how to service a small tiger generator

Are you looking for How To Service A Small Tiger Generator? Read through for how to reduce fuel consumption in my small tiger generator. You will also find how to set small tiger generator carburetor in the post.

Just like a car, regular maintenance keeps your home standby generator running smoothly and reliably for a long time. Most people would not drive their car 12,000 miles without an oil change. Car manufacturers call for a shorter maintenance cycle. At 60 miles per hour, driving that far adds up to about 200 hours.

Take care of your car and it is not inconceivable that it will provide years of service over 200,000 or even 300,000 miles. Propane and Natural Gas Home Generators are not much different. Change the oil and filter, the air filter and spark plugs on time and your generator may just outlast your new car. The generator controller keeps track of the hours the generator is operational, including the exercise periods which vary by manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual for exact maintenance periods and perform the scheduled maintenance on time.

how to reduce fuel consumption in my small tiger generator

How To Service A Small Tiger Generator

Standby Home Generator Maintenance Checklist | GSC Blog

Develop a Preventative Maintenance Plan

Implementing a Standby Generator Maintenance Program for Diesel Engines |  EC&M

Some homeowners like to do it themselves. They check the oil on every tank fill-up. When the oil is dirty or the schedule calls for it, they change the oil and filter, and probably the air filters too. If you are confident enough to change the oil, oil and air filters, and spark plugs on your car, go ahead and do it on your standby generator. Keep records of when you did it and how many hours were on the machine at each change.

Instead of servicing your home backup generator by the number of miles driven, base maintenance on the run time since the last maintenance. Your generator controller can probably tell you when to perform maintenance. If you are not the do-it-yourself type, you can forward those alerts to your authorized service dealer and have them schedule the maintenance. Remote monitoring helps make maintenance more manageable with alerts and notifications.

On time maintenance keeps your standby generator ready for the next power outage.

Manufacturers usually recommend maintenance by an authorized service dealer. They do it right, there’s no disposal of oil for you to worry about, and it gets done on time. Some require specific maintenance by an authorized service dealer or they might void your warranty. Read your warranty statement and owner’s manual thoroughly.

HOW IT WORKS – THE COMPONENTS OF A STANDBY GENERATOR

Monthly Upkeep

Engine Maintenance Tune Up Kit for Kawasaki FX921V, FX1000V, 490652057,  49065-2057 air filter, spark plugs, oil filter, fuel filter, oil

Even if you choose to have an authorized service dealer maintain your standby generator, there are some tasks that you as a homeowner should perform, just as you would for your car or central air conditioning. Standby generators require similar maintenance. Check the oil and air filter, keep the unit clean. The small things can add up to big things when an outage strikes. Easy to do upkeep ensures reliable generator operation.

Every month, or every twenty-fours of run time, do a visual inspection that includes:

  • Fuel lines – In good shape and not loose or leaking.
  • Check coolant level on liquid cooled machines – top off if low
  • Check oil level – top off it low
  • Battery – free of corrosion and the battery cables are not loose.
  • Air filter check – replace if dirty.
  • Water problems – sprinklers, downspouts, gutters, sump pumps.
  • Enclosure check – nests, dirt, debris, corrosion.

Fuel lines are subject to vibration. Although unusual, vibration can loosen the fittings. Check for loose fittings, oil leaks, or fuel leaks. If you suspect natural gas or propane is leaking from your generator fuel line, call your authorized service dealer immediately.

Check the oil when the standby generator has not run for at least ten minutes to allow the oil to drain back into the oil pan for a more accurate reading of the oil level. If the oil is low, add small amounts to bring it back up to the correct level. Don’t overfill. Compare the oil to new oil. If it appears dirty, schedule a change even if the maintenance schedule does not call for it.

Note: Most manufacturers require the first oil change much sooner than the regular maintenance schedule—twenty-four hours, for example.

Maintain the area around the generator. Do not allow leaves or grass clippings to accumulate. Clean the louvers and air intakes. Don’t forget winter maintenance— keep the area around your standby generator clear of snow.

BUYER GUIDE – WHAT SIZE STANDBY GENERATOR?

Semi-Annual Upkeep

Top Standby Generator Maintenance Tips for Winter | National Standby Repair

Check the general state of your home standby generator for anything that looks out of place. As we work outdoors and around the house, sometimes we fail to notice the pile of leaves or that the landscaper left the sump pump hose pointed right at the generator. We should always be on the lookout for these issues. We can do better by making it a part of our routine every month or every six months.

