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Solar array setup. How much energy can you save with solar panels?

Solar array setup. How much energy can you save with solar panels?

    Portable Solar Panel System Set Up Guide

    Have you ever looked at solar panels installed on buildings and wondered if you should get them? You probably would like to set up a small, portable solar system and get a first-hand experience on how to do it. Or maybe you are just a DIY-buff.

    In either case, we’ve got you covered. This portable solar panel system set up guide will walk you through the steps in setting up your system – from sizing, component selection to the wiring and operation. Whether it’s for home use, camping, or for an RV, portable solar kits are a great way to ensure power supply away from the grid or during blackouts. Let’s see how to design and build portable solar kits.

    Step 1 – The Power Requirements

    Whether you want to set up a home solar panel system or a portable system, the first step is understanding the energy requirement.

    Solar power is an extremely flexible source of power when it comes to size. You need to first decide how big a system you need, i.e., the amount of power required. The first step is to create a list of appliances that you want to power from your portable solar panels. This can include anything from some LED lights, mobile phones, a small table fan, or a coffee maker.

    Next, add up the power consumption of these devices. Suppose the lights total 30 watts, mobile phones 10 W, the fan 20 W, and 30 or 40 W for other small devices.

    Step 2 – The Solar Panels

    Once you have calculated the amount of total power required, it is time to decide the size and type of solar panels. Let us assume that considering the appliances mentioned above, your total power requirement is 80 W.

    In this case, it would be reasonable to go with 100-watt solar panels, accounting for efficiency losses and unpredictable sunlight levels.

    You can either have a single 100 W, 12-volt monocrystalline solar panel or two 50-watt solar panels. You can choose between regular panels, flexible panels, and rugged, portable solar panels.

    Although all solar panels function the same at the fundamental level, each of these has its advantages. Regular, rigid solar panels are the least expensive, while flexible solar panels are extremely durable and easy to carry.

    Portable solar panels come with protected edges, making them slightly more durable. It’s easy to set them in the right position, thanks to mounting kickstands. It is thus convenient to install a solar panel system using portable modules. Portable folding solar panels are another, more compact option.

    Step 3 – Battery and Charge Controller

    A battery is needed to use solar energy during the night, and a solar controller for safe battery charging. Before deciding what size of batteries to buy, we need to know how much energy needs to be stored. The 100-watt, 12-volt solar panels we decided upon will generate about 400 Wh of energy, assuming you are at a location with 4 hours of full sunshine availability.

    To have a battery bank that can store the entire 400-watt hours, the following calculation should give us the battery size in ampere-hours (Ah):

    Considering some buffer for battery efficiency and depth of discharge (the actual discharging level a battery can handle), it would be better to go with a 50 Ah or 60 Ah battery. Different types of batteries are available for solar kits, but to minimize maintenance hassles, go for sealed maintenance free options – either lead acid or lithium batteries. Preferably deep cycle batteries, if you want more energy per volume.

    A solar charge controller is necessary for safe and optimal solar charging. In this case, you can go with a 12 V or 24 V charge controller. If you are going with a 24 V battery charge controller, you will need to have a 24 V battery bank; thus, you can have two 30 Ah, 12 V deep cycle batteries connected in series instead of one 50 or 60 Ah, 12 V battery.

    Among the two types of solar charge controllers, PWM charge controllers are cheaper but also less efficient. The costs for battery charge controllers have dropped significantly in recent times. It is always recommended to set up a solar panel system using an MPPT controller to get maximum value from your system.

    Table of Contents

    Solar panels cost, on average, about 16,000, or between 4,500 to 36,000 depending on the type and model. While solar panels can help save you money on energy costs, it’s important to know the overall startup solar panel costs so you can make a budget.

    THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

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    Cost of Solar Panels by State

    Of course, solar panel costs and pricing estimates will vary by state and by region. Regions with higher usage and statistically more sunny days per year will typically have robust incentive programs built in place already, whereas other areas of the U.S. may not be seeing that level of development.

    Cost of Solar Panels by Type

    Solar panels vary in durability, efficiency and size depending on the type you choose. Homes or projects with limited roof space typically require more efficient panels. Learn more below about the top three solar panel types.

