Happy Earth Day, indeed! As fate would have it, today was the day the rain cleared up and allowed us to get the 6 SolarWorld solar panels installed atop the roof of the tiny house.
I can't speak highly enough about my solar installer, Clayton, who is a native Australian that has been installing solar power systems in Austin for the past couple months. Clay and his helper are working diligently to get the components of this off-grid solar power system connected together, in sync with one another, with everything looking clean and neat.
Pics of the solar panel installation
Before we brought the panels up the ladder, we drilled holes into the metal roof, directly into the joists (beams) of the roof, which are the strongest and most solid part of the house. Each solar panel weighs about 40 lbs, so it's not too much weight, but you still want to ensure the roof can properly support the added weight.
We then inserted lag bolts through the holes in the roof joyces and connected them to L-feet right above the metal roof.
After that, we connected the aluminum racking (rails) to the L-feet, and then placed the solar panels directly on top of the racking. See below pictures:
The brackets you see in between the solar panels are called mid-clamps. These are used to keep the panels nice and tight (and straight) next to one another. In these pictures you see Clay tightening the mid-clamps with a wrench.
The picture above is the backside of one of the solar panels (its technically called the backsheet). You can see the brand and model of solar panel (SolarWorld Sunmodule), as well as the wattage rating (280-watts). On the upper right hand side you can see that these solar panels are plus-rated 5-watts each. This is important, as many solar panels are plus/minus-rated which means there is a possibility they will under-produce their maximum rated power. Always look for strictly plus-rated solar panels.
You can also see that our SolarWorld solar panels are Made in America (from Hillsboro, Oregon)!
Next, the solar panels will be wired together in series and then connected down the front side of the tiny house into an exterior box which contains more components of our off-grid solar power system (batteries, charge controller, system meter, and inverter). All of these things will be wired into the electrical box (sometimes called the electric/service panel or breaker box) once the installation is complete.
For more information about solar energy, be sure to visit the Solar 101 page.