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Friday, May 28, 2010

Installing the Solar Array

Firstly, it is a good idea to clean the glass on the front of the panels first, using a water and dirt repellent glass polish or wax. These glass polishes ensure that rain and dirt do not stick to the glass, thereby reducing the performance of your home solar power systems and are available from any DIY store and many supermarkets and car parts and accessories stores.

Assembly and Connections

Some roof mounted solar mounting kits are designed to be fitted to your roof before fitting the solar panels. Others are designed to have the solar panels mounted to the fixing kits before being mounted to the roof.

With a pole mounted system, you typically erect your pole first and then fit the DIY solar panels once the pole is in position.

A ground based mounting system is the easiest to install as there is no heavy lifting to be done.
As a general rule of thumb, you tend to mount and wire the solar panels at the same time. If you are stepping up the voltage of your system by wiring the panels in series, wire up the required number of panels in series first (i.e. sets of two panels fro 24v, sets of four for 48v).

Once you have wired up a set of panels in series, test them using your multi-meter set to a voltage setting to check that you have the expected voltage (20v plus for 12v system, 40v plus for a 24v system and 80v plus for a 48v system).

Take care when taking these measurements as 40v plus can give a nasty shock in the wrong circumstances.

Once each series is wired up correctly, make up the parallel connections and then test the entire array using your multi-meter, set to voltage setting.

If you have panels of different capacities, treat the different sets of panels as separate arrays. Don’t wire panels of different capacities together, either in series or parallel. Instead, connect the arrays together at the controller.

Once you have completed testing, make the array safe so that no-one can get an electrical shock by accident from the system. To do this, connect the positive and negative cables from the solar array together to short-circuit the array. This will not damage the array and could prevent a nasty shock.

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