To make solar installations properly with your own hands, you must know electrical systems and solar panels. This article will guide you through some of the choices you will face when installing solar panels so you can live long and thrive on your solar energy system. This article will broadly guide you on what you’ll need to install a home solar energy system and the pros and cons of the do-it-yourself method versus hiring professionals.
If you choose to DIY solar panels, check your local planning ordinances to ensure you can install your system legally. You should always check with your local zoning board to ensure you’re also allowed to DIY a solar installation, especially if you’re considering a completely off-grid system. If this is not the case in which you live, you will not be able to install a DIY hybrid or grid-connected solar system. Please note that some states do not allow a solar system connected to the grid unless a licensed contractor does the installation.
If you can screw in the mounting bolts and assemble the finished parts, and if you’re willing to spend a day or two on the roof (or not if you’re mounting the panels on the ground), you can install your solar array system. Yes, you can install your solar system at home, both on the ground and/or on the roof. However, suppose you install a panel system on your motorhome, boat, or small house. In that case, the process is much less complicated than with a multi-panel system that needs to be connected to the electrical grid.
The DIY process includes:
- Sizing the solar panel system.
- Select the appropriate components for your needs.
- Assembling and installing the solar panels.
- Solar inverter.
- Fuse disconnectors.
- Installing the backup storage system.
Suppose you install a standalone DIY solar system or a backup storage system. In that case, you will need a solar array and a charge controller. If you’re going to be “off the grid” – which means you don’t have an electric piano or pay for electricity – you’ll need a battery when the sun doesn’t shine. So when it gets dark, you will run out of energy if you do not have a backup power system. Because there is no grid to lean on, the solar system needs many panels and a large bank of batteries to meet the energy needs of homes 24/7, 365 days a year, even in winter and/or long periods of cloudy weather.
Challenges if you go the DIY way
Depending on the installation scale, it could be challenging to install the entire system by yourself.
It is a time-consuming process to research and understand all the requirements in terms of equipment for solar installation. For example, a roofer would be required to check and confirm if your roof can handle the weight of solar panels, an engineer would be able to determine the best placement of the solar panels, and an electrician would be equipped technically to do the installation, evaluate the safety of connecting to the grid and more.
Professional Installer approach
Your local power company may have prescribed additional guidelines that must be followed for proper installation. An experienced solar panel installer will clearly understand your system requirements to ensure that the electricity produced is compatible with your grid and where you live. Your solar installer will also help you complete and submit the permits and applications you need to submit to put your solar system into operation.
Professional services will include how the panels are attached to the roof, proof that the roof can support the system’s extra weight, and datasheets for the solar system components. The installer can recommend the exact types of solar panels, roof mounts, inverters, and batteries you need and the correct placement of these components.
Suppose you’re buying one of these systems from online eCommerce services or your local store. Maybe, the consumer brand may not be as reliable as the one from a solar panel installer, who is better off buying in bulk. Also, professional installers buy solar panels and solar inverters in bulk from wholesale distributors to get a broader range of products at lower prices than the general public. You may end up saving in the long run by using professional services.
To conclude, given the technicalities and scale of the solar system installation, it may be better to evaluate both the approaches, i.e., DIY and professional services. Do a cost-benefit analysis from a long-term perspective and an approach/time-required perspective to make an informed decision.