If you have taken the plunge and decided to start your journey along the path to eco-friendly energy consumption with solar power, you may be wondering about how to actually install solar panels. While the installation process for solar power is reasonably straightforward, there are definitely a few tips and tricks that can make the process a lot smoother.
Being Eligible for Solar Panels
Purchasing solar panels isn’t quite as simple as placing an order and waiting for them to turn up. You first need to have an engineer come out and survey your roof and work out how best to get your solar power. There are a few reasons for this, with the most important one being that the engineer needs to ensure that the roof faces in the right direction. Once that has been established, a specific solar pathfinder device is used to determine how many hours of the day the area will be in the shade. When the engineer gets up onto the roof, he can also take the measurements for the solar panels so that they can be created to fit the available space.
Calculating the Tilt
If you have already had an engineer visit to calculate the sizing, then they might have already informed you about the necessary tilt angle. In an ideal setup, solar energy should hit the panels at a 90-degree angle. Solar panels can be fixed in different positions to achieve the desired 90-degree angle and maximize sunlight, so if an engineer hasn’t already suggested the tilt calculations, then you will need to establish this before you start installing them.
The tools and Equipment You Will Need for Solar Energy
- Alan keys
- A drill
- Safety harness
- A helping hand (you cannot do this alone)
Fixing the Solar Panels to the Roof
In most cases, panels for solar energy are fixed to the roof by the use of aluminum rails during installation. Once the aluminum rails are securely attached, you then need to fix the solar panels onto the rails. Start by fixing the lowest rail first and then working your way up as this will provide extra security should you slip. The exact length of aluminum rails required will depend on the number of solar panels you are installing. Each setup may be slightly different, but there will more than likely be several clamps and fittings for the ends and the center of the solar panels. For your own safety, wearing a harness is always advised and you should have some help as solar panels are too large to be moving around a roof by yourself.
Connecting the Solar Panels
During the solar installation, make sure that the electrical wire at the back of the solar panel is facing upwards to make the interconnection part as simple as possible. Once the bottom row of panels is inserted on the rails, you need to connect them together using the wires at the back of the panels. During installation, connecting a negative wire from one panel to a positive of the neighboring panel will create a series connection, whereas a negative-to-negative connection or a positive-to-positive connection will generate a parallel connection.
When all the panels are connected together during the solar installation, they will also need to connect to shut off power bricks. In most cases, there will be a power brick for each row meaning that, if maintenance is needed on a specific solar panel, you don’t have to turn off all of the panels. Instead, you can just turn off the row that the damaged board is on.
The Power Inverter
The solar panel system will need to travel through conduits to an inverter located somewhere within the property. When the suns energy hits the solar panels and creates an electrical surge, it is originally a DC current. For the energy to be able to power your house, the DC current will need to be converted to an AC current which is done with the help of a power inverter.
Batteries – Power Storage
Not all systems have the ability to store electricity for use during the night. To enable this, you would need to connect specialized batteries to the system, which, again, will bump up the cost before the solar installation even begins. If you do install batteries to go with your PV panels, it is important to remember that they need to be replaced every five to seven years. They can also take up quite a bit of room. The most common option is to sell the excess energy created by the solar panels to an electric company. It usually works by the electric company applying credits to your account for you to use during the night. So, while all the electricity that you are using won’t have been generated from the solar panels—if you decide not to install batteries—you are still generating eco-friendly electricity that is being used in the community.
Is It Simple Enough to Install Solar Panels Yourself?
A precise answer to this question would all depend on the type of solar panel system you wish to get. The standard ones are much simpler to install, but the large or more advanced systems require a lot more electrical expertise and it may be better to get in one of the leading solar companies in your area. This is because certain wires may need to come through the roof into the house and several display boxes may need to be inside as well. That being said for the more basic solar panel editions there is no reason that you can’t install them yourself and save on cost. Just be prepared for the process to take quite a while. Professionals are able to get it done much quicker as they are used to the process, but for someone who is installing solar panels for the first time, it will take much longer.
Overall, the installation cost of solar cells is a one-time thing and could have you using the grid less and less to reduce your homes carbon footprint and save you money in the process. If any repairs need to be made or a new panel needs to be installed, then it doesn’t require the removal of all the panels. In most cases, all the panels won't need to be turned off as you have the option to just turn off the section you are working on. This is great as the work may take a while and at least some of them can still generate electricity. Speaking with solar experts will give you a clear picture as to what is required and the installation process. As mentioned, before you could install a small setup yourself, but for large solar panel systems, you will likely need to hire professionals.