Friday, 21 June 2013

Wrong on Many Levels

The solarblogger is Concerned For You

While out and about near Cambridge, I passed a building site and snapped this photo. 

Discretion is my middle name

I guess I was planning to rant on my blog about one or all of the following (take your pick):

  • The box-ticking mentality that results in house builders giving their customers a 0.5kWp solar photovoltaic system – something that no one would ever buy for their own home (see my earlier blog Specifying Solar for New Build Houses)

  • Why the designers didn’t choose one of the many low-profile roof integrated solar options that would have been so very easy to do as a new roof was going on anyway.

It was only when I downloaded the photo and reviewed it on a larger screen, that I realised what I’d inadvertently caught.

Did you see that in the background?  If the guy working on the roof between the solar panels slips, they’re both coming down.

Can you see what it is yet?

I’m guessing what we’re looking at here is the result of having to install to a price. In new build, the panels are often fixed in place by the roofing contractor and you can’t complete the electrical installation until there’s mains power in the house (which normally means long after the scaffolding has gone). Repeat visits to site are costly, better to do it all in one trip than to make the electrical connections to the panels when the scaffold is up.  Must be really tempting to just nip up there on a ladder and get it done.

Is there a better way?  Well, one option is to roof-integrate the solar panels at the same time the roof covering is going on, pass the electrical connections from each panel through into the roof space and the whole system can be connected up from inside the building.

Perhaps you think I'm worrying unnecessarily for the welfare of my solar colleagues?  Is this 'elf and safety gone mad?  If the ladder was tied on, would that make it OK? Please post your thoughts in the comments box below...

Note Added: 22/07/2013

People have started to send me photos of their own - I have started an image set on Flickr here.  Please keep 'em coming!


  1. Nice on Stuart.

    The mass market construction industry are wedded to the past in so many ways. Their thinking and approach could best be described as nenderthal.

    It is not just the 'how do we build to minimum standards' as cheaply as possible, but also 'lets keep building the same way we always have'.

    This will come back and bite them on the bum. Consumers are already showing preference for more energy efficient homes. As fuel prices inexorably increase (my money is on 20% this winter), the market will start to differentiate in terms of value between energy efficient houses and those that are expensive to run. If you own a home with a 'solar roof' it is going to be worth a whole lot more. Why not design new building and developments to take advantage? The secret is in the word minimum. It should be maximum and best. The incremental cost of such an approach is where minimum should be found.

    Build a house using a completely different methodology, and there may be little cost implication.

    My recent experience of architects in these matters has been depressing to say the least. It appears after they have made a pretty drawing, the real work is the job of someone else.

    The sooner consumers vote with their wallets the better.

    As for H&E, God help them!

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  3. Thank you for the helpful post about this West Palm Beach Roof Repairs topic. I found your blog with Google and I will start following. Hope to see new blogs soon.

  4. One thing i saw on this article is the roof looks like it was really cool design and very strong. This is similar to the company where i can suggest one of the leading roofing services