We often tell you to install solar panels for your home, and mention why you should do that but we never have told you how to install solar panels, and what you might need to know when you are going solar. It is important to take the right steps. Today, we will take those steps with you.
The very first step is, well, your project, which is installing solar panels for your electricity needs. You are probably doing so to save on your electric bill and to reduce your carbon footprint, and thank you for that! YOU are a loyal friend to this world and to the future.
How much energy is needed?
You need to know this because it defines the size of the system to be installed. Let’s do it together. What would we need? Your annual electric bill to find out kWh used, and your location to find out sun hours. You could use the map above to find out how many sun hours you get. We could take Florida as an example, the map shows that Florida is in zone 4, which means we get 4.5 sun hours a day. We know that there is 8760 hours in a year, and in Florida we have 1642.5 sun hours in a year. Why do we need these? Well let me show you the formula that is used to find out maximum system output
12 months of previous energy used (kWh) = Max. System Output (kW)
(Your location’s yearly sun hour)
Let’s say that your annual bill is 10.800 kWh
10,800 = 6.6 kW max system output
Once you find out the system size, you can find out how many panels you need. Although note that the amount of panels depends on many things like, your budget, the available space and the percentage of electricity you want to get from your panels.
Solar panels may last up to 30 years and you might have to do the installation once again after the renovation of your roof, in order to avoid these complication make sure your roof is ready for installation. The type of the roof is an important factor as well, you might want to make sure that you have a fire-rated product on your roof before the installation. Asphalt shingles and concrete roof tiles are good examples of fire-rated rooftops.
Remember that solar panels are heavy unless you are using thin-film, with the metal frame and glass module you are looking at about 48 pounds (22 kg) for each panel. This is important because you should know how much your roof can handle!
Note that if you do have the space you do not have to do roof mounting you can always do ground mounting.
Depending on where you are installing solar panels may require permits. You should find that out and get your permits before you do your installation.
Mounting & Array Orientation
The type of the mounting system also depends on where you live. In order to get the most out of your system, your panels should be installed at an angle. What is that? Well, let me tell you, solar arrays work best when facing true south (if you’re in the northern hemisphere) or true north (if you’re in the southern hemisphere). You can easily determine true south by measuring the length time between sunrise and sunset, and divide that by two. Find out your local sun path diagram, and the average latitude degree on the diagram is the angle that you should give to your solar array, facing true south. I have started my example in Florida so let’s keep on going with that. Below you can find the Sun path diagram for Florida. According to the latitude of the sun path diagram the array orientation is best at 26 degrees facing true south (because U.S. is in the northern hemisphere). Note that there are also devices like Solar Pathfinder ™ and Solmetric SunEye ™ to get a specific locations’ full year of solar data.
You should consider the forces like drag, wind, and expansion and contraction, which may stress your solar panels and their structural components, when choosing your mounting systems. The three common ways of roof mounting is: Direct, Rack, and Stand-off mounts. Click here to find out more about ground and roof mounting.
Installation sounds easy and we like “do it yourself” kind of things. You can do the installation yourself in some countries but I highly and persistently recommend you to hire a professional to do that job. Here is an overlook of how to do the installation on your roof, get the blueprints of your home so that you could find the rafters, where the holes should be drilled. Fasten and secure the solar panel mounts with your steel bolts to these holes. Make sure to seal around the bolts. Fasten panels to your mounts. Have your solar panels off the roof by quarter of a foot for airflow. It is important to keep your panels cool, airflow will make your panels more efficient. Now that you’ve installed your panels to your roof, you could do the connections. Note that in the United Stated only qualified individuals may install photovoltaic system arrays.
Once you make your connections, you are ready to use your clean energy source. As you can see, going solar and breathing fresh is super easy!
For Sun Electronics’ ready to install grid-tie systems visit