Mounting solar panels can be a bit of an art, but it’s also simple science. There are three main things to consider when you’re putting up your new solar panels: the sun, gravity, and electricity. Gravity is important because if you mount them wrong, they’ll fall off your roof during a heavy rainstorm or after an earthquake. Electricity matters because you don’t want to kill yourself by accidentally touching live wires while up on the roof. Lastly, sunlight is necessary for converting photons into electrons so that you can generate power from the sun with your shiny new system!
In order for them to work properly, however, they need to be mounted on something sturdy and secure, like a roof. This guide will walk you through the process of safely mounting your solar panels so that they can provide you with renewable energy for years and years.
Things to consider before you start mounting your Solar Panels
Figure the Correct Angle for Solar Panels
The angle will vary depending on your location and the season. You’ll need to look at a solar chart for your area to determine the best angle. This is because the sun’s rays are more direct in some regions than others depending on the time of year and where you live, so you need to adjust accordingly.
For example, in the summer when it is more direct, you’ll want to angle your panels approximately 30 degrees. This will be perfect for collecting energy from the sun’s rays all throughout the day. During colder days in winter or areas that are farther north with less direct sunlight, you will need to adjust this to an angle between 10 and 20 degrees.
Most solar panels come with a built-in tilt meter which tells you what angle each panel should be set at based on sunlight conditions and battery requirements.
Also Read: Best Roof Pitch for Solar Panels
Determine Your Power Needs
You’ll need to determine how many solar panels you should have based on your energy needs. For example, if you use approximately 2,000 kWh of electricity each month and its summertime (when the sun is more direct), then we’d recommend ten 250-watt panels which would give you about 2KW worth of power (2 kW x 10 solar panels).
Your energy needs change throughout the year and depend on where you live (e.g., Alaska will receive less sun than Florida) so be sure to consider this when buying or putting up your panels. You can find out more about these factors by checking out a solar system size calculator before you purchase your solar panels.
Determine the Number of Sun Hours in Your Area
To determine how many solar panels, you’ll need to generate the amount of power you require. To do this, you can go online and look at a solar panel insolation chart (this shows the number of sunlight hours in your state). The number of hours required will vary based on where your house is located and what time of year it is, but we recommend mapping out these numbers before you buy anything so that you can buy or install accordingly.
The Size and Design of Your Home
You’ll need to consider the size of your roof before you start planning how to mount your solar panels. While many installations keep panels on racks placed underneath or beside a rooftop, some are mounted directly onto the roof for aesthetic purposes. If this is your choice, make sure that you have enough space for all of them and that they’re not too heavy for the roof.
Solar panel weight varies greatly depending on their wattage/output but generally, 100 watts will weigh around 16 pounds while 400 watts can be close to 40 pounds. This means that if you only have lightweight shingles, strong winds could blow them off your roof in no time!
If necessary, you can reinforce your roof structure under each panel so that they won’t blow away in strong gusts and keep them securely mounted. You will need to put at least one support under your panels (e.g., a small post) to brace them in place.
Steps to Install Solar Panels
Step 1 – Check if your Roofs is Right for Panels
Before doing anything else, make sure that your roofing material can effectively support these panels or even if it’s possible on your particular style of house. Many installations are placed on racks under or beside the rooftops while others are mounted directly onto them. You’ll need a minimum pitch of around 6 in order to keep them level and secure.
The other option is to install these on racks under the rooftops, but you should make sure that it’s not too low for where you live (e.g., high winds could easily blow away lightweight panels). Another thing to consider is that if it makes sense aesthetically, then this might be preferable over installing directly onto the roof. You can avoid problems with weight by using flat racks which are designed to hold multiple panels without causing damage.
Also Read: Best Roof Material for Solar Panels
Step 2 – Find the Best Location
If you’re looking for a stylish way of keeping your solar power source underneath your solar panels so that they blend in with your home, then these are usually installed at the same height as the roof. If necessary, they can be tilted to make them more efficient or angled in different directions. Make sure that all of them can be easily accessed from the ground as well as from your home.
In contrast to this, those who want a more secure and durable option might prefer to mount these directly onto their rooftops. In this case, panels should be level and spaced evenly apart so that they’re not too heavy or uneven for the roofing material. You’ll need to have a minimum pitch of around 6 in order to keep them securely mounted. Be sure that each one is clearly visible from inside your house as well as accessible by yourself without much difficulty (e.g., ladders).
Step 3 – Check your Roof Orientation, Size, Pitch, and Shading
Your roof orientation – This is simply whether it’s facing south, west, etc. Generally what direction facing roofs get more sunlight and will allow for greater energy output than other orientations.
