We live in a world where we can DIY almost anything as long as we have a good YouTube video, a few instructions, and the right materials — including going solar. But is DIY solar right for you?
DIY solar means you’ll build and install your own solar panels to your home or whatever you want to power. You either need to buy all the parts for the job or a home solar kit.
Why do people go solar?
- Drastically shrink your electric bill
- Increase the value of your home
- Reduce your energy consumption
Why do people DIY their solar panels?
The simple answer is to save money. The upfront costs of a solar panel system create quite the sticker shock for most homeowners, even as the prices have been falling for years. Before tax incentives, available rebates, and any other savings, the cost to install solar power can be as much as a new car. Studies show that DIY-ing your solar panel installation can save approximately 10 percent of the total cost.
How to DIY Solar Panels
Installing your own solar panel system may sound simple, but you need to prepared for the reality before you begin.
- Figure out the size and type of solar panel system is best for your home.
- Buy the necessary equipment. This includes solar panels, the inverter, and mounts or racking equipment.
- Install the mounts or racking for the panels first.
- Connect the solar panels to the mounts/racking equipment.
- Install the inverter.
Sounds simple enough, right? There are a few other considerations.
Make sure you know what, if any, permits and applications must be completed before you begin your project. There will be costs associated with this, and it can determine how long your project will last.
Understand that home solar kits and solar panels available for the public to buy will likely be lower quality than what solar installers use. Many high-quality distributors only sell to licensed and insured installers.
Ideally your solar panels will last 25 to 35 years or longer. In order to ensure this, they must be installed correctly. The system you install must also be right type for your home.
Pros and Cons of DIY Solar Panels
To decide if DIY-ing your solar panels is right for you, consider the pros and cons.
- Pay less overall by reducing installation fees.
- Gain full control over the project.
- Know exactly how your system is installed and how it works.
- Great for going off-grid.
- Perfect for powering something small: RV, boat, barn, toolshed, tiny home, outdoor lights
- You might not be qualified to handle any problem that happens during installation.
- You could miss a necessary permit or application required for solar panel installation.
- You might not learn about all the available local, state, or federal tax incentives or rebates.
- Your won’t have access to electric grid. This means you won’t have power if your solar panels don’t generate enough electricity. You also won’t be able to sell excess energy to power company.
Anyone who’s done a DIY project knows that if something can go wrong, it probably will. If you don’t have a lot of experience with installation projects like this, you may find it’s worth the additional cost to hire a professional to do it for you.
How to Decide if DIY Solar Panels are Right For You
Only you can decide whether you should hire a professional or DIY your solar panels. Here are some things to consider in that process.
- Get quotes from multiple installers. You’ll find a range of costs, and it may not be as much as you fear.
- The biggest company isn’t always the best. Find out what kind of service an installer will provide. Knowing all the details are handled might be worth the cost.
- Compare all your equipment options — installed and DIY — before making a decision.
- Consider what you want to power using solar energy. DIY is great for small applications. Professional installers are often best for your home.
- Decide if you have the skill, time, tools, and patience to do it yourself.