Installing a solar panel can be a great way to save money on your energy bills and help the environment.

But it would help if you did your research before you buy a solar system because there are many different options, not only in terms of the modules themselves but also in terms of assembly.

This guide will teach you everything about installing a solar powered generator system, from choosing the right system to connecting it correctly to your home.

How much does it cost to install a photovoltaic system?

The cost of installing a photovoltaic system can account for 15-25% of the total, making it a significant upfront investment. The costs include the roof work, the modules’ assembly, the cables’ laying, and the electrical installation.

However, the costs per m² decrease as the size of the system increases. The installation costs of a 10 kWp system are usually around 2000 dollars.

Construction of a solar system

Solar systems are becoming a popular alternative to traditional forms of energy, such as fossil fuels. Although they appear complex, solar systems are relatively simple regarding the components required.

Besides the solar panels themselves, 3 main elements are needed to convert solar energy into electricity:

  • Inverter
  • Assembly device
  • Battery (if desired)

Together, these components ensure that the sun’s energy is captured and stored so that it can be converted into electricity when needed. Although these components are also available individually, purchasing a complete off-grid solar system is usually best.

How does a photovoltaic system work?

A photovoltaic array, also known as a solar PV array, is a power supply system that generates electricity by converting sunlight into direct current using semiconductor materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect.

  • The solar modules are mounted on the roof and convert sunlight into direct current.
  • The pure sine wave inverter converts the direct current into alternating current (AC) that can be used to power appliances and electronics.
  • The batteries store the electricity generated by the solar panels for use at night or during periods of low sunlight.
  • Finally, the charge controller regulates the current flow from the solar panels to the batteries to prevent overcharging.

Photovoltaic systems are becoming increasingly popular for supplying energy to households and companies due to their environmental friendliness and cost-saving potential.

Different mounting types at a glance

On-roof installation

If you are considering a photovoltaic system on your pitched roof, there are a few things you need to consider. Safety comes first – you must follow all standard safety precautions when working at height.

Second, dry weather is a must – any moisture makes the roof surface slippery and increases the risk of accidents.

The first step in installing a PV system on a pitched roof is to attach roof hooks to the truss.

They are usually screwed to the rafters, with the number and type of roof hooks primarily depending on the expected load from the system’s weight and the wind or snow load.

Once the roof hooks are in place, you can start attaching the PV panels.

There are different types of roof hooks depending on the type of tiles on your roof. To attach them, you will need to remove or cut out the roofing where you want the hooks to be and reattach them.

The corresponding mounting rails must then be attached to the roof (either parallel as cross rails or on short rails). These are firmly screwed together.

Height-adjustable roof hooks can be helpful to compensate for any unevenness in the roof, thus ensuring that the solar modules always form an even surface.

The photovoltaic system is then attached to the mounting system. This is done either with module clamps or by inserting the modules into special rail systems.

Some rail systems have additional ducts for cables: These make it easier to lay the cable connections later.

In-roof installation

PV modules can be installed in different ways. The most common variant is on-roof installation, in which the PV modules are mounted on the existing roof structure.

However, in-roof installation is also possible, in which the PV modules become a functional part of the roof covering and replace parts of the roof covering.

In-roof mounting has several advantages over on-roof mounting, including a more aesthetically pleasing appearance and better protection from the elements. However, it is also more complex and expensive.

When installing on the roof, there must be sufficient rear ventilation to prevent the modules from overheating.

Cold roofs with their rear-ventilated roof constructions are, therefore, more suitable for the in-roof installation of a photovoltaic system than insulated roof constructions of warm roofs.

Thanks to the cold roof construction, the accumulated heat that forms behind or under the modules can be dissipated so that the modules maintain a safe operating temperature.

When ground-mounted solar panels, manufacturers usually offer complete kits that include everything you need.

The modules are usually mounted directly onto the roof battens, and the system is then integrated into the roof, covering all sides with a row or column of roof tiles. This creates a rainproof connection.

