Solar panel installation and parts
- Splice kit
- The feet of the solar mounting kit are used to fix the solar panels to the roof
- They are made to fix to tin, tiled or slate roofs
- The feet are made from aluminium
- To prevent rust from reacting metals, rubber is fitted between the feet and the tin.
Tin roof feet
Tin roof feet are quite simple to install. The installer will remove a screw from your roof and replace it with a longer screw, fixing the aluminium L shaped bracket to the roof. It is pretty standard for the kits to come with rubber to separate the aluminium and the tin or colorbond. Make sure your installer uses rubber to separate the roof from the bracket otherwise your roof may rust.
Tiled roof feet
Tiled roof feet are a little more difficult to install. The brackets are attached underneath the tiles and are screwed down onto the battens or trusses. In most applications, the installers will need to remove tiles to screw down the feet and then slot the tile back into place. Don’t be surprised if you get stung with a tiled roof fee. It does take longer for solar panel installation and the brackets are a little more expensive. It is also a good idea to have a few tiles on hand in case the installer breaks one.
Slate roof feet
Slate roof feet are the same feet as the tin roof feet. To attach them to the roof, the installers need to drill a hole into the slate using a special drill bit so that the slate tile does not crack or break. Like standard tile roofs, there will normally be an extra fee as it takes longer to install than a standard tin roof solar panel installation. Again, it is a good idea to have a few spare tiles on hand in case the installer breaks one.
Solar roof mount kit
For every row of solar panels, there will be two rows of aluminium rails. They are designed to have a special module to slot into the grooves and slide into place. Don’t worry, when they are tightened, they’re not sliding anywhere. The rails are normally around 3 metres long and can be easily cut to size when the installers are on site.
Mid-clamps are T-shaped modules which sit in between the solar panels, clamping them down to the rails. There should be two mid clamps installed between every solar panel. One at the top and one on the bottom. Mid-clamps come with a special washer designed to lock the bolt in place when tightened.
End-clamps are modules which are designed to clamp the end of the row of solar panels to the rails. Like the Mid-clamps, they slide into place on the rail and are tightened down using an Allen key. Like the mid-clamps, they have a special washer to lock the bolt in place when tightened.
The rails come in different lengths ranging from 2 – 4 metres long. Installers use splice kits to join the rails together so that they sit flush and tidy on your roof. Like the rails, there are a variety of different shapes and designs so don’t be surprised if they are not identical to the set displayed in the photo.
Washer, Electrical Equipment Bonds or WEEBs play a vital role in the safety of your PV system. They are little plates which sit in-between the solar panel’s, rails. They are held in place by the mid or end-clamps. When the mid or end clamps are tightened, the sharp points on the WEEBs bite into both the panel and rail create an ‘earth’.
Dektites are the cone shaped flashings used to seal pipes or conduit on a metal roof. This is where the wires from the solar panels travel into your roof cavity. The installer should install the Dektite underneath the panel so that the sun doesn’t damage the conduit over time. (The photo has the Dektite on the side so that you can see it clearly)
Solar Panel Installation Tips
Avoid being stung by inexperienced solar panel installers by understanding the process, prices, and companies with Australian Solar Quotes. Our website has helped over twenty thousand home owners switch to solar energy by connecting them with local solar energy companies and educating them with the basics about solar energy.
Solar energy matters and to get the most out of your solar power system, there are a few simple guidelines that you can stick by. Most importantly, you can access the maximum solar gain by having the solar panels installed by a professional solar company that has been rated and reviews on our website and holds Clean Energy Council accreditation.
Once you have completed our short solar quote form, you can start to get familiar with the topic by reading through our home solar buyer’s guide.
Install the solar energy panels on a northern facing roof
The sun rises from the east and sets in the west, although regular tracking of the sun shows that the position shifts towards the north of the sky in the middle of the day. During this time, the sun is closest to earth and combining these two factors makes north the optimal direction for you panels to face to maximise your solar gain.
The solar gain will vary throughout the year due to seasonal trends. If you look at the diagram, you will see that the sun sites higher in the sky in summer compared to the equivalent time of the day in winter. This results in higher solar energy gains during the hotter months of the year. During winter, the sun’s position is further north however this does not mean that your solar power system should produce more solar energy. The reason that the solar gain is lower in winter is because of the shift in angle from the sun.This being said, you cannot go wrong if you install your solar panels on the northern facing roof space. Unless of course there are any obstructions such as trees or buildings. If this is the case, then you should opt to install the solar panels on the next closest northern facing space that is free from obstructions.
Every bit of solar energy matters
This is one way to look at it however if you are an economic conservative like me then you need to take into account the cost verses the return on investment. For example, if the roof that you want to install the solar panels on is facing north east, do you need to install a special frame so that the panels are facing north? My answer to that question is no and for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, your solar power system will only produce an additional 3 to 5 percent more solar energy if the panels are facing north. In my opinion, this is a small loss and not justifiable when you way up the cost of a more complex solar panel installation. Secondly, custom roof top solar panel frames that do not sit flush along the roof are not as aesthetically pleasing compared to standard installations. Finally, anything that is outside the scope of ‘standard practice’ can potentially cause more problems both during installation and maintenance.
