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Basics on how to convert Your home to a solar power system

Basic principles to run your residential solar panels:

   * Select a packaged system that meets criteria like reduction in monthly electricity bill, environmental benefits, desire for backup power, initial budget constraints, etc.
   * Ensure the roof area or other installation site is capable of handling the desired system size.
         o If roof mounted, verify that the roof is capable of handling additional weight of PV system. Augment roof structure as necessary.
         o Properly seal any roof penetrations with roofing industry approved sealing methods.
         o Install equipment according to manufacturers specifications, using installation requirements and
         o procedures from the manufacturers specifications.
         o Properly ground the system parts to reduce the threat of shock hazards and induced surges.
   * Specify sunlight and weather resistant materials for all outdoor equipment.
   * Locate the array to minimize shading from foliage, vent pipes, and adjacent structures.
   * Design the system in compliance with all applicable building and electrical codes.
   * Design the system with a minimum of electrical losses due to wiring, fuses, switches, and inverters.
   * Properly house and manage the battery system (If required).
   * Ensure the design meets local utility interconnection requirements.

Kit for installing residential solar power systems

PV Electrical System Types

There are two general types of electrical designs for PV power systems for homes; systems that interact with the utility power grid and have no battery backup capability; and systems that interact and include battery backup as well. Grid-Interactive Only (No Battery Backup)

This type of system only operates when the utility is available. Since utility outages are rare, this system will normally provide the greatest amount of bill savings to the customer per dollar of investment. However, in the event of an outage, the system is designed to shut down until utility power is restored.

Typical residential solar power equipment:

   * PV Array:  A PV Array is made up of PV modules, which are environmentally-sealed collections of PV Cells the devices that convert sunlight to electricity.  The most common PV module that is 5-to-25 square feet in size and weighs about 3-4 lbs./ft

Often sets of four or more smaller modules are framed or attached together by struts in what is called a panel. This panel is typically around 20-35 square feet in area for ease of handling on a roof. This allows some assembly and wiring functions to be done on the ground if called for by the installation instructions.

   * Balance of system equipment (BOS): BOS includes mounting systems and wiring systems used to integrate the solar modules into the structural and electrical systems of the home. The wiring systems include disconnects for the dc and ac sides of the inverter, ground-fault protection, and overcurrent protection for the solar modules. Most systems include a combiner board of some kind since most modules require fusing for each module source circuit. Some inverters include this fusing and combining function within the inverter enclosure.
   * Ddc-ac inverter: This is the device that takes the dc power from the PV array and converts it into standard ac power used by the house appliances.
   * Metering: This includes meters to provide indication of system performance. Some meters can indicate home energy usage.
   * Other components: utility switch (depending on local utility)
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