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There is nothing like the fresh air and sunshine of spring to focus the mind on the new solar project you want to install on your roof, in your garden, on your pathways, or near your pool. We hope that you have read the learning article about the installation challenges that our solar engineer faced down during the installation of his home solar panel system.  We enjoyed watching his journey as he went from the design stage to installation.

Choosing your solar design

As with any home improvement project, the advance work is the key to the success of your solar energy system.  You need to design your system, knowing that these home solar panels will be on your roof for the next 25 years. Even an experienced solar installer like our solar engineer may go through several alternative designs before settling on the optimal one, because every rooftop is unique. You need to take into account what conditions may influence the design. Every roof has a different configuration and different obstructions.  When our solar engineer was conceptualizing his design, he originally intended to install more panels, but eventually changed the configuration and opted for a design with fewer panels.

Do not forget to take into account the aesthetics especially if the solar panels on your home will be facing the front of your house. I admit that I place much emphasis on this aspect of your solar home panel, but I have seen too often installations that seem to have been thrown up on the roof without much thought to how this new structure will fit into the contours of the roof. You are going to have to look up and see these solar panels on your home every day for a long time. Now of course if you have a roof that is not visible from the street, then you can ignore this advice.

Choosing your solar module

Even though our solar engineer had experience with several different solar modules, he took his time to select the right home solar panel for his installation. We thought that he would choose the Sanyo panels because of their efficiency. But much to our surprise, he chose the Canadian Solar panels because he was price sensitive and the Canadian Solar modules were more competitively priced.  In the last few months, we have seen a lot of interest in the Canadian Solar panels from installers and do-it-yourselfers. I am not sure if that is solely because they want to buy home solar panels at discount prices and SolarTown is offering these panels at good prices–we also offer good prices on the Sanyos, Sharps and other leading brands, so price alone does not explain the surge in interest. What we tell our customers is that one size shoe does not fit all feet, and similarly solar modules are different: each solar installation may require a different brand of module. Are the Canadian Solar panels the best solar panels for home use?  They have their advantages and disadvantges which we discuss in other places on You should read our review of the Canadian Solar 230 watt panel.  We are also seeing some interest in the new Canadian Solar 240 Watt panel, which is a monocrystalline product. (If you don’t know the difference, you are going to have to visit our learning section.) Choose your solar module based on the needs of your particular installation.

Choosing your solar inverter

We like all of the solar inverters that we carry, but they also differ and not only in terms of price. But the major decision these days is whether to go with the Enphase Micro Inverter or the regular solar inverter. Our solar engineer opted for the Enphase Micro Inverter for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he has some shading issues on his roof and one major advantage to the Enphase is that your entire array doesn’t go down if one solar panel is shaded.

But let’s say that you don’t have any shading issues, the choice becomes more difficult. It is like having one central light in your living room. When you have one light, you only have to worry about one light bulb and one fixture. But if you have 12 light fixtures, when the light bulbs need changing, you have to change 12 light bulbs. The decision may not be as clear. If you have a project and want to discuss this issue with us, please give us a call, or if you have your own view, then post your comment here.

Installing solar panels yourself

Now I must admit that as easy as our solar engineer makes it seem, getting up on your roof and installing your own solar power system may not be for everyone. You are not going to find me on my roof.  Some people are beginning to hire their own subcontractors such as roofers and electricians and save some of the expense on a solar energy system. Using the information from our solar engineer’s his experience and learning article, you should have a better idea of what the challenges are in installing your solar energy system and provide you with the tools to make good decision about designing and installing your system.  For those of you who are new to installing a solar energy system, whether you are an intaller or DIYer, we would be pleased to assist you. Just give us a call.

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