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What You Need to Know Before Installing Rooftop Solar Panels

Rooftop solar panels are a great way to save money and help the environment. Solar energy is free but also hard to capture because it's not available all the time. Rooftop solar panels allow you to collect this energy from the sun when it's shining on your roof, then store that energy for a day when it’s not so sunny. This means that if there's no sun out today, you’re able to use some of that stored power instead!

Familiarizing Yourself With Components in a Home's Solar System

Understanding how solar energy works and is incorporated into your home is crucial. Solar panel systems consist of several key components:

  • Solar Array
  • Racking and Mounting Equipment
  • Inverters
  • Disconnect Switch
  • Solar Battery

Solar Array

This component is essentially the most important of a solar panel system. Ideally, the panels are placed in a sunny spot on the roof, facing south for optimal energy production. There are multiple options available regarding the type of solar panel to install for your property. 

Racking and Mounting Equipment

To keep the solar array in place, racking and mounting equipment is used to affix it to the property's roof. The majority of racking for solar panel installations involves rooftop mounting that requires drilling holes into the roof to fasten the mounting system. However, this type of mounting may not be suitable for all roofs, depending on their materials. For example, roofs made of metal, clay, or Spanish tile may require alternative racking systems that do not involve roof penetration.


Inverters convert the direct current (DC) electricity that is created by solar panels into alternating current (AC), which is used in homes. This component is connected to the panel and the home's breaker box through wiring.

Disconnect Switch

Most systems have two types of disconnect switches: a DC disconnect that separates the solar panels from the inverter, and an AC disconnect that detaches the inverter from the breaker box. Although these switches are not often used throughout the lifespan of a solar panel system, they are required by law in most states. If maintenance or repairs are necessary, professional installers use the disconnect switch to safely shut down the system.

Solar Battery

A solar battery is optional but helps store excess energy produced by the solar panels for later use, like when the sun isn't shining. The size of a solar battery depends on the amount of energy it stores and how often you need backup power. If you live in an area that experiences frequent blackouts or outages, it may be wise to invest in a larger battery that holds more energy.

Understanding Your Energy Needs

The first step in determining whether you need rooftop solar panels is to calculate how much energy your home uses. The easiest way to do this is by using a mapping service, which helps you find out if your roof is suitable for solar power. The mapping service also leads you to obtaining quotes from solar providers in your area.

Once you have an idea of how much electricity your house consumes each month, it's time to figure out how many solar panels are required for a full-scale installation. This number depends on several factors: what type of system you want to be installed, where it’s placed, and what kind of weather conditions exist in that area. As with any major purchase, it's important to do your research. The solar panel industry is constantly evolving and changing. There are a number of different types of solar panels available, so make sure that you're choosing the right kind for your home.

Preparing Your Roof

Before you start, it's important to ensure your roof is in good shape.

  • Check for leaks or damage. If there are any leaks or damaged areas that need to be repaired, now is the time to do it! You don't want to wait until after solar panels are installed and then realize there's a problem with your roof!
  • Make any necessary repairs. If you've got some old shingles on an older home with a metal roof, check their warranty before installing solar panels. It may not cover them if they're more than 20 years old.

Choosing an Installer

Once you've decided to install solar panels on your roof, the next step is to find a licensed installer. Check with your local utility company or the state's public utilities commission (PUC). The PUC has a list of approved solar contractors in your area that are qualified to work with their utility companies.

Once you've found an installer, it's important to read reviews and compare quotes from different companies before making a decision. It's also wise to check references from previous customers who have used their services before. 

The installation of solar panels provides numerous benefits to homeowners and businesses alike, including energy savings, reduced environmental impact, and increased property value. However, it's important to understand the various components of a solar panel system and work with a professional installer to ensure a safe and effective installation. By considering factors such as roof type, racking systems, and energy usage, you ensure that your solar panel system is optimized for your specific needs and provides reliable and long-lasting performance.

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