Solar Apartment 101- How to Install Solar Panels for Apartments

Solar on apartments

HOW TO INSTALL SOLAR PANELS FOR APARTMENT BUILDINGS

Solar energy is not only good for the environment, it’s also amazing for lowering operating costs and increasing a return on investment for apartment owners. Apartment solar has become a growing practice in green building and new project development but solar electricity also makes excellent fiscal sense on pre-existing buildings as well. Further a solar apartment or “eco-apartment” can fetch a higher rent than electric communities especially, when solar power is included in rents. When you place solar panels on your building and wire them to your apartment to provide power you can greatly reduce your and your tenants’ electricity expenses. In fact, with a carefully designed apartment solar system, you could enjoy a close-to-zero electric bill. The main question to consider in converting an apartment complex to a solar apartment is whether or not your apartment is well suited for solar power. Apartment solar recommended only for apartments in buildings:

  • With four stories or less.
  • That can distribute energy from a single Photovolataic System among multiple meters.

For buildings that are higher than four stories, installing a solar system is fine as long as the solar installers have a place to work safely from and a way to get their equipment to the top. Virtual net metering has removed the expensive barrier of installing separate PV systems for every tenant. A single system can be used to divide the energy among multiple tenants without having to physically connect the system to each tenant’s meter. It allows people to generate their own electricity, export excess electricity to the grid, and the result is having a greatly reduced electric bill if it is not zeroed out as power consumption varies from person to person. Net metering leads to lower or, in some cases, negative electricity bills without requiring you to invest in costly batteries to store excess energy because you are sending excess energy back to the grid (the utility company). By generating power on the consumption site, it reduces the strain on distribution systems and also reduces the amount of electricity lost in transmission and distribution over long distances.

APARTMENT BUILDING STRUCTURE

Whether your installing solar on apartment buildings, a business or a home, the solar panels must be securely mounted so that they can resist high winds. Most external walls and roofs are strong enough, but your solar consultant should verify it nonetheless. If you have any doubts, contact a structural engineer for more advice. Some walls, roofs and facades need specialized equipment to maintain or install solar systems. For instance, if you live in a high-rise apartment or have a steep roof, the installation will be more expensive. If the panels are easily accessible, they should be fenced for safety.

  • Waterproofing membranes – Some building walls and roofs have a waterproofing membrane. To protect your investment you should avoid penetrating the membrane when converting to a solar apartment. There are a variety of solar panel mounting systems that are specifically designed for flat roofs. If you cannot avoid membrane penetration, it should be kept to a minimum. You should also consider how a membrane would be replaced or repaired in the future. Discuss waterproofing with your solar panel installer and determine who will be responsible if there are any leaks.
  • Fire-proofing – The shared walls between apartments in strata buildings are usually rated for fire-proofing. Check with your solar contractor to see if installing a solar cable would compromise it in any way. It might be possible to lay the cable externally. If there are penetration holes, it will impact on fire safety between apartments or between common areas and apartments, the matter should be discussed with the fire services company of the building.

SOLAR APARTMENT PLANNING PERMITS

Planning permits are not usually required to install a photovoltaic system in your apartment unless the building has heritage significance and is covered by an overlay in the planning scheme of your city council. Your solar provider should verify the need for permits and make sure that the planning requirements allow for solar systems or will secure the permits needed.


TIPS ON CHOOSING A APARTMENT SOLAR INSTALLATION CONTRACTOR

Example of solar panelsOnce you are ready to move forward with installing solar on your apartment complex and have moved in to comparing contractors, make sure that they specifically have experience installing solar on multiunit buildings. Check online reviews and the BBB to make sure they have good business ratings and good reviews from past customers. You will also want to look into their time in business and warranty’s on solar panels and craftsmanship. Compare all of these factors for all solar companies you consider. Make certain the solar companies have experience with the design and installation of solar systems for apartments, specifically Virtual Net Metering, and you may even request references from their clients. Get at least three quotes and make sure that your quotes are for a system that’s the same size. Don’t forget to ask for detailed agreements and contracts and insist on seeing the warrant details before you commit. Please consider HES Solar for your solar apartment installation, if you get quotes in addition to ours, we will be happy to review them and compare and contrast panel and system efficiency as well as system design of competing bids for your benefit. We are one of the only solar companies who install solar systems for Market Rate apartment facilities and we are under review for the SunPower Intelligent award for a solar apartment system we designed and installed last year. To discover the long term return solar may have on your apartment or business operating costs schedule a complimentary energy evaluation with one of our solar consultants today.

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