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solar panels on roofYou’ve decided to have solar panels installed. Congratulations! But, what’s the next step? Let us walk you through the process. We’ll also give you some climate information for new solar panel homeowners.  

What is the installation process?

checklist for solar panel installastion

Engineering visit

First, you need to arrange an engineering site visit. The engineer will come to your house to make sure that everything is compatible with your new solar panel system. For example, they will make sure the roof is structurally sound. After that, they will check your electrical panel to ensure it can handle the amps from the solar panel. In some cases, you will need to update the electrical panel in your home, so it can optimize all the amps. This is just the engineer visit, not a general site visit. The engineer will check the basic components on the roof, but the main thing they look at is the electrical side of this process. Your installer will come out later to measure the roof for panel sizes and quantity. In addition, they will the type of roof you have along with pitch angle and areas of the roof that receive shade.

paperwork for solar panel installation

State and local paperwork

The second step involves filling out all the paperwork. Every city or town has local permits that need to be filed. Sometimes your installer will do this for you, but make sure to have everything in order before starting the actual installation. One of the most important things you will be doing is applying for state and federal solar incentives like Federal ITC, local solar programs, PACE, which is a clean energy financing initiative, along with government rebates and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates or SRECs. While that sounds like a bunch of jargon, your installer will be more than happy to assist you will all of this, so don’t worry! Permits are the other big thing to make sure to get done in a timely manner. Again, the installer will be able to help you collect all the ones you need, and in some cases, will already have them filled out for you.

choosing solar panel inverter

Equipment selection

The third step is to choose your equipment. Your installer will provide a list of options for you to, and probably offer you suggestions. Even so, we recommend that you do some research on the topic yourself. For example, you will definitely want to understand the differences between inverters

Installation

The fourth thing to happen is the day of the installation! First, the workers will prep the roof by making sure all your tiles or shingles are secure. Then they set up the wiring that connects to your electrical panel and general power systems. Next, they install the rack. The rack is the only thing physically connected to the roof. After that, they place the panels on the racking and secure them. Finally, they attach the inverters to your panels. The entire process can take from one to three days, depending on if you need a power meter, for net metering, installed.  

Inspections

The last step takes place once all the paperwork is complete and the solar panels are installed. A government official and an electric company official will come out and inspect the work. Once they do that and give it the “thumbs up”, they will connect your house to the grid and you can start using your panels. From the engineer visit to installation day, this whole process can take between one and two months.  

What is the best climate for Solar Panels?

One of the most important factors to consider when looking into solar panels is CLIMATE.  

sunlight on solar panelsSolar panels and sunlight

Proper and beneficial use of solar panels requires consistent sunlight for the panels to work. However, just because solar panels require sunlight to work, doesn’t mean that they can handle the heat that comes along with it in some areas. Solar panels have efficiency limits regarding sunlight intensity. For example, higher temperatures will impede the function of the solar panels. This results in a less efficient solar panel system.

Solar panels and heat

How does heat interfere with the process? As we discussed in our previous post, the normal process of photovoltaic energy production requires sunlight. The sunlight heats up the electrons. As they heat, the electrons begin moving. This movement creates the direct current energy collected by the panels. Direct current energy passes into the inverter and transformed into usable AC energy.

Bottom line

Too much persistent heat, however, can reduce the amount of energy produced. This happens because the electrons are already “warm” rather than “cold” when the sunlight strikes them. The result is less energy transfer. So, what is the bottom line with regard to climate? Although, industry consensus tells us that solar panels perform best in climates with at least some cooler temperatures on a consistent basis many installers provide specialized power cells with higher heat tolerance. So–bottom line? Keep your climate in mind as you select what’s best for your solar energy solution.

Conclusion

Deciding whether or not to get solar panels can be confusing. Whether you’re exploring your options or you have already made a decision to have solar panels installed, we’re happy to help answer any questions you have. Just give us a call!

 

Solar panels continue to provide a popular alternative energy option for green-conscious homeowners. Homeowners interested in cost-cutting technologies also choose this option to generate their electrical needs. Even the White House uses solar panel energy. How do solar panels work? Let’s take a look.

How are solar panels made?

So glad you asked! Solar panels employ a creative design of silicon cells, metal framing, glass casing, and wiring.

solar panel constructionSolar panel casing and layers

The glass casing composes the outer layer of protection against the elements.   Another layer of insulation lies beneath the glass exterior. The next layer, a back sheet, protects against dissipation and humidity in higher temperature climates. Without these two protective layers, the panels would not run as efficiently as they should. Another typical asset that the panels have is an anti-reflective coating. This allows the panel to optimize its sunlight absorption.

silicon solar panel cellSilicon solar panel cells

Silicon, a nonmetal element that is very conductive, provides an essential component for solar panels. The nitty-gritty part of the system, the silicon cells, can have two different structures: monocrystalline and polycrystalline. The monocrystalline structure, made up of one single silicon crystal, allows the electrons more “room” to move about. The polycrystalline structure is manufactured with shards or fragments of silicon crystal. Both structures function well, however, the monocrystalline is more efficient. As a result, it is also more expensive.

How do solar panels harness the sunlight?

Despite what you might think, using sunlight to generate electricity evolved long before the 21st century. A French scientist named Edmond Becquerel first discovered the photovoltaic effect in 1839. He observed that sunlight absorbed by material created an electric voltage. Other scientists built on this principle and in 1883 Charles Fritts created the first solar cell. Those early efforts spurred more investigation into solar energy use resulting in the systems we enjoy today.

Solar panel PV cells

The panels absorb sunlight using photovoltaic cells (PV cells).  The cells have two distinct layers: negative and positive. Sunlight entering the PV cells generates an electric field between these two layers. The energy produced at this phase is direct energy or DC current. Our homes and energy grid run on alternating current or AC energy. This means the DC energy must be converted to usable AC energy.

Solar panel inverters

The system utilizes an inverter to perform this transition. The inverter serves as a bridge that transforms the DC energy into AC energy, which can be used for the home. There are three basic types of inverters:solar panel inverters

  • String Inverter
  • Microinverter
  • Power Optimizer

The string inverter is the most basic model. The microinverter works for more complicated systems that require higher performance levels. The power optimizer does just what its name suggests, meaning it can be used as an add-on to the other inverters if needed.

 

How do solar panels work at night?

The solar panels aren’t doing the work at night. So, what happens to the left-over energy when a household has met all its electricity requirements? In this circumstance, the system sends excess electricity is back into the electric grid. There are two ways for this to happen: net metering or solar-plus-storage technology. This is what allows the house to have access to all kinds of energy during cloudy days or at night.

What’s Next in our Solar Panels Series

We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of how solar panels have the possibility to enhance our lives! Stay tuned for our next post: Solar Panels: Installation. We will focus on the best types of climates for solar panels. After that, we’ll discuss important questions to ask before having them installed.  Then, we will explore how to properly maintain your panels for the best performance possible.

Conclusion

Interested in solar power for your home? Give us a call to discuss options such as solar panels or solar shingles. Remember you can depend on Beneficial Roofing for ALL your roofing questions and needs. Give us a call now and let us know how we can help you today!