Is DIY Home Solar a Good Idea for You?

Is DIY Home Solar a Good Idea for You?

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The recognition of solar energy has grown in recent times, due to plummeting tools prices, climbing electrical energy charges, and the looming local weather disaster. And with hundreds of do-it-yourself guides and movies on-line, the DIY tradition continues to draw extra folks. So, it’s no shock that DIY solar energy techniques are garnering a number of curiosity.

As with any DIY undertaking, DIY photo voltaic is interesting for 2 primary causes: price financial savings, and the satisfaction of finishing a posh process. But earlier than you search for your toolkit, there are two vital inquiries to ask: Are you allowed to put in solar energy techniques your self, and is it a good suggestion to take action? Let’s start with the primary query.

Can You Legally Install Your Own Solar Panels?

Solar energy techniques comprise a lot of elements — solar voltaic panels, inverters, wiring, connectors, and extra. Naturally, putting in a photo voltaic system is much extra complicated than assembling, say, Ikea furnishings. Additionally, these techniques are often designed for interconnection with the native energy grid. An unsafe system related to the grid could be a main security hazard, particularly for linesmen working within the neighborhood.

So it’s no shock that many governing authorities worldwide prohibit folks from connecting self-installed photo voltaic panels to the grid. In the U.S., there isn’t any federal regulation regulating DIY photo voltaic initiatives, however every state has its personal regulation.

For occasion, anybody putting in photo voltaic panels in Texas is required to have a Texas Electrical Contractor’s License (TECL). But in California, you would possibly have the ability to set up a system your self and get approval for grid connection. Some states require photo voltaic installers to be licensed by organizations similar to North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) or Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC).

Most states within the U.S. have licensing necessities for photo voltaic installers for security causes. You can examine every state’s regulation in IREC’s solar licensing database.

So, does this imply you can not legally construct your individual solar energy system? Well, in most locations, it’s considerably tough, legally, to put in a full-fledged rooftop or ground-mounted photo voltaic system with none license or certifications. However, you’ll be able to rent an electrician or solar installer for elements of the set up the place it’s legally required. For occasion, in Colorado, all electrical work on the AC facet of the system should be accomplished by a licensed electrician.

Another wonderful choice is to work on a smaller and safer DIY photo voltaic undertaking that’s not related to the grid. Several web sites supply DIY kits that embrace a small variety of photo voltaic panels, an inverter, a battery, and miscellaneous tools. These kits might embrace set up guides that will help you assemble the system.

DIY solar kit offered by Renogy
A DIY photo voltaic package provided by Renogy

Should You Install a Solar Power System Yourself?

Let’s say you reside in a state the place the regulation permits designing and putting in your individual photo voltaic system. Is it a sensible factor to do? The finest strategy to reply this query is by wanting on the benefits and downsides of DIY photo voltaic.

Advantages of DIY Solar Power Systems

Saves Money

As is often the case within the U.S., labor prices could make up a good portion of the whole price of any undertaking. This is true for photo voltaic too. Whenever you obtain a quote from a photo voltaic installer, labor accounts for about 10% or extra of that price.

By going the DIY route, it can save you on this price, which may quantity to a couple thousand {dollars}.


Any DIY fanatic will attest to the truth that DIY initiatives do extra than simply get monetary savings — they supply the satisfaction of getting accomplished one thing new. Installing your system could be a fulfilling endeavor, no matter its different advantages.

No Nasty Surprises

No matter how extremely rated your installer is or how good the contract appears to be like, when you’re spending tens of hundreds of {dollars}, it’s pure to be uneasy about whether or not you might be getting your cash’s price. Despite tools warranties, prospects typically fear concerning the high quality of the elements and workmanship. When you do the work your self, you understand the standard you’re getting, making DIY photo voltaic a ceaselessly explored choice.

Disadvantages of DIY Solar Power Systems

Legal Barriers

As mentioned beforehand, the foremost impediment in putting in a DIY system is the authorized facet of it. Completed techniques bear an inspection by the native utility firm, which may additionally demand to see your installer’s license or certification.

Can Be Difficult and/or Dangerous

At first look, putting in photo voltaic could appear straightforward. But the precise set up could be tough and extremely technical. It makes more sense to hire an installer for grid-connected techniques that require you to work in your roof, with electrical panels, or with buried wires. Moreover, DC present flowing from a string of photo voltaic panels could be extraordinarily harmful if you’re not well-versed with electrical work.

May Not Be Worth the Money Saved

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), labor usually accounts for about 10% of a system’s price. Considering the average cost of $15,000 to $25,000 for a photo voltaic power system, the financial savings would run between $1,500 to $2,500 or barely extra. If you have in mind the complexity and the time required in doing it your self, it won’t be well worth the cash you save.

Permits and Other Legal Hassles

Installing a photo voltaic PV system requires extra than simply buying and putting in tools. You want to use for permits, rebates, and credit, in addition to go inspections. A registered photo voltaic installer has accomplished these steps dozens of instances, and might possible do it extra shortly and effectively than you’ll be able to.

Missed Incentives

Your state might help you set up a system your self, however it’s possible you’ll not have the ability to declare sure incentives offered to homeowners who use an expert to put in their solar energy system. While it’s possible you’ll be eligible for the federal solar tax credit, you might not be eligible for some native rebates.

Many banks additionally supply low-interest, “green loans” for going photo voltaic. In most circumstances, these banks require a quote/buy settlement from an authorized installer.

Missed Workmanship Warranty

Professionally put in panels include a workmanship guarantee that protects you in opposition to any defects in set up. Some corporations, like SolarPower, supply a 25-year guarantee. You could possibly save round between $1,500 to $2,500 by doing all of it your self, however meaning lacking out on a worthwhile guarantee like this.

Final Thoughts

Installing your individual solar energy system sounds attractive to many DIY fans who anticipate saving cash and  finishing a satisfying undertaking. But not like different, easier DIY initiatives, putting in photo voltaic panels could be sophisticated, harmful, and even generally tedious. State legal guidelines typically prohibit putting in photo voltaic in the event you don’t have the suitable credentials.

Thankfully, you’ll be able to nonetheless set up a smaller, off-grid system that powers an outbuilding or distant cabin. If your system just isn’t related to the grid, you’ll be able to get pleasure from constructing a smaller, safer system utilizing a handful of elements — typically out there as a package.