You may have seen solar panels on the roof of houses, but what is the installation of solar panels?
The installation of a solar panel is not in itself very complex and consists of only a few parts. First, there are solar panels, which convert sunlight into energy.
INSTALLATION OF SOLAR PANELS
Another important component is the inverter that converts direct current into usable alternating current that is necessary for electrical appliances.
This current converted by the inverter is placed directly in the fuse box / meter, providing your home with green energy.
Finally, there is also the support structure and the wiring that complete the installation.
What is a solar panel installation?
The following components are part of the installation of a solar panel:
- Solar panels
- Support structure
You also need tools such as a drill, a ladder, screws, etc.
Solar panels are the most important part of an installation. Its operation is quite simple. A solar panel consists of several solar cells. In each solar cell, sunlight becomes direct current.
This is done by photons in sunlight hitting electrons in the solar cell. The difference in the electrical voltage generates the current. This current is sent to the inverter.
How much does a solar panel weigh?
It is possible to install solar panels yourself, although we do not recommend it. An average solar panel weighs 25 kilograms and requires the necessary knowledge. A good installer can also get the most out of an installation.
How much does it measure and how much energy does a solar panel produce?
Solar panels are the largest cost of an installation. A high-efficiency solar panel, such as the SunPower X series, measures 1m by 1.65m, equivalent to 1.65 square meters and delivers approximately 335Wp per year, equivalent to approximately 300kWh of energy per year.
How much does a solar panel cost?
For an installation that supplies 3500kWh of electricity every year, therefore, it needs around 12 solar panels. A panel of the SunPower X series costs around 600 euros, so with an installation of solar panels with high efficiency solar panels, you should have about 7,000 euros only for the panels.
It is recommended to install high efficiency panels when the surface area for installation is small, since less solar panels are required.
When there is a lot of space available on the roof, you can opt for traditional solar panels that have lower efficiency but also lower costs per watt. The installation will then cost less in total.
How many years of warranty does a solar panel have?
Also keep in mind the guarantee of the solar panels. Many manufacturers offer a 25 year warranty on the panels (not the inverter). This guarantee guarantees the performance of the panels during the warranty period.
Most manufacturers give a performance guarantee of 80% after 25 years. Solar panels lose around 0.5% in annual yield.
After solar panels, the inverter is the most important part of an installation. As the name implies, an investor guarantees that the electricity generated in the solar panels is transformed into usable electricity for the home.
Solar panels generate direct current, but electrical devices use alternating current. This process of converting direct current into alternating current is done in the inverter.
Most installations use an inverter that has a power slightly lower than the total output of the solar panel installation.
Microinvestors have been increasing in recent years . The number of microinverters is equal to the number of panels. An advantage of this is that each solar panel works separately and, therefore, can achieve a better return in a non-ideal location. An installation with microinverters is much more expensive than a system with a single inverter.
An investor for an installation of around 3500kWh costs between 1000 and 1500 euros depending on the brand. The manufacturer’s warranty for an investor is between 5 and 10 years.
For larger installations of, for example, 7000 kWh, it is recommended to install 2 inverters with a capacity of 3500 kWh each, especially when the price is not much higher for both. When one of the inverters no longer works, it still has electricity for half the installation.
One important misunderstanding is that the solar panels are installed directly on the roof. This is incorrect. The solar panels are installed in the support structure. This support structure is fixed on the roof.
There are different types of support structures, but in our region, these are usually aluminum structures that are bolted to the roof for sloping roofs or a structure that is reinforced with ballast for flat roofs, as it is not ideal for drilling holes for roofs blueprints .
A support structure is a very important part of the installation of a solar panel. On the one hand, you must ensure that it is properly secured in the roof and, on the other, that the solar panels can be adequately secured in the support structure.
A support structure must operate for at least 25 to 30 years in all weather conditions without problems. That’s why most support structures consist of aluminum or stainless steel, better known as stainless steel.
A good support structure is lightweight and also ensures that the solar panels can be ventilated. After all, when the solar panels get too hot, they lose efficiency.
When solar panels are placed on a flat roof, the bearing structure can form the perfect slope for maximum return. The ideal slope for solar panels is between 35 and 40 degrees. With a flat roof, it is necessary that the solar panels are sufficiently separated so that they do not have shade, which reduces the efficiency.
