Understanding the Value of Rough-Ins for Solar-Ready Homes

New construction home in Olive Ridge with solar on the roof

In This Article

Planning and designing a solar-ready home is a wise investment that can save you valuable time and money in the long run. There are many considerations during the process, and a solar rough-in is an important piece of the puzzle. Keep reading to get an overview of solar-ready homes, and how solar rough-ins play a vital role in your home's solar future.

What is a solar-ready home?

Before we jump into a solar rough-in, let’s start with the big picture; what is a solar-ready home? When we talk about a solar-ready home, what we mean is a home that is designed and constructed for future solar panel installation.

Whether the future solar installation is five weeks away or five years away, the forethought can improve the look of your home, and increase solar production significantly, saving you time and money in the long run.

How to design a solar-ready home

When designing a solar-powered roof, several factors need to be considered, such as orientation, pitch, space, and shading.

In North Carolina, the most ideal roof (like, if we could have everything perfectly how we want) for solar panels should:

  • Face South
  • Have an angle of inclination between 30° and 35°
  • Have minimal to no obstructions casting shade over the solar system
  • Enough room for solar on the roof (for a solar system with a capacity ranging from 6-8 kW, approximately 400-500 square feet of roof space is generally required)

Another consideration is to make sure mechanical obstructions, like vents and plumbing, are placed away from the solar area on the roof for aesthetics.✨

aerial view of a net-zero home with solar on a lake in North Carolina
A beautiful net-zero energy home built by our partners at McMillan Design Build

What is a solar rough-in?

A solar rough-in refers to the preparations done during the construction of a home to ensure seamless integration for solar in the future. Typically this will include installing conduit, preparing electrical panels and designating space for future equipment, like the inverter and battery storage.

Let’s explore the 3 main steps in a solar rough-in below.

Our Solar Project Manager, Jeremiah Cole, leading a solar rough-in training for new construction homes

1. Installing conduit for solar panels

During a solar rough-in, conduit installation is a crucial step in getting ready for a future solar system. This process involves placing protective tubing strategically to house the wiring that connects the solar panels, inverters, and other components to the electrical panel.

Pre-wiring guarantees an aesthetic finish, with no visible wiring. Choosing to pre-wire your home during construction is a cost-effective decision that eliminates the need to wire the home after the walls are up. Not only does this practice spruce up the look of your new home, but it also prioritizes safety by keeping any exposed cables out of sight.

We’re here to help!

Our team is happy to offer a solar rough-in service tailored to your specific system, ensuring a seamless installation of solar panels in the future. To ensure a hassle-free process, we kindly request a notice of approximately 4 weeks before insulation is installed for us to conduct the solar electrical rough-in. Let us know how we can help you!

2. Preparing electrical panels for solar

For a home to be ready for solar in the future, it’s important to assess the capacity of the electrical panel being installed. It needs to be able to handle the additional load from the future solar system. Depending on the size of the solar system and your home’s existing electrical demands, you might have to upgrade the main panel to one with a higher amperage rating.

3. Designating space for future solar equipment

The main feature we want to designate room for is the inverter – this will either be in your garage or outside. In addition, battery storage, EV chargers, and other equipment may be a consideration.

Solar team from Southern Energy Management installs the inverter outside the visitors center at Umstead state park
Solar team from Southern Energy Management installs the inverter outside the visitors center at Umstead State Park

Get a local installer involved!

At Southern Energy, our commitment is to deliver uniquely tailored solar systems that meet your specific requirements. By involving us from the very beginning, during the design phase, you can maximize the full potential of your solar system while ensuring it looks its absolute best.

Meet the Author

Lindsay Brecheisen

Always enjoying the journey 🙂 Lindsay is the conductor of content at Southern Energy Management. When she isn’t synthesizing information into a newsletter or blog — Lindsay enjoys long walks on the beach with her cat, listening to soul on vinyl, and surfing the earth or sea (depending on the season).

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