Your controller can tell you when the battery nears the end of its life and give you other information including the charge state. All batteries have an expected lifespan. Plan ahead and install a new battery rather than leave an old one to suddenly fail just when you need the generator most. Take note of the expected lifespan, the date of purchase, and record the expected end-of-life date in your maintenance records. Replace the battery at or near the end of its life.

Review the maintenance schedule and compare it to your maintenance records. Was everything performed on time? What about your maintenance supplies? Always keep two or three maintenance kits on hand to use during extended outages. In addition to the maintenance kits, a few extra quarts of oil on the shelf comes in handy when it is time to top off the oil.

Environmental conditions can affect your maintenance schedule. In fact, operating in hot, dusty conditions can halve the time between scheduled oil and filter changes. Climates with extremely cold winters may require a lighter weight oil for standby generator use in winter.

Based on average use and with proper, regular maintenance, your standby generator should provide twenty to thirty years of service.

how to set small tiger generator carburetor

10 Quick Tips for Generator Maintenance

As with any piece of equipment that provides power to other tools, the only time one seems to notice a generator is when it’s not working. Generators get thrown around, beaten, and abused, yet they’re always expected to work with one pull. Even though they’re built for abuse, generators won’t last without some regular maintenance. Here are 10 basic tips to keep your generator energized for each job:
1. DON’T BE FOILED BY OIL
Check the oil before each use. If it’s a new generator, change the oil after the first 20 hours of use to remove assembly lube and metallic particles created during the break-in period. Otherwise, change the oil every 100 hours or sooner if operating in dirty conditions.
2. DON’T RIDE DIRTY
Dirty fuel is a result of improper storage or refilling tanks in dusty conditions. To prevent this problem, store fuel in an OSHA-approved receptacle and keep out of high-traffic areas. Also, don’t refill in windy conditions where dust is more prevalent.
3. CLEAR THE AIR
Check the condition of the air filter daily and clean when necessary. Regardless of how dirty it is, clean the filter every 100 hours and change it monthly.
4. KEEP IT CLEAN
Cleaning the engine removes potentially harmful dirt and gives the operator a chance to spot service concerns. Never use a pressure washer as it could cause more harm than good. Instead, use an air supply to blow off any dust and a clean rag with degreaser to wipe off excess dirt and grease.
5. ON THE LOOKOUT FOR LEAKS
Once the equipment is clean and dry, check for any or oil leakage. If a leak is spotted, tighten the parts causing the leak or replace them immediately.
6. HANG TIGHT
Cleaning the engine will also help reveal any obvious damage and loose parts. Take time to tighten loose parts that could vibrate and potentially harm nearby components.
7. DON’T LOSE THAT SPARK
Inspect the spark plugs every 100 hours for damage, oil residue, and excessive carbon buildup. If residue or carbon buildup is found, clean with a wire brush or spark plug cleaner. Immediately replace any plugs that have cracked porcelain.
8. AVOID STRAINER STRAIN
Clean and inspect the fuel strainer located in the fill port of the fuel tank every month. If there is sediment in the fuel strainer, clean and return, or replace if torn.
9. ANNUAL INSPECTION
On an annual basis, take the time to conduct a general inspection of the generator looking for any dirty, broken, or misaligned parts. Furthermore, check the fuel hose each year and replace if there are cracks present.
10. STORE IT PROPERLY
If the generator won’t be used for more than 30 days and the user does not plan to use it for an extended period of time, take special steps to protect the engine. First, conduct all suggested daily maintenance items. Then, remove the battery, clean the posts, and ensure it’s fully charged. Next, drain the fuel from the fuel tank and carburetor float chamber. To prevent corrosion in the cylinder bore, remove the spark plug and inject a few drops of oil through the plug hole. Gently pull the recoil starter knob two or three times before the spark plug is placed back in the plug hole. Additionally, pull the recoil starter knob until resistance is felt and leave in that position. End the process with a final cleaning, ensuring that all cooling air slots and openings are unobstructed. Place a protective cover around the generator and store it in a dry place.
Exercise the generator every 2 months if gas or oil is present in the engine. If the generator will be stored for longer periods, drain the oil and gas from the carburetor, put oil in the cylinder and pull until resistance is felt. ■

How Many Solar Panels Will You Need?