The wiring of an installation goes from the solar panels to the inverter and then from the inverter to the meter cabinet.
The cables from the solar panels to the inverter are outside. As a result, they must be well insulated to continue working in extreme weather conditions.
Most cables in a facility even have double insulation. A 4 mm diameter cable is sufficient for most consumer installations. The solar panels are connected in series.
The other cable goes from the inverter to the meter cabinet. This cable runs alternating current that is distributed through the cabinet of the meter to electrical appliances in your home.
In most situations, it is recommended to place the inverter near the meter cabinet with the shortest possible cable to avoid losses.
Installation of solar panels.
The installation of solar panels is not complicated in itself and consists of few steps. However, it is important that each step be executed perfectly.
After all, an installation must provide power for at least 25 years, preferably for much longer. Most private facilities consist of the following steps:
- Preliminary study
- Assembly of the support structure.
- Fixation of the solar panels to the support structure.
- Placing the inverter
- Wiring of the installation.
- Inspection of the installation.
Below you will find detailed information on each step during installation.
Before the current installation, a preliminary study is carried out. If you have chosen a reliable installer of more than 100 solar panel installers , you will be in place to study the roof. Not all ceilings are suitable for installing solar panels, or some measures require special measures.
Some other important points are considered in the study:
- Inclination of your roof.
- Orientation of your roof.
- Any shade of trees or other roofs.
- Usable roof area
Based on these data and your budget, an installer can prepare a quote . Here, an estimate is made of the performance of the installation, the number of solar panels that will be installed, the type of inverter, the brand of the support structure and the wiring. A date will also be agreed so that the installers can install the solar panels.
Assembly of the support structure.
On the day of installation, the first step is to assemble the support structure. The positioning of the support structure is done by drilling the roof hooks in the roof structure.
The support structure for the solar panels is installed on these hooks. This support structure is generally no more than 2 aluminum rails in which a row of solar panels is placed.
The same goes for a flat roof, but the structure of the bearing is slightly different. The support structure for a flat roof installation is inclined and can be placed with an almost perfect inclination and orientation.
Very important with a support structure with a flat roof is the ballast, which must be heavy enough so that the installation of the solar panel remains in place with strong winds.
Fixation of the solar panels to the support structure.
There are clamps in the support structure. This is where the solar panels are fixed and screwed. Normally 4 clamps are used per solar panel.
The fixation of the solar panels on the support structure is not complicated in itself, but as each panel weighs approximately 25 kilograms, it is recommended to leave it in the hands of workers with experience in the roof.
The complete installation in private houses usually takes 1 to 2 days and is carried out by 2 to 3 experienced technicians or roofers.
They also connect during the assembly of the solar panels. The solar panels are connected together in series, also known as a loop. Each solar panel is connected to each other through a negative and positive connector. The first and last solar panel is connected to the rest of the wiring.
Placing the inverter
The last step before making the wiring is the installation of the inverter. Depending on the installation of the solar panel, your installer can choose the best location for the inverter. In most cases, it is recommended to place the inverter near the meter cabinet.
The inverter must be level against the wall. This is done through a mounting plate. An inverter is heavy and is usually installed by 2 people.
Wiring of the installation.
The last step before you can connect the entire installation of the solar panel to the distribution network is the wiring. Short and to the point, the wiring consists of 2 different cables.
A direct current cable that goes from the solar panels to the inverter. This cable is largely on the outside and, therefore, has double insulation.
It is important that the space around the cable be hermetically closed. This is particularly important with flat roofs so there are no leaks.
Then there is the AC cable that goes from the inverter to the meter box. A fuse box is installed next to the inverter between the inverter and the meter cabinet.
It is also important to place the protective conductor. All electrical metal constructions must be connected to ground in Belgium, in the Netherlands this is not required by law.
Inspection of the installation.
Before being able to use the installation, it must be inspected. This is done by a recognized inspector. An AREI inspection report is produced during this inspection. Only then, when the installation meets all the requirements of AREI, the installation can be put into operation.
All you have to do after a successful inspection is turn on the inverter. The first time the inverter is turned on, it will check if everything is connected correctly and works correctly. If this is the case, the energy is delivered immediately from the solar panels of your home.