When it comes to installing solar panels on your house there is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye. It entails more than simply buying the panels and getting them installed. I am going to cover some of the basic components you will need so you can plan your project (and your budget) with ease.
The first thing to consider is of course the panels themselves. I am presuming that you are going for the photovoltaic panels that produce electricity as opposed to the solar panels that directly heat up your water.
The Solar panels will produce DC voltage when ever the sun shines. So unless you only plan on using electricity during the day when it is sunny then you will need to store it in a bank of special gel batteries. These batteries have a long life and will hold their charge for many days. They are also designed to be constantly charging and discharging.
As you will already know, the DC electricity from the batteries is not suitable for supplying household items so another apparatus is needed. This is called an inverter and its sole function is to convert the batteries’ DC electricity into usable domestic AC electricity that can be sent straight to the internal wiring system in your home. You will also need a small device which will detect when the batteries are fully charged and will divert the charge coming from the panels to somewhere else so as not to overcharge them and shorten their life.
When you are installing solar panels on your house you ideally need to have them facing south to get the most out of the sun as it goes from east to west. Then you need to have somewhere to store all of the batteries. They are quite cumbersome and if you are going for complete autonomy then you will need a lot of them. Ideally you should have an outbuilding for this or maybe you have a small utility room near to the roof. You only need one inverter which needs to be connected to the batteries and then to your mains outlet. You can either have a separate plugboard for the solar power or, if you have enough panels and batteries you can take the output from the inverter and wire it into your domestic circuitry. (please get an electrician and/or a solar panel installation specialist to help you here).
Before pricing up your solar installation you need to decide if you are going to just power certain appliances from your solar panels or if you are going to go for complete autonomy and power your whole house. If you decide on the later then you would be wise to get enough batteries to be able to supply you with electricity for about 3 days. This way even on rainy days you should have enough power to see you until next time the sun shines.
So now as you plan your alternative energy system you know that there is much more to buy than just the panels themselves. You also need the batteries and the inverter and you need to think about if you have the space or the budget for becoming autonomous. Installing solar panels on your house is not something to be taken lightly so please consult a professional when planning and installing.