A solar system is a sound investment, assuming you don't make one of these seven costly mistakes that could cause you headaches down the line.
1. Installing On an Old Roof
Here’s the thing; a solar system typically has a warranty of 20-25 years.
The typical residential roof lasts 15-30 years depending on the material used (but some types can last much longer).
You’ll want to time installing solar based on how long the roof’s lifespan is. If the roof is in obvious distress or has 10 or fewer years left before it needs replacing, it’s better to replace it first before installing solar panels. Otherwise, you’ll have to uninstall and reinstall your system, which equates to extra time and expense, which could offset some of the savings that a solar system can bring.
An added bonus of replacing the roof is that the energy usage might go down because the heat and coolness produced by the home has a harder time escaping.
2. Bad Racking Installation = Leaky Roof
The benefits of getting a brand new roof go down the drain if you install racking improperly and cause damage to the roof.
This is why it’s important to know what you’re doing or to hire a professional solar installer with lots of experience doing roof installs.
3. Don’t Burn The House Down With Bad Wiring
Installing solar panels and inverters involves dangerous high-voltage wiring, and if done incorrectly, you could risk a surge, which could lead to a fire or even electrocution.
In some regions, this part of the solar install is actually required to be done by a certified/licensed electrician, so make sure you read the regulations before attempting to wire the system yourself.
4. Install Not Up To Local Code
The codes constantly change and differ between states. Thus, you need to be aware of what are the current regulations in your area. You don’t want to be caught off guard at the last moment when the inspector is on site and notifies you that your inverter does not meet the current requirements or that your system does not provide enough space for firefighters.
5. Accidentally Nullifying Your Warranty on Solar Equipment
Make sure to carefully read the installation manuals and warranties on all of your equipment. That 25 year warranty on your solar panels goes null if you install or care for them incorrectly.
We had a customer that did some custom modifications on his panels, and while he did the modifications intentionally, he also nullified their warranty, so if something ever goes wrong with them, he knows he can’t reach out to the manufacturer.
If you want to have an intact warranty down the line, make sure to follow the correct protocol when installing your solar system.
6. Accidentally Causing Damage to Your Solar Equipment
Warranties aside, you need to make sure to care for your equipment, especially solar panels, with care
For example, you might have seen photos of solar installers walking on solar panels.
Do not do this.
Yes, solar panels are resilient and even if you walk on them, there won’t be any visible damage. However small micro-fractures seen only with special equipment might form, and with time will reduce your modules’ energy production. Thus, it is better to be more cautious.
7. Installing Panels Such That They See Little Sun
This is one of those things any solar professional worth their salt will know not to do, so it is peculiar when a system is installed that minimizes the amount of energy that it can generate from the sun.
North facing solar systems in the northern hemisphere. This is the least effective direction for solar panels to face and if done, there has to be a very good reason as to why, because you are otherwise unnecessarily reducing the amount of energy your system will produce. Also the greater the tilt of your north-facing roof, the more significant the losses.
Installing panels in a shaded or partially area. Avoid shaded areas as much as you can, but if you can’t avoid having some shade fall your panels, make sure to use microinverters or optimizers. If you are solely relying on a regular string inverter, your production will be bust and you can learn more about string inverters vs micro inverters vs power optimizers here.