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House Build Off the Bike

Put Solar on it

For a second we didn’t think we would put solar panels on our new home’s roof. We had forgotten about doing the same thing on our home in Phoenix over 10 years ago. We had forgotten about living off grid in our trailer for 6 years and we had forgotten about putting solar on our cabin just a few months ago.

It was a lot of forgetting, and it was because we were overwhelmed with everything else that goes into building a house. Now that we have gotten 80% or more into the design stage, we have been able to think about more than just walls and a roof.

Before I had forgotten about solar for the house I did have Arizona Wind and Solar build a proposal for a grid tie and off grid systems. The off grid is over $25k with lots of batteries. The issue is that we would not be able to run a dryer or hot tub, and eventually charge an electric vehicle (I want a Cybertruck).

Grid tie just makes more sense at this point. We are still budget conscious and probably will be the rest of out lives. Even though we will pay a lot to have a transformer brought back 800 feet by the power company it will give us the ability to setup shop. With grid tie solar we will put up enough panels to cover our usage but the grid will handle the Amps.

The grid tie solution from AZ wind and solar is just under $10k for the equipment. The question is do I want to put the rock system on the roof and run the wires to the disconnect? If I do all of that I will save myself about $9k based on the proposals I have gotten from solar installers. That seems worth it. I just need to learn more about solar racks.

One of the major players in solar racks in the USA is IronRidge. They have been doing it for a while and their systems are very strong. In southwest Colorado we have wind and snow load that can either rip a system off the roof or crush it.

IronRidge has a very well done design system on their website. You give it location and it looks up the data for the area: solar exposure, wind, snow load, etc. Then you tell it about your roof and the solar panel array you plan on setting up. From there it gives you some product options and spacing parameters. Then it builds the system and even gives you documentation if you need to pass an inspection.

There is another roof mounting option for metal roofs that I am considering by S-5. With their system you have attachment points to the roof and then the solar panels mount directly to the roof attachment. There is no racking involved. This system is much more simple to install and cheaper because there is a lot less material involved. My concern with S-5 is overall strength of the system.

I may end up using the S-5 roof mounts to connect to our metal roof but then use IronRidge’s racking system to mount the panels. This will give us a really strong setup that is well bonded to the roof itself. Apparently there is more than 1 way to mount solar panels to a roof.

Solar electricity is really high tech stuff, but installing it and using it is boring. I say this to help people become more comfortable with the idea of installing it themselves. From talking with various solar installation companies they are roofing contractors with either an electrician running the company or they hire one to handle all of that. It is complicated but seems easier than painting to be honest.

My recommendation is to handle the mechanical installation yourself. Then hire an electrician to do the final connection and help get inspected. You will save a load of money and probably do a better job of installing everything.

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