Australia is moving quickly towards widespread renewable energy generation, with some states now generating the majority of their power from renewable sources like solar. PV (photovoltaic) systems are installed on homes all over Victoria, and in the Mansfield region we’ve got a whole lot of sheds in wide open sunny spaces – so can sheds take solar panels too?
They sure can, as long as they are engineered correctly.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know before you mount solar panels on your farm shed.
In this Article:
Preparing Your Shed Solar Panels
Although they are relatively lightweight, shed solar panels definitely add weight and pressure to steel buildings, meaning the structure needs to be specifically engineered to handle this extra weight.
Buffalo Built Managing Director, Ross Barker, says it’s important for your shed designer to know the intended use of the shed and whether solar panels are required to ensure it is engineered in the right way.
“When customers are quoting their new shed with Buffalo Built we always ask about their future plans for the shed. One option that is becoming increasingly popular is the installation of solar panels on sheds in both rural and residential settings,” says Ross.
Ross advises customers to include their electrician and solar designer in early design discussions to ensure all needs are met and make sure any potential issues are ironed out early.
Steve Crawford from Crawford Electrical and Solar at Tarrawingee agrees that transparency between all parties involved is the way to go.
Steve’s Tips for Installing Shed Solar Panels
1. Make sure your shed is strong enough to hold solar panels
Steve says sheds should have a maximum space between rafters of 1200mm to cater for the weight of the panels. The initial engineering of the building is important too, ensuring any structural members, purlins and roof profiles are appropriate for supporting solar panels.
Along with being strong enough, you’ll want to ensure your roof is big enough to handle your planned solar system. When calculating how many solar panels may fit on your roof, remember that there must be a 200mm clearance from all edges of the roof.
2. Face your shed the right way for maximum solar exposure
“If it’s for a business like a dairy, for example, you get a bigger solar window by getting an east and west array, so you build your shed north-south,” Steve says.
“If you’re just building a house, then generally north is the direction you want your panels facing, so your farm shed is running the other way.”
“You can have all three if you like, but generally no one puts any on the south side.”
Steve notes that north-facing panels mainly produced energy in the middle of the day, but the east-west panels gave customers a few extra hours at each end of the day.
3. Locate your shed solar controls and batteries in the right spot
To do this he recommends creating a dedicated room in the shed to house it all, especially if you’re looking at any energy storage down the track.
“For an elaborate set-up with batteries we can normally get it on a wall that’s three metres wide at most (or half that if you don’t have batteries) at normal ceiling height,” he says.
“The space should be at least 1200mm off the wall to account for the equipment and getting clearance to get in and open things up.”
4. Plan ahead for electrical cabling requirements
Steve says that the installation of shed solar panels requires different cabling than may otherwise be prepared for general electrics for a shed. It’s worth inviting your solar designer to do a planning session and site inspection to save you time and money down the track.
“If you’re building a shed and there’s already power on the site then your cabling and connections are really important when it comes to solar,” Steve says.
“The shed might be built by the shed company and then the electrician comes along and then the solar person says the cable isn’t big enough underground – we want to avoid this.”
Buffalo Built Sheds in Wangaratta and Mansfield
The Buffalo Built team is here to support the North East Victorian community with high quality, tough farm sheds, garages, carports, barns, farm buildings and more. Contact us to find out how we can help with your project.