Solar energy is the most renewable and cleanest type of energy. It is captured through panels that produce electricity or heat.
For those thinking of installing a solar power system on their roof, there are several factors to consider to make the most of it.
It’s very important for the household that will use solar energy to have energy efficiency measures in place. Solar installers usually recommend energy efficiency measures before going ahead with the job, so it may be an idea to perform a home energy audit before getting started with solar power.
There is a wide range of options in terms of manufacturers so do shop around and find out which solar panel is the most suitable for the type of roof you have. Also look for solar panels that use higher grade cells which means the system’s rate of conversion of sunlight to electricity will be higher. This is improving all the time so get the highest you can find.
Annother aspect of home solar power to bear in mind is so-called insolation, which means making sure the panels are exposed to as much sunlight as possible. To find out how much you can expect to get in terms of solar radiation, check out the National Renewable Energy Lab’s calculator.
The angle (‘slope’) at which the solar will be mounted on the rooftop and the orientation are of paramount importance. The closer to the equator, the flatter it can be. The farther from the equator, it should be getting as much light as possible from the South. In the United States, the ideal slope ranges between 20 and 60 degrees.
Shading is another factor to be taken into consideration. It is important that that all panels should be exposed to the sun as they are all connected to one single inverter. Trees are common sources of shading so make sure any trees around the building are trimmed. Buildings and power poles are also sources of shading so the panels must be placed in a way that they do not get shaded by them.
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.