Saturday 2 April 2011

Eco-refubishment - installing off-grid solar PV (part 1)

Yesterday we installed our solar PV panels on the roof!

DSC_7183 Fitting solar PV

But let's start at the beginning... Our friend Rich came to help us do the work, as he's had past experience doing roofing work. We did a work swap, I helped him in his wood back in January, in return for his help yesterday. He also brought a lot of useful kit with him, like this scaffold tower:
DSC_7155 Fitting solar PV

The process started by removing some tiles to find where the rafters were under the batons, as the brackets needed to screw onto these for strength.
DSC_7156 Fitting solar PV

Having located these, we decided to grind a slot in the tiles so that they'd fit neatly round the brackets:
DSC_7158 Fitting solar PV

DSC_7161  Fitting solar PV

Then the brackets could be screwed down (with a small wooden spacer underneath to help them fit better):
DSC_7164 Fitting solar PV

and the tiles slotted back in:
DSC_7163  Fitting solar PV

Of course, it wasn't all that simple, as soon as you put any weight on the bracket it put pressure onto the tiles at a single point, and some broke...
DSC_7165 Fitting solar PV

To resolve this we used more spacers underneath, bent the brackets slightly and also used the grinder to thin the tile a bit at that point, giving more clearance for the bracket:
DSC_7174 Fitting solar PV

Here's the detail of how the rails fix onto the brackets:
DSC_7167 Fitting solar PV

And here's an interlocking piece of aluminium to join two rails together (we had two 2m rails). There's a couple of allen key bolts to lock it in place.
DSC_7177 Fitting solar PV

Then it was time to clamp down the panels. Here's a clamp with one panel in, and space for the next:
DSC_7172 Fitting solar PV

and here's one with both panels in and tightened up:
DSC_7169 Fitting solar PV

The first three panels in place:
DSC_7182 Fitting solar PV

And here's the finished set, with the solar thermal tubes higher up the roof:
DSC_7184 Fitting solar PV

The wires from the panels are zip-tied in place under the panels:
DSC_7185 Fitting solar PV

Then they all come down in a bundle to connect into a junction box:
DSC_7186 Fitting solar PV

That'll come in Part 2 though, where I'll explain the wiring system.


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ChrisJS said...

Thanks for this Mike, I will link to it from our website if I may?

Mike Pepler said...

Certainly Chris, go ahead! :-)

paderbornersj said...

Thanks Mike,
We are introducing your valuable and knowledge giving Blog to our readers.
sjpaderborn.wordpress com

Mike Pepler said...

Great, hope your readers like it.


Anonymous said...

Hello nice work, but the bracket you used was for a profile tiled roof, the one you should have used is a peg tile bracket. its a longer single line 2 part L shaped hook,the second part is an l shaped ally bracket bolted onto the first and the rail sits on that. fits better and you would have had no brakes.

Mike Pepler said...

Yeah, the brackets did not fit too well. But I'd talked to the supplier on the phone, described the roof and this was what they sent me, so I just had to get on with it. Fortunately we were able to bend the brackets a bit and cut the tiles so they worked, as we had no other option on the day.

I guess this is the trouble with doing it yourself - you learn some lessons, but as you're only doing it once you don't get to put your learning into practice...