This being said, it is not uncommon to have the solar energy panels installed on the east or west facing sides of your home. Although the solar gain is lower, the directional losses are not that great.
- The solar panel directional losses for north-east and north-west vary from around 3% to 4%.
- For an east or west facing roof, your solar gain loss will be around 12% to 18%
When you get 3 quotes through our website, you will be connected with an experienced solar installer or sales rep who will be able to work out the optimum solar panel direction and angle on your property. With this information, you can make an informed decision on where to install the solar panels to get the highest solar gains and the best return on investment.
So if the sales rep recommends installing the solar power system on the east or west facing front, then don’t be too alarmed and ask for a solar energy gain comparison or use our online solar power calculator.
Although not essential, it is advised that you ask for a plan or design for your solar power system. The rough design should outline the solar panel installation options and the exact location where the solar panels will be placed. Most solar companies will ask that you sign off on the plan prior to the installation of the solar energy system. This ensures that both parties are aware and agree to location for the rooftop solar panels to be installed.
If the sales rep or solar panel installer recommends that you install the panels on the south facing roof then you should start to ask questions. Perhaps you can start with: “What hemisphere are we on?”
When you get 3 solar panel quotes through our website though, you will only be connected with top quality solar energy companies that have been rated and reviewed by home owners in your area.
We have over ten thousand solar company reviews spread out over five thousand Australian suburbs and towns.
When do solar power systems work?
The amount of solar energy that is generated from a solar power system is higher in the middle of the day when the sun’s position is high up in the sky.
The panels start to generate solar energy as soon as the sunlight hits them in the morning and stops producing solar energy when the sun goes down in the late afternoon.
When the sun begins to move in a northerly direction, normally around 9am, your solar energy production will begin to increase experientially though. This is when your solar power system will produce the bulk of the energy throughout the day.
During winter, the solar gain may not begin to increase until 10am or even later.
Other variable factors that play an important role in the daily solar gain include:
The direction that the solar panels are facing
Solar panels are activated when they are exposed to sunlight and deactivated in its absence
Solar panels that are installed on an eastern facing roof are more optimised to absorb sunlight throughout the morning as the sun rises and moves towards the middle of the sky. As the sun starts to set in the west, the eastern facing panels are not exposed to the sunlight, therefore the system will not produce electricity. This is reversed for panels which are installed on a western facing roof. The ideal direction for solar panels in Australia is north.
Multiple facing solar panel arrays
If you have multiple solar panel arrays, then the solar energy will activate at different times of the day
With residential solar panel installations, it’s not uncommon to have a lack of roof space for the optimal solar panel installation. You may find that you have enough room on the northern facing roof to fit eight solar panels and room for an additional eight panels on the western facing roof. If this is the case, then you will need to either install an inverter that has build in ‘dual MPPT‘ or install solar panels that come with built in micro-inverters.
To read more about inverters, micro-inverters and functionality, check out the solar inverters page.
With this particular solar panel installation, your solar power system should fire up around 9am and continue to produce power until late hours of the afternoon.
If you have multiple arrays, then the solar gain will differ. Keeping this in mind, it is important to look at the two solar arrays individually. Each of them will experience different directional losses depending on the pitch of the roof, the direction that the solar energy panels are facing, and the voltage of the panels.
Your location in Australia
Your properties geographical location plays a large part in the activation of your solar panels
Location plays an important role with the production of solar energy. The position on the planet determines the exposure and intensity of the suns ultraviolet rays. The further north you are the more solar energy your panels will produce.
The graph illustrates the performance of a 5.0kW PV system in the middle of summer in Townsville, North Queensland.
What size solar power system is right for you
The size of the solar power system for your home depends on what you are trying to achieve.
Do you want to eliminate your electricity bill by producing the maximum amount of solar energy that is possible or are you looking to capitalise from your investment with the solar feed-in tariff?
- How much optimal roof space do you have?
- What size system have you been approved to install by your energy retailer?
- Does the size of your desired system comply with the state government feed-in tariff criteria?
- How deep are your pockets? (The cost to go solar)
- And finally, would you like to reduce your power bill? Wipe out your power bill completely? Or get a generous cheque in the mail each year?
Keep in mind, solar panel sizes vary in wattage. You can get panels that produce 170 Watts or panels that produce 250 Watts plus. So keep an eye on the total system wattage, not the amount of panels.
To get the right solar power system size and design, you will generally need an on-site assessment to establish how many solar panels you will need. Most Australian solar companies will initially arrange for their accredited solar installer or experienced sales representative to call you, so that they can gather information about your property and from there, provide you with an accurate home assessment and quote for costs.
To initialise this process, all you need to do is complete our short online form. We will put you in touch with local solar professionals in your area who can arrange a free home assessment.
Be sure to have your current electricity bill handy when the sales representative of solar panel installer visits. This will initiate discussion, tips and solutions for your household energy consumption. The energy bill will also assist them in determining which plan you have in place with your electrical retailer.