Solar Installation Process


The Sunpower "POD" full of solar panels

Sunpower arrives

After deciding on an installer and signing the paperwork, the equipment arrives. In this case, we went with Heat Shed as our installer and Sunpower, one of the major Solar manufacturers, for the panels.

Before we started, our roof looked like this:

Roof before any work was done

This roof was pretty “clean” except for the bath vent and fan outlet. Since we wanted a complete panel coverage and not opportunities for shading, we had them relocate these items to the other side of the roof. While not mandatory, this results in a nicer looking installation.

The next step is installing the rack system.

Ta-dah!

After this, we had a day of electricians working in the house, doing stuff that doesn’t photograph well. They also removed the vents at that time.

The electrical work involved running wires from a junction box on the roof where all the panels would connect, down through the attic and a wall and into a utility room in the basement where the inverters are installed.

Now comes the fun part: installing the solar panels!

These are large panels. I bet they’re glad we have a low, shallow roof

This process took most of a day to complete. Meanwhile, we were having a heat-wave, so temperatures were well into the 90’s.

Note the morning shading on the panels. This small amount of shading reduces the entire array’s output to nearly zero. Fortunately, by mid-morning, the full sun hits the panels. In a later posting, I’ll show the effects of shading on the amount of power the array can generate.

The completed solar array

Later in the day, we had a completely mounted and wired solar array.

Notice that these panels are pretty much solid black (though reflective). The rack system is also low profile, which improves the appearance of the panels. The trade-off is that there’s not as much ventilation under the panels so they’ll run slightly hotter than other racking systems that hold the panels further from the roof.

But we’re not finished yet. The panels are still dusty and have to be cleaned. Plus the system must be “commissioned” – that’s the process of ensuring that it works to manufacturer’s specifications. So the following morning, the crew came out to complete the process.

A quick hose-down to clean the panels

That’s pretty much the process. It’s not terribly complicated. It took about a week for our installation.

In the next articles, I’ll show the results.

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4 thoughts on “Solar Installation Process

  1. Great job, solar power is brilliant and it is good that so many people are starting to use it. With there being such a greater interest in ‘going green’ alternative energy sources are becoming more and more popular, from heat pumps to biomass boilers.

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