What do I need to know before I install solar?
Step 1: Select the right technology
There are many types of solar technology. Photovoltaic lets you produce electricity, while Solar thermal heats water.
The two main choices for photovoltaic systems are monocrystalline silicon and polycrystalline silicon. Monocrystalline silicon panels may have slightly better efficiencies than polycrystalline.
A reputable brand of solar panels will have a more significant impact on how much energy your system generates.
Solar water heaters, also called solar domestic hot water systems, can be a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home.
The solar system does include not only the panels but also an inverter. This device converts direct current (DC), produced by solar panels, into alternating current, a more widespread form of electricity. There are two types.
The string or centralized inverter is the first. It is the most widely used inverter in the world. This inverter is more economical and converts all DC power from solar panels centrally. This has the disadvantage that it treats solar panels as Christmas lights. If one panel is not performing well, it can limit the entire setup.
Solar panels are only as efficient as their weakest, so if one panel is underperforming, it limits the system's ability to generate more electricity.
The microinverter is the second type of inverter. Although it costs more than the string, it has some benefits. The microinverter is typically mounted on each solar panel, unlike the string inverter. This makes it more sensitive to shade and allows for more energy to be generated by partially shaded solar panels.
It is essential to choose a high-quality inverter as they are often the most critical component of any solar array. The inverter is the component that will most likely reach its end of life. Inverters can last between 15 and 40 years, while solar panels last for around 30-40 years. The premium inverter is the best option if you're unsure whether
you should spend more on a premium panel or an inverter.
A solar micro-inverter, or microinverter, is a plug-and-play device that converts direct current (DC) generated by a single solar module to alternating current (AC).
Step 2: Take a look at your energy consumption
An experienced solar installer can help you measure how much energy you use. This will help you determine how much solar power you want. Knowing the average energy you will consume, you can make informed decisions about how many panels you want and how much solar can cover your energy consumption.
It is also essential when using energy. Are you using power in the mornings, evenings, or the middle of the night? This is crucial when considering solar panel placement and the importance of net metering.
To determine your home’s average energy requirements look at past utility bills. You can calculate how many solar panels you need by multiplying your household’s hourly energy requirement by the peak sunlight hours for your area and dividing that by a panel’s wattage.
Use a low-wattage (150W) and high-wattage (370W) example to establish a range (ex: 17-42 panels to generate 11,000 kWh/year). Note that how much sunlight your roof gets and factors such as roof size and battery storage will figure in as well.
Step 3: Find out about local financial incentives.
Many countries offer incentives for those who want to install solar panels. This makes electricity from photovoltaics more competitive with existing energy production methods. There are two main types of government financial incentives.
- Investment subsidies in which part of the cost to install solar panels is refunded.
- Feed-in tariffs or net billing are where the solar electricity you produce is sold to an electric utility.
Subsidies are available in many countries, including the USA, India, China, and China. Feed-in tariffs are even more popular. Countries that have adopted the policy include
Australia, Canada and many EU countries.
Many countries offer both these policies. However, in some cases, other incentives exist (e.g., Solar Renewable Energy Certificates in America).
It can help you decide if investing in solar power for your home or your business is financially sound.