Limiting your selection of hardware and module alternatives is the first step in the design process. It concludes with a wiring diagram for the full PV system and a straightforward yet detailed array configuration (with specs). These will be needed when you buy the system’s hardware and when you apply for a permit. Along the way, you’ll learn some fundamental electrical principles and perform some basic computations. The most technical aspect of a solar installation can be difficult to understand at first. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you’ll retain your newfound confidence for the remainder of the job.
Off-grid users should take note that while grid-tied systems are the overall focus and the sample design in this section, all design information also applies to off-grid systems. The section under “Design your off-grid PV system” contains design information relevant to off-grid systems.