Install your own solar panels


Install your own solar panels : designing and installing a photovoltaic system to power your home


 Install your own solar panels

 Labor and related costs account for more than half of the price of the average home solar installation. But homeowners can save thousands of dollars with this user-friendly manual, which follows the same process professional contractors use. Through detailed directions and step-by-step photos, veteran solar installer Joseph Burdick and seasoned builder Philip Schmidt teach you how to determine the size, placement, and type of installation you’ll need. This comprehensive DIY guide covers everything from assembling rooftop racking or building a ground-mount structure to setting up the electrical connections and making a battery bank for off-grid systems.


Anatomy of a Solar-Electric System

    The science of turning sunlight directly into electricity is known as photovoltaics (PV), referring to photons of light and volts of electricity. Here's your 10-second lesson on how PV works: Solar panels, properly called PV modules (see You Say "Panels"; We Say "Modules,"), contain solar cells, which are most commonly made of layers of silicon, a semiconductor material made from sand (also the namesake of Silicon Valley). When photons of light enter a solar cell, they get absorbed and excite electrons in the silicon layers, causing them to move and, ultimately, flow continuously through a circuit of wiring that feeds into the PV system. Harnessing this electron flow is what gives you electrical power.

    The electricity produced by PV modules (and used by all batteries) is direct current(DC), in which all of the electrons move in one direction only. Your home's electrical system and most appliances use alternating current (AC) power, in which the electrons move back and forth, alternating direction about 60 times per second. Therefore, PV systems include one or more inverters that convert the DC solar-generated electricity to usable AC power for your home (and, with grid-tied systems, for selling back to the utility grid).

Electrical Installation Work Tutor Support Material


Table Of Contents


1  The Basics

    Anatomy of a Solar-Electric System

    Can I Install My Own PV System?

    Going Solar – From Start to Finish

    Working with Solar Professionals

    Answering the Big Three

2  Assessing Your Site

    Measuring Area, Slope, and Azimuth

    Sizing Your System with PVWatts

    Snow, Wind, and Shade

3  Choosing PV Hardware


    Module Support Structures

    Inverters and DC Optimizers

4  Designing Your System

    PV Circuit Fundamentals

    The Design Process

    Sample System Designs

    One-Line Electrical Diagrams

    Wire Types for PV Systems

5  Getting Ready to Install

    Permitting and Inspections

    Shopping Solar

    Solar Financials

    Assembling Your Crew

6  Mechanical Installation: Rooftop

    Laying Out the Racking

    Installing Footers and Rails

    Installing Modules

7  Mechanical Installation: Ground-Mount

    Setting the Support Posts

    Assembling the Ground-Mount Structure

8  Electrical Installation

    Final Project Steps

    Running Conduit

    Component Connections

    Final Inspection and Turning On Your PV System

9  Off-Grid System Design

    Off-Grid Basics


    Sample Off-Grid System Design

10  Beyond Installation: Tips for Troubleshooting, Maintaining, and Monitoring Your PV System

    PV Safety Rules

    Shutdown and Startup Procedures

    Maintenance and Troubleshooting

    Monitoring Your System

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