Solar Panel Installation: Five Main Steps
There are five major steps to a solar installation that your chosen solar company will generally follow:
Its always good to start with a broad overview when learning how to install solar panels. Start out by watching EnergySages time-lapse video, Solar Installation in Less Than a Minute , which shows one of EnergySages pre-screened solar installers assemble a 6.7 kilowatt solar energy system on a home in Newton, Massachusetts. The happy homeowners now save $2,250 on their electricity bills every year thanks to their new solar panels and will break even on their investment in just five years.
Things To Consider When Building A Solar
In the last 10 years, homes with rooftop solar arrays have gone from curiosity to commonplace. It’s a trend perhaps best exemplified by Home Depot’s decision to start stocking solar panels in 2001 .
The technology has been available for decades — NASA has been using solar-powered satellites since the 1960s, and as far back as World War II, passive solar heating systems have been used in U.S. homes .
Getting active solar systems in the mainstream residential market has proved a challenge, though. Active solar power uses arrays of photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity, and it has traditionally been a prohibitively expensive technology.
The benefits of residential solar power are obvious: Energy from the sun is endless it provides clean energy with no greenhouse-gas emissions and it can save people money on their electric bills . But there are factors to consider when deciding whether solar power would be a good choice for you — and cost is only one of them.
In this article, we’ll look at five of the most important issues to address when you’re thinking about investing in a residential solar-power setup. Using photovoltaic energy is a very green and potentially rewarding move, but it’s not quite as straightforward as getting your power from the established electrical grid.
The first consideration is one you may not have thought of: Do you have to do anything to the solar panels once they’re up there on your roof?
Why Should You Power Your Computer With Solar Energy
If you want to be able to use your computer as much as you like without negatively impacting the environment, solar energy is your best choice, aside from maybe wind energy.
The advantages of running your own solar powered computer:
- Reduced energy costs
For more on setting up a solar system in your home, see our guide to building your own DIY solar system.
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How Many Watts Do You Use
When looking at your utility bill, you should be able to see kilowatt-hours . KWH for homes can vary greatly depending on location. A home in the south is more likely to draw massive amounts of energy from air conditioner units.
Finding the average daily energy usage will help you calculate your solar needs. Once you have your usage you can look at how much wattage youll need to be able to run everything.
How Much Energy Does Your Home Consume
Now that youve weighed your choices, the next move is to determine how much electricity you would require after installing a solar plant at your home. Calculate the following with the help of our simple DIY calculation guide:
Estimate how much electricity the solar panel for house needs to generate with the help of an energy audit. Energy audits, in general, helps you to:
- Reduce your monthly energy bill by doing away with excessive use
- Meet a crucial condition for some tax credits, rebates, and loans
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How To Estimate The Roi Of A Solar System For A Small House
To determine the ROI of a solar system for your house, it is best to compare costs and savings with an estimate of how long you will use electricity from the grid.
The cost of a solar system for a small house can range from $2,450 and $9,750 or more depending on your needs and whether you need help financing the system.
If youre considering a solar system for your home, its important to understand that the costs of installing and maintaining panels can vary greatly depending on where you live.
You should also consider the cost of your labor. In some cases, you may need to hire a professional to help with installation or maintenance.
How To Install Solar Panels: The Ultimate Solar Panel Installation Guide
Interested in going solar, but not sure how to install solar panels? As youll read in this article, the process requires more than ordering panels online and watching a few YouTube videos on how to install them.
Unless you have electrical contracting experience, youll need to hire a solar company to carry out the solar panel installation itself. Luckily, there are a number of reputable top solar companies with decades of solar experience to choose from.
In addition to finding the best company for your homes energy needs, there are a few steps youll need to take to ensure your clean energy system is permitted and set up properly.
In this article, well walk through the steps youll need to take when installing solar panels on your home or business. If youre ready to start getting quotes from local installers near you, use the links below.
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Things To Remember When Connecting The Multiple Solar Panels
The solar panel design is manufacture in a way that enables the users to upgrade it easily. Each panel will have a connector for the positive and negative charge output.
The Multiple solar panels in a 12 48 volt grid system come with various options such as parallel, Series, or a combination of both.