    Monocrystalline Solar Panels

    On average, monocrystalline solar panels (the most energy-efficient solar panel option) cost 450 to 450.50 per watt, meaning that outfitting a 6kW solar panel system (also known as a solar system) costs between 6,000 and 9,000. They have an average lifespan of up to 40 years, and though both are common for residential use, monocrystalline panels are more efficient than polycrystalline panels.

    Polycrystalline Solar Panels

    Less energy-efficient than monocrystalline solar panels, polycrystalline solar panels cost

    Average Cost by Solar System Size

    Anticipate spending anywhere from 5,400 to 18,000 for an average solar system ranging from 6kW to 12kWs. With installation, that price range increases to between 6,600 and 22,800.

    Eligible residential solar systems purchased through 2032 will receive a 30% federal solar tax credit. This tax credit could decrease your solar system costs to somewhere between 4,600 and 16,000.

    Below is a closer look at solar system material costs by size:

    .75 to 450 per watt, so outfitting a 6kW solar panel system would cost between 4,500 and 6,000 making it a more affordable option. Like monocrystalline panels, polycrystalline panels are common for residential use. Polycrystalline panels aren’t as efficient, but they are more affordable. They have an average lifespan of 25 to 30 years.

    Thin-Film Solar Panels

    On average, thin-film solar panels cost between

    Solar Panel Installation Costs

    Installing solar panels can cost anywhere between 5,400 and 18,000. This price will depend on two important factors: the amount of sunlight and regional incentives.

    Amount of Sunlight

    The number of solar panels you’ll need to generate enough power is the greatest reason for these cost disparities.

    For example, if you live in the Golden State of California, you may require fewer solar panels to generate enough energy to power your home than, say, if you live in North Dakota. You’ll find that solar power costs more in regions farther from the equator, like Alaska, and costs less in sun-drenched regions, making it a more economical option for those latter areas.

    Local Incentives

    At the same time, location isn’t everything—there are sunny states that could have strong solar power incentives and net metering programs, but don’t.

    Take Alabama, for instance. The state receives a great deal of sunlight, but according to research from the Center for Biological Diversity, there are limited net metering policies in place to help you receive credits for the energy your solar system produces.

    Meanwhile, you have a state like Washington, which doesn’t receive as much sunlight overall, but has excellent net metering programs to help you earn money back for generating solar energy.

    Consider local and state incentives as you factor in the cost of your solar panels. You can use the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) to find policies and incentives in your area that might lower the cost of your solar panel system.

    Price Per Watt

    The average cost to install solar panels per watt is between

    Factors That Affect Solar Panel Costs

    Multiple unique factors go into the price of solar panels, and they are related to your electricity use and home. Here’s what to consider when calculating costs:

    Solar Companies

    The cost of solar panels is dependent on the solar panel company you choose. From the solar equipment system itself to installation costs and add-ons, the price will vary from company to company and the first step is to consider your options for the best solar companies.

    Size, Weight and Number of Panels

    When assessing solar panel cost, the size, weight and number of panels are important. For instance, when determining how many solar panels to buy, there are a few pieces of information you’ll need to know:

    • How much energy your household uses
    • How much space you have on your roof
    • How many hours of sun your home gets and the wattage and relative efficiency of the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels you’ll be installing

    Once you determine those, you can begin to calculate the cost. Divide your annual energy usage by 12 to get your monthly average in kWh. The average energy output of a typical solar panel is about 45 kWh per month. Use that number to determine how many panels you’ll need to cover your monthly usage.

    You’ll need 20 to 25 panels to fully power most homes. However, that number can range anywhere from 15 to 34 panels depending on the size of the home, the efficiency of the panels and where they’re located. A solar panel installer should be able to give you an accurate estimate using your energy usage information.

    Federal Solar Tax Credit

    Installing solar panels earns you a federal solar tax credit. That means you’ll get credit for your income taxes, which lowers your tax bill. Congress renewed the federal tax credit so that systems installed from 2022 through 2032 can now receive a 30% tax credit.

    Type of Panels

    There are three main types of solar panels available for residential use: monocrystalline, polycrystalline and thin-film. The most energy-efficient and best solar panels for your home, monocrystalline solar panels, cost 450 to 450.50 per watt. Less energy-efficient, polycrystalline solar panels cost

    Additional Solar Panel Costs to Consider

    Additional costs can sneak up while you’re budgeting for a solar panel installation, including maintenance, cleaning, repair and more. Here’s what you need to know.