To know how many solar panels you will need, you will want to determine how much electricity you use in your home and the solar panel types installed. The average house in the United States uses about 900 kilowatt hours (kWh) a month—roughly 11,000 kWh a year. You can easily calculate your actual usage by looking back at your electricity bills.

  • As a general rule of thumb, a 3-kWh solar panel system will generate about 3,600 kWh to 4,800 kWh per year. A 5-kWh system produces about 6,000 to 8,000 kWh per year, and a 10-kWh system can produce about 12,000 kWh to 16,000 kWh per year.

Depending on the size of the system, the solar panels cost would be between $4,000 and $16,000. Add in another $3,000 to $10,000 for other necessary components such as racks for the panels, wiring, solar inverter costs, and the total solar panel installation cost would now be closer to $20,000.

TALK TO CONTRACTORS


How Does Sunlight Amount Affect Solar Panels?

Southern states get more sun than northern states. But southern states with higher altitudes and less cloud cover—think of Arizona and New Mexico—get more energy from the sun than states such as Florida or Georgia. So, for the same size house, you would need more solar panels in Georgia than you would in Arizona.

Remember, the sun may be shining, but if it is behind a cloud, you’re not getting the same amount of solar energy absorbed by your solar PV system. This means that a solar panel in San Diego will produce more energy in a year than the same exact solar panel located in Seattle. The image below will help you determine the solar energy, known as solar insolation, in your area. If your roof does not get a good amount of sunlight and you live on a good size amount of land, you may have other options for mounting solar panels elsewhere with better sunlight.

photovoltaic solar resources

What is the ROI on Solar Panels?

You can calculate the return on investment for installing solar panels by calculating your total payback. Calculate the amount you spent to install a solar panel system and then figure out the amount you will save on energy bills monthly. These two numbers show how quickly your savings will cover your initial costs. Electricity rates will vary by region, being higher in the Northeast than in the Northwest. Solar tends to be more cost effective where electricity prices are high and sunshine is abundant.


Does Solar Net Metering effect ROI?

In states where net metering is in effect, consumers can sell the excess solar energy they produce back to their local utility. That lowers their electricity bill, shortening their payback period and raising their cost savings.


Should You Lease Solar Panels?

There are several payment options that bundle solar installation costs into a consumer’s electric bill, either as a solar panel leasing option or as a power purchase agreement. Solar leases allow the homeowner to install solar panels without paying anything (or much) up front reducing the overall solar panel cost. After the panels are installed, the homeowner pays only a flat monthly fee. The fee includes the installation costs, which are spread out over time, and the cost of electricity supply.

It is worth noting that under most solar lease arrangements, the solar company usually keeps any incentives that are associated with owning the solar panels. But the consumer gains other advantages. The solar company may offer a monthly fee below the utility rate, or one that doesn’t rise as utility rates do. At the end of the contract, homeowners can renew, purchase the system, or have the solar panel equipment removed.

These type of third-party financing arrangements have a lot of benefits for consumers—the best being no large out-of-pocket investment. And the solar system becomes cash flow positive from day one. Not surprisingly, these agreements have been a big factor in driving today’s solar energy installation boom.

Solar power may be simple in concept, but in application it can be bewildering. And the best approach for one homeowner isn’t necessarily the best for another. Take the time to gather the pertinent information —about house size, local solar insolation, existing electric rates, and consumption. It’s worth it in figuring out your potential solar cost for your home. Solar panels can not only power your home’s electricity for appliances but can also be fitted for other benefits such as heating and cooling your home with solar, solar water heating, and even heating a pool with solar energy.

What are the pros and cons of DIY solar panels? 

Before we jump into the 11 steps for a DIY solar panel installation, I think it’s worth going over the pros and cons. 

After all, a DIY solar is a big and costly commitment. It’s best to figure out whether or not DIY solar is right for you before you’re too heavily invested in the process!

pros and cons of diy solar systems

Pro: Cost savings 

At the risk of stating the obvious, the biggest reason people opt for a DIY solar panel installation is to save money on the upfront installation cost. 

Solar panel systems have dropped in price — by over 70% in the last decade alone — but they still represent a significant financial investment for most homeowners. 

Right now, the average cost of solar panel installation by a professional solar company is around $3.00 per watt. For a typical 5 kW (5,000 watt) solar panel system, that works out to $15,000.

