More Tips to Install Solar Panels on Your Rooftop
This blog post discusses the basics of rooftop solar systems, their advantages and the business models used in the sector.
With electricity prices rising every year, it makes sense to install a rooftop solar system and enjoy electricity from your own, personal power plant. Read on to find out the basics of rooftop solar systems, their essential components and what sort of roof space you need.
We had already talked about how to install solar panels on your rooftop in a previous article. In this blog post we give you 4 more tips to start the transition to solar.
Step 1: Understanding Your Roof Space
Let’s get this out of the way first: not all roofs will be suitable for a rooftop solar system. This is because of:
1. Roof size: You will need sufficient space to install a solar system that will be big enough to cater to your energy requirements.
2. Roof orientation: This refers to how your rooftop is placed relative to the sun’s movement across the sky. For a rooftop system to generate optimum output, roofs should be south facing (north facing for locations in the southern hemisphere), with the solar panels tilted at certain angles (that depends on the latitude of your location). The angle of tilt of a solar panel is an important parameter than governs its ability to receive adequate sunlight and produce electricity.
3. Shading: Your solar panels will not work if they are in the shade. Therefore it’s important that you observe your roof once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once in the evening to understand how much shade it receives from nearby trees, other buildings, pillars or built up areas on the roof itself, and what areas will fall under shading.
4. Roof structure: Your roof should be structurally solid enough to support the solar PV panels – not just for now, but for a couple of years!
Step 2: Understanding Solar Panels, Inverters and Balance of System (BOS)
The most common raw material for solar panels is purified, crystalline or non-crystalline (amorphous) silicon, a resource that is abundantly available. Solar panels generate electricity through the “Photovoltaic Effect” – which implies that whenever sunlight (photons) hits a semi-conducting material (such as silicon), the material generates electricity. The efficiency of commercially available solar cells (the amount of sunlight that it converts into electricity) varies from 10% to as high as 22%.
These are devices that convert the direct current (DC) – that is generated by the solar panels – into alternating current (AC), which is used to power the majority of electrical appliances (except for the ones that run on batteries).
Balance of System (BOS)
These are all the remaining components of a rooftop solar system (excluding the panels and the inverter). BOS typically includes:
- panel support structures (e.g. aluminium racking)
- energy meters
- battery packs (energy storage systems), etc.
Step 3: How much solar will you need?
This depends entirely on your electricity consumption. The more electricity you consume, the larger the size of your rooftop system.
To understand your consumption, grab hold of your monthly utility bill. It will show you the number of units (kWh) consumed in the previous billing cycle (usually 30 days). It’s important to note that energy consumption varies every month, with the highest bills typically being received (in India) during peak summer or winter.
Step 4: Sizing the rooftop solar system
To begin with, you probably want a system that is not too large and not too small. The size will be limited by the available rooftop space, by your finances and by the amount of power you consume during the day time (if you don’t want to store the power). For most households, system sizes range between 1-10 kW. For industrial users, they can be more than 1,000 kW. To size the solar system, you will have to understand some basic calculations, an excellent link to which can be found here.
Are you wondering, if solar energy is worth the investment? Are you trying to understand “how to calculate solar power”? Discover now how much money you can save per month with a solar system at your house, company of farm. Using our Solar Calculator, you can very easily estimate your solar potential based on your rooftop area and electricity bill.