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While currently solar power only accounts for a small percentage of the overall power usage in the US, the potential for growth has been shown. If you want to make use of this free source of power for your own home, you can install solar panels. The following is a brief guide to DIY solar power.

DIY Solar Power Step 1 – Find the best site

Make sure you have unobstructed and direct sunlight. Spend some time watching your potential location. Are there any trees or buildings casting shadows? Be sure to check with your local building codes to see if you need any special permits before you begin installation. A quick trip to city hall should answer any questions.

DIY Solar Power Step 2 – Prepare the site

If you are placing your panels on your roof, you can install them flat or tilted. It is an especially good idea to time installation with the construction of a new roof to make sure the roof will bear the weight. If you are using an existing roof, double check the location of rafters and take precautions against leaks using flashing and heavy duty caulking. Sweep tree debris and clear the area.

DIY Solar Power Step 3 – Use durable materials

With extremes in temperature and moisture, the possibly of cracking and rusting increases. Choose materials like aluminum or stainless steel for mounts and frames.

DIY Solar Power Step 4 – Safety first

During the installation process, wear good fitting shoes with well defined treads. Use ladders in good repair; have a helper steady it to prevent tipping. Steep inclines can be dangerous; consider ropes and securely tied off safety lines. One trick experienced roofers use is a piece of foam—the texture prevents slips and provides a comfortable seat as well. Use extreme caution on tiled roofs as they can be treacherous.

DIY Solar Power Step 5 – Use the right tools

It is a lot easier to collect all of the needed tools into a bucket and haul them up to the work site with a rope instead of trying to juggle multiple tools while climbing a ladder. Use specifically tested and designed mounts. You may need a chalk line to make sure your lines are lined up before drilling holes into the roof. Have all the pieces of the mounts gathered. You can use tar to seal any gaps around the mounts, too.

Most kits also come with specific instructions. If you have questions, you can contact the manufacturer of your panels. One necessary component of any do-it-yourself project is to be safe. Read through all the instructions and/or manuals that come with the kit or panels before you start. DIY solar power can help you reduce costs and the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.

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 Posted on : August 27, 2010

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