Solar panels are one of the best alternatives to generating power and are good backup power sources during emergencies. With your own solar panel, you can enjoy several benefits, including saving money on bills and helping save the environment. However, its upfront costs can be expensive, especially its installation costs.
The best solution for that is to do it yourself. But how? Don’t worry! In this article, we’ve listed a step-by-step procedure for installing your solar panel kit. Moreover, there are useful tips to make sure you’re doing everything right!
What Are Solar Panel Kits?
Solar panel kits are do-it-yourself (DIY) packages created for easy assembly and installation. You can put them together without extensive professional assistance. These kits typically include the essential materials for starting and operating a solar panel system.
The kit typically contains the following:
Solar Panels: These absorb the energy from the sun so the whole kit can generate electricity.
Cables: These connect the components of the kit or the system together, and conduct power from the system to the space or component you’re powering.
Battery Bank: This stores the excess energy generated by the panels so you can use it when needed.
Solar Inverter: This is an important component that converts sunlight into usable output power. Specifically, it converts direct current (DC) electricity into alternative current (AC) electricity so you can use the power generated by the kit to power your appliances and devices.
Step-by-Step Guide on Solar Panel Kit Installation
The DIY solar panel installation process is composed of the following steps:
1. Determine Your Energy Needs
Before anything else, you must plan your solar panel system to ensure you get and install the right equipment. This means planning and sizing the solar panel kit based on your energy needs.
To do so, calculate the total amount of power you need considering the number of appliances, lights, gadgets, and other electrical devices you have and plan to power using the solar panel. Your solar panel should be able to generate enough, or more, of that needed energy.
2. Get the Necessary Permits
Installation of solar panels requires electrical and construction work, so you’d need to obtain the necessary permits from your local authorities. You usually have to get three permits before installing: one from your municipality or city, one from your HOA community, and one from your utility company. Here are the values of each permit:
Local or City Permit: The local city building departments usually enforce regulations made to protect the residents and ensure safety protocols. This can include getting a permit to build or set up a solar panel at home. It’s important to check your local municipal building code or call the appropriate office to confirm whether you need a permit or not.
HOA Community Permit: If you reside in a community with an HOA, make sure to check on them too. The HOAs protect the homeowners’ property values and the neighborhood’s aesthetics. That’s why you need to get their approval to install solar panels.
Utility Company Permit: Your utility company needs to approve of your system first because it’s connected to their grid. This means that it should meet all code and safety requirements. They’ll check your electrical wiring diagram and perform an inspection before you can use the system.
3. Make Sure You Have the Right Tools
Before the installation, ensure you have the right tools and equipment for the project. Remember, you’ll need more than a screwdriver to do it securely.
These are some of the essential tools you’ll need:
- Measuring tools like measuring tape and angle finder
- Safety gear and equipment like safety glasses and shoes, gloves, and hard hat
- Sturdy ladder
- Fall protection gear like harnesses and lanyards
- Hand tools such as a wrench, pliers, and screwdrivers, along with supplies like fasteners and connectors to securely assemble components
Having the appropriate tools on hand is crucial for a safe and successful installation.
4. Install the Racking System or Mounts
Once you’ve got the tools and permits, you can start the installation. The first thing to do is install the racking or mounts for the solar panels on a roof or the ground.
Below are the steps to follow depending on your chosen panel installation location:
- Roof Mounted
First, determine and mark the location where the system will be installed, specifically your roof rafters. These beams will be the panel’s foundation. If the rafters aren’t visible outside, use a stud finder or measure their locations from the inside. Then, mark them with a chalk-like to visualize the racking rails.
After that, bolt the flashings at the marked locations. Flashings are thin sheets of material that prevent leaks and give attachment points where you can mount your racking rails. Once they’re set, bolt and lock the racking rails of the solar panel to the flashings.
- Ground Mounted
This is different since no roof rafters will support the weight of the solar panels. Instead, you need to build a standalone metal foundation. Afterward, you can proceed with the same steps as roof mounts. Secure and bolt the racking rails to the support structure.
5. Install the Solar Inverter
This goes before the actual solar panels. Whatever the type of inverter your solar panel kit has, install it securely in a well-ventilated location.
For example, if the kit uses microinverters, screw them onto the back of your panels’ frame before installing them on your mount. Just make sure to install it as close as possible to your solar panels for easier wiring and connection.
6. Install the Solar Panels
You can now install the solar panels on the racking or mounting system you installed. Here’s one way to do it:
- Install the first panel using two end clamps.
- Use grounding mid-clamps for every consecutive panel to keep it a continuous solar panel system.
- Complete the row with two more end clamps.
7. Install the Battery
Most solar panel kits come with battery banks, and the installation process depends on the battery type and its manufacturer. However, there’s a general procedure for how it goes:
- Prepare the site where you plan to install the battery. Make sure it meets the space, ventilation, support, and access requirements.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on installing the current transformers and AC and DC wiring. Make sure the circuits are properly grounded and connect the battery to the inverter and/or the gateway for commissioning.
- Mount and secure it in place.
- Make sure the battery is communicating with the monitoring system and is working correctly.
We highly recommend following the manufacturer’s installation instructions for this.
8. Wire the Entire System
Once everything’s in place, the final installation step is to wire all the components together. Usually, the wires from your inverter should be routed through a junction box and a photovoltaic (PV) disconnect switch, then finally connected to your home’s circuit breaker box that connects your electrical system to the grid.
9. Schedule an Inspection
After fully installing your panel and system, make sure to set an inspection schedule with your local construction authority or local building department. They’ll inspect and ensure that what you’ve installed complies with local ordinances.
Once the inspection is complete, they’ll give you a report to determine whether you can successfully connect to the grid or if you need to make repairs before it can be approved.
Solar panels provide numerous advantages in terms of energy savings and financial benefits, making them a valuable and lasting investment. Opting for solar panel kits is an excellent strategy to minimize initial setup expenses, especially for home DIY projects. Just ensure to adhere to the detailed instructions we covered earlier for a successful installation.
If you want to look at more kits, you can always check out our massive solar panel kit collection. We offer all kinds of kits to match your energy needs and preferences!