Oct 16, 2008 04:23 pm

Okay, so I want to go solar, I live in the desert. 

So here is my progression so far:

1. Purchase for 20k and that MIGHT eliminate my electric bill. Plus they HAVE TO put the panels where the utility says.

2. Lease for nothing and get a bunch of penetrations in my already old shingle roof.

3. I started to look into small solar panels and portable but the choices seem limitless.  How do I pick? Especially keeping in mind that I would like to start small and cheap and add on as finances allow?

WITH ALL THAT SAID, now the big question to me seems to be where to locate the panels?

One of the big reasons I balked at the purchase/lease options was because they would charge so much extra for ground mounts and would not allow for seasonal adjustments of the panels. 

I have a huge yard, with year round full sun, so it seems silly to me to stick the pv panels on the roof and permanently fix them to one place. 

I have a 30 yard long cinder block wall - running east/west - that gets FULL sun all winter long. That looks to me like a great place to locate solar panels. 

The same wall, however, in the summer is in the shade. So I would think that it would do well to lift up the lower end of the panels and get full sun all day in the summer.

My roof, on the other hand, runs north/south, so that doesn't seem to be a good place to put pv panels. But that is what the buy/lease companies tell me to do. 

I get the part about distance from my house, I think, but so what? There is a huge east/west open yard back there, so why can't I use it? 
Oct 17, 2008 05:47 am

A solar electric system for your home can be a do it yourself project but, without knowing your experience level of electrical wiring, I will have to caution you on a lot of things so please don't take offense.
If you don't have one allready, get a current copy of the NEC code book, and make friends with an electrician that can help you decipher it. In particular Article 690.
I kind a get the impression that you know a little about it allready. So you know to get the most out of a PV module it has to be perpendicular to our Sun as much as possible through out the; day, season, year.
Heres a place that might help you.
Dang! Its 5:49 allready. I got to get ready for work. Sometimes, it seems as though there is know end to trouble shooting problems with industrial motor controls.
184 Posts
Oct 17, 2008 09:24 am

Since neither your roof or the fence seem like good choices, I would consider a sunny spot in the yard.  If you're going to do the work yourself, the least-expensive opition might be a mounting structure made from wood posts.  I would mount four or more posts in concrete.  You could use aluminum rails on top to which the solar panels would be mounted.  Others may tell you to use a single pole, mounted in concrete.  This is not a bad idea, but it might not be as resistant to heavy winds IMHO.  You might also consider a product like Envision's Life Tree.
462 Posts
Oct 17, 2008 10:02 am

Barrio, as John D. said, find a nice location on the ground. I always recommend doing this for the same reasons you mention. Mostly so you can adjust the panels for the appropriate angle throughout the year. Also it makes cleaning and maintenence much easier.
 One thing you can consider is to design a rack or small shed that can house the components needed, inverter, shutoffs etc. Keeping the inverter close to the panels will reduce larger gage wiring and then you can run conventional wiring from the inverter to your house and circuit breaker box with minimal losses.
 You can design a small A-frame structure on which you can mount the panels and locate the other components underneath.(Similar to a swing set) Then, you can add wheels to the A-frame and move the rack to any sunny spot throghout the year if you wish.

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