Lets see how both Parallel Circuits and Series circuits work:
Do Solar Panels Work Better In The Shade
Shade efficiency and solar panels. Solar panels in the shade produce less energy than panels with direct sunlight. Exposure to less intense sunlight is an obvious factor in reducing efficiency, but the design of your solar system, especially the modules and their inverters, is also important.
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Design And Determine The Size Of Your System Based On Your Energy Needs
To determine how many solar panels you will need, you need to know how much energy you plan to use on average per month, and how much sun exposure you can expect throughout the year. Once you know that, you can pick out which brand and model of solar panel will make sense for you.
If you are building panels for a small project or appliance, you will need fewer panels. Simply determine the kWh the appliance will require, then figure out how many panels to build from there.
What Are Other Benefits Of Professional Installations
While solar system installation costs are expensive, installers have decades of hands-on experience something no amount of research or instructions can duplicate.
At the end of 2020, the federal tax credit was extended, so you can get a tax credit of 26% on your solar system until 2023. To reiterate, you would not be eligible for this incentive if you built and installed the panels yourself.
DIY solar panels and solar systems are possible but are best left for science projects or small-scale use. Professional installations might not give you the satisfaction of completing a project, but they can give you peace of mind.
Find out how much it will cost to install solar panels on your specific roof
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Which Type Of Solar Panel Is Best For Your Diy Solar Project
There are three major types of solar panels available for residential projects.
Monocrystalline solar modules consist of 60 or 72 solar cells made of silicon uniformly black in color covered in glass and framed in metal. Each cell has rounded white edges. Monocrystalline panels are slightly more expensive than other types, but considerably more efficient. They convert up to 23% of sunlight to electricity.
Polycrystalline solar panels also contain 60 or 72 solar cells, each one perfectly square in a mottled blue color. They convert about 15%-17% of sunpower into usable electrical energy. Polycrystalline panels are slightly less expensive than monocrystalline modules.
Thin film solar cells are lightweight and flexible sheets of a photovoltaic material applied to a solid surface like glass. Thin films are even less efficient than the other types, usually only 10-13%. They are also cheaper.
Do Solar Panels Really Save Money Do They Pay For Themselves
Yes, solar panels really do save you money. In many cases, panels can save well over $50,000 throughout their lifetime. You can expect your solar panels to pay themselves off after four to eight years. After that, your panels will be making you completely free electricity for the rest of their 25-30 year working life!
The reason that solar savings can add up to such large sums of money is because of the compounding effect of electric rate inflation. If you don’t get solar then the price you pay for electricity will go up, and up, and up over the years. Solar panels are like an insurance policy against increasing electric rates.
While this may sound too good to be true, worry not – solar is not a scam. The other reason why solar panels provide such great savings is because of a utility program called net metering, which most states have, that lets you sell any excess solar electricity your solar panels produce during the day back to your utility company at the same rate you buy electricity at night.
Its important to note that not all net metering policies are created equal, and many utilities are fighting to cut back on net metering programs if they havent done so already. .
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Engineering Site Visit: The First Step To Getting Your Solar System Installed
After you sign your solar contract , an engineer will come by your property to evaluate the electrical status of your home and ensure everything is compatible with your new energy system. This engineer will typically work directly for your installer, but could also be an independent provider contracted by your installer. You can expect the engineering site visit to occur soon after signing with your installer.
During the visit, the engineer will evaluate the condition of your roof to ensure that its structurally sound. They will also look at your electrical panel the grey box in your basement to see if youll need to upgrade it. If you hear from an installer that they need to upgrade the electrical panel, that means that your new solar panels will require more amps of current and the ampere capacity of your electrical box will need to increase.
It should be noted that this engineer visit is different than a general site visit which is when an installer evaluates your property to consider system size, roof type, angle of roof, shading, etc. before any contract is signed. Additionally, though an engineer will typically come by, in some cases the installer can take photos of the property and conduct their own measurements of the roof and the engineer will be okay with signing off without doing his or her own visit.
Mounting The Solar Panel
After design the solar system. Buy all the components with an appropriate rating as per the previous steps.
Now it is time to mount the solar panel. First, choose a suitable location on the rooftop where there is no obstruction sunlight.
Prepare the mounting stand: You can make it on your own or it is better to buy one from any store. In my case, I have taken the drawing from the solar panel company and made it at a nearby welding shop. The tilt of the stand is nearly equal to the latitude angle of your location.
I made a small wooden mounting stand for my 10 Watt solar panel. I have attached the pictures so that anyone can make it easy.
