6 Things You Should Consider When Installing Solar Panels

Last Updated on November 25, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Solar panels can be a great addition to any home. And in recent years, solar energy has become one of the fastest growing sources of alternative sustainable energy in the world. For the 9th consecutive year, there have been a record number of annual solar panel installations with 168GW of new solar PV capacity being installed in 2021. And this is only expected to continue in 2022 to make a decade-long record-breaking streak. 

Solar panels for homes provide many financial and environmental benefits that include providing you with the opportunity to produce your own energy and cutting your carbon emissions. But there are things you should consider to prepare for the addition of solar panels.

What To Know Before Going Solar

solar panel

Solar panels have been around for decades, but they have become more affordable in recent years. So, if you are considering installing solar panels, here are some things you should take into account before moving forward with solar panel installation. While a solar panel installer can help prepare you, it is good to be aware of your choices and what would suit your home best.

Solar panel type

There are many different types of solar panels out there, and each type has its own pros and cons. For example, polycrystalline panels are cheaper than monocrystalline panels but they also produce less power than monocrystalline panels do. You should research different types before deciding which ones you want to be installed in your home

Solar panel system size

One of the most important considerations is how many solar panels you want to have and how powerful each one is. The size (measured in watts) matters because it determines their ability to generate energy. For example, a 400 watt panel will generate more electricity than a 250 watt panel.

This will determine how much energy you can produce. But keep in mind that the size of your solar panel system will be limited by how much roof space you have and your budget. While you can add more panels in the future, it’s important to make sure that your system has enough capacity to supply your energy needs.

Your roofing material

You will need to consider what kind of roofing material you have so that you can choose the right type of solar panel for your home. Today, almost any material can support solar panels. The exception is that slate and hardwood roofs may be too brittle depending on the size and weight of your solar panel system. 

Additionally, if your home’s roof is more than 10 years old, it may not be a good candidate because the roof could have been damaged by weather or other factors that could make it difficult or even impossible to put on solar panels.

Finding a Certified Installer

You’ll need to find a local installer who’s certified to install solar panels for homes. You may have to look around to find someone who does this kind of work in your area. Before hiring anyone, make sure they have all the necessary licenses, permits and insurance policies required by your state or county government. 

Where To Add Solar Panels

The most common place to add solar panels is on your home’s roof because it is typically the place that receives the most sunlight. But did you know that there are also other places to add solar panels? 

For instance, alternative places to add solar panels include your balcony, window, pergola, RV, and even a boat if you have one.

How to Maintain Your Solar Panels

When you install solar panels on your home, you want them to last for a long time, so proper maintenance is important. The good news is that most solar panel owners don’t have to do much. Solar panels usually come with a warranty that covers the installation and its parts. This means if anything goes wrong, you can call the manufacturer who will either fix it or replace it for free.

What are the main parameters to consider for efficient solar panels?

When it comes to selecting and installing solar panels, there are several important parameters to consider. The most important parameters include the type of panel, amount of sunlight available for harnessing, the type of roof or structure that will hold the panel, installation costs and maintenance requirements.

The type of solar panel is an important factor to consider when selecting solar panels. PV (photovoltaic) panels are the most common type of panel used to convert sunlight into electricity, while CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) panels use lenses and mirrors to concentrate light onto smaller areas of the solar cell. It is important to select a panel that is suited for the climate and other local conditions in order to maximize the efficiency of the solar panel.

The amount of sunlight available for harnessing is also important when choosing and installing a solar panel. If there are few sunny days, then the efficiency of the system will be decreased as less energy can be produced.

As Heatable highlights, double-sided or bi-facial solar panels can also increase overall efficiency, since this type of design allows even more sunlight to hit the panels from the underside and therefore the generation of more power. 

In fact, they state that the REA solar panels offer 10% more energy output than standard single sided solar panels

The location and orientation of the rooftop or structure that will hold the panel should also be taken into consideration. Placement of the panel can influence the amount of light that is available for harvesting and it is important to ensure that objects such as trees or buildings do not block access to sunlight on a regular basis.

The installation cost of solar panels can vary significantly depending on the type, size, and number of panels required. It is important to factor in the cost of installation labor, materials and any additional components such as batteries for storing energy.

Maintenance costs should also be taken into consideration when installing a solar panel system. Regular maintenance is necessary to keep the system functioning properly and it can add up over time if not planned for appropriately.

What questions to ask before getting solar panels?

  1. How much energy do I need? Knowing your current usage and estimating future needs is essential to determining how many panels you should install.
  2. What kind of roof do I have? The type of roof you have will determine the cost and feasibility of solar panel installation.
  3. Can my existing wiring handle the panels? If your home’s wiring is outdated or inadequate, you may need to upgrade it before installing solar panels.
  4. How much shade does my roof have? Areas of heavy shade will greatly reduce the amount of power generated by your solar panel system.
  5. Is local zoning permitting permission required for installation? Depending on your local regulations, you may need to obtain a permit before installing solar panels.
  6. How will I store the energy generated by my system? The storage of excess energy is critical in order to make the most out of your solar panel system. This can include batteries, grid-tied inverters, or a combination of both.
  7. What type of warranty or maintenance plan do I need? Make sure to inquire about the terms and conditions of your solar panel installation, including any repair or replacement policies for issues that arise. It’s also important to ask about regularly scheduled maintenance requirements as well as warranties on labor and parts.

What are the safety considerations of using solar power?

