Planning a solar home: should you build or buy?

Whether you’re building or buying, understanding the what and why of solar is important in defining just how sustainable your next investment could be.

At a time when you might be consolidating costs in a new mortgage, investing a little extra in the design, layout or quality of your solar energy solution could be just what you need to set yourself up for a future of renewable energy.

So, if you’re buying or building, here’s what you need to know.

Here's what you need to know when going solar

1. Building

Future proof it

The future of the connected home is one where energy sits at the core of the house – powering the water heater as well as the car, home battery and everything in between.

When chatting to your builder and architect, ensure that (in addition to your house being set up to make the most of solar panels), you leave space for energy storage in your garage and an area where your future electric vehicle charger could potentially be housed.

Passive design

Houses are given energy ratings in the same way that home appliances are. If you opt for building, many home designs are architecturally designed to offer passive energy conservation and production, and its efficiency is reflected in a star rating.

In addition, the Australian Government has introduced basic energy efficiency requirements for all newly built homes. In these homes, passive design planning looks at measures to reduce cooling and heating, ducting, insulation and ventilation requirements.

Outside of this, systems that store rainwater for recycling, produce solar hot water or provide solar energy production are all great additions in planning a sustainable home.

Build your ideal solar home

2. Buying

The type of house matters

The type of house you buy and its location have implications on your potential to make the most of solar. For example, townhouses and apartment blocks are not always solar friendly. So, while your intentions are good, the reality might not work out for you. And if you do buy in a unit block or similar, ensure there are no body corporate restrictions on what you place on your roof.

Check your positioning

While high rises may offer energy connections from renewable sources, if it’s real solar you’re after, ensure the house of your dreams offers angled roofing that faces north (get a solar expert involved to advise on its full solar potential) and there aren’t trees or buildings casting a shadow across the roof during the day.

Ask an expert

As with many things in life, expert opinion can be the difference between a passable result and a brilliant one. Ensuring you consult with someone who understands solar can go a long way to ensuring you’re getting a solution that’ll work in the years to come.

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to going solar. But thankfully, installing a solar system doesn’t need to be difficult.