In addition to installing PV modules in the roof covering, the photovoltaic system can replace the roof covering completely.

Solar roofs look good and can save you the cost of traditional roofing. Solar roof tiles are a special form of in-roof installation.

The modules are shaped like bricks and can be integrated into the roof covering without other fastening systems. However, such bricks are much more expensive than conventional modules.

Flat roof mounting

The frame of a photovoltaic system plays an important role in its overall performance. The frame, also known as the riser, is usually made of aluminum, a lightweight metal that is easy to work with.

The frame is where the PV modules are mounted and can either be bolted firmly to the roof or installed in gutters on a flat roof.

Whichever method is used, it is important to ensure that the modules are securely mounted and that the roof insulation is not damaged.

Mounting photovoltaics on a frame has the advantage that the modules can be ventilated from behind, which helps to keep them cool and improve their efficiency. The cooling benefits the functional principle of the modules – and has a positive effect on the performance (keyword: efficiency) of the system.

Before installing a photovoltaic array on a flat roof, it’s important to check the specifications of the roof to ensure it can support the weight of the array.

Pipe systems are particularly heavy, so it’s important to ensure the roof can support the extra weight.

Once the roof has been checked, the modules can be installed at the height that gives the best results.

It should be noted that the modules are at an optimal distance from each other and must then be securely fastened to the elevation.

After that, the electrical system can be installed, and all connections should be checked for faults.

This way, you can ensure that the system is installed correctly and is working properly.

PV modules that are not firmly attached to the roof can “wander” due to the tilting forces caused by gravity.

To prevent this, a protective and sliding layer should be built during installation, absorbing thermal expansion. This keeps the modules in place and prevents damage to the roof.

Facade installation

In addition to the roof, there is also the option of operating a solar system on the facade. A distinction is made between 2 types:

  • With a cold facade, the solar modules are hung in front of the facade. Similar to a rooftop system, the modules are mounted on special rails. The main advantage of a ventilated façade is that no special roof construction is required. This allows the system to be installed quickly and easily. In addition, a cold façade enables a more aesthetic integration of the solar system into the building. However, care must be taken to ensure that the PV modules are adequately ventilated from behind.
  • The warm facade is similar to the in-roof and is also referred to as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). It offers the possibility of fully integrating the solar system into the building. In this variant, the modules simultaneously act as thermal insulation and facade protection of the house. The warm facade was already planned and integrated during the construction of the house. The result is an optimal energy balance for the house and a high degree of architectural flexibility. However, a warm facade is usually more expensive than a cold facade or installation on the roof.

Do-it-yourself vs. specialist company: which is better?

If you buy a photovoltaic system, you will receive installation instructions from the manufacturer. However, this is not a free pass for self-assembly.

Because installing the solar power system requires good to very good manual skills, more than a pair of expert hands, and sound electrical engineering knowledge above all.

Installation mistakes are easy to make – and can have a lasting impact on the system’s functionality or prevent the optimum solar yield from being achieved.

Therefore, it is advisable to outsource your photovoltaic system installation to professionals. They usually have many years of experience installing PV systems and can often rectify any errors quickly and easily.

They are also familiar with the various grants and grants available for purchasing and installing photovoltaic systems and can advise you on which ones are best for you.

Specialist companies also offer other services, such as maintenance and repairs – so you can be sure that your photovoltaic system will continue to function optimally for many years.

If you’re considering doing the work yourself, it’s important to clarify what self-assembly means in terms of the warranty.

Otherwise, you risk your insurance, and possible claims or guarantees are no longer valid.

In short, it’s always better to play it safe and hire a professional for such a delicate task.

Conclusion

Installing your photovoltaic system is a large project that requires careful planning and execution. Unless you’re an expert in electrical work, it’s best to have an electrician connect the solar cables.

If working on a pitched roof, you should take precautions against falling and wear personal protective equipment.

You’ll also need to secure the panels to the roof with staples or tape, which can be challenging if you’re unfamiliar with the process.

However, with careful planning and execution, it is possible to install your photovoltaic system yourself!