Solar Panel Installation: A Complete Guide to Light Up Your Home
One of the emerging industries from the economic ground of Australia is the solar industry. As per the statistics of July 2017, Australia had over 6,216 megawatts (MW) of installed photovoltaic (PV) solar power and out of which 814 MW were installed in the preceding 12 months.
Not only this, 23 solar PV projects with a combined installed capacity of 2,034 MW are either under construction, constructed or will start construction in 2017 and have already reached financial closure.
Aren’t these statistics overwhelming for Australians?
Although solar power plants have been reluctantly producing a huge amount of electricity, the need of the hour is to aware local citizens of Australia to install solar panels both for residential and commercial purposes so that there could be the redemption of fossil fuels at the expense of solar energy.
Now if you have made up your mind for installing solar panels for your home or office, you probably want to know what actually happens during a solar panel installation.
Mainly there are five big steps that need to be executed after you sign the solar contract before installation of solar panels on your roof. There is a lot of it behind the scenes before they can actually power your home. Here, you are provided with a simple 5-step guide for the typical solar installation process.
Well, you may be aware of the fact that installing solar panels doesn’t happen overnight. There’s a multi-step process to get your panels ready for powering your home. From day first when you sign your contract with your installer, it would most probably take around one to three months before your solar panels are grid-connected and start producing energy for your home. The five-step solar panel installation guide is outlined below:
The very first step after you have signed up your solar contract ( on lease, lone, cash purchase or power purchase agreement) an engineer would visit your property and evaluate the electrical status of your home and he makes sure that everything is just compatible with your new energy system. Then he may directly work for your installer or can also work as an independent provider contracted by your installer.
While the engineer will be visiting your property, he will evaluate the condition of your roof to ensure that it’s structurally sound. He will also check your electrical panel i.e the grey box in your basement and make sure if you’ll need to upgrade it or not. If the installer says that they need to upgrade the electrical panel, that means that your new solar panels will require more amps of current and the ampere capacity of your electrical box will need to increase.
One thing to be noted that this engineer visit is different than a general site visit which is when an installer evaluates your property to consider system size, roof type, angle of roof, shading, etc. before any contract is signed. Also one should be aware of the procedural step that though an engineer will typically come by, but in some cases, the installer can just take photos of the property and conduct their own measurements of the roof and the engineer will be okay with signing off without doing his or her own visit.
2. Logistic Paperwork: Documents and Permits
Like any other big financial decision, solar panel installation requires a lot of paperwork. Most of the paperback is dealt by the installer. One of the foremost things you will be applying for will be state and federal solar incentives such as the federal ITC, local solar programs, clean energy financing initiatives like PACE, government rebates and solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs).
Further, if you want to apply for incentives you will need to fill out other forms/ paperwork like building permits. They are specific to the area where you live. If we look at some examples, certain states need roofs which have three feet of clear space around the solar panels whereas, in other places, one can install solar panels on your entire roof. Well, this is not a much big problem as your installer will be knowing the restrictions and requirements of the state in which you live and thus they can help you figure out which property permit you would require. you can also make your installer to fill out this paperwork for you.
This step usually requires more time than other steps. However, it depends on how long it takes your installer to get it all finished and submitted.
Now since you’re done with paperwork, all you need to do is to tell your installer to place an equipment order through their primary distributor. At this point, you should have already decided what product or equipment your system will include. This decision should take place before the contract sign
If you are confused which equipment you should choose, here are some suggestions to consider. The two primary components which should have the prime focus are solar panels and inverters. Consult your installer for recommendation of the particular brand for each and for few alternatives too. Durability, efficiency, and aesthetics are the parameters most homeowners should use to compare the various brands (other than price).
To make sure that you’ve chosen the right equipment for your system, spend some time researching microinverters vs. string inverters vs. power optimizers and look into the best-rated solar panels on the market. Recognizing your available equipment options can help you feel prepared for the ordering and shipment stage of the solar panel installation process.
As soon as this equipment ordering process gets complete, your property is added to your installer’s queue. Equipment are likely to arrive on the day of your solar panel installation, which can happen whenever your paperwork is approved (typically within one to two months). Also the time duration until installation takes place also depends on how many projects your installer has in their queue. It is recommended that if possible try to get your solar installation done in the winter when solar companies aren’t as busy.
4. Solar Panel Installation Day
Undoubtedly the actual solar panel installation is an exciting day for every solar homeowner. On this day your solar installer will start by preparing your roof for solar panel installation. You should make sure that the shingles or tiles are properly attached on your roof. After this, they will put electrical wiring that will connect to your electrical panel and general power system.
After the electrical wiring is complete, they will install racking to support your panels (this is the only piece of equipment that will actually be attached to your roof). The panels are placed onto the racking once the latter is on the level and safely attached. At last, your inverter(s) are connected to the panels to convert direct current (DC) energy into the alternating current (AC) energy used in homes and on the electric grid.
The installation process will take place in one to three days which is completely dependent on the size of the system you are installing. Also, the process will make you impatient but there could be one additional factor that can add time to your installation process and that is putting in a power meter for net metering. If your installer needs to add a power meter, this will add a few hours to your solar panel installation.
5. Approval and Inter-connection
Almost done! Just one more step. The last step of going solar is “flipping the switch,” so to speak, and officially commencing to generate power from your rooftop. But you can’t connect your solar panels to the electric grid until a representative from your town government visits your property to inspect the system and give approval. You will be relieved by his visit because, during this inspection, the representative will essentially be double-checking your installer’s work. He or she will verify that the electrical wiring was done correctly, the mounting was safely and sturdily attached, and the overall install meets standard electrical and roof setback codes.
As soon as this local inspection gets over, you will be ready for official grid interconnection. A representative from your electric company will come by to do their own final evaluation of the solar panel system. As long as there are no glaring issues, your panels will go live the moment they “give the okay” and connect your system to the grid. However, you should expect to wait two weeks to a month for the town approval and utility approval to occur and interconnection to go live.
Ready for the process of solar installation on your roof? Ain’t yet? Now you are already with the installation guide so what are you waiting for? Follow these steps and get your solar roof within three months and savings for lifelong.