When it comes to installing solar panels, not all buildings are created equal. Some roofs offer the perfect pitch, angle and exposure to sunlight, while others provide a range of challenges that require creative thinking in order to achieve a great outcome. Often a customised approach is the best solution.
The Gerringong Uniting Church is the perfect example of this. Barbara Mathie and her fellow Committee Members knew they had their work cut out when they began searching for a solar system provider to install panels for the Church. They needed a team who could work around two significant obstacles – a heritage listed building and a heavily sloped roof.
After meeting with David Levine from One Power, Ms Mathie knew she had found the right partner. “David knew the product very well and gave us only absolutely correct information. He explained thoroughly what was possible with our heritage building constraints and he cared about every detail of our job,” she says.
The Gerringong Uniting Church engaged One Power to install a Canadian KuPower 370w solar system with a Sungrow SG5K-D 1PH inverter. The installation required careful planning and more than a little out of the box thinking in order to bring the Committee’s plans to life.
“Due to our experience, we understood how to work within the heritage constraints and how to optimise the available roof space to customise a solution that delivered a great end result,” says Mr Levine.
The heritage listing status of the Church’s Nestor House building, constructed in the 1850s, meant no solar panels could be fitted to the steepest section of the roof as the panels would be visible. A clear breach of heritage rules. To combat this, One Power’s team recommended an alternative solution of splitting the installation over two buildings. Nestor House was used in conjunction with the Church Vestry building, which underwent construction of a new roof to support the full solar system installation.
This tailored approach was something most other providers did not consider. “We had another firm come to provide a quote and they decided they definitely couldn’t touch Nestor House,” says Ms Mathie. “Whereas David very carefully measured up and worked out what was possible on the least steep heritage section of the roof and how efficient those panels would be with the rest of the panels on the second building. Now we have two awesome sets of panels.”
One Power’s technical team also worked closely with the company hired to re-build the Vestry roof before the solar panels went on. This ensured the challenges posed by the steepness of the roof slope could be managed as effectively as possible. Mr Levine points to the extreme angle as requiring the most customised work by the team. At a 50-degree angle, the slope was double that typically recommended for the installation of solar panels.
Ms Mathie describes the experience as a positive one for the Church Committee from start to finish. “We found David to be completely honest, very knowledgeable and courteous. Nick and his band of installers were polite, clean and tidy, and they were there when they said they would be. They were very professional and explained everything. The admin staff were also polite and efficient and went out of their way to fit our job in so that we could utilise the roofer’s scaffolding while it was in use,” she says. “I have no hesitation in recommending One Power to anyone looking to have solar panels installed.”