Solar Panel Installation Guide
Solar panels have gained in popularity recently, and this is no coincidence. Faced with the growing demand for electricity, but also the diminishing resources available to produce it, experts are eager to discover alternatives to fossil fuels and coal combustion.
Hydroelectric power plants are one of the substitutes they have found. Solar energy is another, of course. Thanks to the manufacture of solar panels, it has become possible and feasible to have a house powered by solar energy.
Thanks to the government’s support for families to be able to afford to switch to this renewable energy source through tax incentives, loans and leasing, more and more households have been able to switch to this renewable energy source and save, not only on electricity bills but also on their carbon footprint. However, there’s no denying that solar panel installation is neither cheap nor quick.
Depending on the solar energy supplier chosen or the method of acquiring the system, various documents will have to be submitted, permits will have to be paid for, among other fees, and permission will have to be obtained from the community or the building. As a result, it can take months before a system is fully powered by solar energy.
However, once installed, it can really save a lot of money and hassle for the future. To guide you through the process from start to finish, this article explains the process so you can make an informed decision in favor of a greener energy source.
Main Steps of Solar Panel Installation Process
1. Site and Roof Assessment
If you opt for residential solar panels, the first thing to do is to evaluate the capacity of your home and roof to support the system. This step is best assessed by a professional engineer or installer (unless you are one) because they need to examine the structural integrity of your roof, the area you are in and the abundance of sunlight (and any obstructions due to shadows from trees or buildings).
They will also take measurements to determine the number of panels required for your roof based on your energy needs. Finally, they will assess whether your electrical wiring is in good condition and can support the solar panel installation.
The amount of sunlight that your roof can capture depends on its position relative to the sun and this amount is measured using a tool called a “solar collector”. South-facing roofs get the most out of the sun, but roofs facing other angles can also be effective, depending on the material the panels are made of and your actual usage.
On the basis of the assessment, the expert will tell you whether your roof can be fixed or whether you will need to renovate your roof to make it more suitable for the switch. If your roof is suitable or if you are ready to make the change, you can then move on to the next step, which is processing the permits.
Of course, there are cases where solar panel installation may not be possible at all due to permanent shading problems (such as buildings at the back of your home). Another solution is to install the panel on the ground, using supports.
To have your roof evaluated, contact a solar energy provider, who will set up a schedule for site evaluation, usually within two weeks of making contact.
2. Permits and Documents for Installing Solar Panels
As the attachment of solar systems may possibly affect neighboring households or, in the case of buildings, neighboring units, it is important that residence rules, as well as Community directives, are examined and followed in order to ensure that the installation of solar panels is considered legal.
Specifically, the following permits should be processed before the roof is attached: electrical permit, building permit or building permit, and/or permit for a dedicated solar system.
Of course, the requirements may be based on the regulations of the country or state. In addition, if your development has an owners’ association, you will need permission from this association to proceed. We won’t go through all the requirements by state, but we will look at the general requirements.
The next question is how much the permit costs are. You do not have to spend $1,000 to have your home inspected and to be allowed to repair solar panels. Some states put a cap on the fees so people do not have to spend a lot of money to get the permits processed.
For example, California has a cap of $450 and Colorado has a cap of only $500. If you don’t want to process these things manually, some solar panel suppliers will do it for you, provided you provide the necessary documentation. However, the process can take two to eight weeks, so you want to prepare all the necessary documentation to expedite approval.
3. Order Solar Equipment
Once you get the permits, you can start buying things! Of course, it’s best to consult experts on this subject, but we will still give you advice on the best ones to get. You’d want to install solar panels, made with quality materials and with high efficiency. If you want to maintain the architectural aesthetics of your home, you also need to consider the design of the panels.
Panels guaranteed for 10 or 20 years are synonymous with quality and durability, so you should look for brands that offer this guarantee. There are some inexpensive ones, but make no mistake about it, and make sure that the materials used have good performance capabilities. For example, monocrystals are known for their high efficiency.
To complete your system, you can also find out about micro-inverters, string inverters or power optimizers that will allow you to meet the energy needs of your home. Once your solar equipment is ready, you can move on to the next step, which is the actual installation. This will be done according to the schedule of the supplier or installer of your chosen solar system.
4. Installing Solar Panels
So, you have prepared the permits and obtained the panels and other necessary accessories (such as wiring and inverters) to start the project. The next step is to attach these panels to your roofs. Professional or experienced installers know well how to install solar panels on different types of roofs, so you need to talk to them to do the installation.
To make sure you get the best price, ask for quotes from different service providers for solar systems or seek advice from people you know who have already gone through the process.
When they prepare your roof for attachment, they will remove obstacles and check that the shingles or tiles are securely attached and will not fall off. Once your roof is ready, they will move on to connecting the solar system cables to your general electrical system.
Once this is done, they will attach the brackets on which the panels will be placed. These brackets will support the solar cells and hold them in place. Once the panels have been placed on the brackets, they will proceed to connect the inverter system to your solar panels. The inverter is responsible for transforming the direct current from the cells into alternating current, which will then power your electrical appliances.
Finally, technicians will repair a power meter, if you are still connected to the grid, or a solar battery to run your system. The whole process can take less than a week (one day), especially when the technician has all the tools and your roof is in perfect health.
5. Approval and Interconnection
Now, the final step towards a greener future: approval and interconnection. One might think that approval comes first, but it is actually required before the system is turned on.
Once the signs have been installed, the wiring connected and the inverters connected, a representative from your city’s planning and zoning commission will conduct an on-site inspection to verify that safety procedures have been followed and that local regulations have been followed.
The presence of an agent from your solar system supplier will be required at this stage to help explain the details of the system. These details include interconnection points and electrical connections. They will also ensure that the details given in the permits are accurate and valid.
Once the inspector has confirmed that you have done the right thing, he will give you the long-awaited authorization, and you can start the system. Note, however, that this process may not be necessary if you have chosen to use a battery instead of connecting to the city’s network.
Conclusion About Solar Panel Installation
When considering switching to the solar alternative, knowing how to install solar panels is not the only thing you need to think about. Of course, switching to solar is not an easy process, and it will take time and money before a system can be put in place.
In summary, you will need to go through the few main steps listed above. You will need to research how you will finance the system, whether it is cash, a loan or a lease. Next, you will need to have your roof and location inspected so that they can determine if you can actually benefit from the system and if your roof foundation can support the extra weight.
Then you will need to obtain the necessary permits from your local government and then from the building administrator or homeowners association. This step will require you to pay the permit fee, which cannot exceed $500.
Next, you will need to purchase the solar panels, as well as the inverters and wiring. These are usually purchased as a package and can be purchased directly from your solar energy provider.
Then you will need to hire professionals to install the panels. Do-it-yourself installation is generally not recommended, as experts and experienced technicians are needed to do the wiring, connections and mounting. Finally, you will need to get final approval from your city inspector.
You may not think these steps are worthwhile. However, if you think you won’t have to pay an electricity bill for the next 20 years, you may change your mind. What’s more, governments fully support this change and may even give you tax incentives and subsidies when you follow their guidelines.
Finally, this change is worthwhile if you think about the environmental effects of a few weeks of change. You are helping the planet use its renewable energy while reaping the financial benefits of this change. So it’s definitely worth it.