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DIY Solar Panel Installation: Step by Step Guide. DIY home solar installation

DIY Solar Panel Installation: Step by Step Guide. DIY home solar installation

    Our Simple DIY Home Solar Power System

    But we didn’t want to lose the feel of our simple home by bringing in a large generator and the jugs of gas needed to run it, and the prospect of setting up a wind turbine or solar array seemed expensive and a technological eyesore in a natural setting.

    Editor’s Note: This article was first posted in 2012. Since then we’ve made a few upgrades to our system that are reflected in this updated version. Basically, we’ve added a couple panels and got a larger capacity charge controller, and added a battery charger to supplement the system during the darkest weeks of winter when solar power is at a minimum.

    For many years we managed to get along without the conveniences which electricity can provide, but developing using a dialup internet connection on a phone line strung through the woods was challenging, and charging my laptop became a regular necessity. A few years ago, wireless broadband was introduced to our area, and the promise of high-speed internet was the stimulus we needed to build our own reliable, affordable and simple “do-it-yourself” alternative energy system.

    …developing using a dialup internet connection on a phone line strung through the woods was challenging…

    Today, with the help of a local expert on off grid home solar power and alternative energy systems, we have the best of both worlds. Our basic solar powered energy system provides more electricity than we expected, it has been very reliable and maintenance-free, and it is almost entirely hidden from view. A solar panel on the roof with a few wires leading to a small battery bank powers my laptop, and a radio mounted on a tree for receiving the wireless broadband signal. The system also provides enough energy to charge several small power tools, run our home sound system and, amazingly, power a full-size chest refrigerator year round.

    The cost of this complete solar system, in today’s pricing for the components, was about 1200.

    Our simple home solar power system is comprised of four basic components: the solar panels, a charge controller, two 6-volt golf cart batteries and a small inverter. My son and I were able to install the system in a few hours, and there have been no maintenance issues other than checking the fluid level in the batteries every few months and cleaning the panel surfaces once in a while. Also every year or two I lift up one side of each panel to sweep out any leaves or pine needles that may have collected there.

    The cost of this complete solar system, in today’s pricing for the components, was about 1200. It should be noted that I bought the panels ‘used’ for 100 each. Many folks in our community have replaced their 123-watt panels with newer 250-watt ones, which cost about 250 each. So the 123’s were readily available and I was satisfied with the amount of energy they would provide.

    The four components are the batteries, charge controller (bottom right), inverter (top right) and battery charger (below inverter).

    The basic components of this off grid solar power system are as follows:

    Solar panels

    We have three solar panels mounted on the roof of our home: 123 watt Sharp Photovoltaic Modules, model 123UJF. The panels are equipped with permanently attached junction boxes for ease of installation of wires and conduit. For each panel, two boards are lag screwed into the roof and the solar panel is bolted to the boards using wing nuts, so it’s easy to lift if maintenance is required. The panel surfaces are about 5” above the roof surface. Two wires run from the solar panels, one is the power line and the other is a ground line. The power line runs down the roof to the charge controller, where there is a fuse. A box on the porch houses the charge controller, inverter and batteries. The ground wire runs beneath the house and is attached to a steel rod that is driven about two feet into the earth.

    Panel on roof/panel specs from back of panel

    It should be noted that the panel guidelines state that the installation of PV modules requires a “great degree of skill and should only be performed by qualified licensed professionals, including licensed contractors and licensed electricians.” We installed our system ourselves because our supplier, who is a licensed installer, gave us explicit directions and came by to inspect the installation after it was done. We suggest that you follow the recommendation as stated in the module instructions with regard to installation.

    The cost of the solar panels in today’s pricing is about 1 per watt.

    Charge Controller

    We use a Morningstar ProStar30 Charge Controller that automatically adjusts the amount of power running into the battery. The controller has a small LED light which indicates the state of charge so it’s easy to see when the batteries are fully charged or if they are becoming depleted. The light flashes green, amber or red, indicating the battery status at any given time. A digital readout shows the battery voltage level and the rate of charge coming from the panels. A quick glance at the charge controller lets us know if we have sufficient power or if we need to cut back a bit on our electricity use until the batteries are topped up again.

    The cost of the Morningstar ProStar30 Charge Controller was about 250. You can get it for around 200 today.

