Solar power is a wonderful energy efficient way to power your home, however, you need to make sure that you’re getting the installation process right. Here are some tips on how you can get into solar for the first time.
Choosing Your Contractor
Always ask about your potential contractor’s work record, licenses, and experience, and always ensure that you get multiple bids before choosing the right person to install your system. Here are some questions you should definitely ask:
Have they ever installed a grid-connected PV system?
Have they ever installed a standalone PV system?
How much experience do they have with installed PV systems?
Are they certified and licensed?
Are there any active or pending liens or judgments against the company?
Getting Multiple Bids
Getting several bids is important, however, you need to ensure that all of the bids have been made using the same basis. The bids must also state clearly the maximum generating capacity of the system in either watts or kilowatts as well as an estimate of how much energy it could produce per year. The bid should also include the cost of hardware, connection, installation, permits, warranty and sales tax. You will need to check that the warranty meets the essential criteria for any solar rebate program you want to benefit from.
Choosing The Right System
When choosing the right solar PV system for your needs, you need to consider the amount of sun your property is exposed to, what size system you require to meet the energy needs for your home, where you will locate the system and the amount of space it requires, whether the system will be connected to the grid and also what you must do to guarantee the system is installed safely.
Maintaining The System
PV systems need periodic, routine maintenance and its components will often need replacing and repairing. A long-lasting, efficient system depends on regular checks of its components and routing preventative maintenance. Discuss the maintenance provision for your system with the installation and also check what you need to do in the event of an emergency failure. Some routine tasks may be possible to carry out yourself, however, you will need to identify a professional in the event of serious work being required.
Sizing The System
If you can accurately size the components of your PV system you’ll be able to ensure that the system produces enough power. To do this you will need to know what percentage of your energy must be supplied by the system. If you can reduce your electricity load, you will be able to buy a cheaper and small system. When determining the size of your PV system, you’ll also need to consider the following:
The tilt and orientation of the system
How efficient the system is
Other sources of electricity in your home
Siting The System
You will need to consider both the tilt and orientation of the panels or modules as this will affect how much output your system will produce. You will need to maximize the amount of solar energy received by the modules, and therefore you will need, if possible, to face them true south if you are in the northern hemisphere. When the modules are being mounted on the roof, you’ll need to think about the condition and orientation of your roof, any landscape features which may shade the module, local weather conditions which could affect the orientation.