Today we want tell you everything you should expect on solar panel installation day. What’s 93 million miles away and can power your home? The sun! If you’ve been thinking about going green with solar energy, you understand the benefit of planning ahead. It makes sense that you’re curious about what the solar panel installation process looks like. Should you agree to let somebody put a solar array on your home, what can you expect to happen next?
We put together this complete guide to help you decide if solar is the right choice for your home. We’ll show you exactly what goes into the installation process and provide some inside tips for comparing bids from contractors. When it comes to installing solar panels, what can you expect? Read on to find out.
Evaluating and Comparing Quotes
Before installation day, you’ll need to pick the perfect contractor to perform the work. Be sure to acquire several offers so that you can get a good idea of the rates in your area. You’ll also want to verify that the installers are properly licensed. If possible, try to get referrals from family and friends who already have a solar setup.
Questions to Ask
Asking the right questions will help you prepare for the big installation day. What type of questions should you ask when getting quotes? First, find out if the contractors will be using subcontractors. If there will be subcontractors, what type of experience do they have? The more questions you ask the contractors, the better. Make sure you fully understand how the payment process will work as well. Then inquire about rebate opportunities such as how to apply for a solar tax credit.
Solar Panel Placement and Orientation
Deciding where to put your solar panels is just as important as deciding which ones to purchase. A solar panel harnesses the most power when the Sun rays hit the panel’s surface perpendicularly. As long as panels have the perfect tilt, they’ll be able to produce the most amount of energy. The right orientation and placement of solar panels will expose them to the highest intensity of sunlight. You’ll also be guaranteeing that the panels are active for the longest period.
Certain solar panels have modern sun-tracking systems. A sun-tracking system means that the panels will follow the rays throughout the day. Solar tracking systems can help make your solar panels a lot more efficient.
True South vs. Magnetic South
Do you live in the Northern hemisphere? Your solar panels should probably face true South as a general rule of thumb. Do you live in the Southern hemisphere? Then true North is the direction you’ll need panels to face. Usually, having your panels face these directions will allow them to absorb the most direct sunlight. Keep in mind there’s a difference between the true and magnetic direction.
Magnetic South is what you’ll see when using a compass. Magnetic South will point you towards the Earth’s magnetic pole. Your solar panel is going to need to face the geographic South rather than the magnetic one.
How to Prepare Your Home for Installation
Keep in mind that solar power isn’t going to be the right fit for every house. One side of your roof is going to have to face South or Southwest. The slant and pitch of your roof also have to be at an ideal angle. If your roof doesn’t have an angle that allows for the right amount of light exposure, you won’t be a good solar candidate. The key to preparing your roof for solar panel installation is to remove any possible barriers. Anything that’s in the way will have to go!
Are there any overhanging trees? Cut away any rogue tree limbs or looming branches. It’s best to have the limbs fully removed before the installation process begins. The last thing you want is for a tree limb to fall and break your new solar panels!
The professional installer is going to need to access your roof to perform a thorough inspection. During the inspection, they’ll be able to notify you of any small problems that need repair. Since most solar panels will work for 20 to 30 years, you’ll need a roof that can last that long.
Depending on the position of your roof’s vents, you might have to perform a few modifications. Antennas, roof vents, satellite dishes, and other fittings that are in the way of the solar array will have to go. The building codes for your house might require that you relocate roof vents to specific locations. Only licensed contractors can legally install roof vents.
Will Your System Use a Battery?
There are a few different approaches to your solar panel array installation. There’s the grid-connected solar option with batteries and the option without batteries. There are also off-grid setups. If you’re getting a grid-connected solar system without batteries, it’ll be a fast installation. With the nonbattery grid connection, the system connects directly without any backup.
You’ll be using the grid in place of a battery. If your house needs more power, you’ll simply consume the extra necessary power from the grid. Are you getting a solar array that uses batteries? The batteries will act as an extra power source if your grid experiences any outages.
If your solar power system generates more power than you can consume, it’ll go back into the grid. Grid connections with batteries are one of the longest installation processes. However, they can also provide some of the best renewable energy solutions.
Finally, there’s the off-grid option. With an off-grid solar array, you won’t be connected to your utility at all. The system will consume its own power and store excess power. Since you won’t need any external resources, off-grid installations are fast and easy. Off-grid installations work best in rural areas, but it’s not a good idea if you live in a highly-populated area.
When It’s Finally Panel Installation Day
On the day your installation is scheduled, you can expect the panel installers to arrive on time. As long as you’ve chosen a reputable company to work with, you might even be able to expect them a little bit early.
Your team of friendly installers should introduce themselves fully and then review your personalized installation plan. They’ll also ask you for access to any areas they need to get to. If the solar panels are installed on your roof, you can expect the arrays to be precisely positioned. Typically the mounts will be about 4 ft apart, and the solar mouse will sit up high on rafters.
Keep in mind that the electrical equipment will also go on the side of your home. What type of equipment will they install? The installers will mount different electrical equipment such as inverters, Sunrun meters, and electrical disconnects. The solar panel team will seal all of the holes at the end of the installation. Finally, once everything’s all set, the solar panels will go up on your roof.
The installers are going to put up safety ropes as well as rails for the solar panels to sit on. The licensed contractors will have to drill holes into the rafters to properly secure all of the panels. It’s going to get a little noisy.
Your House Is a Temporary Worksite
For about a day, your house will be pretty busy. Specific work areas such as your attic or electrical panel will be helpful to the installers. You can expect the crew to mark off work zones, and they might even move some furniture.
Moving the furniture will help the team get better access to the working areas and move more efficiently. You can expect the installers to be as neat and clean as possible. However, keep in mind that your home will be a temporary worksite.
Pets and children should probably be at a different location. Plan on the installation is an all-day affair from start to finish. Does your pet need to stay at home? Maybe you’re working at home, or you don’t have a pet sitter. If your pet is on-site during the panel installation, try these tips to calm their nerves.
How long will things take? Allot for an entire day. While it probably won’t take that long, it’s always better to provide yourself with a time cushion.
There will be tools and materials left in the open throughout your home during the installation process. You can expect the designated working areas to be busy with foot traffic too. They’ll be a lot of the hustle and bustle. You can expect the installers to leave your home as spotless as it was when they arrived. You’ll finally be one step closer to enjoying renewable clean energy!
Post Installation Inspection
The county or city is going to do a final post-installation inspection within a few weeks. Your utility company will be able to install its net meter and provide you with permission to operate or PTO. Sometimes the solar panel installers can submit all of your permission to operate paperwork for you.
Power Your Home With Clean Renewable Energy
Congratulations! Now you know the ins and outs of what goes into a solar panel installation day. As soon as you’re sure that your home qualifies for solar energy, you can start comparing bids from different contractors.
Remember to verify the contractor’s license and reputation before agreeing to a payment plan. When you choose a trustworthy company, you can rest at ease throughout the entire process. Did you need a little bit more advice before you start getting quotes? Take a look around the rest of our website for more tips.