    The cost to maintain solar panels falls between 140 to 180 per service, or 280 to 720 annually. Solar panels need routine maintenance at least twice a year, depending on the manufacturer and manual that came with your panels. Some homeowners may decide to schedule maintenance services four times a year to stay on top of any potential problems.


    Cleaning your solar panels costs around 25 per panel or 425 to 525 for an average solar system containing 17 to 21 panels. Pollen, dirt, debris and other grime can greatly impact the efficiency of your panels, leading to a lower energy yield. As such, you’ll want to clean your solar panels once or twice yearly.

    If you decide to clean solar panels yourself, you’ll only spend around 100 on the cost of the cleaning tool and a cleaning solution. Just be sure you can do so safely.

    Home Insurance

    Because solar panels increase your home’s value, you might see an increase in the price of your homeowner’s insurance. The amount that your policy rates increase will vary, but you’ll want to ensure that your coverage accounts for the cost to replace solar panels if your home gets damaged.

    Solar System Monitoring

    If you want to keep track of your solar system’s energy production, you’ll spend anywhere from

    When to Install Solar Panels

    Contrary to popular belief, winter is actually the best time to install solar panels. There is simply less demand for this service in winter, so the installation should cost less as a whole. Even if you live in a region that tends to be cloudy and chilly, your solar panels will still be able to generate energy and in some cases, will even generate more energy than they would in warmer months.

    Installing solar panels during winter is also efficient. As solar installation companies typically do fewer jobs in the off-season, your panels are likely to be installed faster. And they will be up and running in no time.

    to 400. Some companies, like SolarEdge, may offer free PV system monitoring, but most installations will require some level of monetary investment into measurement instruments, the internet and other specs.

    Tree Trimming

    Tree trimming costs between 250 and 700, on average. The type of tree, number of trees and complexity of the project will determine the total cost of the service, with larger, hard-to-reach trees in need of major trimming services costing the most.

    Roof Repair

    If you need to fix any roofing problems before you install solar panels, roof repairs cost between 150 and 450,500 for minor concerns and 450,500 to 7,000 for major repairs. You must have a structurally sound roof before installing solar panels.

    Solar Panel Repair

    The cost to repair solar panels falls between 300 and 450,300, on average. Small cracks or chips in the glass fall on the lower end of the price range, while solar panel inverter repairs may cost the most.

    Solar Shingles and Tiles

    Solar shingles and tiles serve a dual role as an energy production system and a roofing system. These high-tech roof coverings attach directly to your roof without any additional wiring, acting as a protective layer while generating power for your home. A solar roof can cost anywhere from 23,000 to 80,000 depending on the quality of the materials you choose.

    .90 to 450 per watt. Thin-film solar panels cost between 450 and 450.50 per watt.

    Solar Panel Manufacturer

    Since solar panels come in varying quality, the cost can depend highly on the solar panel’s manufacturer. Although most manufacturers generally see similar cost ranges, the better the solar panel quality, the higher the price.


    The efficiency of solar panels is determined by the amount of sunlight reflected on the panels’ surface, which is then transformed into electrical or thermal energy.

    Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient, but their price point is high because of their complex construction. Polycrystalline solar panels are simpler to create, making them less expensive than monocrystalline ones. Thin-film PV cells are easier and less expensive to produce but are the least efficient type of solar panel.


    Solar panel costs also vary by state due to local quoting trends and system size differences. States have different average system sizes and incentives, causing to differ depending on where you live.

    Roof Pitch

    Your roof’s characteristics, like its pitch, will also determine solar panel cost. Typically, your solar company will charge for the difficulty of the installation, and having a complex roof will make your system cost more.

    Type of Mount

    Solar panels tend to come with mounting equipment that can be set up or adjusted to catch the maximum amount of sunlight. Technology has given some panels the ability to self-adjust after mounting, though this capability comes at a higher cost.

    • Fixed mounts stay in place and are ideal in areas that get constant sun from all angles. They cost 10 to 15 each.
    • Adjustable mounts can be shifted throughout the day for maximum efficiency. They cost 50 each.
    • Tracking mounts self-track the sun for up to 45% more energy production. They can cost 500 to 3,000 each.

