PV is a top trend in 2020 and more and more homeowners are looking into DIY solar panels. While there are many installation companies, people wonder if it is easier or cheaper to build a solar panel system themselves. There is a lot involved in solar installation and there are right and a wrong scenarios for do-it-yourself solar projects. There are several benefits to going solar:

  • Your monthly electricity costs will be reduced
  • The value of your home can increase
  • There are federal tax credits available

The Good and Bad of DIY Solar Panels

Switching to solar power is still a big investment, and the price tag can be shocking. To save money, it’s no surprise that many homeowners are considering DIY. There are pros and cons that you need to know about doing it yourself before making a decision. Before you begin it is important to note:

  • Installing a DIY system is possible and usually comes at a lower cost than hiring a solar installer.
  • Going with a DIY setup requires much more work on the homeowner’s end.
  • You need to compare competitive, complete solar quotes from installers.
  • DIY Solar Panels

The essential steps for DIY solar panels include:

  • Design and size your system based on your home energy needs.
  • Purchase your solar equipment.
  • Install the mounts for the panels.
  • Connect the solar panels to your racking equipment.

Install a solar inverter

Doing solar panel installation yourself can be less expensive but your options are more limited. The average gross cost of going solar for homeowners is $17,460. This is before you get any rebates or tax credits. Of that amount, design and installation labor costs contribute about ten percent of the total bill. This ten percent is basically the savings you make since you will still have to buy the equipment yourself. It is still worth looking into building your own solar panel installation to save money. You will also get to be in full control of your project. Your solar energy system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years, so it’s crucial that you consider both the upfront costs and the long term financial benefits for all of your solar options. For the most part, solar installers buy from equipment distributors that don’t sell to the general public which lets them get lower prices because they can buy in bulk. Their savings can be passed along to you. For the most part, DIY solar panel installation is more expensive.

DIY Solar Pro: Off-grid Projects

Most home solar kits are designed for off-grid use, which means you can’t use them and remain connected to your utility. If you’re an average homeowner, going off-grid is probably not in your best interest. It is important to be able to access utility-generated electricity in the event your solar energy system doesn’t produce enough electricity to meet your needs. Home solar kits can be a good solution if you’re not trying to power your entire home. RVs, boats, and the increasingly popular tiny houses are all opportunities to explore DIY solar because they are already off-grid and mobile. DIY solar projects can also be useful if you have a large property and want to power an outlying area or want to install outdoor lights. Your electricity demands will be relatively low, which means that purchasing a small home solar kit and installing it yourself is feasible. If you want to install a DIY solar project, compare several options beforehand. 

DIY Solar Con: Complicated Installation

When you decide to DIY your solar panels, remember that you get what you pay for. A home solar kit may be less expensive, but solar installers offer tremendous value for a relatively little additional cost. When it comes to installing an expensive electrical system on your property, finding someone who knows what they’re doing can actually save you both time and money in the long run. Some of the best solar installers have been in the business for decades. They have a specific experience that you cannot get from DIY guides. Your solar installer will also help you complete and file the permits and applications that you will also need to get your solar energy system set up. This is particularly important because your utility won’t let you connect your system to the grid without sign-off from a certified electrician. Because of your solar installer’s experience, they’ll also have a strong understanding of the financial incentives for solar available in your area, and might even be able to help you save more money by finding an incentive that you may have missed. It is also important to note that many equipment manufacturers will only honor their warranties if a qualified installer installed their equipment. Many installers will also offer an additional warranty on their own work too.

Top Tips for Solar Shoppers

  1. Getting multiple quotes will save 10% or more: As with any big-ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research. Consumers that compare as many solar options as possible will end up avoiding inflated prices. On average, homeowners who get 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.
  2. Bigger is not always better: The biggest installation companies will not always have better deals. You should consider all of your solar options, not just the brands large enough to pay for the most advertising. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay for solar.
  3. Compare your equipment options too: National-scale installers offer higher prices and they also tend to have fewer solar equipment options. This will have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. By collecting a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you. Certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others. Remember that investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings.

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