On the other hand, you should be able to buy a 5 kW DIY solar panel kit for under $2.00 per watt. Assuming you perform all of the work by yourself (i.e. no contractors for any of the tasks), the total cost of the 5 kW DIY solar project would cost no more than $10,000.

That works out to a potential savings of over $5,000 by choosing DIY over a professional solar installation. 

Of course, the exact cost difference between the two is affected by many variables. Factors that can affect costs include system size, your location, your choice of brands, your roof layout, your state and local incentives, and more. And you’d also want to take into account 26% solar tax credit would apply for both a professional installation and a DIY job, reducing the cost and thus the price differential between the two methods of going solar. 

That said, there is without question a substantial price difference between buying a DIY solar panel kit, and hiring a solar company to complete the installation for you. 

Pro: DIY satisfaction

If you’re someone who really enjoys a big and challenging DIY project, then a solar installation might be what you’re looking for. 

You will have to draw on many different skill sets, such as the ability to negotiate municipal processes, financial planning, proficiency with power tools, electrical work, and even tax accounting.  

And there are many stages to the solar installation — researching, planning, shopping, permitting, installation, electric wiring, and monitoring. 

This is a project that will keep you busy for a while. 

Con: It’s a lot of time and effort 

I know, in the point immediately above this one I framed the challenging nature of a solar installation as a positive. Yes, it can be rewarding — but only if you’re actively seeking a difficult and time-consuming DIY challenge. 

If, however, your idea of a DIY project doesn’t expand far beyond assembling some Scandinavian flatpack furniture, then you might want to steer clear of taking on solar. It is a very time-consuming project. From conception to commissioning, a DIY solar installation for a home usually takes between one to four months.

Con: Risk of roof damage or leaks 

This is perhaps the biggest financial risk when it comes to a DIY solar installation.

Unless you have a flat roof, your solar installation will involve drilling a large number of holes into your roof. Drilling into the wrong spot on the roof can cause structural damage, while incorrect sealing and flashing can cause a roof leakage and/or mold issues. 

Another factor to keep in mind is that a DIY solar installation is likely to void the warranty of your roof, so you’ll have to foot the bill for any repairs that may be needed. 

Con: Physical danger 

Heights and high voltage electricity. If you’re doing a DIY solar installation from start to finish, there’s no avoiding these two risks.

A man falls off a roof in cartoonish fashion

Falls are a hazard in DIY solar panel installation. Image source: Twitter

And the physical risks can continue after the installation. If your panels aren’t performing as they should, you may need to get back on the roof to troubleshoot the issue. 

Worst of all, if you haven’t connected the wiring properly, your rooftop system could catch fire!

Con: Inability to claim some incentives 

Many states offer incentives and rebates that dramatically reduce the cost of going solar. 

Some incentives, however, are only available when the installation is completed by a certified solar company.

Con: No support for faults or warranty claims 

You are on your own if there is ever a fault with the equipment. 

Of course, you can still contact the manufacturer directly, but it can be difficult to prove a warranty claim. Furthermore, if you perform an improper installation, you can actually void the warranty. 

The 11 steps for DIY solar panels

Let’s now dive into the 11 steps needed to take your DIY solar panel project from conception to completion. 

1. Decide on your goals 

If you haven’t already, you first need to decide what your goal is for going solar. 

The goal you’re shooting for will determine the best system type for you, how complex the installation will be, and how much the project will cost.

Homeowners usually choose between the following goals.

  • Financial savings
  • Backup power
  • Energy self sufficiency (independence from the electrical grid)

We strongly recommend that you decide on your goal right at the outset. There is an almost infinite number of options and permutations when it comes to DIY solar, so you need to be clear on what decisions you make, and why.

2. Choose the right solar system type 

The next decision is to choose the right solar power system type to match your goal.  

There are three main types of solar installations:

  • Grid-tied solar panel system
  • Hybrid solar panel system (aka grid-tied with battery storage)
  • Off-grid solar system 

All of these system types have many features in common: they all involve solar panels, inverters, mounts, and wiring. There are, however, some crucial differences, and they can impact the project’s cost and complexity. Here’s a brief summary of each. 

Grid-tied solar panel system 

A grid-tied solar panel system is a solar setup that is connected to the grid and uses it as a battery through net metering. Grid-tied solar panel systems are usually smaller than the other types and have the lowest upfront cost. 

