Your Questions About Solar Panels For Home

William asks…

Where can I find a website so I can learn to build solar panels?

Im looking into building my own solar panels for my home, anyone know of a good place to start looking?
Thank you!

ssadmin answers:

It is not easy. I would stick to heating for home made solar.
“Because solar cells are semiconductor devices, they share many of the same processing and manufacturing techniques as other semiconductor devices such as computer and memory chips. However, the stringent requirements for cleanliness and quality control of semiconductor fabrication are a little more relaxed for solar cells.
Making solar panels is still a delicate process, and it is for this reason that major solar advances did not come into play until the last quarter of the century, when advances in semiconductors and photovoltaic design allowed increasingly efficient and affordable solar cells to be developed.”

Daniel asks…

Is there a grant to install solar energy for my home?

On disability, limited income, need to decrease my utility costs. Looking for a grant or assistance to put solar panels on my home.
(to Rich K, thanks for responding) I am living in Greenville, Texas.

ssadmin answers:

Unfortunately, there are no grants to install solar energy for your home. There are grants to help research about how to develop and harness solar energy – but no grants to install it to individual homes.

You can go to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) http://www.cfda.gov and Grants.gov http://www.grants.gov – these are two sites created by the federal government to provide transparency and information on grants. Browse through the listings and see if you can find any grant that would support your purposes.

Even if you buy books on “how to get grants” or list that supposedly has information on grants — all of them are mere rehash of what CFDA has, albeit packaged differently.

Note though that these grants generally support non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions, and state and local governments. Most of the federal grants are given to specific target groups with specific requirements (e.g. Minority business owners involved in transportation related contracts emanating from DOT – Grant#20.905 Disadvantaged Business Enterprises Short Term Lending Program. Individuals especially for personal purposes are not eligible for federal grants.

Grants are also often given to non profit groups or organizations involved in training or other similar activities (grant 59.043 Women's Business Ownership Assistance that are given to those who will create women's business center that will train women entrepreneurs

Mary asks…

How do you install solar panels?

I want to add solar panels to my home. I was looking online and it seems there are so many different kinds! How does it hook up to the electrical grid? How much do I need for a 2000 sf home?

ssadmin answers:

This is still not a trivial project, although it is getting easier. The usual way to do this is to contact professional installers for free quotes. In the process of getting the quote, you'll learn what considerations go into sizing a solar system. They'll look at your energy usage, and also whether your house has a good, clear, south-facing roof that doesn't get shaded during the day. They'll also look at your electrical panel to see whether they can hook right up, or additional work is needed.

There are rumors of companies like Akeena planning to sell panel kits in Home Depot (in areas that Akeena does not directly serve). The idea would be that a pro installer would pick up the kit there, but a highly skilled homeowner might be able to make it work.

A permit will probably be required by your jurisdiction, but that's no different than applying for any other construction. And you'll have to inform your power utility in advance, which may or may not be routine, depending on how often people connect solar in your area.

If you want to see how we connected our system, a link is below. I did not really save money by doing it myself. That's because pro's can get better prices on the panels, which makes up for the labor cost.

Laura asks…

Can solar panels be installed on a home in the US with asphalt shingles?

How does roof replacement work for a 20 year roof? I've seen many panels installed in Europe, but only on homes with ceramic tiles on their roofs.

ssadmin answers:

Asphalt shingle is probably the easiest surface over which to install solar panels, because it is flat, and can be done without special hardware if desired.

If this is a water heating panel, be sure that the underlying rafters are strong enough to support it.

For photovoltaic (solar electric), if this is to go onto an existing roof, the fastest and cheapest way is to simply drill pilot holes into the rafters, put “L” brackets in those places, and secure the panels to the brackets. Of course, the holes are sealed with silicon roof sealant to minimize water getting in.

A better approach is to remove sections of the asphalt shingle, and put in a standoff jack, which looks pretty similar to any of the vent pipes on a normal roof. Flashing is put around the standoff to insure water-tightness, the same as a sink vent. Then shingles are replaced, except for the one just downstream of the flashing. Rails are mounted to the standoffs, and the panels are mounted on the rails.

If the roof is being redone at the same time, the best time to put on the standoffs is when there is bare sheathing on the roof, before even putting down roofing felt.

After 20 years, if there is a need to replace the roof, the panels must be removed. This is not as hard a job as it sounds – a professional with helpers an take down an entire array in less than an hour. The standoffs are left on the roof, then the roofers come and do their job. When the roofers are finished, two more hours to put the panels back.

Joseph asks…

What direction should solar panels on the roof be directed for maximum daytime heating?

If a construction company were to build a solar heated home in middle latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.

ssadmin answers:

It would be best to ask a professional installation company, or other folks in your area with solar heat, for what works best.

It will be something west of north, since the afternoon air temperatures are presumably higher than the morning temperatures. If the temperature is the same all day, then due north.

In the northern hemisphere, I seem to remember someone saying 220 degrees southwest was the best for them, but that's an individual experience. Who knows, maybe they have morning fog that burns off later.

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