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How Are Solar Panels Installed


Solar panels are a very versatile source of energy. Installation sizes can range from as few as 3 to 4 panels installed on the rooftop of an individual home, to millions of panels installed for a utility scale power plant. The adoption of rooftop solar installation by individual families for their homes is growing rapidly in India. This has been accelerated by the net-metering and subsidy policies rolled out by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) and electricity distribution companies (Discoms).

This article provides an overview of how solar panels are installed, factors to consider and best practices to follow to ensure –

• a safe & reliable installation with minimum system down time
• maximized power generation for the installation location
• long life with minimal maintenance & component replacement
• electrical safety
• minimized risk of damage during cyclones & high wind conditions
Components of Solar System
The following components constitute a typical rooftop solar system installed on an individual home –

• Solar panels / solar modules
• Inverter
• Solar mounting structures
• DC Cables
• AC Cables
• DC Combiner Box
• AC Combiner Box
• Lightning Arrester
• Earthing kits & Earthing cables
• Conduit pipes or cable trays for routing cables
• MC4 connectors
• Electrical connection components
The above components constitute a grid-connected solar system, where solar power is generated only when the system is connected to the electricity grid. These are the most common type of system installed on residential rooftops in cities & towns where grid shutdown is rare. Off-grid or hybrid systems can generate & supply power even when not connected to the electricity grid. Here batteries are also required to store the electricity generated. These are used in rural areas not connected to electricity grid.

As can be seen above, solar panels are only one of the components of the entire solar system. For a well-engineered solar panel installation, it is important to focus not only on the selection of solar panel technology & make, but also –

• Selection of right specifications & quality of all other components
• Engaging professional teams trained in following delivery, handling & installation Standard Operating Procedures of all components
• Use of specialized purpose-built tools for installation
In the next sections, we will learn about the same in greater detail.

Choosing the Location, Direction & Angle for Solar Installation
The most important factor in selection of location of solar panel installation is the availability of shadow-free area. For a typical rooftop installation on an individual home, we encounter a number of shadow casting objects such as nearby trees, adjacent houses or buildings, mobile towers, water tanks, staircase rooms or mumties, satellite dishes, etc. Although we might feel that an area is free of shadow to the naked eye, it is not possible to say with certainty that there shall be no shadows at all times of day and throughout the entire year.

Shadow analysis using softwares such as Google SketchUp is required to check and ensure that the installation will remain shadow-free from 9 AM to 4 PM throughout the year. At SolarSquare, we conduct a thorough Detailed Engineering Visit by a trained professional to record all shadow casting objects and their locations and heights. This is used by our design team to carry out shadow analysis and create a plant layout that minimizes shadow (shown below).

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