Best for: Maximum financial savings

Pros: Lowest cost, simple design and installation

Cons: The system will shut off during a grid outage. Your system will need to pass inspection before it can be connected to the grid. 

This video shows how a grid-tied solar system works for a typical home: https://www.youtube.com/embed/A5Wb61nEoZc?rel=0

Hybrid solar panel system (aka grid-tied with battery storage) 

A hybrid solar panel system is also connected to the grid; the key difference here is the inclusion of a battery storage solution. 

As with a regular grid-tied system, a hybrid solar system can import and export power from the grid as needed. But a hybrid solar system can use the battery system for two additional uses: for backup power during a grid failure, and to take advantage of Time of Use (TOU) arbitrage

However, solar batteries — the most famous example of which is the Tesla Powerwall — are still an expensive option, so adding one to a solar system nearly always lowers the return on investment for the homeowner. In other words, the increased cost of adding a battery typically does not lead to an equivalent increase in savings. 

Best for: Backup power

Pros: Emergency power supply during grid outages

Cons: Requires a battery backup solution, and unfortunately batteries are still expensive to buy. Your system will also need to pass inspection before it can be connected to the grid.

Off-grid system

As the name suggests, an off-grid solar system operates independently of the grid. 

Since there’s no grid to fall back on, the solar system needs to be very large so that it can meet the home’s power needs 24/7, 365 days a year — even during winter and/or long stretches of overcast weather. 

To achieve this, off-grid solar systems require a large number of solar panels as well as a large  battery bank.  

Best for: Energy self sufficiency

Pros: Zero reliance on the electricity grid and no interaction with the utility company, and no inspections. 

Cons: Very expensive, and lots of space required for the large number of solar panels and accompanying battery storage. 

3. Check solar rules and regulations  

There is a wide range of rules governing solar installations. They can vary greatly between states, and even between local jurisdictions. 

You will usually need a building permit and a utility permit before you start your installation. This usually involves an on-site inspection by either a structural engineer or a licensed electrician. You will need to pass another round of inspections before your system can be activated and connected to the grid. 

Some states don’t allow a solar system to be connected to the grid unless the installation was performed by a licensed contractor. If this is the case where you live, you won’t be able to install a DIY grid-tied or hybrid solar system. 

It is important to know these rules beforehand so you can judge if a DIY solar panel installation is possible where you live; and if it is possible, if it’s still a worthwhile option to pursue. 

4. Design a system 

This is one of the most complicated parts of the DIY solar panel process. You want your system to take into account all of the following factors:

  • Your energy usage
  • Climate and the number of sun hours you’ll see each month
  • Solar panel orientation
  • Solar panel angle
  • Natural efficiency drop
  • Conversion losses
  • Shading 
  • Expandability
  • Battery size and charging (for hybrid and off-grid systems)

The PVWatts Calculator from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a well-known tool that takes into account the above points to show you total system output over each month of the year. 

We also recommend you try out our solar panel calculator. It builds on the data provided by PVWatts to recommend a system size for your specific home, and even shows you which section of your roof you should use for maximum exposure to sunlight. 

Calculate the system size you need to offset 100% of your electric usage

GET STARTED

If you’re adding batteries for a hybrid or off-grid system, you’ll need to take care to size your battery correctly. If your battery is too small, you may run out of backup power just when you need it. On the flip side, if your battery is too big, you’ll wind up spending too much, and might quickly diminish battery capacity by failing to charge it sufficiently. 

For more information about batteries, check out this handy guide on battery sizing. 

As part of your system design, you’ll want to create an electrical diagram. This will be useful as a blueprint when it’s time to install your panels; it will also be required when you’re applying for permits.

5. Do the math 

By this point, you should have a clear idea of what kind of system you want, as well as what’s allowed (and what isn’t) under the rules and regulations governing solar in your area. 

Now you’ll want to move on to specifics and work the numbers, i.e. your estimated costs and savings.

Man in formal attire works on desk with laptop and calculator

Make a solar costs and savings projection covering the guaranteed life of your panels (typically 25 years). Image source: Freepik

Based on your system design, you should be able to search online and find the costs for the equipment you require. The simplest way to do this is to look for a complete, all-in-one DIY solar kit that matches your needs. 