    TOTAL COST Of Our Off-Grid Solar Power System | Powering Our Mountain Home

    Type of Solar Power System

    There are three types of solar power systems. Material and installation costs for each vary depending on how much equipment is needed.

    • Grid-tied solar systems interact with your municipal power grid and don’t require a solar battery. This makes them the most affordable with the lowest installation cost.
    • Grid-tied solar systems with storage offer a hybrid solution where panels are tied to the grid but have solar battery backups. Each battery can add 9,200 or more to your installation costs.
    • Off-grid systems are the most expensive option at 45,000 to 65,000. They require high-capacity solar battery storage and a backup generator.

    .90 and 450.50 per watt for the materials and an additional 25% for the labor. This means you’ll spend anywhere between 450.10 and 450.90 per watt in total.

    THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT EDITORIAL CONTENT. Please note that we do receive compensation for any products you buy or sign up to via this advertisement, and that compensation impacts the ranking and placement of any offers listed herein. We do not present information about every offer available. The information and savings numbers depicted above are for demonstration purposes only, and your results may vary.

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    .75 and 450.10 per watt, meaning that outfitting a 6kW solar panel system costs between 4,500 and 6,600. Thin-film solar panels are more inexpensive than their counterparts but require a large amount of space, and hence, are primarily used in industrial settings or for small projects like RVs or sheds. They have an average lifespan of just 10 to 20 years and a shorter warranty.

    Average Cost by Panel Type

    Monocrystalline 450.00. 450.50 6,000. 9,000

    How Much Do Solar Panels Save?

    Though solar panels cost money upfront, they can save homeowners money in the long term. The question of how much solar panels will save you depends on several factors, including the hours of daily direct sunlight available, the angle of your roof and the size of your solar panel system. The most important factor in determining how much money solar panels will save you is your local electricity rates.

    To determine how much money your solar panels will save you each year, calculate how much you spend on electricity annually. For reference, the typical American family spends about 450,450 annually on electricity according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Then, determine your current utility rate, keeping in mind that utility rates tend to increase by 2.2% each year (yet another reason to install solar panels).

    Use an online calculator to estimate your annual savings by plugging in information like your location, energy usage and the current average price of solar panel installation in your area.

    A common misconception is that solar panels will eradicate your electricity bills. While this isn’t always the case, solar panels do significantly reduce your monthly electricity bill and are worth the investment.

    .90. 450.00

    5,400. 6,000
    Thin-film 450.00. 450.50 6,000. 9,000

    Off Grid Solar: A Beginner’s Complete Guide

  • Getting started generating free solar power is really not as hard as it seems. Here, I’ve distilled down everything I’ve learned about off grid solar energy over the last 5 years, in to this easy to follow but comprehensive guide.

  • Determine your power needs
  • Pick the right site
  • Choose your components
  • Build the battery house
  • Install the panels
  • Wire up the system
  • Enjoy your free power!
  • Going off grid with solar power doesn’t have to be hard. While there is a lot of terminology to wade through, in this guide I’ll cut through the jargon and simplify the process of building an solar system. And, I’ll save you money at the same time.

    Step 3 — Ordering the Right Solar System Components

    • The number and size of your solar cells
    • The type and size of your charge controller (MPPT vs PWM, etc)
    • Your battery bank capacity, while considering battery type
    • Choosing the overall voltage of each leg, as well as which loads should be AC vs DC
    • The rating of your inverter, if any

    How long does it take to save money with solar panels?

    Step 4 — Building Your Solar Battery House or Compartment

    Once you have the components ordered, you would be ready to build your battery house, which may be a room in your existing home, part of the garage, or a separate shed. Batteries take up a fair amount of room, they need to be protected from kids or critters that might hurt themselves by touching the contacts or might accidentally damage the battery and release the acids inside.

    Additionally, most types of batteries need some amount of temperature control, and don’t do well with freezing weather. However, if you go with less expensive unsealed batteries, you will have to build in some ventilation in to your battery house in order to prevent buildup of explosive hydrogen gas, which these types of batteries release in small amounts when charging.

    In order to reduce costs, most solar setups have their main power electronics — the charge controller(s) and inverter(s) — as well as safety shutoffs, fuses, and breakers in the battery room as well.

    We talk about this in part 3 of this series.

