How Solar Installers Design Your Solar Panel System

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Energy Sage explains the process of how Solar Systems are designed-

The process of of how solar installers design a solar energy system is often a mystery for most consumers. Because of this, we would like to give you some insight into how solar installers design a solar power system for your home or business. A solar power system is designed considering two important factors – the amount of space that you have available for installing solar panels and the amount of electricity you consume annually. Other factors, like shading analysis and the efficiency of solar panels and inverters also come into play.  

Space to Install Solar Panels

Assuming that you are interested in installing solar panels on the roof, the amount of viable roof space determines the maximum number of solar panels that can be installed. An individual solar panel varies in size, but is usually around 16 square feet in a rectangular shape. The panels are affixed to racking systems that are more efficiently designed when installed in a contiguous space together rather than spread out all over the roof. The available roof space – limited by vents, chimneys, dormers and any required offsets from roof edges or roof-mounted equipment – may limit the system size such that a solar system offsets less than 100% of your annual electricity consumption. The average solar system in the US consumes about 300-400 square feet of space, so your viable roof space may limit the size of the solar system you are able to install. In this case, installers may recommend higher efficiency panels that generate more electricity per square feet than standard panels. These will also come at a higher cost, but is something you might consider depending on your personal goals.

An average solar panel system may generate different amount of electricity based on your location in the world and the orientation of your roof, so installers will use various tools to estimate the viable solar system size. These tools allow installers to use aerial imagery and to “draw” in system designs on your roof space in order to estimate the size of a system that will fit and how much electricity this system will produce each year given a number of assumptions. If you’d like to try this yourself, you can go to PV Watts, a tool developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, to estimate your system size and annual production.

Annual electricity consumption

One of the first information a solar installer might ask for is twelve months of electricity bills. While this might seem like a lot of information right off the bat, this gives the installer a sense for how much energy you use throughout the year. Often an electric bill will include the last twelve months of usage history in a table or a chart, removing the need to fish around for past bills. Armed with your electricity usage information, the installer can determine about how big of a solar photovoltaic system would be required to offset 100% of your annual usage. This will vary by your location and roof profile. Typically, solar panel systems are designed to cover 100% or less of annual usage to maximize the financial benefits, but if you are planning to increase your energy use in the near future – for example, if you are planning to buy an electric car or converting from oil to electric heat pumps – you might consult with your solar consultant to estimate your expected energy demand in order to design a system that better matches that use profile.

The impact of shading

If your roof has shading – from neighboring trees, other buildings or large chimneys – installers may choose to leave these areas uncovered by solar panels to optimize the production of the system or may place panels in these locations with the understanding that these panels may produce less energy at certain times of the day. Installers may also suggest changes to system design to create separate solar panel strings that are designed to avoid power loss from shading or may suggest the use of micro-inverters or power optimizers to help mitigate the impact of shading of the production of the overall system. The latter two technologies may come at a higher cost, but these costs may be justified from the additional power they help your system to generate.

From Energy Sage Site

Please, Please, Please Don’t Feed Our Beautiful Wild Creatures Crappy Junk Food

Mute Swan Cygnus olor ©Kim Smith 2015

Mute Swan

Early Sunday morning was spent filming along the water’s edge. It was a gorgeous scene and I observed dozens of different species of wildlife foraging for seaweed, seagrass, seed heads, and sundry other native plants and grasses.

I left for a moment to go back to my car to change a camera lens and when I returned, there was an old woman throwing crackers at the ducks and the shoreline was littered with the unmistakeable bright orange of CHEETOS. Seriously??? First denying she had dumped the Cheetos, she stared mutely when I suggested that it is really not a good idea to feed our beautiful water birds junk food. Wildlife face challenges enough adapting to climate change and habitat destruction; it’s just plain common sense not to feed them garbage. She had her dog with her and I wanted to ask if she fed her dog junk food, too.

Cheetos ©Kim Smith 20153

A bounty of food for wildlife, at this time of year especially, grows naturally along the shores, marshes, and meadows of Cape Ann. If you are interested in feeding a particular avian species, find out what is safe and healthy. For example, the best food for ducks such as mallards are those that provide nutrients, minerals, and vitamins and they include cracked corn, wheat or similar whole grains, chopped lettuce, spinach, and mealworms. The absolute worst and most unhealthy are bread, chips, crackers, popcorn, and it should go without saying, Cheetos.




The Red Shed Film Festival is part of the Motif No. 1 Day Rockport Arts Festival. Screenings will take place at:

Peggy Brenner Room
Rockport Public Library
17 School Street
Rockport, MA 01966
The Brenner Room is on the second floor; take the main staircase and turn left at the top, take another left at the end of the hall and you’re there.
For the documentary shorts, there will be audience voting for the favorite first, second, and third places.


Cape Ann Museum Annual Meeting: Celebrating the accomplishments of 2014

Annual Mtg
Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865), On the Wharves [detail with infrared photo overlay], 1847. Oil on panel. Gift of Jane Parker Stacy in memory of George O. Stacy, 1948. [1289.1b]

GLOUCESTER, Mass. (May 8, 2015) – The Cape Ann Museum will hold its Annual Meeting on Tuesday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Staff reports and Board elections will be followed by Fitz Henry Lane Revealed, a brief discussion of new research based on infrared photography presented by Board member and FHL Online Project Manager, Sam Holdsworth. Refreshments will follow.

“Invent, Improvise, and Overcome.”

Old movies show pop walking to the factory, lunch pail in hand. When he got home, dad gave the pail to one of the kids to fill with beer at the corner tavern. In our Rockport house the second floor is used for sleeping and to use the bathroom. The kitchen with perishable food and dish washing,LunchPail5794 are on the first floor. Because of my mobility challenges, I needed to protect the white rug and safely transport fresh food upstairs and dirty dishes downstairs, so I resurrected my version of the lunch pail. If something spills, it goes into the pail.

1953 GHS Baseball Team corrected with photo attached

Hey Joey, Greetings from sunny and warm Arizona. I came upon this pic and wanted to share the memories with GMG readers.. Dave Cox was our third baseman and can identity the players if needed. I was the second baseman and in back row with my arm around the late great Frankie Destino. Sherm Anderton looms there and Bob”Munchie” Pascucci is beside Coach  Nate Ross.  Hope the bugs are crawling and you have a successful season. God luck,as well, to the new owners of my old Lobster Pool Restaurant.
See you this Summa.
Charlie Fields


Stones Pub Bloodies-No Joke