DIY Solar Installation Tips for Ladder Safety Posted on 13 Mar 07:00
Before starting your DIY solar installation, it’s important to think about safety. Working on the roof always poses risks, and those risks multiply if you don’t take the proper precautions.
Remember, you won’t just be climbing up and down. You’ll be moving bulky solar panels and hardware from the ground to the roof.
Following basic safety tips can help prevent falls and injuries while you install your rooftop solar array. Let’s start by talking about one of your most important tools — your ladder.
Choose the Right Ladder for Your DIY Solar Installation
To access their roof, most homeowners believe they can lean any old ladder up against the house and go. This approach isn’t safe for any purpose, but least of all for a photovoltaic system installation.
To safely climb on and off of your roof while transporting and mounting your photovoltaic panels, you’ll need a ladder that extends at least 3 feet above the top of the house. The extra height is necessary to provide you with a hand-hold for moving safely between the roof and the ladder.
For most two-story homes, you’ll need a 28-foot extension ladder. If you don’t own the right type of ladder, borrow or rent one before beginning your diy solar kit installation.
Position the Ladder Properly for Installing Your Solar Panels
Solar panels are large and somewhat heavy. Each weighs about 40 pounds, and you must be able to safely get them up the ladder.
How you place the ladder is important for safety and stability. The ladder must be on a level, stable surface and leaned at the correct angle for safe climbing.
Make sure that the rungs are level and parallel to the ground. Make sure your ladder is safely situated by standing at the foot and reaching straight out with your arms toward the rungs. If your fingertips can reach the rungs, the ladder is positioned at the proper angle.
Strap the ladder to the rooftop before beginning the installation process. The strap adds stability and keeps the ladder right where you need it. This way, you’ll have no worries about a gust of wind blowing your ladder over, leaving you without a way down from the roof.
You can also rent or purchase ladder stabilizers, hand-holds, gutter hooks and brackets to increase your safety during your DIY solar installation.
Practice Climbing Safety During Your DIY Solar Installation
The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recommends maintaining three points of contact when moving on and off of the rooftop. In other words, both hands and one foot — or both feet and one hand — must be touching either the rungs or the rooftop at all times.
Unfortunately, this recommendation can be difficult to follow when you’re carrying your solar panels up the ladder. To play it safe, you can use slings and rope to lift the modules up instead, or rent hoisting equipment.
As you climb up and down, remember never to use the top rung unless it was designed for that purpose. Don’t step on that rung if it says, “THIS IS NOT A STEP,” as it may not be able to bear the weight. Using the top step or run can also cause a balance issue with your ladder — especially if it’s not strapped in place — causing it to fall away from the house.
Read what OSHA has to say about staying safe during every phase of your DIY solar installation.
Solar GOODs, your online superstore for energy independence, is the go-to source for solar kits and custom systems. When you purchase your do-it-yourself system from us, the mounting rails, brackets and hardware are all included. Visit our website today for more information about DIY solar installation.