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Solar Conduit On Roof: What You Need To Know

While solar panels do, indeed, save you tons of money over their lifespans, there are also safety and aesthetic concerns that might discourage you from making the switch. One of the many great solutions, though, is a well-planned solar conduit system, whether that be on or in your roof.

In a nutshell, solar conduits address the security of your system’s cables and your home’s roof, as well as the overall look of your solar panel system.

That being said, this article is all about solar conduits. Below is a list of all the topics I’m covering. Feel free to tap on any of the bullets if you want to skip sections. But, otherwise, I recommend reading from the top.

What is a solar conduit?

A solar conduit is, well, a conduit used in the installation of any solar array. The question, really, is what a conduit is, and it’s a protective casing that also acts as a route for cables to pass through.

Specifically for your solar installation, your installer might opt to use either of the following materials:

  • PVC conduit: It’s one of the most commonly used types because it’s affordable, resistant to corrosion, and offers excellent insulation. They’re generally used indoors to prevent UV degradation.
  • Metallic conduit: This can either be galvanized steel or aluminum, depending on the needs of the installation. Both materials are fire-resistant and durable, making them more often used for outdoor applications.
  • Flexible conduits: They are made from either flexible metal or PVC. They’re used in installations where space is tight or when cables need to bend around obstacles.

Also, your installer might use a combination of these materials, depending on what’s required for your specific installation. Their choice will also need to comply with Australian Standards, or what electricians call “wiring rules” (AS/NZS 3000).

This is where a CEC-accredited solar installer comes in. They know all about these standards. Heck, they even make you eligible for rebates! On that note, we have a network of pre-vetted installers that are ready to give you 3 FREE quotes right away. Just say the word.

Circling back to the conduit topic…

“A conduit protects against what, exactly?”

Good question. Depending on how and where they’re used, a conduit protects against environmental damage, interference, and other safety hazards that not only harm your solar panels and other components but also your own home.

I mean, you’d be surprised by how many homes with solar panels we’ve seen with wires chewed up by wildlife because their conduits were either shoddy or non-existent.

Get 3 Solar Quotes From Quality Local Installers.

“When you said conduits were a route for cables to pass through, what did you mean?”

Again, a good question, because a solar system isn’t just made of solar modules. Other components, such as inverters and batteries, are part of it, too. Cables connect them all to each other, ensuring that your entire system runs as it should.

In a nutshell, cables connect:

  • Solar panels to each other, otherwise known as a solar array.
  • PV array to the inverter
  • Inverter to the breaker box
  • Breaker box to the electricity grid

If your system includes a solar battery, you’ll have cables connecting your system to that, too.

Now, depending on your installation, these cables and the conduits that protect them will either be on your roof or inside your home. There are pros and cons to each, so let’s talk about them.

Solar conduit on the roof

Conduits on your roof, along with solar modules, can be maddeningly ugly, particularly when they’re not done well or are excessive. It looks like a toddler’s plate after they’re done “eating” spaghetti. Messy and downright unappealing.

Stress on “when they’re not done well or are excessive,” though, because a well-planned installation can also be a thing of beauty and efficiency.

When you run conduit on top of your roof, you also minimize roof penetrations. Thus safeguarding the integrity of your entire home. Not to mention, this also reduces the length of cable required, which, in turn, reduces the cost of installing your system.

Again, planning is key here. Also, less is more. So speak with a CEC-accredited installer, ask for a 3D representation of the installation when it’s available, and make sure you like what you’re seeing before you commit to anything.

Solar conduit in the roof

Solar conduit that runs inside the roof actually just means inside the home rather than on top of the roof or anywhere else outside. There are two overall reasons why I recommend this over on-the-roof installations:

  • Stealth mode: First up, aesthetics. Let’s face it, not everyone wants to see the workings of their solar setup every time they pull into the driveway. By running the conduit through the roof, you keep things looking neat and tidy, maintaining the sleek look of your home without any visible cables or conduits cluttering up the view.
  • Protected from the elements: Another big win is protection. When your solar wiring is snug inside the roof, it’s shielded from harsh weather, scorching sunrays, and any other environmental wear and tear that could lead to damage over time. This means a potentially longer life for your cables, less maintenance, and fewer headaches.

That said, safety measures and proper installation are still key, regardless of whether conduits are on or in the roof.

And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, please consult with a CEC-accredited professional. Doing so makes sure that roof penetrations are done properly and that all cables carrying high-voltage electricity are safely tucked away.

Get 3 Solar Quotes From Quality Local Installers.

On the roof or In the roof? Which one’s better?

Let’s discuss options. So we have those who want to place the conduits in the roof and others who want them on the roof. But really, which is best for you? Both have their upsides and downsides; take into account all you can gain from these pieces of information and find out what might work best for you.

On the roof

Pros:

  • Easy peasy: Installation is usually straightforward. There’s less drilling and navigating through attic spaces, making it a simpler process for many installers.
  • Generally cheaper: Because it’s a more straightforward process, costs tend to be lower, too.

Cons:

  • Aesthetic adventures: Not everyone’s thrilled about seeing conduits snaking across their rooftops. It can be a bit of an eyesore if not done neatly.
  • Elemental exposure: Up there, your conduits face everything Mother Nature throws at them, from blazing heat to torrential rains, which could lead to wear and tear over time.

In the roof

Pros:

  • Sleek and chic: Keeping conduits in the roof means they’re out of sight, maintaining the aesthetic appeal of your home. It’s like the solar panel version of hidden wiring in a well-designed living room.
  • Sheltered and safe: Sheltered from the storm and other elements and potential wildlife interference, these conduits are less likely to suffer from environmental damage, possibly extending their lifespan.

Cons:

  • Installation intricacies: Tucking a conduit run inside the roof can get complicated, requiring more time, effort, and sometimes even a bit more dough.
  • Maintenance meanders: If issues arise, accessing conduits hidden within the roof can be more challenging, potentially making repairs a bit of a hassle.

Conclusion

To wrap things up, solar panels with its conduit run on your roof can be, in fact, a great option. That is, if it’s done tastefully. Just a bit of conduit protecting your cable from the elements goes a long, long way, as too much of it also looks like a disaster.

On the contrary, having heavy-duty conduit run inside your roof or attic is also a good choice. It’s more aesthetically pleasing, and it offers better protection for every cable on your system. The caveat is that it’s also a bit more expensive and complicated.

Remember to communicate with your installer so you find a balance that works for you and passes Australia’s standards. Now, if you don’t have an installer yet, we have a pre-vetted network of them ready to give you 3 FREE quotes right away.