The final step before your system goes live is for your local utility company to evaluate and approve the project for grid interconnection. This can include a roof inspection and upgrading your main electrical panel (breaker box) for net-metering capability.
Hiring skilled employees is vital to a solar installation business. Still, it’s also necessary for them to have good manners, as they will be the primary link between you and your customers.
Determine Your Energy Needs
Once you sign the contract, the solar panel installation in New Jersey will take some initial measurements and conduct a safety briefing to prepare for the solar installation work. They will also set up a performance monitoring system to keep track of energy production and alert you of any problems.
Consider your annual energy usage to determine how many solar panels you need. This can be determined by consulting a year’s utility bills or using the average American house consumption figure of 10,649 kWh/year. Next, you must know your home’s peak sunlight hours and your location’s daily sunny hours. You can find this information online or by contacting your local utility company.
Finally, you need to know your panel wattage (power rating) and how much electricity each panel can produce under ideal conditions. A good rule of thumb is to estimate 320 watts for each panel, giving you a rough idea of how many panels you will need.
Evaluate Your Roof
Solar systems depend on your roof to collect sunlight and produce electricity, so you’ll want to ensure your roof is ready. A professional roof inspection will help you determine whether your home is a good candidate for solar and your energy options.
Choosing a solar contractor with roofing experience is essential for this step. If your home has a slate, clay, or concrete tile roof or is a flat roof made of standing seam metal, you’ll need to find out if the solar installers have experience with those types of roofing.
Also, you’ll want to ensure your roof can handle the additional weight of racking and other equipment needed for solar panel installation. The racking holds the panels and converts direct current (DC) from the solar panels to alternating current (AC) used in your home and on the electric grid. In addition to the racking, your installers will install electrical wiring to connect the solar system to your home and the electrical grid. They’ll install wire management clips and a back feed breaker if needed.
Decide on a Roof Mount
Roof-mounted solar systems are the most common type of installation. They can be installed on shingle, tile, and metal flat or sloped roofs. They conserve space on your property and keep it free for other uses like gardening, raising livestock, and a spot for the kids to play.
Roof mounts are less expensive than ground-mounted systems because they don’t require a new foundation on your property. However, you must ensure your roof can support the weight of the solar panels and system. You must consult your local roofing specialist or the manufacturer’s documentation for more information.
If you’re considering a rooftop install, check with your homeowner association (HOA) and city zoning laws before you begin. Some HOAs have restrictions on solar energy systems and approval requirements that vary by state and municipality. Adding a ground mount system to your property may require permission from the AHJ and the excavation and construction of a new foundation. This could increase your project’s timeline. However, ground-mounted systems offer a lot of flexibility in placement. You can direct your racking system to point in any direction, and you can adjust the orientation of your panels for optimal energy production.
Decide on a Ground Mount
A ground mount is a great fit for businesses with large, flat land areas that get good sun. They also make sense for homeowners who want to avoid using their roofs or having shading issues.
A typical ground-mounted system uses a metal frame and racking system that holds panels at a fixed angle, similar to a rooftop solar power system. However, you can add customization features like a tracking system (single or dual-axis) that moves throughout the day to optimize sunlight capture.
Working with a licensed installer is essential, as with any PV system installation. Check your state electrical board or local building department to learn more about your area’s licensing requirements. You may need a back feed breaker installed (for grid-tie systems) or charge controllers (for battery-based systems). It’s recommended that you plan your wiring run and follow instructions for the type of system you’re installing. Wear appropriate protective equipment and read all warnings in your equipment manuals. It’s also a good idea to consult with a geologist or other professional who can ensure the soil can support the weight of a ground-mounted solar system and confirm it doesn’t have any rocks that could interfere with the installation.
Plan the Installation
Many solar panel systems use components that communicate with one another, such as micro-inverters or power optimizers. They usually come with stickers, QR codes, or other unique identifiers you can mark on an array map for commissioning. This will tell the system where each device is located and help identify any malfunctioning equipment quickly.
Your solar panel installation plan should also include a way to connect the system to your utility interconnection. This may require digging a trench to lay a new line or working around existing utilities. Ideally, this will be done close to the grid interconnection point because energy loses power as it travels farther from the source.
Take advantage of state and local tax incentives to make your solar panel system more cost-effective for homeowners. These rebates can significantly reduce your upfront costs and accelerate the payback period. Be sure to run your sales proposals by an accountant to ensure you are fully maximizing the available incentive programs. Also, consider establishing a business structure to protect you from personal liability in the event of any lawsuits.
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