Two people installing solar panels on a roof.

Our hands-on solar installation weekend

Nov 29, 2018 - 5min read



At Tonik HQ, we’re big believers in ‘practice what you preach’. So, not too long ago, our fearless leader Chris Russell put his money where his mouth is and invested in a brighter future with an array of sparkly new solar panels for the roof of his home.

The panels were fitted by tech experts Tom Newby and Matt Morgan from our installation partners The Phoenix Works, but it was an excellent opportunity for Chris and our brainbox Product Director Steve Springett to help out and get to grips with the nuts and bolts of the operation - while documenting the momentous occasion on camera, of course.

Here are a few things we learned as we rolled up our sleeves and raised (the solar panels to) the roof.

Get in position!

Row of solar panels

Solar panel positioning is a science, so you need someone who knows what they’re doing. Luckily for Chris, Tom and Matt are the best in the business! They split the panels across multiple aspects of the roof in order to give Chris the optimal generation profile possible for his home. It’s not about loading as many panels as you can on a south-facing roof - it’s about making the most of generation throughout the day to serve the needs of your home.

Positioning isn’t just a science, though; it’s an art. You want those panels to look good while they’re generating that sweet, sweet renewable energy, and we think you’ll agree Tom and Matt have risen to the challenge!

Be prepared!

Instructions for installing solar panels.

Clipping the panels in place is one of the very last steps - there’s lots of careful consideration to be done before you get to that point. Tom and Matt surveyed the structural integrity of Chris’s roof, removed a few choice tiles to put the racking up securely, wired up the panels (including optimisers), installed an inverter alongside the distribution board, ran wires up to the roof, checked everything was level so it would look good… these guys take their renewable energy very, very seriously.

There are plenty of ways to cut corners and get the job over with quickly but that’s not what Tom and Matt are about. A slapdash installation means there’s a high risk your panels won’t be generating to their full potential - a big no-no when you’re setting them up to run for 25+ years - a higher risk they will break, and more of a chance they will just look naff!

Health and safety gone sensible

Man working on the roof.

It’s crazy to think that some companies claim they can install solar safely without scaffolding or the appropriate safety measures - they literally just prop up a ladder and slap on some panels! Let’s be sensible: when you’re holding a panel that is roughly 1m x 1.5m, a couple of floors off the ground, all it takes is the smallest gust of wind and that panel will take to the skies like a kite!

Not just that, hanging off the side of the roof on a ladder makes it pretty tricky to ensure the panels are well-aligned and fixed properly. Better to use scaffolding to guarantee that your solar panels are firmly in place and looking slick for the entirety of their 25+ years lifespan.

Panels built to take a hammering

Steve holding a solar panel

Among those on Chris’s roof, a couple of the less experienced members of the installation team (we’re looking at you, Chris and Steve) *may* have banged the panels around a little bit while carrying them to their final destination…

Fortunately for Chris, these solar panels are crazy resilient and built to last; Tom tells us they are designed to withstand the impact of a 35mm ice ball striking the surface at 97km/h - almost the size and speed of the world’s fastest ever ping pong ball!

Kids love it!

Everyone knows that renewable energy is key to making the world a better place for our children, but Chris’s sons’ enjoyment of the solar panels was immediate and direct! They were massively intrigued and excited to see their dad clambering about on the roof and were keen to get in on the action themselves.

But what was really cool was Chris explaining to them what the solar panels would do, how they would work, and how they would benefit the environment. Even though they’re only little, they really seemed to get it. Watch out fossil fuels; the next generation are coming equipped with solar!

The satisfaction of a job well done

Chris looking at his installed solar panels.

After a couple of days of hard graft lugging the solar panels about, wiring them up and installing them, there is the satisfaction of not only having completed a project, but the knowledge that all your work will have a profound effect on how your home uses energy, and the impact that your renewable generation will have on the environment. On top of all that…

The results are instant!

As soon as your solar panels are fitted and we fired up the inverter, we could already see the solar power being generated in Chris’s app, and how it was immediately offsetting his household energy consumption.

In short, there are only two ways to do a solar installation: the right way and the wrong way. The right way involves a lot of planning, safety precautions and technical expertise. The wrong way… well you don’t need to worry about that.

With Tonik and The Phoenix Works, you can rest assured that your panels will have the highest quality installation possible, so they can have a long and happy life producing the optimal amount of renewable energy for your home. If you want to join the clean energy generation then check out our solar offering below.

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