I think it’s fair to say that solar panels on rooftops here in Bermuda have now become a relatively common sight. Those amongst us who were convinced that their installation on our rather unique Bermuda slate rooves would result in never ending leaks and destroy the integrity of the entire roof have, by the sheer force of evidence, been proven entirely wrong. We can now be very confident that properly designed and engineered solar systems do not blow off the roof in a hurricane. In reality it is sometimes the exact opposite, where portions of the slate roof blow off but the solar panels, which are directly attached to the structural roof framing, remain stubbornly in place.
My own solar systems have now weathered 7 named hurricanes of varying intensities without the slightest hint of damage. There are also a few of you out there (you know who you are!) who have actually been saved from large holes in your roof during storms when the falling branch landed directly on the panels, saving
the roof below.
Now that we can now say that solar is becoming ‘mainstream’ in Bermuda, it’s time to start designing it into the architectural fabric of our homes when we build from new or do extensive renovations, rather than trying to graft it on after the fact. Many times we have met with clients who present us with a set of ‘final approved’ building plans while explaining they want to add solar to make the home as energy efficient as possible.
All too often, we are faced with an approved home design that may tick all of the boxes from an aesthetic standpoint but has severe limitations from a roof design perspective and greatly limits our ability to provide the most efficient or lowest cost solar system. Adequate roof space, facing the optimal direction, at a suitable pitch is fundamental to good solar design and often many, if not all, of these criteria have been overlooked in the design phase resulting in a roof that is simply not conducive to the installation of the most efficient solar system possible.
Clearly compromises will inevitably be needed to get an acceptable balance between what is aesthetically pleasing and functionally efficient but the two are by no means mutually exclusive. The earlier we bring the requirements of a solar system into the design equation the more successful and efficient will be the final outcome.