    Battery Bank

    Two 6-volt golf cart batteries are wired in series for a 12 volt system. Each battery is rated at 232 amp hours. The batteries are enclosed in a wooden chest with hinged lid, and the top panel of the chest is removed to provide plenty of ventilation. The battery posts and connections are kept clean, and periodically checked to ensure good connections.

    The two batteries/closeup of label

    The four components are installed in this cedar box with ventilation slot. This box doubles a bench to sit on while removing shoes.

    The cost for the two batteries was about 400.


    The final piece of the system is a small inverter which converts the 12 volt DC power into 120 volt AC power. This enables us to use standard electric devices without the need for adaptors. Inverters are available in a wide range of wattages for different size systems. Ours is a small inverter made by Nexxtech, rated at 300 watts, with a 500 watt surge capacity. It comes with two cables, red and black, with alligator clip ends for gripping to the battery posts. In choosing which size inverter to buy, we calculated how much power was available to our system and what devices we wanted to run. In calculating power needs, it is important to add the power requirements when two or more devices are running simultaneously.

    This is our small Nexxtech inverter.

    Our Nexxtech 300 watt inverter cost about 30.

    Backup (optional)

    This past year we added a battery charger to the system that serves as supplemental power. Running the battery charger when the batteries get low enables us to have more light and power in the darkest days of winter. The charger is in the same box with the batteries and other components. You may see in the pictures there are two extension cords coming up through the floor – these lead to our woodshed where we have a small Honda 2000 generator. To run the charger, we start the generator, plug the charger into one of the extension cords, and also plug the inverter power line into the other extension cord. The generator only needs to run for about 30 minutes to bring the batteries back up to 12.8 or higher. Then the generator is shut off, the battery charger unplugged, and the inverter power line plugged back in. This process takes only a minute or two, and the restored batteries have sufficient power till the rooftop panels start to get light the next day.

    left: Battery charger is on floor beneath inverter. right. Close-up of battery charger.

    What this system provides:

    An alternative energy system can be used to provide electric power to any number of electric devices, such as appliances, tools and computers. The bigger the system, obviously, the more power it will provide. To give you an idea of the capacity of a small system like ours, here is what we use our solar energy system to power:

    Refrigeration: This is a DC powered refrigerator, the same size as a conventional chest freezer (4’ wide). The refrigerator draws 40 watts of power and can be converted to a freezer by replacing the thermostat. Since the refrigerator is a DC model, it is wired directly to the battery, bypassing the inverter. So the refrigerator keeps running even if the inverter is turned off. Our refrigerator has been running continuously for over 8 years without any problems. Even during the dark days of winter, the solar panels provide adequate power to keep it running.

    Music: Our home has a Vers sound system which lets us use an iPod or direct cable from an iPhone or computer to deliver a rich sound while drawing relatively little power. We can run this sound system about 3 hours a day in winter, and as much as we want in summer.

    Light: The big change for our home is electric lights. We have replaced our kerosene lights with a few of these LED lights, which are only 7 watts each.

    Internet: Our solar system also provides adequate power to run a laptop computer, a tablet and to recharge cell phones. It also powers a router from so that multiple computers can be operated ‘Wi-Fi’ at the same time. In addition to the router, a small radio is installed on a tree about 300’ from our house which receives the wireless broadband and transmits the signal to the house.

    Small tools and appliances: The system also recharges small tools, such as a battery-powered driver-drill. Our system recharges the battery for this tool in about 30 minutes.

    These are the principle applications we use which are provided by the solar power system described above. However, you can use a wide variety of electric devices as needed. Today, we enjoy the benefits of our system without feeling a technological intrusion into our off-grid homestead and lifestyle. The refrigerator especially has made a big improvement in our day to day living, since storing food is so much easier. And we don’t miss the kerosene lamps.

    Bringing electricity to rural locations is something of a balancing act since we don’t want our simple lifestyle changed by too many electrical gadgets. It does require some restraint to keep things simple, but the few electric amenities we now have are most appreciated!

    About the Author

    Greg SeamanOriginally from Long Island, NY, Greg Seaman founded Eartheasy in 2000 out of concern for the environment and a desire to help others live more sustainably. As Editor, Greg combines his upbringing in the cities of New York, Boston and San Francisco with the contrast of 31 years of living ‘off-grid’ to give us a balanced perspective on sustainable living. Greg spends his free time gardening, working on his home and building a wooden sailboat with hand tools.

