Using solar energy systems for power isn’t exactly a new concept by now. It lets people cut down on electricity costs, and its renewability makes it more eco-friendly.
Solar power works by capturing sunlight through mirrors, lenses, and photovoltaic panels. The concentrated energy gets converted into a current, which is then stored in batters for later use. You can use that to supply power during certain times of the day or a whole day, when it’s dark, or when you can’t use your current power system. For this reason, it’s quite accessible as a source of power, especially in underserviced areas.
Although it has these benefits, the rate of people adopting it for their households is still quite low. For one thing, solar panels require some considerable investment for buying and maintenance. And, of course, there’s the claim that other energy producers are trying to curb its usage to keep themselves in operation.
Nevertheless, people nowadays have more opportunities to switch to solar power thanks to advancements in photovoltaic technology. If you’re interested in experiencing the benefits of this renewable energy source first-hand, look up reliable solar power system installers like Impact Energy Solar In Colorado and similar providers in your area to ask questions and get started.
But before you get ahead of yourself, you should know that switching to solar energy takes a few key steps. Preparing your household for installation is one of them. Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as it may seem. Here’s what homeowners like you should do to set up a solar power system at home.
1. Calculate Your Household’s Approximate Energy Consumption
Before installing solar panels, assessing and knowing your energy needs is essential. You can do this by summing up all the power that your home requires.
A common way to go about this is to look at your monthly electric bills for a whole year first. List down the total number of watts you consume. Then, you get the average. While it may not represent exactly how much energy you use, it should put you in a safe range for how much you’ll need to keep your daily routines.
You can also make a list of the appliances you use daily. These may include:
- Clothes irons
- Washers and dryers
- Electric cookers
- Desktop and laptop computers
You might add more to the list depending on what you have in your home. Once you have everything down, the next step is to add the approximate time you use them daily and their power rating.
Then, you calculate the watts per hour. Multiply each appliance’s power rating by its run time. After doing this for every device and appliance, you can add all the individual figures to get the overall ‘watt-hour.’ This figure helps you determine the size of the solar power unit you need to keep everything running in your household.
As a rule, the size of the system and your estimated consumption are directly proportional. The greater your energy needs, the bigger the solar power system you have to get. So, make sure you have this down to make your search for the ideal system much easier.
2. Check If You Have All The Components That Make Up The Solar Power System
The second step to setting up a solar energy system is gathering all the parts of the power unit. Regular ones usually include the following components:
- Solar panels
- Charge Controller
- Battery Pack
- MC4 connector
- Electrical safety equipment, like surge protectors
When buying these parts, make sure they’re compatible with one another and suit your installation needs.
Once you’ve purchased and confirmed that you have all the necessary parts, read through your user manual and module instructions that come with the solar power system unit. Take your time to understand the instructions.
3. Find The Ideal Location To Set Up Your Solar Panels
While it’s true that most people install solar panels on their rooftops, it’s not mandatory. There are other factors to consider before deciding where to set up your system.
The first thing to keep in mind is that the panels must have full access to sunlight. So, avoid placing them somewhere on the roof surrounded by tall trees. These can cast shadows on the solar panels, affecting their ability to capture as much light as possible. Also, their twigs, leaves, and other detritus may cover the surfaces of the panels, making them even less efficient. Other tall structures around your home do the same thing, as well.
With this understanding, always make sure you place your panels at a location and position primed for maximum exposure. If you can’t find a good enough space on your rooftop, the ground is always a good option. Just keep it protected from foot traffic or debris by putting up a fence.
There are also more creative ways to put up the panels. For those, consider working with a professional solar power installer to get the best advice on what to do.
4. Make Stands For The Battery And Inverter
Depending on the layout, it’s a good idea to have stands for the inverter and battery; otherwise, the setup may look flimsy and incomplete. You can either make one from scratch or purchase a completed stand, preferably from the same set as the components you bought.
Before getting the stands, you should first know where you’re going to place the inverter and battery. They should have enough space for the stands you’ll purchase. Once you got that down, you’re ready for the next step of the setup.
5. Set Up Your Battery
Speaking of which, you should place the battery in its rightful position according to your layout.
You’ll also need a power controller to monitor how your battery is charging. This small device has a LED light that acts as a signal to indicate the battery’s current status. Aside from that, it controls the power the battery receives and adjusts it if necessary.
The battery serves as the conduit for storing the power solar panels generate throughout the day. Whenever you need solar power, you simply channel the battery to discharge the energy it collected.
It’s crucial to have a battery with optimum storage to have a steady energy supply and to run your electrical appliances normally when there’s no sunlight.
6. Then, Place The Inverter
Solar panels produce electricity in the form of direct current (DC). However, electrical appliances can only use power alternating current (AC). Instead of using adapters when running your devices, inverters simplify the task by converting DC to AC.
Much like the inverter, you also need to set up the inverter correctly. They can also come in different power capacities. So, it’s important to get one that matches the needs of your household.
Note that not all inverters work for every device or appliance in your home. Check out your user’s manual or talk to an expert if you need to learn more about this.
7. Put Up The Solar Panels
Once all the other components are set, you can get to mounting the solar panels at the best spot. Again, you must place them somewhere with the optimal exposure. A professional can help you find that position and even help you with the placement. Ensure that your mounting stand is the same as the location’s latitude angle for maximum energy efficiency.
8. Work On Wiring The Components
You start by connecting the battery to the inverter. Next, wire the charge controller to the solar panels. Then, you connect the direct current load with the solar charge controller.
When connecting the charge controller and solar panel, it’s best to use an MC4 connector to get better results, especially if the panels are large. Once you connect the charge controller to the battery, you should see the LED lights lighting up.
If you are wiring smaller solar panels, try tracing a junction box at the back with a positive and negative terminal. Use the red wire for the former and the black one for the latter to connect everything.
After everything is put in place, give the solar power system a test run. The battery should start charging within a few moments. Then, pause and check if any problems pop up, like overheating, smoke, or odd smells. If everything goes without a hitch, you can now enjoy your new source of energy.
As you’ve seen throughout the article, the whole process is best done with the help of a professional solar panel installation crew. Don’t hesitate to look up the best ones in your area.
Time For You To Go Solar
Due to its many benefits for your budget and the environment in the long run, relying on solar energy may be one of the best investments you make. This guide should give you a good idea of how to properly set up a system. Of course, you should turn to professionals to make sure you did everything right. Here’s to more sustainable homes.