Most off-grid installations and substantial system upgrades are arranged and completed directly with homeowners. But some projects require that the installer work through a general contractor, who is responsible for planning and executing the entire building project, including hiring, coordinating, and scheduling subcontractors.
Typically, each subcontractor completes one aspect of the job with little coordination with other subcontractors—and little understanding of specific off-grid efficiency needs. The result often is that each system—heating, appliances, AC wiring, etc.—works well but the home wastes a fair amount of electricity.
If you’ve hired a general contractor to coordinate your building project, insist that your RE installer remain involved from the onset of the design process, and encourage collaboration among the various subcontractors—especially those involved with the electrical, lighting, water pumping, and heating.
Key systems, such as lighting and heating, should be designed as a team of contractor, subcontractors, and PV system designer. The PV designer reviews nearly all of the design decisions and appliance selections for compatibility with the finite energy available. He or she will also make sure the array will be installed in a location to maintain its solar access.