How are Solar Panels Installed
How are solar panels installed and what is the estimated cost of installing a solar panel system? These are some of the few questions that those who are looking for alternative sources of energy tend to ask.
We have seen people talk about how solar panels are good but also how demanding the installation process can be. Besides that, price is also a crucial determinant. Most people actually find it hard to install such a system because of the high initial costs.
Installing a solar panel system is a straightforward process. But you need someone with the right knowledge and experience.
This is because if there is any mistake, your roof may end up getting damaged or you will have to restart the installation process, which is not cheap by any standards.
In this article, we give you a comprehensive overview of how solar panels installed on a roof. Besides that, you will get to understand the estimated costs involved in the installation process.
How Are Solar Panels Installed On a Roof?
Can solar panels be installed on a metal roof? Yes. In fact, most households where these systems are mounted have metal roofing systems.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t install the panels in other types of roofs. But first, let’s have a look at the step by step process involved in the installation of such a system on a roof.
Step 1: Identify the Location of Stanchions
Stanchions are usually big screws that hold the solar panels right in place. This is the first and most important step before you begin the installation process.
Stanchions are vital in ensuring the solar panels remain stable and durable while withstanding the “up force” that can easily rip them off the roof.
If you are installing a solar panel system on a metal roof, the best location for stanchions is the rafters. Use the stud-finder to get the rafters and ensure that you can conveniently place the stanchions at least four feet apart.
Step 2: Create Holes
Use a drill on the rafters to create holes where you will attach the solar crews.
Step 3: Secure the Screws
You need to put the installation screws securely into the holes. For better security, it’s important to ensure that both the lower and upper parts of the roof’s aluminum rails are effectively secured. Installers usually use bolts with an impact driver to secure the aluminum rails.
To create a good thermal envelop, ensure that the screws are well-sealed. The best thing about well-installed stanchions is that they don’t leak.
You can easily attain this by using thermoseal roofing in order to ensure that the roof is tightly locked and minimize the chances of elements moving in and out of the thermal envelope.
Step 4: Measure the rail distance
Use a measuring tape to diagonally measure a distance from the top to the bottom of a rail. Do this also for on the next side as well. If both the diagonal measurements are the same, it means that the rails are equally placed and are, therefore, parallel.
In case the diagonal measurements are different, adjust the rails so that they can be equal. The aim of this step is for the rails to form a perfect square shape.
Step 5: Install the middle rail
Go ahead and install the middle rail which should be precisely aligned between the upper and lower rails.
Note: the size between the rails can vary depending on the size of the panels and the location of the rafters on the roof.
Step 6: Connect the power wires
You definitely want your solar panels to be effectively powered. So, go ahead and link the wires to the inverters and install them under the panels. This is vital in creating an effective conductor system. Thereafter, connect the wires from one panel to the next to create a uniform solar array.
Note: it’s important to connect a copper grounding wire to the inverters in order to complete the conductor system.
Step 7: install the panels
This is the last step where you carefully install the solar panels on top of the stanchions. To finish up everything, join the plug connections and check to confirm that the retaining clips are securely screwed into the rails.
Others Ways of Installing Solar Panels
We know that you want to have a comprehensive understanding of how solar panels are installed. Well, can solar panels be installed on a flat roof? Can you mount them on the ground?
These are commonly asked questions that you can come across. Let’s take a look at other solar installation techniques.
Mounting on Ground
Sometimes you might not have enough roof space but adequate ground space. So, you can use your ground space to install solar panels. Just make sure that you have an open space where adequate solar rays can hit the panels during the day.
Generally, mounting solar panels on the ground is quite easy because they can face any direction. Besides that, you don’t have to consider things such as roof design.
Flat Roof Solar Installation
Yes, you can install solar panels on a flat roof. In fact, these roofs make the whole process quite easier because there is no complex roof design to consider. It’s also worth noting that flat roof systems normally need a few holes.
Portable solar panels
They are ideal for those who are constantly on the move, for instance, those who frequently go for RV trips or camping outdoors. Generally, these solar panels are suitable for small energy supply but you can enhance their efficiency by adding some solar-friendly battery power packs.
Roof Space Converters
They are effective in enhancing space in roofs that have limited spaces. A space converter helps to add more space to an existing roof, adding more room for the installation of the solar panels.
How to Get Solar Panels Installed: The Cost
The average cost of installing a solar panel system is around $20,000. Well, on the lower end, you can install it with around $10,000 while around $30,000 can be used on the higher end. However, the total amount usually varies significantly from one installation to the next.
You will find that for a 1,500 square feet home that needs a 6 kW solar system, the cost of installation will be something around $18,000. On the other hand, residential solar panels that have between 3 kW and 8 kW size may need an installation cost ranging between $9,000 and $25,000. If we are to consider solar installation costs by size, then the average amount will be something like this:
- 2 kW: $6,100
- 3 kW: $9,300
- 4 kW: $12,000
- 5 kW: $14,000
- 6 kW: $19,000
- 7 kW: $21,000
- 8 kW: $25,000.
Overall, there are many factors that affect installation costs. So, how much an individual spends is going to considerably vary to the next person. Some of the factors that affect the total installation costs of a solar panel system include:
- The availability of local incentives as well as rebates
- The design of your roof and its solar potential. This is usually in regards to the total amount of sun the roof can receive per year.
- Your home’s electricity needs. How much energy do you need to use every day?
- The average cost of a solar panel system in your location
- The average cost of hiring an experienced solar installer. This depends on the demand for solar panels within the area. The higher the number of people who need solar panels, the more the installers, and the better the installation prices.
