Installation Steps for a Solar Power System

With electric rates on the rise again (another rise occurred for the new financial year), and yet more hikes predicted as government policy changes, homeowners everywhere are warming to the idea of installing solar panels on their rooftops and taking back some control of the household energy. This article will walk you through the steps to installing a full commercial system, such as those available from BP Solar, in your home.

Solar modules or panels are made up of many silicon cells all securely mounted together into convenient strong panel structures. The panels have no moving parts, and baring breakage, will last for many, many years. They are lightweight, and so the roof will not need any extra bracing or strengthening and very easy to install.

Typically solar panels should be mounted facing south for Northern hemisphere homes or north if you live in the Southern hemisphere. If this is not possible, that doesn’t mean you can’t have solar panels, South East, South West, or even East or West facing panels are still possible. Professional installers will use a device called a “solar pathfinder” to plot shading through the day and can work out the best position to install the modules to get the greatest amount of sunshine throughout the year.

Installation starts by the fitting of horizontal rails across the selected area of roof. The modules are then simply held onto the rails using clips. It is a good idea to have a gap between the roof and the bottom of the solar modules to allow for air flow under the panels, as this will help in keeping the panels themselves cool which leads to greater efficiency.

The modules/panels are then wired together to form a solar panel array and the array is then wired down through the roof to an “inverter” typically mounted in the garage. The inverter is a device which converts the direct current (DC) power produced by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) power which is the standard for most homes in America and elsewhere. The compact inverter mounts on the wall and won’t take up too much space. The inverter is then wired to your circuit breaker (fuse) box and this feeds the power into your home. After the system is all set up, you can practically see the benefits if you have an older style rotating power meter, as you will see the wheel turn slower than it would have. In fact, it is possible for you to generate more power via your new solar array than the household is using, causing the electricity meter to spin backwards. The excess power is fed back into the electricity grid for credits on your bill actually EARNING you money as you are selling power back to the company. Doesn’t that feel good!

A point that is often missed is that solar electric panels operate very differently from solar hot water heaters, and can operate well even if the weather is very cold. In fact, with the same amount of sunlight on a cold day, they will work better as they are generally more efficient at cooler temperatures.

With the barriers to installing solar power modules for the average household dropping away day by day, more and more people are turning towards solar power generation to save money and take back control of the contentious issues involved in more “traditional” power generation means like coal. And with state incentives and rebates on your bills for solar improving all the time, you can genuinely save money month to month, and increase the resale value of your home.


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Chad Decker