The Basics of Solar Panel Electric Systems

Photovoltaic (PV)

This page is intended to explain the basics of solar electric systems. The Process, Mounting Types, and Components of a system are all addressed below.

Roof Mounted

Solar Electric Systems

The most cost effective, lowest maintenance installation. Support racking is attached to roof structure. Standing seam, asphalt shingle, pitched or flat roof – there is an installation application for any type of commercial or residential project. We consult with engineers to ensure the roof provides proper support and weight loading. Interior conduit runs are used whenever possible for a streamlined look.

Ground Mounted

Solar Electric Systems

Low maintenance with opportunity for snow removal make ground mounts preferable for situations where a roof mount is not feasible due to shading or other issues. Ground mounts are easily expandable and all excavating is carefully coordinated with existing underground utilities.

Awning Mounted

Solar Electric Systems

Aesthetically pleasing awnings provide shade while producing electricity. Designed for heavy snow loads and high winds. Air flow behind panels keeps array cooler for better production.

Car Port and Lean-To

Solar Electric Systems

Lean-To and carport structures are great for situations in which roof space is limited, or other goals are in mind. Providing shade while generating clean affordable energy these structures are gaining popularity.

Dual Axis Tracker

Solar Electric Systems

25% more power can be produced by keeping the array perpendicular to the sun during the day and throughout the year. Trackers are typically anchored in concrete 10’ below grade and are manipulated by low speed high torque DC motors. Some maintenance (grease) is required and zoning ordinances must be considered.

Battery Based

Solar Electric Systems

H&H specializes in these complex power backup systems by utilizing experience and advanced installation techniques. When costs for utility service or concerns about utility reliability occur at sites, stand-alone off-grid systems or grid-tie battery backup systems are designed. We use the most modern components available (batteries, charge controllers, inverters) and can also combine a solar battery system with back-up generator tie-in. Systems sizes range from small hunting cabins to large residential backup systems.

Site Evaluation

A member of H&H Solar staff can help determine if solar fits your site and meets your desired goals. A site assessment helps the design team understand the customer’s needs and aspirations for solar, and then combines that with your site’s options for solar to determine the best project for you.

 

During our Initial Visit we will address the following

  • any questions on technology, incentives, construction process etc.
  • shading concerns
  • mounting locations and available space for system
  • balance of system location
  • utility information
  • and other details as needed

 

Your input on the following will be taken into account

  • budget framework
  • desired % electricity you would like to offset
  • installation concerns and scheduling
  • any and all questions that you may have

Selection of Size and Type of System

H&H can answer questions about system options, explain incentives, and help determine the best fit for you based on available space, budget or energy usage. After explaining the possible options, we can deliver a quote and breakdown applicable incentives.

Incentive and Utility Interconnection
H&H will guide you through all incentive applications and coordinate with the Utility Interconnection Application and Agreement Paperwork. All you need to do is provide the personal information and add the signature, H&H Solar takes care of the rest!

Installation of System
Our crews work to install our systems in a safe and timely manner. Average system installation time is about 3-4 days (larger systems typically take longer). We make it a priority to make the installation as seamless and expedient as possible. Our crews take pride in making the install process hassle free for our customers. Our installation crews are some of the most experienced in the Midwest, and our quality speaks for itself.

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Roof Mount Solar Electric System Installation
Panels

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into Direct Current (DC) electrical power. There are several types of solar electric panels, including mono-crystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film/amorphous panels. The most commonly installed in the Midwest comes in the form of polycrystalline panels as pictured.

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Heide Roof (Custom)
Inverters

Inverters convert the DC current from the panel array into Alternating Current (AC) power, which can be used by businesses and households. Most inverters also incorporate a disconnect switch. Inverters are designed to function with no disruption to your normal electric system. The inverters are sized to match the DC output of the array, whether it is an individual module with a micro-inverter, or a large 250KW commercial inverter. All models come with built in displays, providing information on how the solar array and inverter are functioning.

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inverter demo
Disconnect switch

While the disconnect switch is built in to the majority of solar inverters, some utilities require the addition of a separate disconnect.  In the event of a fire or need for working on the electric service the disconnect switch ensures that no power from the solar system makes it onto the grid or your electric service.

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Monitoring System

There are several inverter manufacturers and 3rd party companies that offer online monitoring of solar electric systems. H&H is happy to add these monitoring capabilities to any systems we design and install.  The availability of your system production and performance remotely allows for demonstration of how solar works, verifying that your system is performing properly, and providing remote diagnostics if there is a problem with the system. While features vary, they all include the ability to monitor the production of a solar electric system over time and instantaneously. Some monitoring systems allow for the electric consumption to be monitored as well.

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Photo Courtesy of Egauge