Shading and size – If there are obstacles nearby (e.g., trees) or small houses on your street that could obstruct sunlight from reaching your panels throughout the day, then it’s usually best to find a different location. Some panels can become shaded by objects just 3-5 feet away while others don’t work when they’re directly blocked out of the sun.
Pitch – The steeper your roof is, the more difficult it can be to mount these onto them. In addition to this, steep roofs are usually more expensive to install and they often require bolting which makes them harder to take down in the future if necessary. Although it will depend on your specific installation type and situation, a pitch of around 6-8 is ideal for solar panels.
The size of your roof – Typically speaking, larger roofs with more square footage will provide more electricity output than smaller ones so you’ll want to balance the size of your solar panels with this.
Step 4 – Figure out your latitude tilt
If you live in a northern or southern hemisphere, then this will affect the performance of your panels. If it’s around 25 degrees from the equator, then there won’t be much loss in solar energy and you can install these flat. However, if it’s higher than 30-35 degrees (e.g., 45), then they’ll need to be adjusted upwards (e.g., by mounting them securely on poles) to make up for the lack of strength compared to direct sunlight. If it’s lower, then they’ll need to be tilted downwards so that they can stay as close as possible to the sun throughout the day and night.
Step 5 – Build the Platform
Depending on the design you choose, there are different ways to make sure that it’s sturdy enough. One option is to drill directly into your roofing material or mount them onto the roof beams (e.g., trusses). After this, you can either screw them to these structures or use adhesive sealing strips around each one for added security.
In other cases, you might have a flat rack that can be easily installed on top of your roof. If needed, these can also be secured with screws or adhesive materials to keep them in place.
Step 6 – Mount the Panels
Once your platform is finished, the next thing to do is attach the panels to it. Depending on what type of design you went with, there are different ways to do this.
– If you used a roof rack or flat platform, then screw them onto these areas using self-tapping T-nuts and bolts (e.g., included with the panels) or alternative mounting screws.
– If you built a platform that’s attached directly to your roof beams (e.g., trusses), then use either adhesive sealing strips or self-tapping T-nuts and bolts.
Step 7 – Drill holes into the rafters
Once the panels are securely mounted onto the platform, you’ll need to drill holes into the rafters or beams of your house. This is so that you can then secure the cables that will bring electricity between each one and into your main breaker box.
Step 8 – Secure the mounts with steel bolts
After you’ve drilled the holes into your rafters or beams, then attach them to each panel very securely by using steel bolts that are at least 3.5″ long. This is so that they’re well-protected from strong winds and possibly heavy snow loads.
Step 9 – Ground the Panels and the Mounting System
For your panels to work as efficiently as possible, you’ll need to make sure that they’re grounded. If you have a grounding rod at the edge of your roof, then attach this first and run a cable from each panel down into it.
Alternatively, there are alternative ways to earth these. For example, some mounting systems will include a grounding wire that you attach to each panel. This is then connected into the ground on your house or through your main breaker box.
Step 10 – Fasten the solar panels to the mounts
Finally, you need to attach each panel securely with the screws that actually hold them into place. Make sure that this is done before you connect it to your inverter (if yours is already installed).
Step 11 – Conduct a Test Run
Now that your panels are installed, it’s time to do a quick test run. Plug each one into the corresponding inverter and then turn them on to see if any panels don’t work. If so, go back up into your attic or roof area and recheck all of the connections.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Benefits of Installing Solar Panels?
There are many potential benefits to installing your own solar panels. For starters, they can reduce your energy costs by up to 90%, depending on the type of system you use and where you live (e.g., hotter climates will get better results).
Another benefit is that this green technology uses renewable sources of energy such as the sun and wind. As a result, it doesn’t contribute to global warming or other types of environmental damage like fossil fuels do.
You can also decide to sell excess electricity to the grid. By doing so, you will ensure the continuous availability of electrical power while also earning.
How do I know if my roof is suitable for solar panels?
In order for your roof to be suitable, it must have strong support beams and not be too steeply pitched. In addition, the outer layer needs to be at least 15-18% reflective. This is because if the outer layer of your roof isn’t reflective enough, then too much heat can build up and damage both your panels and your house.
Your roof must also be large enough to fit all of your panels without having them shadow one another when they’re in use. A good rule of thumb for this is to figure out how many square feet of space each panel will occupy and add up these numbers. This should give you the total size required for all of your panels combined.
Now that you have all of this information, it would be a good idea to try out your new solar power system. If one of the panels doesn’t work, go back up into your attic or roof area and recheck all of the connections.
Once they’re working correctly again, you’ll notice how much energy you save on each month’s electric bill. A great side benefit of this is how much money you can potentially make by selling any excess electricity to the grid.
If there are any further problems with either your panels or inverter, then refer back to these instructions or consult an electrician for assistance. It might also be helpful to purchase insurance for your new solar installation since they tend to be expensive enough as it is.