Large array of solar panels on slopes field

Step By Step Guide To Where Solar Panels Are Installed

Many people choose to power their homes with renewable energy, and solar is at the top of this list. Does the installation process seem too complex for you? With this step-by-step guide to where solar panels are installed, we can lead you through it.

Locations that yield the most optimized exposure to solar energy are where solar panels need to be installed. Traditionally, they get elevated to vertical rooftops or mounted to leveled flooring by assembling multiple independent panels.

Solar panels are a popular option as primary or backup power sources. Those who spend lots of time camping, boondocking, and maybe boating are probably already familiar with portable solar panels. They are reliable and adaptable energy outputs, much like fixed solar panels. 

Fixed solar panels work best when placed on roofs, as they gather the most sunlight at the highest possible points. Since they aren’t portable, getting the installation right is critical.

Solar Panels 101

Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight and converting it to electricity. Photons to electrons. The panels use photovoltaic technology. The light gets converted into electricity, which powers all our devices and appliances. (source)

Solar energy is an alternative energy source. It has some similarities but also some differences compared to the other ones.

Solar Energy Advantages

  • Clean energy
  • Free of charge
  • An inexhaustible source of energy
  • Contributes to sustainability

Because solar energy has so many benefits, no wonder it is one of the most used power alternatives to fossil fuels. The need for clean, affordable energy is growing, yet renewable power comes with some downsides. (source)

Solar Energy Disadvantages

  • Low conversion efficiency 
  • Differing availability
  • Diluted source of energy

The sun doesn’t shine in the exact amounts in all parts of the Earth at all given times. It is one of the reasons it still cannot be a universal source of energy. Another major one is a higher cost. It happens because there are more panels necessary and low conversion rates. (source)

Deciding to use solar panels can be an exhausting process because of all the preparations that have to take place. The first (and the essential one) is where the solar panels are installed.

Where Are Solar Panels Installed

Solar panels are traditionally installed on the very tops of the highest surfaces of houses or buildings. They can also go next to the building they’re converting electricity for. To have the best possible idea of where you should install your solar panels, follow these criteria first.

Criteria For Installing Solar Panels

  1. Slope – the flatter the surface, the higher the amount of radiation gained. It enables you to get optimal sun exposure. Another thing to note here is the direction of the slope.
  2. Terrain type – what kind of land is surrounding the solar panel system? Urban areas can work better than remote ones because of the lack of harmful particles found in a landfill. Large bodies of water aren’t good surroundings for installing solar panels, but proximity to water to provide cooling is acceptable.
  3. Proximity to highways and roads – dust and debris might get in if you install your solar panels too close to the road. There’s also a risk of vandalism.
  4. General weather conditions – if your area has a lot of snow and rain or is prone to extreme weather, re-consider solar panels. The same goes for sandy locations, as sand damages solar cells.

Before the installation process begins, ensure you have selected the correct tilt angle where the solar energy will get collected. Research has shown that it’s best to have the panel facing the equator. Mounting at less than optimal angles will lower energy output. (source)

Geographic information systems allow us to make these decisions before implementing them. They take all kinds of data and maps to know precisely if, where, and how many solar panels we should install. (source)

When doing the calculations, take into account all seasons. Your solar panels will not be gathering sunshine only during spring and summer; autumn and winter are also essential. Extreme weather conditions could also come into play, even though they aren’t as predictable. 

Why Should I Choose A Solar Panel System?

Engineers check installation solar cell on the roof of factory on the morning.

People have various motives for using a renewable energy source. Some have to do with eco-conservation and some with saving money—check in with yourself before embarking on this journey.

Some common reasons why you should install solar panels are:

  • Self-sufficiency
  • Free source of power (after initial setup)
  • The sole source of energy (especially when living in remote areas)
  • Preservation of the environment

We’re all looking at ways to save money on every possible occasion. You are already on the right path by interacting with a step-by-step guide to where solar panels are installed. You will be saving some extra money, but you will also be saving energy. 

Conventional energy sources are of the non-renewable kind. You keep paying your bills to a large corporation which then uses it to ensure more fossil fuels. They get used up in no time, so this circle is neverending. Unless you decide to take matters into your own hands. A great way to do so is by investing in your solar panel system.

Cost Of Solar Panel Installation

To determine the cost of solar panel installation, you will need to look at several things. First things first, get ready to look at a time frame of several years. The total cost of the installation of solar panels will eventually become net positive financially, so look at it from this perspective. (source)

Another thing you should consider at the very beginning is the wattage of all the appliances that will use the solar panels. You can look these up by turning your device around and checking the label or searching online. Another option is to get a multimeter which will measure the wattage for you. (source)

It is essential to have as close an estimate as possible of your total energy output. If you skip this step, you might have less power than you need. It means you could pay extra to set everything up again. More energy isn’t that much of a problem, as you can store it for later use. 

Lastly, you’ll have to create a sample solar project design to calculate the cost.

Solar Panel Installation Sample Design

Designing your solar panel system doesn’t mean you need exceptional artistic skills. It all comes down to your energy requirements and what you expect from your solar panels.

There are some steps you should follow:

  1. Size the footprint of your solar project and your area – are you installing solar panels for your primary household? Is it for a cabin outside the woods that doesn’t have a direct electrical connection? Or will you use the Sun’s energy to power a couple of outdoor lights? Start with a blueprint of what you want to accomplish.
  2. Evaluate how much solar energy is available to you by using geographic information systems or contacting experts to get a rough estimate. 
  3. Evaluate how much electricity you require to cover your total power expenditure.
  4. Analyze the costs of individual materials necessary – will you buy solar panels online or from a specialized shop? Does your design start from scratch? Gather this information before making the purchase.
  5. Create an extensive design – you can go back to the drawing board at this step and make up a visual of your project. Once you finish this step, you can assemble solar panels and install them.

