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Solar Panels Installation

If you have access to the electric grid and want to get the most value for your investment, installing solar panels is the way to go.

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Solar Panels Installation

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1. Site Assessment

Before any installation can be made a site assessment must be completed. This site assessment will be performed by the solar installer prior to installation, but site assessments are also offered by trained, impartial third parties.

Things to consider prior to contacting installers:

  • Does the roof of your house have good southern exposure?
  • Western facing roofs typically offer sufficient exposure as well. Estimates show that western facing roofs can produce about 87% of the total energy generated by roofs with full southern exposure.
  • Are there any trees, power lines, chimneys, neighbors property that shade your roof?
  • Is your roof structurally sound?
  • How old is your roof?

Solar Resource
Sunrays are the fuel for all solar technologies, and the term ‘solar resource’ refers to identifying how much of it is available to a given collector area.

There are professional devices, such as the Solar Pathfinder and Solmetric SunEye, that calculate the Total Solar Resource Fraction which accounts for shading, panel tilt, and azimuth.

The tilt of the earth on its axis and our location north of the equator results in a specific sun path that changes throughout the year. The sun is at its highest point at noon on the Summer Solstice or June 21st.

Most photovoltaic and solar hot water systems are stationary, and having unobstructed solar access between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM is ideal. Tracking systems usually follow the sun path from east to west during the day and are seasonally adjusted for altitude angle.

Potential Installation Considerations
Solar Thermal Flat-panel collectors weigh about 200-250 lbs. Thermosyphon systems add the weight of the water storage tank. Residential scale evacuated tube arrays weigh about 175 lbs.

More serious considerations, from a structural perspective, are wind-induced loads and concentrated loads. Remember that the snow or ice that used to be spread out evenly over your roof will now be concentrated at the mounting feet. Most of us know what high heels do to a wood floor.

For these reasons, a structural analysis is often required by the building officials who review plans and issue permits for solar systems.

It is a good idea to install solar panels over a roof that has 15 or more years of life in it. Some folks do a partial re-roof under the area of the solar array even if they are not prepared to do a complete roof replacement.

Process of Site Assessment

  1. A Solar Site Assessment consists of several steps. Energy Use Inspection
    Methods of increasing the home or building energy efficiency are identified.
    Completion of an analysis of the building or home energy load.
  2. Solar System Analysis
    Site assessment tools are used to determine available solar resources.
    The potential size of the solar array is determined.
    Locations for placement of the solar system are identified.
  3. Cost
    The assessor will provide a cost estimate which is typically based on estimated energy production.
    The assessor will typically provide information on funding opportunities like grants/rebates/tax credits, and return on investment information.

The Installation Process

Solar PV

    • PV systems are typically mounted to a racking system facing as south as possible. South-facing panels insure optimum electricity production in the northern hemisphere.
    • On an angled roof the racking system is mounted onto the roof.
    • On a flat roof, the racks are not mounted but weighed down.
    • Metallic coated wires are connected to transport the electricity generated by the panels to the inverter.
    • The installer will then find a shaded area to mount the inverter to avoid overheating. The solar inverter changes the electricity created by the system into a more compatible format.
    • A DC disconnect switch and utility meter will typically be close to the inverter.
    • The output of the inverter and the solar system will be connected to the circuit breaker box.
    • The house or building will draw electricity from the circuit breaker box.
    • Any electricity not used by the residence or building will be sent to the local grid.

Solar Thermal

  • Like PV systems, solar thermal systems mounted to face as south as possible.
  • Pipes will be installed to transport the heated fluid from the solar collectors to the hot water storage tank.
  • The hot water storage tank will typically be installed next to the hot water heater.
  • Some buildings and homeowners may choose to replace their hot water heater with a tankless wall-mounted system. This allows for the installation of the hot water storage tank in the location of the old water heater.
  • Safety features are installed into the system, these include an anti-scald valve that mixes cold water into hot water, pressure and temperature release valves, and thermal expansion tanks.

For more information on how Solar Works visit our page by clicking here.

Solar Financing

There are a variety of financial incentives for solar installation the United States Department of Energy has developed the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency to keep track of these incentives.

Finance Tips
Different types of solar systems will cost different amounts.
Costs of solar systems can be reduced with incentives, visit this page to learn more. Solar Power One will even fill out the incentive applications for you.
Do not judge the cost of a solar system on upfront costs alone, ask us about the approximate payback period of the system.

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