Solar PV installation is the process of installing solar panels and connecting them to the solar inverter, which converts DC energy from the solar modules into the AC electricity that will power your home or business. A solar system is sized based on the expected electricity usage of the house or off-grid dwelling (there are online calculators to help with this) as well as the amount of available roof space.
Site preparation: Ensure the site is level, free from shade, and that there is enough room to place the solar array with adequate space for airflow around the components. This includes preparing the roof or ground for mounting, building platforms and conduit, and laying out wiring trenches. If you are using a grid-tied solar system, your local utility company will also need to inspect and approve your solar installation before the system can be activated.
Roof or ground mount assembly: Build the metal substructure that will hold your racking rails. For a roof mounted solar system, this will involve installing flashings at the roof rafters and bolting on the racking rails. If you are using a ground mount, the installation will require digging holes and pouring concrete footings for the base poles of the support structure.
Panel installation: After the frame is ready, the solar panels are attached to the racking rails with angle brackets. The panels can be placed side by side or stacked, depending on your roof layout and the type of racking system you choose. It is important to check that the connections are secure before tightening them, as loose connections can cause serious damage to your panels and reduce their efficiency.
Wiring: Installing the electrical wiring in your solar system is a key part of the installation process and must be done with great care. It is important to make sure that the household power is shut off before starting this part of the job, and that all MC4 connectors are used to prevent water leakage and damage.
Monitoring: Once the system is installed, it’s important to keep an eye on the performance. You can use a monitoring app to track your solar system’s output, or hire a professional to set up a custom dashboard that will provide detailed information about each of the individual components in your system.
Shade: Shading can be a major problem for PV systems, but there are several techniques that can be used to minimize the effect, such as repositioning the panels, adding microinverters, or removing trees or shrubbery. In addition, all PV modules have bypass diodes that will divert power to the unaffected cells in the event of shading.
Testing: Once the system is complete, you should perform a comprehensive testing to make sure everything is working properly. This is an important step because a single mistake can cause your solar system to not generate any electricity, or worse, to not turn on at all. This is an especially important step for grid-tied solar systems, as your local utility company will need to inspect the system and verify that it meets their standards before giving you the green light.