The key to an efficient solar panel project is clear solar panel plans that detail where you will install your panels, how much energy or hot water you can realistically expect to generate from them and how you will connect the output to your home. While you can call in professional fitters who will work all this out for you, you can end up spending thousands in additional labor costs for a job that you can realistically do yourself.
Scope of the Project
The first thing on which you should focus is your intended use of solar energy. Solar panels will typically convert the sun’s power into either heat for hot water or into small amounts of electricity. As a rule, you will use the energy more efficiently to heat the water, as a four-inch square solar panel will generate less than one watt in full sunlight. To put this into context, a 32-inch LCD screen TV needs 100 watts to run. You can see that you will need a large space to provide a lot of electricity.
Location of the Panels
Your plans for solar panel should also incorporate the amount of space you have available. To generate a large amount of electricity you need to have a large portion of your property that receives sunlight for as much of the day as possible. This means that you should think about installing your panels in one or more of the following locations:
Roof – If your house has one side that is south facing then this is the side of the roof on which you should put the solar panels. In the northern hemisphere, the sun swings from east to west via the south meaning that south-facing roofs will receive the maximum amount of sunshine. Your roof will also offer the most uninterrupted flat space on your property.
Decking – Your decking will typically be in a place in your yard, which already receives a large amount of sunshine. This can be a great place to install many smaller solar panels in places like the railings or around the edge of the decking. You could also build a permanent gazebo for shade with solar panels on the top.
Around the borders –Installing slanted solar panels in your flower beds and borders will not only generate a good amount of electricity without taking away from your yard space, but it will give your garden an interesting futuristic design. You will need to incorporate weatherproofing for the cables back to the house in your plans for the solar panels.
Buying and Installing the Panels
Getting hold of solar panels independently can be tricky as the market is still aimed at commercial buyers. However, the growing trend for companies is to offer boxed plans for solar panels that will talk you through the steps to make your own solar panels and to connect it to your home. The materials that you are instructed to buy are available from your local home improvement store and you should be able to find the tools that you need in your own toolbox. The cost of these boxed plans is around $60, which will include video demonstrations, measurements and detailed plans to copy.
Many people get disheartened when they draw up their solar panel plans as it slowly sinks in how long it will take to recoup the financial outlay of building your own solar panels and installing them through energy savings. If you do decide to generate your own power, you have to take the environmental view that every watt that you generate through the sun is a watt less of fossil fuel that had to be burned to run your TV. It may not save you money for quite a few years, but you will leave a better legacy for future generations.