Photovoltaic or thermal, orientation, inclination: there are many decisions to be made once you have decided to install solar panels in your home. In order to give you the best advice in this process, here is a short guide made by Ecocarib Greentechnologie to understand the most important steps for the installation of your panels on your roof in Saint Lucia.
Installing solar panels
Choice of the type of panels, prerequisites, stages of installation, profitability and financial aid- everything you need to know before you start !
Requirements for a solar pv installation
There are a few things you need to check before installing solar panels in Saint Lucia:
- Calculate your consumption needs in order to choose a type of panel powerful enough to cover your energy needs.
- Check that your roof has a large enough surface area to accommodate your solar panels.
Take stock of the sunshine on your property and analyse the orientation of your roof to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Check the slope of your roof. The best is 30°.
- Plan to prune any trees that may cast too much shade on your roof.
As the list of checks to be carried out is extensive, you are strongly advised to call on a professional who complies with the QualiPV charter, in order to check that your house is ready for the installation of solar panels.
Steps to follow to install solar panels
In Saint Lucia, It is advisable to contact a specialised company for the installation of your solar panels. Before proceeding with the installation, the professional will calculate the available surface on your roof and will be able to suggest different installation techniques:
- Overlaying. This involves installing the solar panels above the roof. This is the preferred technique for most individuals. It is less expensive, requires less work and is therefore much faster. If your roof is not damaged, this is certainly a good solution for you.
Integration. If your roof is in poor condition, or if you are having your house built, you can opt for integration. This is often more expensive, but more aesthetically pleasing, as it allows the roofing elements to be perfectly integrated.
- The second step is to choose the best possible orientation. Although the southeast exposure offers the highest yield, a southeast or southwest exposure is possible.
- The next step is the tilt of the panels. Depending on the orientation and structure of the house, the panels should be tilted more or less. As a general rule, the tilt is 30° to 35° for photovoltaic solar panels and 45° to 50° for thermal solar panels.
- Finally, you can complete the installation of your solar panels by connecting them to the public grid. This will allow you to gain a credit on your surplus energy to LUCELEC thanks to the current regulations in Saint Lucia.
Don’t forget to get the permission from the National Utilities Regulatory Commission
( NURC). This step is mandatory in St. Lucia. More information here: What are the administrative procedures for installing solar panels?
Choosing between grid tied and off-grid
An offgrid system is a solar electricity system which connects to the utility company and would not require batteries for energy storage. In this scenario you get a bidirectional meter installed by LUCELEC which would enable your system to sell the excess power generated during the day to their grid. The excess power generated during the day gives you a credit on your electricity bill which is applied at the end of the month. During the night when there is no sun you would use power from LUCELEC.
For an off-grid electricity system you would have no LUCELEC connection and as such would require batteries for storage to account for your night time energy needs. This system is very secure especially in the case of a storm when the electricity grid goes down.
The best of both worlds would be a grid tied with a battery backup system which would not meet all your electricity needs in an emergency situation but can provide a few hours of power to critical loads in the case of an emergency situation when the electricity grid is down.
Installing solar panels at home in Saint Lucia is not very complicated, as long as you follow the step-by-step installation process. Make sure you have all the necessary requirements before starting your installation and turn to professionals as soon as necessary.
They will be able to guide you and help you make the right choices to get the most cost-effective solar installation possible!