Top 7 Mistakes Newbies Make Going Solar

Solar Power - Solar Panel

These are in no particular order and they apply to on grid, grid tied or off grid.

1 Confusing daylight hours with sun hours.

A Sun hour is a specific unit of measurement that we use in solar to define the period of time in the day when we’re going to get the most out of our solar panels. When it’s summertime we all think all the day is super long, we’ve got 12 hours of daylight, everything’s going to be great, our solar panels are going to be working awesome.

However even in the middle of summer in July, the sun may rise at 6AM and set at 9PM, but you’re only getting 7 sun hours in the middle of that day where your solar panel is working anywhere close to its maximum capacity. So the rest of the day the sun will still shine the solar panel will still work, but it will function at a very very very reduced rate.

2 Underestimating your power consumption.

Number two is underestimating your power consumption and the various devices that you have in your house.

We all have a bunch of different devices in our homes, but not very many of us know how much they’re consuming. So how are we supposed to know what this stuff consumes.

There’s a couple different ways.

(1) You can get a device that will measure the electricity consumed over time.

(2) You can do some math or most appliances and electronic devices in your home.

(3) Come with information from the manufacturer that gives you an estimate of especially appliances, like an Energy Guide, and it tells you an estimate of how much this device is going to consume.

(4) Pay special attention to air conditioners, heaters, blow dryers, microwaves, stoves, refrigerators and so forth if you at least get a grasp on those big devices, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to consume.

3 Not decreasing your usage first.

This one is a no-brainer. If you do a little math. Let’s do an easy math problem first. The average solar panel costs about $1 per watt. To replace an incandescent light a 60 watt light with a 10 watt LED light is going to cost you 5 dollars. That’s going to net a savings of 50 watts, that’s going to result in a 50 dollar savings and solar panels you don’t have to buy now, because you made that energy-saving step.

There are lots of other ways that you can save on your usage before installing solar, and it’s a big deal you’re talking thousands of dollars on a whole home system just by making some careful upgrades first before you do so.

4 Unreasonable expectations.

However, you got interested in solar whether you’re wanting to go green or you want to save money, you need to know the limitations of what you’re getting into.

It’s very tempting to go out to Harbor Freight or to Amazon or whatever and find a solar panel kit, and it’s affordable, it’s 100, 150 bucks 300 bucks whatever it is and you’re saying you have great visions of doing lots of stuff with this system.

We get these questions all the time. We want to power a refrigerator with this solar panel. Let’s think about this for a second, you’ve got 100 watt kit that you bought, but you have a 600 watt refrigerator, how is that going to work? Your solar panel would have to work 6 times longer than your refrigerator and your refrigerator runs 24 hours a day. It’s just not a realistic expectation and that’s just one example;

You start small something like a light, and then you can scale up later once you figure out what the realistic the limitations and the production of your system is going to be in the real world.

5 Bad solar panel installation.

This is not giving enough thought to how you’re going to mount the solar panel and all of the considerations that go into that. There are lots of things to consider when mounting your solar panel.

* It has to face south if you live in northern hemisphere, it needs to face south.

* The angle that you mount the solar panel needs to be equal to the latitude of where you live, roughly speaking, if you can’t move it to track the sun, it needs to be approximately the angle of latitude.

* This is not very well-known is that solar panels are designed to run cool, they don’t like heat, so that’s counterintuitive because they operate in the sun, but enough solar panels optimal range is about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t leave enough air gap behind the solar panel or you put it in an area, that’s going to see excessive heat it will never reach its rated efficiencies.

6 Taking a deal that’s too good to be true.

Usually this is going to be with the grid-tied system, the least systems that people are selling door-to-door now, but it can also apply to off-grid as well. We’ve all heard the phrases if it’s too good to be true, it probably is and there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

So when someone comes to your door and is selling you a solar panel system completely free to you, that’s going to completely eliminate your electric bill or decrease it to almost nothing. There’s going to be some drawbacks to that you need to look into. You need to look into the finer print and the drawbacks of what you’re getting into.

Another scenario is that you do a lot of research you do some shopping and you find a pallet of solar panels for 30 cents a watt. Chances are that’s probably going to be B grade cells or something and typically those are just cosmetic, but they can very much affect the performance of your solar panels. So know what you’re buying get some pictures beforehand, get some guarantees or whatever before you buy something like that.

7 Buying before defining your load.

Buying a solar panel system before having any clue what you want to do with it. It’s a little like buying a house without knowing who’s going to live there and what your needs are, you may get a smoking deal on that one bedroom townhome, that is amazing but then you’d promised your brothers family that you can come live with you and he’s got four kids, how’s that going to work?

A lot of this stuff just comes down to patience know what you’re doing do the research cover all the angles ask people who have done this before, decide what you want are out of the system before you go out and buy something.