Solar Guide

There are many factors to consider when choosing solar for your business or residence. This guide is designed to help you understand those factors, as well as the process of installing solar in Shaker Heights.

For any questions, please contact the Building Department at 491-1460 with questions about building codes and permits and the Planning Department at 491-1430 with questions about the design review process.

  1. FIRST STEPS
  2. Get Quotes
  3. Installation
  4. Understand the Rules

Solar is a significant investment and there are less expensive ways to reduce your overall energy consumption. As a first step, invest in a home-energy audit. The audit will show you where your home or business is losing energy and what you can do to save money. These fixes alone may help you meet your goals. And if you do decide to move forward with solar, these fixes will help ensure you get the most out of your investment.

Architectural Board of Review

Any new construction, addition, or alteration that changes the exterior appearance of a building must be approved by the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) — and that includes solar panels.

The ABR has been receptive to solar panels and has worked with installers and homeowners to make sure their installations do not detract from the architectural quality of their house. The ABR has developed some precedents when reviewing solar panels, including the following:

  • The ABR prefers residents not place panels on the front of the house.
  • The ABR prefers black solar panels and supporting structures.
  • Panels should be flat to level with the roof and about six inches off the roof.
  • Regular pattern on the roof when available.
  • Electrical panels and converters located in an unobtrusive location, like the back of the house.
  • Lines are run inside the house — or, if outside they are enclosed inside a conduit that matches the house color and placed in an obtrusive area.

Check Your Roof

If you do decide to move ahead with solar, an important first step is to evaluate your roof. Most roof structures can accommodate a solar system, but some are better than others. There are a few factors to consider:

  • Age - Depending on the age of the roof, it may make sense to replace it before installing solar.
  • Angle - South-facing roofs are considered optimal for solar installations because they tend to get the most sun. Southwest-facing roofs are also good candidates; southeast facing roofs can also work. North-facing roofs present challenges, but may still be included as part of a multi-panel array.
  • Roof accessibility - Panels should be installed where home and business owners can easily remove debris and/or snow in order to maximize energy production.
  • Shade conditions - The roof should get no-to-little shade. Shade on even a portion of one panel can reduce the electrical output of an entire string of panels. Consider the trees on your property, including whether they are still growing and the amount of shade they create in different seasons.