Next, you want to work out your utility bill savings. Using the system size you worked out in your design in Step #4, it’s relatively easy to calculate the annual output of your system. Based on that, you can figure out and total up avoided utility costs. When projecting ahead, be sure to account for inflation in utility costs. 

Some homeowners may be constrained by limited roof space; in that case, they should calculate the maximum number of solar panels that can fit on their roof, and then figure out costs and savings from there.

Now, with the cost and savings figure in hand, you can calculate what the return on your DIY solar panel project will be, and if it’s worth going ahead with from a financial perspective. 

6. Stop and reevaluate

Assuming you’ve already completed Steps 1-4, you should have a clear idea about whether a DIY solar panel installation is feasible or not. Specifically, this is what you should know by now:  

  • If a DIY solar panel system is allowed where you live
  • The permitting and approval process
  • The solar panel system size you want, and whether you have the space for it
  • The estimated cost of the installation
  • The electricity bills savings you will receive
  • If the financial equation is right for you
  • All of the risks associated with a DIY solar panel installation (refer to the ‘Cons’ section earlier on this blog) 

If you’re still unclear on any of the points, step back and continue your research. 

If you do have all this information, then I recommend you pause and reevaluate. 

Is solar right for you? And if it is, here are the three options you can choose to make it a reality. 

DIY solar panel installation 

You’ve done your research and are clear on what DIY solar installation entails. You’re confident in your ability to perform all the necessary tasks yourself, and have a plan to avoid or mitigate all the risks. Congratulations, you’re ready to get started and get your hands dirty. 

Outsource part of the installation 

You may decide that you’re better off outsourcing part of the installation. This is often a good idea if there’s a specific section that you don’t feel comfortable with. For instance, many solar DIY-ers decide to hire an external contractor to perform the electrical installation.

Get a professional solar company to perform the entire installation 

While this is the most expensive in terms of cost, it’s the cheapest option when it comes to time, effort and peace of mind. The solar company will design the system for you, source all materials, and deal with all permitting requirements. Furthermore, if there are any issues with panels or workmanship down the line, they will be there to handle them for you. 

I encourage you to check out this option. To do so, simply use our solar panel calculator to request no-obligation quotes from licensed solar installers in your area.

See live solar prices in your area and request obligation-free quotes

GET STARTED

If you’re still not sure which is the best way forward, here is a solar decision matrix to help you out. 

 Financial costsTime costsRoof leakage riskPermitting requirementsEasePersonal safety
DIY solar install++ –
Outsource part of the installation+++++
Professional solar install++++++++++

7. Start permitting process

You’re ready to get your hands dirty and install some solar panels! But wait — remember the rules and regulations you researched back at Step #3? 

If you haven’t already, list out all permit processes required by the state, your utility, and your authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). 

There’s a good chance that you’re going to have to apply for a building and utility permit before you start any work. This will often involve an inspection by either an electrician or a structural engineer, or both. 

It’s important to follow all the steps required to ensure that your installation is code-compliant and legal. 

8. Choose supplier and buy equipment 

Here’s is a brief list of all the equipment you’ll need for you solar setup:

  • Solar panels
  • Solar inverter
  • Mounting and racking equipment
  • Wiring and general electrical supplies
  • Battery system (for hybrid and off-grid system)
  • Charge controller (required for some battery systems) 

Ideally, you’ll find a complete DIY solar panel kit that includes everything you need for your solar installation. That’ll save you time that you would otherwise spend searching for individual components and then figuring out whether each part can work together.  

When you’re comparing kits, we encourage you to check product reviews on SolarReviews to make sure that you’re buying from reputable brands that homeowners are happy with. 

When it comes to picking a supplier, you want to choose one that offers great warranty and after-sales support. I would prioritize both these factors over price — unless you’ve performed a solar installation before, you’re going to have to talk to the vendor many times during the installation, and maybe even after.

9. Install the solar panel system

At this point, you should have successfully applied for all necessary permits and approvals, and accepted delivery of your solar equipment. It’s now time to install the panels!

The actual specifics of the installation will depend on what system type and equipment you’ve decided upon. 

The process I’m describing below is for a grid-tied system that uses microinverters for the DC to AC power conversion. 

Task 1: Install solar panel racking and mounting 

Use a chalk line to measure and mark out exactly where on your roof the racking system will be installed. 

Next, look for solid bits of the roof to drill into for the installation of lag bolts. You should consider using a stud finder with AC current detection to ensure you’re not drilling through a power line. 

