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Solar Panel Installation -- How To Do It

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Many people perceive solar panel installation as a daunting task. More than just common DIY skills, you also have to know how to site your solar panels. There also seem to be dangers involved... While you install the panels on your roof, you may fall. You are also exposed to the danger of electrocution as you wire your inverters.

But we do not have to be discouraged. Having the knowledge of what to do can help us greatly in our work and keep us away from bodily harm. Some important installation know-how can make your job much safer and easier. Here are some points to consider before you install your solar panel...

In the northern hemisphere, we'd like our photovoltaic panels to tilt towards to south so that it can receive the most sunlight throughout the year. If we have a south-facing roof, all we need to do is line the solar panels along the surface of the roof. Otherwise we'll need additional brackets to tilt the photovoltaic panels toward the south.

The roof is usually the best place to site your solar panels, but there are exceptions. Therefore you have to do a thorough survey to know where is the best place to locate your panels.

During the survey, you'll have to take into consideration shading from plants and nearby structures. Shading has an adverse effect on solar energy production. The amount of electricity generated by photovoltaic cells reduces by a significant percentage with slight shading.

Through different seasons of the year, the position of the sun changes. So you'll have to take this into consideration. An easy way to find the location that receives the most sunlight throughout the year is to use a Solar Pathfinder. This instrument shows you at a glance where shadows will be at different times of the day and different seasons of the year.

If your rooftop proofs to be an ideal location for installation, you must find out the maximum loading your roof can withstand. If the solar panels are too heavy for the roof, you must provide additional support to the roof before installation. Otherwise it may collapse.

After the location is finalized, actual work can begin. You'll have to get the correct solar panel mount to fix them at the ideal place -- there are pole mounts, roof-ground mounts and flush mounts.

When installing on roofs, we frequently use flush mounts. This is the easiest (and most cost effective) way to mount small solar panels. These are metal brackets that support both ends of a solar panel. It elevates the solar panels a few inches away from the roof to form a gap in between. This allows air to flow through, cooling the solar panels. It is vital to moderate the solar panel temperature so as to maintain the efficiency of photovoltaic cells.

Roof-ground mounts are grid-like structures that are used primarily for large panels. They can be installed on the ground or on roofs. Pole mounts are used mainly for supporting individual solar panel units.

After the solar panels are fixed, you'll have to run and connect the electrical cables. The actual connections depend on whether you want a grid-tied or off-grid system.

With proper solar panel installation, each panel will be able to withstand strong winds and work efficiently for decades. You can also expect your property to increase in value with a solar energy system installed.

John Greenspan is an expert in do-it-yourself solar panels and has build several solar power generators over the years. Are you interested in building DIY Solar panels? Pick up your FREE "How To Build Solar Panels" eBook at =>

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