Tilting: To get the most from solar panels, you need to point them in the direction that captures the maximum sunlight. Use one of these formulas to find the best angle from the horizontal at which the panel should be tilted:
> > If your latitude is below 25°, use the latitude times 0.87.
> > If your latitude is between 25° and 50°, use the latitude, times 0.76, plus 3.1 degrees.
For more details on tilting click here
First place the stand in such a way that the face is directed towards the south.Mark the leg position over the roof.
To get the south direction use this android app compass
Then make a rough surface at each leg of the stand by using a sharp object. I made around 1Sq feet size rough surface over the roof at each leg. This is helpful for perfect bonding between the roof and concrete.
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Gear Required For Off
The essential components of an off-grid system are similar to a grid-tie setup with the addition of:
- Charge controller
- Battery bank
- Balance of system components
The following short video from Su-Kam Solar describes the different uses for pure sine wave versus modified sine wave inverters. Not only will you see the difference in the graphical illustrations of both you will hear the contrasts, too.
Secure The Right Permits
Before your solar panel installation, youll have a few bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Specifically, youll need to obtain all the right permits and documentation to ensure your solar panel installation is legal, meeting all local safety and zoning requirements.
You wouldnt believe the headaches that can accompany an installation carried out before permits are issued. This step may sound intimidating, but heres the good news: While there is plenty of paperwork associated with installing solar panels, the majority of it is handled by your solar company.
You may not have to do much at all beyond lending a signature here and there, but its still important to have some sense of whats happening behind the scenes. Heres what your solar installer will file for:
- Local electrical and/or building permits on your behalf
- Interconnection agreement with your local utility
- Applications for state or federal incentive programs that curb the upfront cost of solar panels
Its not a bad idea to follow up and get updates every few days, just to make sure the process is still moving forward smoothly. Solar companies are busy with business, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
If youre ready to start getting quotes from local installers near you, use the links below.
Mounting Solar Panels On A Tiny House Roof
Although solar panels can be installed on a tiny house roof, its not the most efficient use of space. In fact, there are less than 200 square feet of space for a solar panel on the roof of a tiny house.
A better option is to mount your solar panels on the ground using fixed mounts. This doesnt require much space and can be set up quickly and easily. Plus, youll get more bang for your buck with a larger solar array.
Order The Suitable Components For Your Solar System
The moment you have selected the placement of your panels, youll obtain an idea of the power potential of your location. Hence, you can select and order the right components for your solar system.
You have lots of choices to consider, such as:
- The size and type of your charge controller
- The size and number of your solar cells
- The battery type and the capacity of the battery bank
- The overall voltage of each leg and which loads should be DC or AC
- Inverter rating, if any
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Evaluate Your Sunlight Exposure
More sun means more energy produced and a greater potential to save with solar. Certain states, like Arizona and California, average more sunlight hours per day.
Your homes orientation toward the sun, the amount of shade and its roof type also affect a solar systems output. You can estimate the efficiency of panels in your area by using the SolarReviews calculator. Enter your address and the average cost of your monthly energy bill.
Schematics: Wiring Solar Panels And Batteries In Series And Parallel
Electrical equipment is rated by how much electricity they use, make, or store. For example, a 100W solar panel can make 18 volts and 5.5 amps . A 1200Wh battery is rated by both the 12V and 100Ah capacity. When wiring components together, the way they are wired will change the way the ratings are affected.
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Solar Kits Eliminate Guesswork
You can cobble together your own system with individual parts, but that can be dicey. Matching the right collectors, charge controller and the battery takes some know-how. If you want AC power, youll also need an inverter that converts DC voltage to AC for outdoor solar outlets. All those components must be compatible and work together flawlessly or youll have big issues. Plus, the components have to be suited to the climate you live in. Some can handle extreme heat, cold or dampness while others cant. So unless you just want occasional short-term lighting, we recommend buying a kit.
You can find local or online companies by searching for solar kits. Most companies will help you pick a kit or design one for you to exactly suit your needs. Shopping locally can save you big on shipping this stuff is bulky and heavy. The kits listed below are from earthtechproducts.com.
Youll find many low-priced solar shed light kits, and most of them work finefor a while. But cheap kits often fail in about a year. So check the manufacturers warranty and replacement terms before you buy, and try to find online reviews from long-term owners.