There are a great many choices to make when it comes to preparing to use solar energy systems for your home or business. Do you plan to use a grid-tie or off-grid solar system? Roof mounted or pole mounted? Then of course there is a seemingly endless list of solar panels, inverters, string combiners and racking manufacturer brands and models to choose from. Then there are all of the incentives, rebates and grants that are available from state to state which vary widely so it is easy to understand how many people who want to use solar energy can become overwhelmed as the planning of such projects does come with a learning curve.
The majority of photovoltaic solar panel systems are generally configured as grid-tie systems which while they allow the home to use the energy generated they will also send any energy which the home cannot use back onto your local electrical grid through a net meter. These meters will actually spin backwards whenever energy is being directed out onto the grid and if your electric utility company has an energy buy back program then this will result in credits being created to your account with them. Typically, these credits are either used during the evening hours and the credits that have not been used at the end of each month are then banked until the end of the year or paid out during each monthly billing cycle. Unfortunately, not every state or county electric utility across the nation offers this as an option but those wishing to see this changed are strongly recommended to contacting your states Public Utilities Commission and requesting this be changed.
Off-grid solar energy systems are typically used in remote locations where obtaining grid provided power is cost prohibitive and they do require the use of battery backup systems with which to store the energy generated. While these systems are a great source of energy with which to power all of your appliances I would also recommend the additional installation of a quality solar powered lighting system as well because this will allow the power that is generated by your photovoltaic solar panel system to go even further. These solar lighting systems are capable of not only providing great accent outdoor lighting but can also be used for indoor lighting offering a complete lighting solution.
Pole mounted solar panel systems are by far the best for generating larger volumes of electrical energy because of their ability to include an optional dual axis tracking system which enables your solar panels to generate an additional 20% of electricity. However, many do not have sufficient space in their yards to erect such systems and therefore must use a roof mounted racking systems which require periodic adjustments to ensure they remain at a proper angle to the sun throughout the ever changing path of the sun through the sky. There is a wide variety of racking systems available for every type of roof but it should be noted that racking systems which are permanently fixed to the roof surface will eventually need to be removed during roof resurfacing so making sure that your roofing tiles will not need replacing anytime soon prior to installation is highly advisable.
In our current economy many homeowners have optioned to save additional costs and Do-It-Yourself, however, unless you have a significant amount of relative experience working with electrical systems this is definitely one project best left for a North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) professional to handle. After all we are talking about energy generation systems which if handled incorrectly can cause serious injury or death if you do not know what you are doing. Sure there are those who have promoted the Do-It-Yourself plans on how to build your own solar panel electric systems and while they may seem to be easy to follow and affordable the actual components they recommend you purchasing are vastly inferior when compared to components that are on your states department of energy approved list. The approved components listing is not something that as of yet has been published by these departments of energy nationally but when it comes to using government incentives to help pay for these systems you do not want to be caught having already spent the money on any solar panel system because if it is not pre-approved prior to its purchase then it will not qualify for incentive funding.