Solar power has yet to reach its full potential. The highest efficiency panels only convert about 23 percent of the sun's energy into electricity, and the more common ones average 15 to 18 percent.
Still, solar energy generated 60 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2018. It is even possible to install enough solar panels and batteries to power a home entirely with solar power. The technology is improving all the time and associated costs are shrinking. That’s why solar ready homes—homes that are built ready for a solar system to be installed—may be the ideal choice.
Why Choose a Solar Ready Home?
It’s no secret that the world needs to break its addiction to carbon and pollutant releasing fossil fuels, and a home solar system is a step in the right direction. A solar power setup lets you keep at least a few critical home appliances powered during an outage. For instance, Pacific Gas and Electric shut off power to help prevent an outbreak of wildfires. These measures are expected to continue when fire outbreaks seem likely, so having a solar system could be a big help in this situation.
Outside of power outages, even a small solar setup offers significant savings on a home’s electricity and can pay for itself in as little as seven years. It is also possible, if expensive, to power a home entirely using solar energy.
The true advantage of solar ready homes, though, is their flexibility. At present, the cost-effectiveness of a solar system depends on the location, various government programs, and local utility programs. Depending on these factors, it may or may not be cost-effective for a homeowner to set up a solar system. A solar ready home, though, can receive a solar system when the time is right. That means you could wait until the technology has improved or for tax incentives and programs that help offset the costs. Solar ready homes give owners the flexibility to install a solar power system when it makes sense for them.
What Goes into a Solar Power System?
A solar system is more than some flat panels anchored to a roof or screwed to a frame in the yard. A home solar system is essentially a miniaturized energy grid functioning at the local level. At a bare minimum, a home solar system needs to include photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, fuse boxes to protect against power surges, and an inverter to convert direct current into the alternating current home appliances use. All these components need to be connected into a circuit, tied into the home’s existing circuits, then integrated into the circuit system that makes up the utility grid as a whole.
If you want a home that remains powered when the grid is offline, then it becomes slightly more complicated. You need a battery bank for a home to be powered by solar energy without the utility grid. If a home doesn’t have a battery bank, a power outage affects it no matter how much electricity it is producing. If you have a battery bank, you will also need a solar charge controller to prevent overcharging that could shorten the life of the battery. As such, solar ready homes require a high-level design that makes it easy to install the required components.
What Makes a Home Solar Ready?
A solar ready home is built with all the conduits needed to wire the different components together already in place. The connection points for this wiring may also be part of the home’s existing electrical system. The electrical panel is ready for the connection, so installing a solar system is a simple matter of pulling wiring through the conduits, plugging them in, and tightening a few screws. A solar ready home can be fully wired and operational in as little as a day.
Installing a solar system in homes that aren’t solar ready takes significantly longer. There are no established routes for the wiring, so one will need to be made—and that is time-consuming. If you want a battery bank, there may be no designated place ready. Installing the system can range from a hassle to a significant home remodel. It can mean living with conduits running on exposed walls and a battery bank in an awkward place. It can mean serious modifications to a home, with drywall torn out and layouts changed to make room for the battery bank. A lot depends on the layout of the house and most current homes weren’t built with solar in mind.
The wide deployment of solar power for homes is relatively new. That means that solar ready homes are newly built homes, and even the majority of new home construction cannot be termed solar ready. Therefore, constructing a solar ready home means contracting a home designer to draw up plans for one or working with a company that specializes in building solar ready homes.
How do I Find a Solar Ready Home Builder?
Recently, prefabricated modular homes have gained popularity, and for good reason. A prefabricated home is constructed in a factory, then assembled and inspected on-site. With the individual modules being built in the controlled conditions of a factory, it allows the home design to accommodate unique systems, such as:
- Whole house water filtration
- Air purification systems
- An airtight building envelope
- Ultra-efficient systems
The conduits needed to connect solar panels to the electrical panel and from the electrical panel to the battery bank are already in the walls. In some modular homes, the installed electrical panels already have the connection points for the wiring that runs between the parts of the solar system. Hooking up the solar system is quick and easy. The most difficult part is carrying the solar panels to the roof, cutting trenches to run cables from the yard to the home, and—if you want a battery system—putting the batteries in their allotted place. This is far easier than installing a solar system in a traditional home.
One prefab home builder that specializes in solar ready homes is California-based Dvele. Their homes are built to make solar systems “plug and play.” It’s even possible to install solar panels in the morning, batteries in the afternoon, and enjoy solar energy offsets in the early evening—all in one day. Dvele also designs its homes to be far better insulated than traditional homes. The home itself serves as an efficient thermal battery, helping you make the most efficient use of the solar energy the system collects. And since these are solar ready homes, you can install the technology you want when you want it.
Dvele is building the high-end prefab homes of the future today. Dvele homes are solar ready homes with energy-efficient insulation and air seals that help the home maintain an even temperature throughout the day and night. Contact us to start building your Dvele prefab home.