The cost of solar panels has fallen dramatically in the last 10 years and is now on par with traditional electricity-generating sources, but upfront solar panel installation costs can vary and depends on a lot of factors.
Factors affecting the installation of solar panels
1. Size of the System
A larger system will cost more in total. The size depends on the amount of electricity you want to generate which determines the number of solar panels required. To maximize the cost savings from your solar panel system, calculating your average energy consumption for the past three to four months would give an estimate.
Even if excess electricity is generated there is an option to send them back to the grid. Selling the surplus clean energy back to the electricity grid can help you make a profit from your solar panel system and also reduce your payback period.
2. Roof Type
Solar panels can be installed on almost any kind of roof. That said, certain roof types require additional materials for installation — such as racking and mounting systems. Whether you have an asphalt roof or a metal one, solar panels can be installed on nearly every type of roof. Asphalt is the most common type of shingle used on housing and is also the best roof for solar panels. A metal roof with seams is a perfect candidate for solar panel installation. The standing seams don’t need any kind of drilling whatsoever. This reduced the cost of Labour. Since metal roofs reflect sunlight into the atmosphere, this is an added advantage as it helps to regulate indoor temperature, and it's easy to install solar panels on them too. The cost of installing solar panels on a tiled roof is more expensive since they have to be removed to prevent breakage. The panels have to fast properly on your roof so that they can work properly. Tar and gravel roofs are mostly flat but solar panels are usually required to be fixed at a certain angle to ensure optimum production. Extra hardware might be required for this.
Figure 1 : Roof top Solar panels
3. Type of Solar Panels
Solar panels are categorized into three different generations and differ according to their cost and efficiency. They are categorized as first, second, and third-generation solar cells. Each generation has a different manufacturing process, and different Material composition and has its advantages and disadvantages. Both monocrystalline and Polycrystalline panels can last up to 25 years due to the stable and inert properties of the silicon. Second-generation solar cells are thin film solar cells, designs that use minimal materials and cheap manufacturing processes. Film thickness varies from a few nanometers (nm) to tens of micrometers (µm) much thinner than first-generation solar cells. The cell efficiency is not on par compared to its crystalline counterparts. Third-generation solar cells can essentially overcome the theoretical efficiency limit of 33% for single-band gap solar cells like monocrystalline and Polycrystalline solar cells. Some examples include Organic solar cells and Perovskite solar cells. While each has its pros and cons, monocrystalline solar panels are now the most frequently used for residential rooftop solar installations as they are the most efficient panels available in the market right now. It is usually best to use solar panels from tier-1 manufacturers. It’s a measure of a manufacturer’s reliability and consistency. Even in tier 1 solar panels prices vary based on where they are manufactured, their efficiency, and warranty durations. AE Solar is one of Tier 1 solar panel manufacturing companies which has a wide range of products with different panel efficiency and power output. The product list can be found in this link.
Figure 2 : Organic Solar Cell . A third-generation solar cell
4. Solar Panel Costs:
Most solar panels usually come with a 2-year warranty while most solar inverters have a 5-year product warranty. This means that if your solar panels require replacement within the warranty period, while the replacement panels will be provided for free, you may still have to pay your installer for the labor costs associated with the replacement work.
5. Flashing Roofing System:
Water intrusion may occur when installing solar panels on the rooftop. Sometimes rooftops are drilled to install solar panels on mounting and racking systems. These drilled holes may result in rainwater accumulation that can cause leakages. The reason why this is an important part is that you don’t want your roof to be leaking. If these areas are not sealed properly, moisture and water can seep in, causing severe damage.
6. Installation Angle
The direction that your roof faces is one of the primary factors that determine how much sunshine your solar panels will see over the day. The first step in determining optimal PV panel orientation and the tilt angle is to review the site where the PV lighting system will be installed. Most panel orientations are done using computer simulations and mathematical models but it is good to understand the basics of how these things are worked out if you are planning to install solar panels on your rooftops.
When planning to install solar panels one must understand that it is no easy task and it is not an overnight process. Switching to solar energy has a lot of steps and it will approximately take around 3- 4 months however in some circumstances it can be done in less than 3 months depending on where you live, the services, and much more. The article How Long Does It Take to Install Solar Panels gives an overview of the timeline for installing rooftop solar panels. Every customer who intends to install solar panels on their rooftops, just has a general idea of the challenges when it comes to installations, do’s and don’ts of solar installation. Having a basic understanding is important because any problems that may occur will have an impact on the investment made by the owner.