    Step 5 — Installing Solar Panels

    Finally, it’s time to build the panel support and install the solar array. Solar panels are far more efficient when they directly face the Sun, and they last longer when they are rigid and well cooled. A proper solar support structure can be built in many ways, depending on the materials you have on hand, and the skills you posses. I recommend, at the least, building a south facing A-frame type structure out of wood, or metal, with the ability to manually adjust the tilt of your panels during the summer and winter, which can increase your power output by up to 40% with almost no addition cost.

    You could also go all out, and build your own one-axis or two-axis tracking system. Check out the panel installation guide below for more ideas on how to make this work.

    Step 6 — Wiring Up for Off Grid Solar

    With the panels up, now comes time for wiring of the system. This step doesn’t need to be complex. Going off grid, with a boondocking RV, country cabin, or permaculture homestead, means that your electrical system can be much simpler than gird tie systems.

    Going off grid means you have the option to install an all DC system, which can be quite simple and efficient. But even whole home replacement AC systems are possible for the DIYer.

    However, if you intend to use your solar system and connect it to a home that is already connected to grid power, you are likely to be legally required to hire a licensed electrician to wire in your system, and you will need additional hardware from your utilities company to make your own energy system work with line power.

    We talk about wiring your system in part 3 of this series.

    How Many kW of Solar Panels Do I Need?

    In order to accurately determine how big of a solar system you need, the first thing you need to do is determine how much energy you are using. Energy is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), and by the end of this section you should be able to determine exactly how many kWh you use in a day.

    How to Measure Your Power Usage

    The best and most accurate way to determine your power usage is to measure it yourself. I recommend that you purchased this inexpensive “kill-a-watt” power measuring device for your plug in appliances.

    Using the kill-a-watt is simple just plug it into the wall, and your appliance into it. It can provide you with a wide variety of measurements, but the one we really need is watts, or kilowatts.

    The simplest way to measure energy is to just set the kill-a-watt to measure kilowatt hours. This measurement takes time to get an accurate reading. Ideally, you would leave it attached for 24 hours, and then you would know how much energy it uses during a full day.

    You could also just measure the energy usage for one hour. Then just multiply that number by the number of hours you will use that item during the day.

    A third, less accurate but faster option, you is to just measure the watts that the device is using, which shows up instantaneously. No need to wait. But then you have to multiply the watts by the number of hours you would use it per day. But, this doesn’t take into account any fluctuations in power usage that happen naturally happen in most appliances except entirely passive devices such as lights and heaters.

    Calculating Your Daily Usage

    Now, add up all of the energy measurements that you took all of the devices that you plan to use in a given day. This is your daily energy usage.

    It’s important to realize I your energy usage fluctuate throughout the year. You may use lights much longer in the winter when it’s darker, yet the refrigerators will run less. I recommend you take a power measurement both in the winter and the summer, or at least attempt to adjust number of hours used by each device to account for the differences.

    Knowing how your power usage varies session ally is extremely important for off grid solar, because solar power production also changes throughout the year. So, it is easy to over or under size your system if you only use a yearly average to plan for your system.

    Determining How Much Energy Solar Panels Produce

    As you might have guessed, the amount of power that your solar panel produces depends on how much sun they gets. That means during the shorter days of winter you will get less power. Also, cloudy days will give you much less power than sunny days.

    Again, the best way to know how much power your solar panels will produce is to measure it. Buy one solar panel and measure how much energy you can produce throughout the year. Not every year is the same, so you will need to oversize your system just a little bit in order to account for usually dark or cloudy years.

    However, you may just want to get a rough estimate of how much solar power your panels were produce. Luckily the US government has produced solar power availability data for the entire United States.

    The map above shows on average how much power your solar panels will produce per day. The number depends on the color of your area it ranges from about two to eight. This number can be multiplied by the power rating of your solar panels to determine how much power they would produce. So if you live in an area labeled as three on the map and you bought a 1 kW Solar panel array then you would get 3 kWh of energy produced per day on average.

    This assumes that you have full access to the sun so long as it is up. If location of your solar panels is partially shaded, especially during mid day, then you will get less power than the map shows.

    Also, most of the average power is produced during the summer in most regions because of the longer days and more direct sun exposure. To get a more accurate analysis, go to the NREL website and download detailed maps that show your area in both summer and winter months. This way you can calculate how much power you can produce in the darkest and lightest times of the year.