(source)

Hopefully, you have a clearer idea of where solar panels are installed by now. Another thing you should consider is how you will arrange your solar panels. It is the final step you’ll take before proceeding with the implementation of your design.

Models of Solar Panel Installation

Choose a way to set up your solar panel system so it provides you with the most efficient it can. We distinguish between several main solar panel system models based on different factors. The models are:

  • Rooftop system
  • Ground-mount system 
    • Portrait orientation
    • Landscape orientation

It is apparent from the overview above that solar panel models take two general approaches. In the first one, the panels go on the rooftop. They lay flat on the roof, where possible, or have a tilt in the right direction. 

If the location of the solar panels is on the ground, they can be facing the Sun either horizontally or vertically. It depends on what kind of space is available to you, but the total solar surface will remain the same.

Try setting your solar panels on top of your roof if you can. You can also use double-sided boards, which function better on a higher surface. It will enable you to get up to 20% more solar energy than the ground-mount system. (source)

When setting up your solar panel system model, you’ll have to make some calculations. These connect to the solar cells themselves and individual items that make up the structure.

Solar Panel Installation Figures

  • Spacing 
  • Dimensions
  • Quantity of fundament rails 
  • Quantity of module rails
  • Quantity of columns
  • Quantity of clamps

(source)

Proper spacing of solar panels is vital to knowing where solar panels are installed. Slight variations in the amount of space between panels influence the entire structure. Other aspects, like the wind, should be considered here as well. (source)

If you’ve decided on mounting your solar panels on the roof, take installation precautions to minimize wind risks. Move the panels away from the edge of the building as much as possible. When the perimeter is larger, the wind’s strength decreases. (source)

A firm foundation has to be in place, so the solar panels don’t collapse. Use the same number of fundamental rails and the same number of columns on each side. As for the module rails, their numbers will depend on the tilt angle. Traditional fixed module rails cannot move afterward, while flexible ones move according to the Sun. (source)

Clamps should go on each side of the columns, at the beginning, middle, and end. Their quantity varies per panel size. Make sure to leave some additional space to fit the clamps if installing a minor solar panel system. (source)

Got all your items ready, but you’re still unsure where the best location for them will be? Let’s retrace our steps back to the optimal placement of solar panels.

How Did You Decide Where To Place Your Solar Panels?

When your solar panel system installation is on its way, you can strategize with your overall energy efficiency. The safest approach to take is where you optimize the arrangement of individual solar panels. (source)

You can do so from the comfort of your home by using remote technology such as satellite imagery and other methods. The two most useful ones are:

  • Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR)
  • Digital Elevation Model (DEM)

(source)

The data these systems collect will tell you how much solar energy you can expect during a specific period. Use this information to figure out where your solar panels should be installed. 

If you are brand-new to solar energy, you might want to consult with an expert. Reading these figures can be exhilarating, yet you can simplify them by categorizing them.

Solar Data Categories

  • Temperature (minimum and maximum)
  • Sunshine period
  • Location (exact altitude, longitude, latitude, depth)
  • Precipitation and cloud coverage

(source)

Pay special attention to where shadows fall on the desired location of your solar panel system. If you can’t access this info via a satellite, take some pictures on your own. Study how the Sun hits the area at different times of the day (morning, noon, afternoon) and do so throughout the entire year.

Since it is specific to your situation, you will be much more in tune with where solar panels are installed in the end. If you might be moving the solar panels, look into all the data you’ve gathered and assess it here. 

Is My Home Fit For Solar PV Panels?

Before you install solar panels in your household, you may wonder if it’s the right choice. Most homes located in urban areas are okay for installing solar panel systems. If you’re unsure, you can always reach out to solar experts for an evaluation.

Depending on your location, the country’s weather conditions, and total Sun coverage, you might not benefit as much from solar energy. Understanding where solar panels are installed in your home is as notable as your motivation behind doing so. 

Research shows that people are more reluctant to solar system installations when their neighbors or peers aren’t participating. It’s not the price that bothers them or the risks with the project. It’s the acceptance in the eyes of others. (source)

The general attitude in your community towards renewable energy sources is likely shaping your own. You might not even be aware of this process. Green marketing is a solution to these challenges; promoting a sustainable approach in the collective looks like the way to go. (source)

In the US, the demand for solar is growing slowly. A recent survey of 904 homeowners who haven’t gone solar yet looked at their behaviors. It found that the support of their social networks determines their decision-making. (source)

The survey has shown that trust is a significant feature among the participants. If they believe that their actions will make a change, they are more likely to go for it. They also put their trust in the installers and other solar energy providers. Most of them aren’t installing their solar panels on their own yet. (source)

If individual states are ready to encourage the installation of solar panels, more people will follow to do so. Since we are all still relying so much on non-renewable energy sources, it is not likely this situation will change overnight. That is why it’s so admirable to learn on your own using the resources you come across. 

Summary

It’s advisable to install solar panels on flat, horizontal surfaces. The option most people usually opt for includes rooftops. You can also decide to implement a solar panel system on the ground next to the building you’re powering. The final solution will be up to you, and a couple of other prerequisites you might (or might not) already be aware of.

To recognize all the possible options as to where solar panels are installed:

  1. Take a look at your surroundings first.
  2. Make a note of the weather conditions, your exact location within your city and country and the amount of sunshine available.
  3. Draw up a design to help you visualize your solar plan.
  4. Gather all the necessary information (costs included) and prepare for a new venture.

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