The number of consumers choosing to install solar panels on their roofs increases year by year as this technology becomes more affordable and easily available. The benefits of using solar energy to power your home or business are now widely acknowledged, with savings amounts that encourage more people to make the transition. The number of homes with solar energy grew by 1,000% between 2006 and 2013. With many people opting for solar, it’s safe to say this technology is here to stay. Here’s a look at the typical solar panel installation process.
Before the solar power company can begin the design and installation process, it must evaluate your location with the help of solar experts. Most companies send engineers to the customer’s location to look at the building in person. Others, such as Sungevity, perform this part of the process online using satellite images of your home. The experts will decide if your home is a suitable contender for solar power based on the direction your roof faces (south-facing is best), how much sun your panels will likely capture, and if your roof can handle the weight of the panels.
The Design Phase
Next, engineers will take measurements of your home and design an appropriate system. Each building’s solar panel system is unique. One home may need greater or fewer numbers of solar panels than another home. The engineers from the company you choose will design your individual solar power system, making any necessary adjustments for spots of shade or obstructions on your roof. The company will conduct an energy review to see how much solar energy is available based on your location. It will also take into account how much energy your household typically uses.
Before the company can install solar panels on your building, they must obtain a permit from the city. Permitting is the longest part of the installation process, as it’s a government stipulation companies cannot expedite. Typically the solar company will take care of the complex permit process for you, so all you have to do is wait for approval.
Once the permit comes through, it’s time for the actual installation process. By now your company will have already helped you decide if your system will be net metered through your utility company’s power lines, or off-the- grid using a battery bank. This will determine the type of solar power system installed. You will choose inverters or microinverters depending on your needs and the company’s preferences. The inverter is the device that collects the energy the panels generate and sends it to your power grid.
Installing the solar panels is not difficult, and should take one to three days depending on the size of your roof and the complexity of the system. First, engineers install frames on your roof to hold the panels. Then, they affix the panels to the frames with special equipment. If your roof is flat, installation may take a bit longer since the engineers have to mount the panels at an angle.
Final Checks and Inspection
Once the panels are on your roof, the hard part is over. All that remains is the final system inspection by a utility company representative and a check to ensure the system operates properly. The utility company will check for any inefficiencies, safety hazards, and missing connections to the utility grid. Once the inspector signs off on the system, the solar company will install the production meter. You will immediately start using your solar energy and save on electricity costs.
Today’s major solar companies provide 24/7 system monitoring to ensure proper functioning and efficiency long after installation. Most companies offer 10- to 25-year warranties. Your solar power system needs little maintenance as there are no moving parts. You can clean the panels yourself about once per year or hire someone to do it for you. Most consumers notice a drop in their energy bills in a matter of weeks, and can live with the satisfaction of saving Earth’s resources and reducing pollution.