List of Solar PV System Materials.

by Ed Tsunoda

  • Panels:  Photovoltaic Solar panels vary in shape, size, power output and cost.   Generally the produce 235-255 watts at peak productivity, and though the price as come down nearly 80% since 2009, newly created import taxes on Chinese panels will likely effect pricing throughout the solar panel manufacturing industry.

  • Mounting equipment:  Mounting brackets that attach the panels to the roof.

  • DC-to-AC inverters: Inverters take the low-voltage DC current,  from the PV panels and converts it into 120VAC (or 240 VAC), “normal household” electricity. Inverters are cost varies between $2,600-5,500  for a typical single family residence application and are generally the weak link in any PV system.  For larger installations it’s common to have 2 inverters sharing the electrical load, working together for increased longevity.

  • Tracking mounts: Tracking mounts mechanically move the PV panels over the course of a day so that they directly face the sun at all times.  These are typically found on flat top roofs, or ground mount systems, where limited space is an issue.  If space is not an issue, for either flat roofs or ground mount systems, the installations are done without tracking equipment.

  • Disconnect switches: Disconnect switches are very important, and they need to be within easy reach.   Before having any electrical work done to your home, tell any and all contractors about your solar PV system, and show them how to shut down/ disconnect the system.

  • Wiring and fuse box connections: Wiring, conduit, and connections to your household main fuse box and other electrical hardware is required.

  • Utility power meters:   Utility companies offering Net-metering can require a secondary solar meter, independent from the standard utility company, which spins backwards and counts earned net metering credits.

  • Battery Back-up:   If you choose to get off the grid completely, or live in an area where net-metering isn’t available from the utility company, a battery back-up system will allow you to store power during the day for night time use.   Battery back-up systems vary in size and power depending on the solar system size and the amount of stored p0wer required by the homeowner.  More batteries equal more bad weather coverage, but batteries aren’t cheap, require monthly check-ups and even in the best of circumstances don’t last more than 5-7 years.

There are additional things like Optimizers, micro inverters, snow melting devices, skirts, and a list of other “extras” that can be added to a solar PV system.

Previous post:

Next post: