February 9th, 2010

PICTURES: Step by Step Guide How to Install a Solar Panels


Two weeks ago, I started my job in the field installing solar thermal and pv systems. If you’re curious about how I did it, I wrote a post about the 6 Steps on How I landed my Dream Job in Renewable Energy.

For the next 6 to 12 months my job will be to install solar hot water, solar PV, and geothermal systems before learning about the business development (selling, financing, etc) side of the business. I really wanted to utilize my construction experience to get a really good understand of how the technologies are installed.

For the last two weeks I’ve been installing solar hot water systems and I want to share with you how it’s done.

A key lesson, performing high quality and efficient site visits is absolutely critical to the success of profitable solar projects, especially residential projects! You need to be able to capture all of the information you need to 1) quote the system correctly 2) design the project and 3) inform the installation crew what to expect. An efficient site visit process will lead to smooth operations and profitable jobs while complex process can lead to unprofitable jobs and a lot of confusion.

Click here to check out Sunify. Sunify is a simple mobile tool that solar sales people use to make sure they collect all the information they need on a site visit with the least possible effort. It’s so cheap it will pay for itself in one site visit. Sunify does 4 things that will make your site visits better.

  1. Sunify will eliminate paper notes so you no longer have to copy and paste notes into emails and waste time.
  2. Sunify will ensure that you, or the sales people that you manage, capture the information that they need to on the first visit.
  3. You’ll collect better quality information because you can collect video and audio notes in addition to photos and text answers. This will give lead to more accurate quotes, design, and an easier time for the installation team.
  4. It’s all the tools you need in one place, so you’ll never loose your notes again.

Click here to check out Sunify. 

Here is the step by step guide of how solar hot water panels are installed.

Step 1: Put up the ladder. Duh! You have to get on the roof.

Step 2: Trace out the layout of the racks

Step 3:Loosen the shingles where the base plates will go

Step 4: Cut the single away from where the base plate will sit. The base plate holds the rack that holds the panel.

Step 5:Put Caulk on the holes that the base plate will be drilled into

Step 6: Screw on the base plate

Step 7: Put flashing over the plate and under the shingles. This stops water from coming in. This is also why we loosened up the singles in step 3

Step 8: Bolt the L clamp to the base plate. The rail will be attached to the L clamp.

Step 9:Repeat the process

Step 10:Put in rails

Step 11: Bolts rails to L clamps

Step 12: Bring up panels on the lift latter

Step 13: Put panel on rails and attach

Up close of the attachment

Step 14: Repeat Process

Step 15: Install thermal censor and intakes/outputs from the panel through the roof

The two other parts of the complete installation are running the line set through the house. This connects the panel to the hot water tank in the basement. The other part is to connect the hot water tank to the line set coming down from the roof and existing hot water system. This will be covered in future segments.

Hope you enjoyed it! If you have any questions, please let me know.

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Chris Williams

About Chris Williams

Chris Williams is the editor of Green Light Distrikt and Chief Marketing Officer at HeatSpring . He has experience in business development, prototyping and new venture research with a focus on geothermal heat pumps, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies. Chris is an IGSHPA accredited geothermal installer and NABCEP certified solar installer. Chris is focused on solving customer facing issues in the creation and adoption of clean energy technologies and products. Chris has installed over 300kW of solar and tens of geothermal systems. He's invented the PV Pal , developed many trainings at HeatSpring, publishes the NABCEP Study Guide , the Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech and has done due diligence research for Urgent VC . Feel free to connect with him @topherwiliams , on Linkedin , or through email about new ventures, collaborating, writing, research or whatever is on your mind.