The easiest way to install solar panels is by hiring a contractor, a solar installer, or someone with experience in the field. However, if you’re not comfortable going that route, you can still get started on your own. It might take more time and effort than hiring a pro, but it will save money in the long run. If you want to learn how to install solar panels, here are all the steps you’ll need.
Before you begin, read our primer on how solar panels work. This is especially important because you’ll need to understand solar cells before building your system. The best way to learn this information is to visit our Solar FAQ page, which has answers to frequently asked questions about solar energy.
Step 1: Get Your Materials Ready
First things first — you need materials for the project. You’ll need the following items:
- A shovel
- Additional tools (such as pliers)
- A hose
- Electrical tape
- Wood screws
- Aluminum flashing
- Plastic pipe
- Pipe caps
- Electricians’ tape
- PVC pipe
- Screws and nuts
- Glass panes
- Caulking gun
- Roofing cement
- Roofing nails
- Sheet metal
- Metal roofing screws
- Rubber gloves
- Safety glasses
- Rain gear
These materials will help you build your solar panel system, so they should already be at your house. If you don’t have them, you can pick them up from Home Depot, Lowe’s, Amazon, or anywhere else that sells hardware supplies.
Step 2: Build Your Frame
To begin, you’ll need to construct a frame around your solar panels. There are several ways to do this, depending on where you live. For example, if you live in a cold climate like Alaska, you may want to use wood instead of aluminum flashing. On the other hand, if you live in a warm climate, such as Florida, you can probably skip using wood altogether.
In any case, you’ll need to cut the lumber into the shape of your solar panel system, then attach it to your house’s roof. Depending on the size of your roof and the number of panels you plan to install, you may need to purchase additional pieces of lumber.
Once you’ve built your frame, you’ll need to add insulation between the wood and the roof. You’ll need to cover the wood with plastic pipes to do this. Then, you’ll apply caulking to the seams. Cover the pipes with plastic wrap, and seal the plastic wrap with electrical tape. Finally, put a cap on each end of the plastic tubing.
Step 3: Attach Your Solar Panels
You’ll need to drill holes through the wood and into the roof if you’re using wood. Use a screwdriver to drive screws into the wood, then tighten the screws with a wrench. Ensure the panel is securely placed by wrapping electrical tape around the screw heads.
Next, you’ll need to attach the panel to the frame. To do this, you’ll need to mark where the edges of the panel meet the frame. Then, pry the panel away from the frame until you find the right spot. Once you’ve found the right spot, hammer a nail into the wood, and hang the panel over it. Repeat this process with each of the remaining panels.
Step 4: Attach Your Inverter
After you’ve attached all of your panels, you’ll need to connect them. Each panel needs to be connected to its neighbor and the inverter. The inverter converts DC electricity into AC electricity, which is used to charge batteries and provide power to your home.
To connect your panels, you’ll need to drill holes into the middle of the panels. Then, you’ll need to attach a bolt through each hole. Next, you’ll attach a washer and nut to each side of the bolts.
Finally, you’ll need to connect your panels to the inverter. To do this, you’ll need to drill holes into the inverter. Then, you’ll connect the inverter to the battery.
Step 5: Connect Your Batteries
After connecting your panels, you’ll need to connect your batteries to the inverter. To do this, you’ll need to drill two holes into each battery. Then, you’ll join the batteries’ negative terminals to the inverter’s positive terminals.
Step 6: Add Insulation & Weather Protection
You’ll need to add insulation to your panels to protect your system from the elements. Before you do this, however, you’ll need to remove the junction box cover. Inside the junction box, you’ll see a fuse. Remove this fuse, and replace it with a weatherproof fuse. After you’ve done this, you can install fiberglass insulation around the junction box.
You’ll need to install aluminum flashing to keep water and debris from damaging your panels. Aluminized flashing is available at most hardware stores. Cut the flashing to fit around your panels, then staple it down.
Finally, you’ll need to install a rain gutter. If you don’t already have one, you can buy one from a local home improvement store. Otherwise, you can just cut off a piece of existing aluminum flashing and attach it to the top of your roof.
Step 7: Mount Your System
Once you’ve completed all these steps, you’ll need to mount your system. To do this, you’ll need to drill three holes into your roof. Then, you’ll thread a screw into each hole. Finally, you’ll attach a mounting bracket to each screw.
Step 8: Prepare Your Power Lines
When you’re ready to turn on your new solar panels, you’ll need to prepare your power lines. First, you’ll need to connect the wires from your solar panels to the junction box. Then, you’ll need to connect the wires that lead from your junction box to the inverter.
You can attach the wires to the junction box by drilling holes into the box. Then, you’ll insert the wires into the holes and secure them with electrical tape. You can attach the wires to the inverter by drilling holes into the inverter, inserting the wires into the holes, and securing them with electrical tape.
Step 9: Turn On Your New Solar System!
Congratulations! Now that you’ve installed your solar panels, you’ll be able to generate electricity. All you need to do now is plug your system into the wall outlet.
There are many different types of solar panels available today. Some panels are designed to produce electricity during the day, while others have electricity at night. Regardless of when you need the electricity, you’ll need to follow the same steps outlined above to install your solar panels.
While it takes some time and effort to set up your solar panel system, it’s worth the trouble once you’re done. Not only will you save money on your monthly electric bill, but you’ll also be helping the environment.