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Solar Panel Installation Guide

When installing a solar power system within a household, benefiting surrounding environments and lowering energy costs is a huge objective. Often, solar installers customize each solar roof before applying a solar panel kit, and many systems are available for roof mounting purposes.

While one may not need an engineering degree for installation, several considerations should be taken before installing solar panels. Solar panel installation, itself, is easy when an industrious homeowner is present, and the straightforward process often provides many solar energy benefits.

Pre-Installation Steps

Before installation begins, contacting a local zoning agency is important. Often, zoning ordinances apply to installation requirements. Agencies can be contacted for further information, as can local governments.

Additionally, solar mounting should be discussed with neighbors, as they may cause glare for passerby. Once the neighbors are in agreement, contacting a contractor for inspection is the next step. Oftentimes, solar panels last decades, so it's wise to consider the following aspects to ensure healthy installation and maintenance:

  • Rooftop condition
  • Solar panel direction
  • Newly installed overhangs
  • Chimney areas
  • South and southwest wooden studs
  • Roof beams

Getting an Estimate and Consultation

As mentioned above, south and southwest rooftop sides should be examined, as such areas receive the most sunlight throughout the day. When accessing solar panel design and installation estimates, prices are often directly related to these areas.

Consultation typically begins with a simple call to solar installers and/or a request for information online. Some households may not be candidates for solar panels, depending upon local laws and regulations. However, estimates are often acquired by local real estate authority information, and installation technicians often cross-reference estimates for best possible prices. Additionally, during consultation, remember to ask about the following benefits from each potential installer:

  • Renewable energy rebates
  • Lowered sales tax
  • Cash savings
  • Time needed for return on investments

Solar Warranties

Solar panels are man-made objects, so they're subject to environmental and unanticipated damages. Understanding potential warranty selections is important and will likely increase a solar system's lifespan. Solar panels are likely equipped with warranties guaranteeing freedom from manufacturing defects. These warranties ensure normal usage for prolonged time periods, and they protect homeowners for an average of 10 years.

Additionally, long-term warranties are often available. These warranties feature a system's prolonged performance, and they adhere to the following dynamics associated with solar panels, solar energy systems and household utility links:

  • Solar panel energy generation declines approximately .25 percent a year
  • Production warranties protect up to an average degradation of 1 percent per year
  • After 20 years, systems may be guaranteed under a 20-percent loss in generated power

While many different providers carry different warranties, the above serve as a benchmark for installation and use coverages. Long-term performance warranties should always be the most important, followed by manufacturing warranties.

Design, Measurements and Energy Needs

Solar panel design steps are often determined by a household's energy needs. Energy prices regularly fluctuate, and many building owners consider different setups to accommodate for different energy needs. Where power bill reduction is the most important aspect, solar panel installation counts on different roof measurements and expense goals.

Total wattage must be calculated first. Often, a technician will provide a solar insolation map, which determines the amount of useable sunlight contacts on a rooftop. Once these measurements are taken, daily kilowatt-hours are determined, and daily sunlight hours are divided by the measurement. Then, panel measurements must match a rooftop's highest "contact" area, where it receives the most sunlight. When paired with the household's average kilowatt-per-hour usage, an overall price will be determined.

Installation Timeframe and Preparation

Once an installation technician is contacted, preparing a building's rooftop for installation is important. Following any needed repairs, debris should be hosed off, and gutters should be cleared of dirt, leaves and dust. Outdoor hoses are useful for such events, and a pressure washer will remove grime or stains from non-shingled areas.

Solar panels are often installed within a few days once the project has begun. Often, the process's longest "part" is its prep, which consists of the following areas and considerations:

  • Solar rebate consideration
  • Installation incentives
  • Pre-existing damages
  • Electric meter installation

Modern electric meter systems moderate solar panel interconnection. In short, they're similar to thermostat systems. Many are plug-and-play-style electronics, and their wiring is directly integrated between solar panels and household interiors. Following the system installation, panel installation may be completed in less than a week, in many cases.