knows solar.
Thankfully, here at Brilliant Harvest, in addition to our installation services, we offer a full set of design services to our new and existing construction clients. These services range from simple hourly consulting arrangements to the development of a full set of construction-ready engineered plans for the desired solar and/or battery system. This allows our clients to engage us at a minimal upfront cost while ensuring that we can dedicate the time needed to fully assist in developing the best design for the project.
Learn more about solar friendly building design. And if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call – we’re always happy to discuss solar!