While most of the project went pretty smoothly, there were a few glitches:
- I should have coordinated more closely with the electrician during the planning stage to save some hassles with swapping out electrical boxes, wiring, and associated components later. We ended up up-grading in this case, so that it probably is not a problem for the utility company.
- I ordered more racking equipment than I needed. Proper planning could have saved me some money and some hassle.
- We should have covered the PV modules with cardboard to prevent damage from dropped tools.
- The heavy duty hook on my roofer's safety harness needed to be covered by some soft fabric--at one point it landed with a considerable impact on one of the glass modules.
- Ready-made flashing might have been a better and neater solution than the on-site made flashing for the roof attachments.
- In the future, I would not use the same theft-resistant fasteners I used for this project; they tended to strip out at the recommended torque levels from the racking manufacturer. If I need to remove the modules in the future, it will be challenging.
There were also positive lessons:
- Extensive planning paid off with a pretty smooth project.
- Purchasing a kit simplified purchasing and planning. I highly recommend purchasing a kit. Be sure of what you are getting, though--some kits do not supply the racking materials--a significant extra cost, especially for thin-fim photovoltaics.
- It absolutely helped me to have class room and hands-on training from expert installers at Solar Energy International (SEI): http://www.solarenergy.org/
- The guys at the electric utility and the town zoning board were helpful and supportive. Following the requirements from them minimizes hassle later.
- If you are not a certified electrician it makes sense to hire an electrician like I did.