What’s the Return of Investment (ROI) on Solar Panels?
Generally, solar panels are like investments. People go for this renewable source of energy in order to cut down their electricity costs and to avoid overdependence on the national grid. So, generally, they expect a good return on investment.
To calculate this amount, you need to get the total payback. For instance, consider the amount you have incurred to get the solar panel system installed and then the amount you used to spend on energy bills per month.
So, the amount you are currently saving by using the solar panels is actually your ROI. Note that the savings will first have to cover the initial costs of the money you spent during installation of the system before you can have something extra to spend.
However, ROI, just like the cost of installation tends to vary from one location to the next. This is heavily influenced by the cost of electricity.
For instance, if you are in the US, then you know that the cost of electricity is quite higher in North-East compared to North-West. In such an instance, installing a solar panel system may be a cost-effective solution because the sun is abundant and the cost of electricity is high.
Things to Consider Before Installing a Solar Panel System
How are solar panels installed? When can you do this and what should you expect? If you are going to use an alternative source of energy such as this, then there are several factors that you need to certainly consider.
This is in relation to its design layout, the material used to make it, as well as its state. Solar panels are highly durable and also protective. So, the state of your roof matters because it determines how long the panels will stay in place.
Before you install such a system, the roofing condition needs to be great. Besides that, you need to consider the material because installers usually charge more for concrete and ceramic tiles. And how exposed is your roof? It’s recommended that the roof needs to be unobstructed for you to get the most out of such a system.
Overall, you don’t want to install the solar panels and then removed them for reinstallation within a few months or years. This is not only a challenging process but the total costs of removal and installation are quite expensive.
The Installation Type
The most common installation method is the roof-mounted type. It’s traditionally what most people opt for because of sunlight and also security. However, if this is not possible then ground-mounting is also a good option.
If you have a spacious property with enough ground space, then it’s ideal. Alternatively, your location may also influence your option of installing the panels on the ground. Understand that the more exposed the solar panels are, the better your chances of getting more energy.
You may find this article of mine helpful, How Solar Energy Works Diagram
Where do you live? Your location significantly affects how you receive sunshine. You will find that more people in the South or Southwest have solar panels compared to other regions. This is because they receive more sunshine hence installing solar panels seems like a good investment.
For those who live in regions around the Pacific Northwest, having such a system has a low return of investment. It doesn’t mean that if you live in such states you can use solar panels, but the energy production will not be that high.
A combination of your geographic region as while the orientation of your roof or landscape is, therefore, very important. Generally, roofs facing the south, south-west, or south-east have a greater potential of producing more energy.
But you can enhance the efficiency of energy collection by removing objects that may cast shadow to your rood. This includes satellite dishes and tall trees.
Even though you expect that your energy bills will drop significantly after installing the solar panels, the initial costs are not something to play with. As a matter of fact, the reason why most people can’t install solar panel systems is because of the high initial costs.
The cost can range between $20,000 and $35,000. However, factors such as the size of the solar system, the type of solar panels, as well as the company you will use may cause significant variations in the total amount. What you need to know is that you need to have a considerable amount in order to pay upfront.
Alternatively, you can opt to take a loan. But this is not considered to be the best solution. Because even with loans, you need to pay first down payment. Besides that, you will be required to pay the monthly fees which come with interest rates. Before you even get to enjoy the cheap energy costs, you would have spent so much.
How Are Solar Panels Installed On a Roof: FAQs
Q: Are Solar Panels Heavy?
A: Generally, solar panels aren’t heavy and so that can’t easily alter the roof design of your home. Each square feet of a solar panel can weigh a maximum of 2.7 pounds only. Reports indicate that over 95% of roofs where solar panels have been installed don’t need any form of extra support.
Q: Can Solar Panels Cause Roofs to Leak?
A: One thing that worries a lot of homeowners is a leaking roof as a result of the drilled holes on rails. The thing is that if the holes are well-drilled and the solar panels are installed correctly, then you don’t have to worry about leakages.
It should be noted that these panels can actually protect your roof if you install it correctly. Generally, it’s known that solar panels can help to reduce wear and tear. They are built with highly durable and long-lasting material. As a result, they can effectively withstand different elements of weather and ensure that your roof is clean and dry.
To be on the safe side, go for solar panel systems with warranties. We know that anything can and in that case, you can always seek compensation.
Q: Can Solar Panels Withstand Strong Winds?
A: Yes. They have been designed to withstand even the severest of weather patterns. Most of them have been designed with specifics to withstand local wind loading requirements. Generally, the panel systems can effectively withstand wind with speeds ranging between 90 and 120 mph.
Q: Do I Need to Reinstall the Solar Panels if I am Changing the Roofing Design?
A: Yes, you will have to reinstall the panels in case you want to change your roof. Just make sure that you get a solar installer to access the roof before you begin the roof modification process. This way, it will be easier for them to reinstall the panels.
The Bottom Line
The process of installing a solar panel system isn’t easy. That’s why if you are going to install the solar system on top of your roof, you need to employ the services of an experienced installer. More information can be found here.
The mounts on the rafters need to be placed some feet apart and holes drilled into the rafters. Thereafter, steel bolts have to be used to secure the mount and sealing of the surrounding areas. The solar panel system will then be fastened to the mount and connected to an electrical supply.
Although this is a straightforward process, you need someone with the right knowledge. If the system isn’t installed correctly, not only will you not collect less energy but you risk also damaging your roof.
However, the installation may slightly vary depending on where you opt to install the panels, their size, and the type of roofing used.
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