Assuming your desired location of installation is facing true south, you are ready to install your PV (photovoltaic) system. Be sure that there is no shading that can or could occur. You want to keep into account that tree(s) do grow, neighbors can be jerks, and cities can implement electrical or light posts/poles, so keep that in mind.
Here are 10 quick tips to installing your own PV system.
1. Safety first – Making sure that you are safe in every aspect of the installation is key. That includes a harness, rope tie-off, PPE (personal protective equipment), stabilizing the ladder, using appropriate tools for each task, and another person assisting you, in case of an emergency.
2. Site Evaluation – Make sure to measure your mounting plane, and that your roof can handle the system load weight. Solar panels/modules are generally a little less than 40″ wide. Be sure to get the exact measurement when you decide which solar panels you want to use on your home. Don’t forget to include the gap between the panels (.5″ to 1″ depending on attachment/racking) so keep that in mind.
3. Plan – Map out where you would like the conduit to be going. There are many options, such as: Having it installed through the roof (into your attic) thus leading into your garage. Another is securing the conduit to the top of the roof and having the system components outside of your house. It is also common to paint the conduit to match its background. These are the most popular methods, but every house is different. Plan Accordingly!
4. Educate yourself – Research products that would be necessary. This includes attachment, racking, module attachment, wire control methods, inverter, disconnects, conduit, wire lengths/runs, and miscellaneous parts/pieces to hold all of these together. Keep in mind the type of roof you have as well, shingle, tile, standing seam, etc.
5. Reach out – You will need to find an electrician to connect the system. You’ll also have to find a local company or manufacturer to get the solar panels.
6. Know the code – You will need to check with the city on how far you can have your modules to the ridge, eaves, and hips, mainly for fire access and extra attachment (racking) for windy/stormy regions.
7. Keep it clean – Be sure that vehicles or other property are out of the fall zone. You don’t want your box of lag bolts rolling off the roof, onto your windshield, or anyone else’s. This is also necessary for safety. The less there is to create a hazardous environment, the better.
8. Laying Panels – After you have the racking done, you are ready to lay your modules. There are a couple of safe ways to get your panels from the ground to the roof. One is simply having another person handing them up to you. Another is to secure a rope to the back of the module and pull it up the ladder. You can also carry the modules with one arm while climbing up the ladder. Don’t forget about the wind and fatigue factors when laying your modules.
9. Maintenance – After your system has been installed, you will want to make sure that the panels and conduit are still in great condition. Squirrels, birds, insects, and mother nature can affect your system. Clean your modules every 6 months for optimal performance, and make sure module wires haven’t been chewed.
10. Hire a local solar company – In some areas, it makes a lot of sense to have a company install your solar system, rather than doing it yourself. Benefits of hiring a local solar company include the tax credits, not having to purchase your own tools, and helping out the local economy. I can bet that the company installing your system will do an outstanding job, and have plenty experience doing it.
Making sure all missed penetrations are sealed with caulking and flashing is a MUST. This will ensure that leaks will not become an issue. You will also want to fill exposed conduit with caulking so insects don’t turn it into a breeding ground.
If you have any questions use YouTube, feel free to call/email the manufacturer, or even contact a local solar company to see what they recommend.