Using solar power has many safety considerations to keep in mind. Solar power is a renewable energy source, but it also carries risks when it comes to safety.

Some of the potential hazards of using solar power include electric shock or fire due to exposed wires, damage or destruction of property from installing mounting hardware, and damage to eyesight caused by staring directly into the sun.

To help protect yourself from potential hazards, it is important to follow all safety practices when installing and using solar power. Make sure all wiring is properly insulated with approved materials and checked by a qualified electrician.

Be sure to use secure mounting hardware that won’t damage the roof or cause any other damage during installation. Additionally, always wear protective eyewear when looking at the sun and never stare directly into it.

Finally, make sure that your solar panel system is regularly inspected and maintained to ensure maximum safety. Regularly check for any signs of damage or wear-and-tear on wiring, mounting hardware, and other components. If you notice any issues, contact a professional who can inspect and repair the system as soon as possible.

Roof requirements for solar panels.

The roof is one of the most important components in a solar panel installation. It needs to be sturdy, stable, and able to withstand all weather conditions. For optimal performance, the roof should also have an unobstructed view of the sun during daylight hours.

For residential homes, there are three primary types of roofs suitable for solar panel installation: flat roofs, pitched roofs, and metal roofs.

Flat roofs are the most common choice for solar panel installations due to their wide availability and relatively easy installation process. However, they can be prone to leaking and require regular maintenance.

Pitched roofs are more expensive but provide better drainage, as well as a steeper angle for capturing the sun’s rays. Metal roofs provide additional durability and require less maintenance, but they can be more difficult to install.

Can solar panel wires touch the roof?

The short answer is yes, solar panel wiring can touch the roof. However, there are several considerations that must be taken into account before doing so.

First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that the roofing material is of a type and quality that won’t degrade when in contact with electrical cables.

Additionally, while the wiring can be in contact with the roof, it should never be enclosed by metal or other materials that may create a path for stray electricity to escape.

What roofs are not suitable for solar panels?

There are some roofs that are not suitable for installing solar panels. These include roofs that have a pitch greater than 25 degrees, roofs with too much shade or shadows from trees or other structures, and those covered in moss or lichen.

Additionally, roofs made of materials such as asbestos, slate or ceramic tiles may be difficult to install solar panels on due to the complexity of mounting them correctly.

If you have any doubts about your roof’s suitability, it is best to consult with a professional solar installer who can assess your roof and provide guidance.

Finally, some buildings may be subject to restrictions or regulations that could limit where and how solar panels can be installed, such as in a historic district or conservation area. It is important to check with local authorities before committing to installing solar panels on your roof.

Are roof leaks common with solar panels?

Unfortunately, yes. Installing new roof-mounted solar panels can increase the risk of roof leaks if not properly installed. The holes drilled for mounting the panels on your roof may be too large or improperly sealed, allowing water to seep in and cause damage over time.

Other potential sources of leaks include faulty flashing around the edges of the panel array or incorrectly connected wiring. It’s important to make sure your solar installation is completed with the highest safety standards to minimize the risk of leaks.

Working with a reputable and experienced contractor who follows local building codes can help ensure your roof stays secure and watertight.

Additionally, it’s helpful to check your warranty coverage before beginning a solar panel installation, as some warranties may be voided if the installation is not completed with proper care.

What they don’t tell you about solar panels?

One of the most important things to consider when it comes to solar panels is that they require regular maintenance. Solar panels are exposed to the elements and can suffer from dirt, dust, and bird droppings.

This build-up can affect their efficiency, so you need to make sure they are regularly cleaned and inspected for any signs of damage.

You should also be aware that your panels may not last forever. While the average lifespan of a solar panel is 25 years, some can fail sooner or even break down after just a few years – depending on the quality and how well they are looked after.

Another factor to consider before investing in solar panels is that you need enough sunshine for them to work effectively. If you live in an area with a lot of cloud cover, rain or snowfall, your solar panels may not generate enough energy to be worthwhile.

Similarly, if you have any trees or nearby buildings that could cast shadows on the panels, they won’t receive as much direct sunlight and can suffer from reduced efficiency.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that solar panels require an initial investment. While solar energy is free and will save you money in the long run, there is a cost associated with purchasing, installing and maintaining the panels.

Before making a decision on whether or not to invest in solar power, consider these costs as well as any incentives, rebates or tax credits that may be available in your area.

Tips for installing solar panels.

  1. Research the requirements of your local area. Different locations have different regulations and guidelines when it comes to solar panel installation, so make sure you do your research beforehand. This will help ensure that everything goes smoothly and your system is up and running quickly.
  2. Find a qualified installer who knows their stuff about solar panel systems. A professional installer can help you choose the right system for your needs, as well as ensure a safe and efficient installation.
  3. Get familiar with local utilities and government incentives that may be available to you when installing solar panels. Some areas offer rebates or other incentives to offset some of the cost of installing solar panels.
  4. Select the right solar panel for your needs. Make sure you choose a panel that is capable of producing enough electricity to meet your needs and that is compatible with your existing electrical system.
  5. Consult with an electrician if necessary. Depending on the complexity of the installation, it may be wise to consult with an electrician in order to ensure your system is safely and correctly wired.
  6. Make sure your solar panel installation complies with local fire safety regulations. This includes making sure that the wiring and connections are properly installed, as well as having the appropriate emergency shut-off switch in place.
  7. Test your system regularly to make sure it is producing an adequate amount of power. You should also monitor the function of your solar panel system to make sure it is operating efficiently and effectively.