I’ve been told I can’t get solar. Is that true?

At ZapCat we often hear stories from people who have been told that they can’t get solar. An installer might have been the one to give the advice, other times it comes from a well meaning friend or family member.

If you’ve been told you can’t get solar, or it wouldn’t be worth it, then it’s important to get a second (or even third) opinion. Solar companies that provide cheap systems to large numbers of customers will often say that a more complex job can’t be done, while a high quality local installer may be happy to do it and provide you with a very effective solar system.

Here we look at the most common reasons people are told the “can’t get solar” and possible solutions. If you would like our help to explore solutions for your home book a free virtual consultation.

My roof is very small. Can I get solar?

Yes, having a small roof, such as on a townhouse or terrace, doesn’t prevent you from installing solar.

New technology means there are now compact high-efficiency solar panels that are specifically designed to maximize energy production in limited spaces. 

My roof has shade. Can I get solar?

Yes, you can still install solar panels on a shaded roof, but it requires strategic planning to optimise the system’s efficiency.

Shading can impact the amount of sunlight reaching your panels, potentially reducing energy output. However, technologies such as microinverters can mitigate this issue by allowing each panel to operate independently, reducing the overall impact of shading.

A professional solar installer can conduct a thorough site assessment to determine the best panel placement, or suggest trimming or removing obstructions where possible.

Roof with solar panels and partial shade from a nearby tree.
It is still possible to get solar even if your roof gets some shade from nearby trees (Image source: Michael Coghlan on Flickr)

My home is heritage. Can I get solar?

Probably. Heritage listing comes with its set of regulations, but it doesn’t outright ban solar installations. Many regions provide guidelines for integrating modern technologies like solar panels in a way that preserves the building’s historical integrity. Specialised solar providers have experience navigating these challenges.

In some cases there may be rules about not placing the solar panels in a way that makes them visible from the street. If that’s the case then you might need to put the solar panels in a direction that is less ideal, but that doesn’t prevent solar from being installed. Even in a less ideal spot it’s usually still possible to generate plenty of electricity to get a savings benefit.

My roof is very steep. Can I get solar?

Yes, you can install solar panels on a very steep roof. Steep roofs require special consideration regarding the installation process and equipment, but they are not a barrier to solar panel installation.

My roof has windows or skylights. Can I get solar?

Yes, you can still get solar if your roof has windows or skylights. The presence of these features does require careful planning and design to optimise the available space for solar panel installation.

Professional solar installers can evaluate your roof’s layout and determine the best configuration to maximise solar energy production while accommodating skylights or windows. They might use smaller, high-efficiency panels or customise the arrangement to work around these obstacles.

My roof faces the wrong way. Can I get solar?

Yes, you can still install solar panels even if your roof doesn’t face the ideal direction. Panels installed on roofs facing east or west can still produce a significant amount of energy, even though north-facing roofs get the most sunlight. Advances in technology mean there are now even more efficient solar panels available to make the most of the available light.

My electricity metre is located in an underground carpark. Can I get solar?

The placement of your electricity metre, particularly in complex housing situations, can complicate grid connection. However, a good quality solar installer will be able to investigate all options to connect the panels. Options include:

  • Looking for existing conduits for cables that are often put in when a building is constructed to make future cabling easier.
  • Running the wiring through existing but unused conduits (such as old Foxtel lines).
  • Using microinverters that allow the cabling to go inside your home and connect to a switchboard inside, rather than going all the way to the metre.

My building is very tall (3 or more stories). Can I get solar?

Yes, you can install solar panels on a building that is very tall. While the installation process may require additional safety measures due to the height, it’s entirely feasible with the right planning and expertise.

I live in a townhouse or apartment with strata. Can I get solar?

Yes, you can get solar if you live in an apartment or townhouse with strata. Read our guide to getting solar for apartments.

Conclusion

Advancements in technology now mean that most people can get solar. If you’ve been told that you can’t get solar it’s important to get a second opinion from a quality installer.

Need help getting home solar?

We’re a social enterprise helping Australians transition their home to clean energy. Book a free virtual consultation and we’ll help you make a plan, find quality installers, and get it done.