    Choosing the Right Size Off Grid Solar System

    You will need to size your solar system so that it can produce enough power to cover your winter and summer needs, which often means most of the year you will be producing more power than you can use.

    solar, array, setup, much, energy

    Where to Put Your Solar Panels

    While the go to place to put solar panels on the roof, roofs are very frequently not the best place to put your solar panels. There are three reasons why I don’t recommend putting solar panels on the roof: roof direction, shading, and access.

    Make Sure Your Solar Panels Are Accessible

    Lastly, solar panels need to be clean and cool to work a maximum efficiency, and have a nice long life. Dust, dirt, and snow will naturally accumulate on solar panels, which need to be cleaned off periodically. Snow accumulation on your solar panels will reduce their life. Placing your panels closer to the ground where they are easier to access can go along way towards making routine solar panel maintenance actually get done in a timely manner.

    Make Sure You Solar Panels Are As Cool As Possible

    While solar panels are black, they do not like being excessively hot. Over heated panels produce less power, and they wear out much work quickly. A proper solar panel set up should have at least 6 inches behind the panels where air can flow freely and cool down the panels. Roofs are not great because they tend to be excessively hot already, and while you can buy solar panel mounting racks that do allow for ventilation on the roof, putting them down where it’s cooler may save you a lot of extra money in the long run.

    In terms of overall cost of the system, it is best to put the solar panels as close as you can to your home, while keeping them in full sun.

    Related Questions

    How many solar panels does it take to run a house off grid?

    An average size off grid solar system in the US is 5 kW, which means you would need 20 solar panels at 250 W each, or 50 smaller 100 W panels. Whether this would run your house depends on how much sun you get and how much power you use.

    What is needed for an off grid solar system

    • Solar panels (mono or poly)
    • Charge controller (MPPT or PWM)
    • Battery bank (lithium, lead acid, or other)
    • Inverter (pure sine wave)
    • Fuses disconnects
    • Copper wire
    • Misc connectors

    Daniel Mark Schwartz

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    Tips for Stringing Solar Panels

    Now that we have the types of solar panel connections down, we can take a look at some additional tips to ensure that your system will work all day optimally.

    Consider your Inverter’s Voltage Range and Specifications

    As we mentioned earlier, it’s imperative that you are well-versed in the specifications of your chosen inverter before you begin your installation or planning. Inverters must be able to handle the energy capacity that your array is producing, but they also must receive a minimum voltage, or else they might not work at all.

    To size an inverter to a system, you can use the array-to-inverter ratio by dividing the DC rating of your solar array by the maximum AC output of your inverter. You should aim for a ratio of around 1.15 – 1.55. Surpassing a ratio of 1.55 could cause issues and isn’t recommended.

    At the same time, consider your location when choosing an inverter. For example, hot, sunny areas such as Nevada and Arizona receive more sun than, say, Washington State, but they are also warmer, which could decrease the panels’ output. The inverter you select should account for how much possible power can be generated in a given day, depending on what state and conditions you’re operating in/under.

    Avoid Inverter Clipping

    Inverter clipping happens when the inverter you selected can’t handle all the power being fed through it, causing the additional electricity generated to go to waste. To avoid this, choose an inverter with a power rating above what you expect the system to generate on an average day, or take this into account when sizing your system.

    Separate Strings by Condition

    Inverters have Maximum Power Point Trackers (MPPTs) in their builds, which are circuits that convert DC to DC current to maximize the system’s energy output. Suppose an inverter with a single MPPT is connected to a series of strings with wildly different conditions (different tilts, orientations, azimuths, solar irradiance levels, etc.). In that case, your system won’t perform optimally.

    One way to account for this is to build your strings based on similar conditions. For example, suppose you’re installing panels on more than one facet of a roof. In that case, you’ll want to separate these strings and connect them to separate MPPT ports in the inverter so that the inverter can maximize the power from each string on an individual basis based on the different amount of sun exposure each group of modules will see.

    This concept works for shaded panels as well. If there’s a large tree shading a portion of the roof for an hour or so every day, string all the affected panels together to output a similar amount of power while the rest of the system isn’t affected.

    Pitch Microinverters Where Possible

    Microinverters have been taking off in the solar industry lately, and for a good reason. Microinverters are tiny inverters attached to each solar panel that are capable of converting and maximizing electricity on a panel-by-panel basis.

