Solar Power Your Home For Dummies
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Powering your home with rooftop solar collectors is great way to go green while reducing energy bills and your carbon footprint. If you mount solar panels on your roof, you can maximize your solar exposure, so you don't have to worry about shading from your house, trees, and the like. Here are some mounting tips:

  • Use the roof's pitch to angle your solar collector to intercept the most sunlight without the need for complex brackets.

  • Shield a portion of your roof from direct sunlight, moving that heat to a different location. If you were to cover your entire roof with solar panels, no direct sunlight would ever hit your roof. Your attic would be cooler, as would your entire house!

When you're deciding whether to mount equipment on your roof, consider how long it's going to be before you need to put up a new roof. Having the roofers contend with solar collectors makes the job more expensive, so you may want to opt for ground-mounting or change the roof first. Here are some other factors to consider:

  • Weather: Most solar collectors include warranty restrictions against freezing damage, so it'll be on your dime if you don't follow the rules. If you need to follow certain restrictions against freezing, how you mount the collector may be important. For example, if you need special valves to drain your system, you need to make sure that the valves are readily accessible.

    The wind can exert big forces on your panels. If they aren't mounted properly, you can end up with a destructive flying object (DFO) in the neighborhood!

  • Proximity to the domestic water heater tank: The farther from the storage tank you place the collector, the more inefficient the system will be. In the winter, heat loss from uninsulated pipes may actually offset heat gains.

  • Damage from wildlife: Do you have raccoons? How about birds that may consider a nice solar panel to be the perfect toilet? Cows can destroy a panel in three seconds flat. Goats may prefer them for dessert. The list goes on.

  • Human damage and safety: Consider whether the panel location lends itself to vandalism, theft, or target practice.

  • Potential failures and drainage issues: A small hole in a closed-loop circulating system can turn into big trouble. If you put a solar collector below the level of your swimming pool, a small hole can literally drain your entire pool.

  • Available space: Instead of using one large collector, you can use two that are half the size.

  • Available sunlight and desire for efficiency: With adjustable mounting brackets, manual adjustment allows for varying the elevation angle over the course of the year. The winter sun is much lower in the sky than in summer; by adjusting the angle of your collector, you can optimize efficiency. You may also want to collect more sun during the morning versus the afternoon by adjusting the east/west orientation.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Rik DeGunther is the founder of Efficient Homes, an energy auditing and consulting firm. He holds a BS in Engineering Physics and dual Masters degrees in Applied Physics and Engineering Economic Systems. Rik is also the author of Energy Efficient Homes For Dummies and Alternative Energy For Dummies.

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