Wholesale and DIY solar for Utah homes is more complicated than you might think, and we want to make sure we use our expertise to help you accomplish one of two objectives:
- Ensuring you don’t make mistakes with DIY solar or wholesale solar distributors
- If you are going to do DIY solar, we want to make sure you know what you’re getting into (especially if you go off-grid)
First, we’ll kick off with some of the mistakes that may occur from wholesale or DIY solar, preventing you from having to jump through many hurdles.
A Lack of Solar Customization
When you buy a DIY kit, you get the exact same parts in each kit. This would be great if every home was the same, but as we all know, homes come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, azimuths, and more. Rooftops are not like feet. One simply cannot wholesale solar products as if they were shoes.
Available Space for the Solar Panels
One of the major factors that rules Utahans out for residential solar is the available space on/near their home. The average residential solar panel is about 5 feet by 3 feet. Go Solar Group’s are a little bit bigger.
The average home requires about 18 panels for its energy needs. This means that you would need at least 90 feet by 54 feet of free space atop your roof to leverage the benefits of residential solar in the Beehive State.
Many homes have the space on their rooftops, but it is unusable because of shading from trees or other structures near the home. If you don’t want to entertain the possibility of trimming some trees back, solar may not be a good option for you.
Residential Solar Geometry: Angles, Arcs, and Zeniths
Once you have determined whether you have enough space to do the project, you need to find the angle your panels need to be. There are at least nine different angles that go into the placement of solar panels.
Zenith is where the sun is positioned in the sky. Solar altitude is the angle between the line that points to the sun and the horizon. Solar azimuth is the angle between the line that points to the sun and southward.
The most important angle for your solar installation is the angle of incidence. This angle is between the line that points to the sun and the line from your solar panels. Having your solar panels line up with the sun the majority of the time is critical to your solar panels’ production.
Finding the angle of incidence depends on several other factors. These include the hour angle, surface azimuth, angle collector, slope, declination, and latitude.
Knowing the definitions for these angles is just the beginning. You then need to know how to calculate and use these angles to find the perfect angle for your panels.
Energy Usage – Critical for Residential Solar in Utah
As stated earlier, each home is different. For solar, this difference has more to do with the amount of energy used rather than the shape of your home. Your neighbor may have the same square footage as you, but they have a saltwater aquarium in the basement, a pool, central heating, or other factors that tend to jack up the costs of power.
When solar companies determine the size of the solar array, you are going to need to look at your usage. Your usage is the amount of energy that you use. Your monthly bill tells you your usage for that month, and Rocky Mountain Power partakes in helping solar companies in Utah discover the usage of their prospects.
Most solar companies will ask for 12 months of usage so they can determine how much energy you use in a year, as this is a more stable estimate than a single month of usage. Your usage is then compared to the area’s average sun hours to determine how many panels you will need.
Solar Panel and Solar Inverter Production
Not all solar equipment is of the same quality. Some parts are cheaper, but they also don’t produce as efficiently. Make sure you don’t look at price as the only determinant of whether you buy equipment for a DIY Utah solar project.
The average solar panel production efficiency for 2018 is anywhere between 15% to 20%. If the solar panels you are looking at have an efficiency rating below 15 percent, you may want to look for a different panel. An efficiency rating of 18 to 20 percent is more standard for residential grade panels available on the market. Even though that may seem inefficient, an 18 to 20 percent efficiency is superb.
Your inverter also determines your array production. Your inverter changes your DC power coming from the sun to AC power used in your home. An inverter with a different power rating then your panels could impact panel production.
What Happens When You Bypass a Skilled Utah Solar Installation Crew
Now that you know the basics of what it takes to size a residential solar system for your Utah home, it doesn’t mean you are ready to install it. Unless you’re a master electrician or NABCEP certified, a DIY installation is not the way to go.
Electrical Solar Wiring Headaches
Messing up the wiring on your residential system could cause issues down the road for you and your neighbors. Having too many wires in a small area or not having long enough wires is the tip of the iceberg, and there’s a 100 percent probability you’ll not be in compliance with the state of Utah’s electrical code.
Paperwork and Solar Panel Permits
Paperwork is a big part of both residential and commercial solar. Solar is 30 percent cheaper if the federal tax credit paperwork is complete. You can’t even start putting your panels on your roof until you get a permit. And if you are staying connected to the grid, you will need a net metering agreement.
These are all large headaches that full-service solar companies handle for you. Getting paperwork done right is what an experienced solar company ensures.
DIY: Going Off-Grid
Doing DIY off-grid is even more complicated. Now you need to worry about a battery charge controller and a solar generator. In order to go off-grid, you will need to examine how much energy you use and need on a daily basis.
Solar Battery Backup
Getting battery backup for an off-grid home is essential. Batteries are necessary for storing power collected throughout the day. Without batteries, your nightlife would be nonexistent in an off-grid home. When you are tied to the grid, there are several options available for battery backup, each of which is a different tier of backup:
Level 1 – Access to the Secure Power Supply. Provides up to 2000 W during the day
Level 2 – Secure Power Supply and a portable backup generator for power essential loads
Level 3 – Portable backup generator with a home integration kit
Level 4 – Custom Battery Backup (Tesla Powerwall)
A charge controller limits the rate that electric current moves to and from a battery. If you don’t have a charge controller, you might overload the battery or let all your stored power out.
Emergency Solar Generator
Solar only works when the sun is out. So, even though you will still get production on a cloudy or rainy day (or, in Utah’s case, with inversion as well) it won’t be as good as the production you’d get on a clear day.
If you have consecutive days with poor weather, your battery supply may run out. In this case, a generator could make all the difference. Additionally, Utah rests on a fault line that is overdue to cause an earthquake. Ensuring power supply when the grid is affected by an earthquake is one of the most surefire ways to stay safe.
A Professional Solar Installation
We aren’t against DIY projects, but when it comes to residential or commercial solar we recommend having a professional assist you with your solar journey. There are many moving parts in the planning and installation of a PV system, and we want it to be a breeze on your end.
We recommend comparing several Utah solar companies to get the best deal. If you would like to get a quote you can fill out our quick survey. We will then call to get you set up with a free in-person appointment.