What does it take to design a solar power system? Here’s an in-depth look at how solar power experts design solar power systems.
When you head down the path of switching to solar power, one of the first things you may wonder about is how solar installers design a solar panel system. Designing a solar panel system is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Solar experts take into consideration many factors and data points when determining the right size system for your home. Here’s an in-depth look at how solar power experts design solar power systems.
Factors to Consider when Designing a Solar System
When designing a solar power system, solar power experts consider many factors, but these two are the most important. First, they will need to know the amount of roof space available for the installation of solar panels, and then they will need to know how much electricity you use each year. Other factors to consider include how much shade your property gets, and the efficiency of the solar panels and inverters being used.
How Roof Space Affects Solar Power System Design
Most homeowners install rooftop solar panels, so one of the most important things to consider is how much usable roof space is available. This will ultimately determine the number of solar panels that can be installed. The sizes of solar panels can vary, but most are 16 square feet and rectangular in shape. The panels are attached to a racking system that’s installed on your roof.
Although most solar panel systems are laid out in rows, there may be other items competing for roof space, such as chimneys, dormers and vents. This will make a difference in the layout and how many panels can be installed on your roof. Your solar panel installer will let you know which of these features are insurmountable.
How Electricity Use Affects Solar Power System Design
The goal of most homeowners is to offset 100% of their annual power bill with solar power, so solar power experts usually ask for 12 months of electric bills to determine that number. This gives them a complete picture of your energy use and helps them determine the amount of energy your solar system will need to generate to fit your needs. The optimal size of your solar panel system will vary depending on where you live and your roof profile.
If you live in a place that gets a lot of sunlight, your solar panels will be able to generate more power. This doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of solar energy if you live in a cloudy climate. Even in Alaska, where the sun rarely makes an appearance during the winter, solar power works better than you might think.
How Shading Affects Solar Power System Design
Most rooftops have some shading, whether from neighboring trees, nearby buildings or large chimneys. In order to maximize the performance of solar systems, solar panel experts may decide not to install panels in these shaded areas. They will factor in whether the shady area gets enough peak sunlight. For example, if you have a south-facing roof, your solar panels will create more energy than solar panels on a north-facing roof, or a roof that is heavily shaded. The roof orientation is critical to the design of a solar panel system, because figuring how much sun your roof gets is a big part of the solar system’s design.
When a solar expert visits your home to collect critical information needed to develop an optimal system design, they will assess the structural strength of your home’s roof, the condition of the electrical system, and how the shading will affect your system’s efficiency. These factors play a role in estimating your solar system’s performance, so a solar expert will factor them all in when designing a solar power system for your home.