How to Install Solar Panels for a Home

More and more families are installing solar panels as a way of saving energy and money.

Using the sun to power a home is a way to be more green.Using the sun to power a home is a way to be more green.
Harnessing the power of the sun is a way of getting off the grid or at least reducing a home's monthly electric bill. Installing solar panels is not particularly difficult, although it does require drilling and spending some time on the roof.

Choose a location for the solar cells. The ideal location would be facing the sun and with the least obstruction of sunlight, such as from other buildings and tall trees. Another consideration is the tilt of the roof. If it is a flat roof, you may want to use raised mounts that will allow you to tilt the panels.

Find rafters. Use a stud finder to find the rafters on which the mounts are going to be attached. It's important to attach to rafters to ensure that the mounts and the solar panels are securely fastened to the roof.

Align the mounts along the rafters, indicating where the solar panels will ultimately sit. Using a chalk line to draw a straight line between the mounts will help ensure the mounts are evenly spaced to make properly installing the panels easier. Use a pencil or other marker to identify exactly where to drill the holes.

Drill the holes where the mounts will be fastened to the roof. It's important to choose the right drill bit depending on the type of roof. Predrilling will help ensure that the roof shingles do not splinter or split when screwing in the lag bolts.

Fasten the mounts by screwing the lag bolts into the drilled holes. The lag bolts should be screwed in until the the mounts are flush with the roof, but not so tightly that they push into the shingles, which may cause them to split.

Bolt the panels to the mounts. If the mounts do not already have predrilled holes, drill holes where the panels will be attached to the mounts. It is extremely important that these drilled holes are properly spaced for the panel's bolts. One way to ensure this is to place the panel on the mounts and mark where the bolt holes are, then remove the panel and drill the holes. Then you can place the panel back on the mounts and screw in the bolts.

Connect to the power inverter. Run the line from the solar panels to the power inverter found in your house.

Things You Will Need

  • Stud finder
  • Solar panel mounts
  • Chalk line
  • Drill
  • Socket wrench
  • Lag bolts
  • Solar photovoltaic panels

Tips

  • Choose a location that offers the most possible sunlight.
  • Check with your power company before installing. Regulations may govern installing solar power cells.
  • Unless you have experience with home electrical systems, it may be best to have an electrician perform the last step of connecting the solar cells to the inverter.

Warning

  • Working on the roof can be dangerous and requires a great deal of caution. It is best to stay away from the edge as much as possible and to sit as much as possible while doing the work.

About the Author

Carmen Russell is a career journalist who began writing in 1995. His articles have appeared in the "Chicago Tribune," "Orlando Sentinel," "Washington Times" and "asia! Magazine." His video work has been featured on "20/20," PBS and MSNBC.com. Russell has a Master of Studies in law from Georgetown University and a Master of Science in journalism from Columbia University.