Caulk the holes and install flashing to create a waterproof seal before you screw the lag bolts in. Once the lag bolts are all ready, you can install L-feet and then lock the rails on to them.

Task 2: Connect microinverters 

Onto the microinverters. These are little boxes that will modulate the output of each panel. You’ll connect them to the rails using the provided bolts. Each box will have a positive and negative wire coming out of it, which you will connect together to form a series connection for each array. 

Close up of a microinverter connected to a rail atop a shingled roof

Microinverters attached to a rail. Later, each solar panel will be connected to one before it is mounted. Image source: Enphase

Task 3: Connect grounding wire

Connect copper wire of an appropriate gauge across the rails as grounding. This is an important safety precaution and will help dissipate any anomalies caused by a lightning strike or a fault.

Task 4: Install roof junction box 

You’ll need to drill a hole in the roof to install a junction box. If you have more than one solar array, you will run the trunk cable from each into the junction box. This will allow you to channel the power from the solar panels to your house. 

Task 5: Install the solar panels

It’s now time to haul the panels onto the roof. Each module is about 65 inches by 39 inches, which can be an awkward size for one person to handle on their own. Consider getting someone to assist you with this part, especially if your roof is steep. I also strongly recommend that you use a harness while you’re up there. 

It’s now time to attach the solar panels to the mounting rail. Before laying them down flat, first get the wiring in order. Each solar panel will have a negative and positive DC wire attached. You don’t want the wires to touch the roof, so you clip or zip-tie them to the panel. You can then connect the wires into the microinverters you’ve already attached to the railings. 

Next, insert the provided mid-clamps into the railing to hold the solar panel in place from each side. For the solar panels that lie on each end of the rail, use end-clamps to keep them in place and present a more aesthetically pleasing look. 

Task 6: Home run connection

With the solar panels ready, it’s time to connect them to the house. For this you will need to install:

  • A conduit
  • An external junction box
  • An emergency disconnect box

The conduit will carry the wires from the roof junction box down to the external junction box. 

The junction box will in turn connect to an emergency disconnect. This is a safety feature that allows you to quickly shut off your solar panel system, and is a required feature in many jurisdictions.

From the emergency disconnect, the wires are passed through to the home’s main electrical panel. The external junction box and emergency disconnect box should be weatherproof and installed in an area that is easily accessible and allows easy connection to the home’s main electrical panel.

Your solar panel system is now ready, but unfortunately there’s still a couple of more hoops to jump before you can actually switch it on. 

10. Final inspection and interconnection with the grid

Once your installation is complete, you’ll have to schedule an inspection with the local AHJ. The inspector will come out and inspect your system to ensure that it’s compliant with local ordinances, and that the design matches those laid out in your plans. 

The system will also need to pass an electrical inspection to ensure that it is code-compliant. 

Once the inspection is done, you will need to apply for interconnection with the grid. The utility will either install a second meter, or replace your existing one with a bi-directional (or net) meter. The bi-directional meter can record your home’s power exports the grid so that you can receive credits on your power bill.  

11. Switch on your system

Assuming your system has now met all state, local and utility requirements, you can now commission it. 

These days, most inverters offer solar monitoring app that allow you to check your system performance online from wherever you are. Use this to make sure that your solar system is performing as expected. 

It was hard work, but you can now benefit from a solar panel system that produces clean energy, lowers your electricity bill, and improves the value of your home. Congratulations! 

DIY or not, solar power is highly rewarding

If you’ve read through this very lengthy blog post, kudos – you are definitely serious about going solar! You are now on a journey that I’m sure you’ll find highly rewarding. 

Here are some of the best things about having solar panels: 

  • The satisfaction of receiving a much lower utility bill – and thinking of all the things you can do with the money you’ll be saving over the years
  • Monitoring your solar panel production and usage from day to day
  • Pride in producing clean energy and doing your part in combating climate change

If you have a lot of time on your hands and the skills to pull it off, you can achieve all these benefits at the minimum possible cost. 

However, if you’ve read through this guide and feel that a DIY solar installation is just too much work, then fret not: you can still get all the benefits by getting a professional solar company to do the work for you.

Either way, we encourage you to check out our solar calculator. It will recommend a system for you that offers 100% offset of your utility bills, and can show you what the panels will actually look like on your roof. 

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