12 Questions to Ask When Installing a Residential Solar Power System

Solar power system - Panels on Roof

Investing in an off-grid residential solar power system is not a decision that should be made lightly. As with any major purchase, it’s important to do your due diligence, both to protect your investment and to make sure you aren’t being saddled with faulty equipment.

Just be sure you’re getting your equipment from an appropriate source: an engineer or solar company who can work with you from the conceptual stage to the final installation.

Don’t buy a do-it-yourself home solar system, and don’t listen to sellers who aren’t able to quantify your daily household electric consumption down to the watt-hour. It’s true that solar energy is free, but the equipment that channels that energy into your home can be quite expensive.

Solar Panels mounted on polesA few of the questions you should ask before installing a residential solar power system include:

  • Where do I locate and mount the solar panels? On the roof or atop a pole?
  • How many solar panels do I need to operate the appliances in my home off-grid during the day and during the night?
  • How many batteries do I need to store energy for when there’s no sunlight?
  • What equipment do I need to ensure my batteries are charged and my appliances get the current and voltage specified by their manufacturers?

A good engineer or solar company will most likely try to find out what appliances you have at home and how often you use them. They’ll ask some questions of their own.

  • Assorted Kitchen electric appliancesDo you have energy saving LED lights?
  • How many?
  • Do you have multiple freezers and refrigerators?
  • Do you have an electric kettle, coffee maker, blender, toaster and microwave in the kitchen?
  • What about TVs? Do you have large-screen TVs in your living room and smaller ones in the bedrooms?
  • How many fans do you use in your living room?
  • How many bathroom exhaust fans do you have?
  • What kind of outside lighting do you use for security?
  • How many computers or printers do you have?

The answers to these questions will determine the size of the off-grid solar power system you’ll need to power your home safely and reliably.

You’ll note that our list of appliances didn’t include air conditioners. This is because we don’t recommend running air conditioners with solar power.

But the questions on our list should raise some healthy skepticism about solar installers who show up promising “just the right” system for your home. There’s no way of determining the right system for your home without a proper load analysis survey.

Electric meter for solar panelThis survey will identify the current you need to run your appliances on a given day. You can download and fill out our load analysis form offline and email it to us.

Stodad will help you determine the peak load and daily watt-hour consumption of your property. If you can’t do this, our engineers can conduct a no-cost site survey.

How much sunlight does your property get during the shortest day of the year? How many solar modules will it take to convert the sunlight to the total current you need each day?

Off-grid solar power systems are rated as 12-, 24- and 48-Vdc systems. The higher the appliance load and the higher the current needed to run the load, the higher the rating of the solar power system.

Your solar power system must be able to run all the appliances that need to operate simultaneously. We’ll also need to determine how many days the solar power system will operate with little to no sunlight, in order to figure out the number of batteries required.

Contact Stodad today if you’re ready to find out more about using solar energy to power your home. Simply let us know where in Nigeria you’re based, and we can determine the site-specific solar resource at your location. This is the best way to get Stodad’s EverRun system working for you in your home.