    Using a microinverter instead of your traditional string inverter will ensure that each panel is outputting an optimal amount of power and will account for the issues we mentioned above when panels or strings experience different conditions, affecting the performance of the whole array.

    If you don’t sell or pitch microinverters yet, now is the time to start. Not only do they eliminate a lot of common issues associated with string inverters, but they also allow for better system monitoring and make it very easy to add to solar systems in the future since all you need to do is install an additional panel/microinverter to the array without having to rewire the whole system.

    Use Identical Panels from the Same Manufacturer to Avoid Issues

    No matter how much of a solar professional you are, it’s considered a best practice to use only one type/size of solar panel from a single manufacturer per system. Using panels with different ratings could lead to unexpected results or be dangerous.

    Plan your Wiring and the Route to the Home in Advance

    If you want to install the cleanest, most visually appealing system possible, plan out where each component will attach and lead before getting up on the roof and starting the installation process.

    If the home has an attic, consider running the wiring through it to hide all the cables from view and use cable clips where necessary to group wires together into bundles. Make sure any holes made in the roof are sealed and protected from the elements. Mapping out your route in this way will also make your installation a breeze.

    Using Software to String Solar Panels and Design Systems

    Manual calculations used to be the most time-consuming part of the solar design and installation process. Handling many different formulas and values created tons of opportunities for human error, but they also left much to be desired in terms of working with the client and finding good solutions to their problems quickly.

    Today, Solargraf is here to help you design the most accurate systems possible and fast by doing all the heavy lifting. Here’s how.

    Automatically Determine the Optimal Amount of Panels

    Outline the roof facet you’d like to place the panels on, and let Solargraf fit the system for you. With an extensive library of solar panel makes and manufacturers pre-loaded into the software, you can choose your panel of choice from a drop-down menu or import your own if you have a datasheet on hand.

    solar, array, setup, much, energy

    Solargraf will take the specifications/dimensions of your panels into consideration and fill the surface with the optimal number of modules for the job.

    Size Inverters in Seconds

    Like the panel tool, Solargraf will also determine the number of inverters required for the number of solar panels based on the type and model of inverter you select from a drop-down list or import into your account via its datasheet.

    Instead of calculating all of this information by hand, you can now have it automatically determined by software and complex algorithms in a few clicks, leaving you with more time on hand to FOCUS on sending out more quotes and growing your business.

    Offer Multiple System Configurations and Make Changes on the Fly

    On top of enabling solar professionals to design their systems from anywhere in seconds, Solargraf also offers users the ability to display up to three separate solar designs on one single proposal with its good, better, best feature.

    You can now prepare three options for homeowners using different panel configurations, models, pricing, financing options, etc. You’ll only need to determine your panel strings after the client selects the design and price they would prefer, opening up the opportunity to create as many new proposals for them as you’d like beforehand without all the extra work usually associated with revising quotes.

    Have your Strings Determined by a Design Team

    When you complete your solar design and the software has determined the ideal number of panels, orientation, and best configuration possible, you can order your permits through the tool with a 24 – 48 hour turnaround time where our design team will do all the heavy lifting for you and define the panel strings.

    Instead of all the extra planning, math, and busywork, all you need to do is define your offset, select the roof surfaces you’d like the system to be installed on, and pass it on to Solargraf to get the rest of the job done.

    This makes for a more streamlined design and sales process. Fewer revisions are required when the client signs on the dotted line and you need to begin the permitting process to get the installation started. This makes each individual job easier and also opens up more time in the workday for booking more meetings, generating more proposals, and spending time on the roof installing other systems.

    solar, array, setup, much, energy

    In Closing

    Correctly wiring solar panels might seem challenging, but it is quite simple with the right knowledge, tools, and software in your back From determining whether your system is best wired in series or parallel, calculating the number of panels in a string manually, and using our tips and best practices, solar panel wiring doesn’t have to be as complicated as it appears on the surface.

    Take your PV designs and proposals to the next level with Solargraf’s solar software designed to help you get more done faster, and more accurately. With team and project management capabilities, accurate and easy solar designs, fully customizable proposals, speedy permits, financing integrations, and more. Book your free demo today to learn more about how Solargraf can help busy solar professionals close more deals than ever.

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