Rays of Energy Efficiency

If you were to look at the back of my new home, you'd see a bunch of protrusions sticking out from the shingles. Those protrusions are actually mounting brackets for the photovoltaic solar panels that I've been planning to install on my roof since the beginning of the project. Now that the roofing system is basically done, it's time for me to begin preparing to install the solar panels up on to the roof.

It's easy to think that installing solar panels is simply a matter of purchasing the panels, installing the mounting brackets and then mounting the panels on a part of the roof. But actually, there's a lot that goes into these installations that people may not think about. Understanding fully how a solar panel system works can seem like a daunting task to some, and that's why many people I know hire professionals to do most of the work. But, I think anyone who gets a solar panel system installed onto their home should have a rudimentary understanding on how it works.

While I was doing my research, I found a great resource that explains and defines some of the basic terminology for solar panel systems. HeatSpring Magazine has a great article that gives a breakdown of the basics - from vocabulary terms to understanding how AC and DC currents work with systems to magnetic declination, I'd say this article and ones like it are a must read for anyone who plans to install a solar panel system on their roof.

PV solar systems are usually engineered systems - that is, designing one usually requires the expertise of a qualified engineer. Knowing how to read engineering diagrams related to solar panel installations can be a huge help when you are having conversations with engineers. I can't say with any certainty that it will save you money, but it will make the conversation go more smoothly and will save time for you and whoever is working on your system. In my case, I am working with George Keithan, President of Consulting Engineering Services. George has a wealth of knowledge about solar panel systems, and every conversation I have with George is a good one.

As you may know, I want to get the most value for my dollar out the system I'm installing on my eco-friendly home. That's why I've decided to install 42 solar panels - it's more than I probably need, but my plan is to generate more electricity than I need so that I can sell it back to the grid. To me, this plan accomplishes two goals - the PV panels will reduce our dependence on fossil fuel power, and enable us to sell back some environmentally friendly energy. Solar panels will help me do a solid for the environment and my checkbook.

It might be a little while before I actually install the panels onto my rooftop - I need to finish up many of the other systems inside of my new home before I can finish this one. However, there are a lot of good takeaways in this week's episode - check it out and join the conversation!


Showing 5 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Thanks, Bill. There certainly a lot of areas where improvements are needed when it comes to renewable energy. This is why we need quality investigative journalists in this world… thanks for your comments, they’re always welcome!
  • How do these things on the roof effect rain gutters and rain gutter systems? Is there any interference between the two? I’d like to see my customers implement both (http://www.sanantonioraingutterpros.com/)
  • Programs for the rich: The 30% Invest. Tax Credit is for those that pay enough taxes to be able to deduct 30%. And the government “loses” money, so other taxpayers have to make up that difference.
    Then, like in NH they get about a 700% credit for the electricity they put on the grid. To add insult to injury, the sun doesn’t shine at night (they are SOLAR panels, you know) so fossil fuel plants have to ramp up after the sun goes down. This up and down adds to the inefficiency of the power plants which cost more money. And, other rate payers have to maintain the grid and power plants so the solar people can “get their power back”.
    Some facts: New England is in solar zone 5, which means that the average useable sunlight in winter is just over 3 hours/day. ISO-NE shows that the average cost to produce electricity is 2.3 cents/kwh and the peak demand is usually around 4 PM and is high until 11 PM.
    For the love of Hysteria and Emotionalism: The Greens & “progressives” are mentally impotent. They have had about 47 years to implement the walk-away safe, inexpensive, greenhouse gas free & abundant technology that their god government designed and tested that precludes the need to burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. It begs the question. Are they more scam artists, or more stupid, because they have not said how many solar panels and batteries are needed and the cost to replace a 500 MW coal fired power plant, now, not maybe 20 yrs. from now, if GW/CC is NOW. Send your wise guy, hysterical comments to Indust.consult@rcn.com