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How to Install Phovoltaics

Here are some basic guidelines on how to install photovoltaics.

The panels should be installed facing south (in the Northern Hemisphere.) They will work best if they are unshaded from 9am to 3pm. Photovoltaic panels can be installed on your roof or on the ground. The important thing to consider is that the closer they are to your house, the less electric wiring will cost.

As a general rule, the solar panels should be sloping at about the same degree as the latitude you are in. For example, if you are at 30 degrees north, your solar panel should be at a 30 degree angle. Never install photovoltaics at less than 5 degrees, because dust will collect on the panel, making it less efficient.

The Extras

It is important to remember that the actual PV panels are only part of the solar power system. The extras often make up 50% of the total cost.

INVERTER Most photovoltaics create DC, or direct current electricity. As most home operate on AC, or alternating current, you will need an inverter to change the current from DC to AC.

SOLAR BATTERY This is to store the solar electricity that you are not using immediately. This is so that you will have power if there is a power cut (if you are connected to the grid) or at night (if you rely solely on solar energy.)

CHARGE CONTROLLER This prevents your batteries from overcharging.

GROUNDING CIRCUIT This is safety feature is usually required as part of a system warranty. Grounding your system minimises risk of a shock and also protects against lightning strikes.

NET METERING If you plan to sell power back to the grid, you may need to get a meter than can go both forwards and backwards. (You may already have this kind of meter.) As well, you will have to make an agreement with your electricity supplier that they will in fact buy power back from you.

WARRANTY Check that the warranty is at least 10 years - 25 years is the average.

It's also important that you get a qualified installer and electrician to do all the wiring for your system.