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    DIY Solar Panel Installation: Step by Step Guide

    Did you know that you can save thousands of dollars in installation costs and cut years off your payback period by installing a solar energy system on your own?

    If you’re comfortable with climbing on your roof and capable of wiring a household electrical socket (or willing to learn), then you have what it takes to install your own solar system. With the help of just one other person, you can complete a DIY solar project over the span of 1-3 weekends. Also, you can hire an electrician or installer to help you with part or all of the project.

    This DIY solar panel installation guide provides an overview of the requirements and steps necessary to successfully bring your solar project to fruition. From planning and permitting to interconnection and maintenance, we will walk you through every aspect of the installation process. With our expert tips and instructions, you can confidently install your own solar energy system and start enjoying the many benefits of renewable energy.

    • Frequently Asked Questions
    • What Is a DIY Solar Panel?
    • Is It Difficult to Install Solar Panels by Yourself?
    • Is It Cheaper to Install Your Own Solar Panels?
    • How Long Does It Take to Install Solar by Yourself?
    • Pre-Installation Steps
    • Determine Your Energy Needs
    • Assess Your Property and Choose the Best Location
    • Choose the Right DIY Solar Kit for Your Home
    • Buy or Lease
    • Get the Necessary Permits
    • Have the Right Tools Handy
    • Buy the Necessary Materials That Don’t Come With the Kit
    • Get Safety Equipment
    • Installation Process
    • Install the Racking System
    • Inverter Installation
    • Solar Panel Installation Process
    • Install the Battery
    • Wiring the System
    • Post-Install Steps
    • Schedule and Pass the Solar Inspection
    • Complete the Interconnection
    • Set Up Monitoring
    • Perform Regular Maintenance


    So first, let’s get started by answering the most frequently asked questions about DIY solar.

    What Is a DIY Solar Panel?

    As the name suggests, DIY solar panels are solar panel kits that you can assemble and install by yourself or with a bit of help. Think of DIY solar panels as the IKEA of solar power technology — they come with comprehensive, easy-to-follow, step-by-step installation instructions and our helpful customer support that leave no room for misinterpretation.

    Is It Difficult to Install Solar Panels by Yourself?

    While installing solar panels yourself may seem daunting at first, with the right knowledge and tools, it certainly is a manageable project. DIY solar requires some construction skills, knowledge of power tools, and a good understanding of home improvement and electrical safety.

    So if you are capable of home renovation work, you should be able to quickly learn the ropes of DIY solar and install it yourself.

    You can also do most of the work and only hire a professional for the parts you aren’t sure about. For example, you can install all the panels on the roof and have a professional electrician make the final connections in your main service panel.

    Is It Cheaper to Install Your Own Solar Panels?

    A DIY solar installation will save you a significant amount of money. Your savings will depend on the size of your system, whether you install it by yourself, and if not, how much the installers in your area typically charge.

    To give you a general idea, if you compare the cost of the equipment by itself to the cost of a turn-key installation, it’s about 1.75 per watt. If you are looking at a typical size 6 kW residential system, that equates to a savings of around 10,500.

    How Long Does It Take to Install Solar by Yourself?

    The time it takes to install solar panels yourself will depend on a variety of factors, including the size of your system and your level of experience. Generally, a DIY solar panel installation can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It really depends on how much time you dedicate to the project.

    But a good rule of thumb is to plan for about 2 hours of work per solar panel. So if you install a 16-panel system, it will take about 32 hours of work.

    Pre-Install Steps

    Before you roll on your sleeves and get to work, there are a few steps to go through to make sure you get the right equipment as well as the necessary permits.

    Determine Your Energy Needs

    Before you start the installation process, it is essential to calculate your energy needs. Consider the number of appliances, lights, and other electrical devices you plan to power with your solar system. Use our step-by-step solar sizing guide to determine how many solar panels you would need.

    Assess Your Property and Choose the Best Location

    You need to assess your property to determine the best location to install your solar panels. Consider factors such as shading, orientation, and roof or ground space. Look for areas that receive maximum sunlight throughout the day, and ensure that there are no obstructions that may shade your solar panels.

    Choose the Right DIY Solar Kit for Your Home

    Now that you know your energy needs and found the best location to install the solar panels on your property, it’s time to choose a DIY solar kit that will meet your requirements. If you’re still unsure what’s right for you, connect with a solar expert and they’ll answer all your questions as well as point you in the right direction. Read more: The 7 Best DIY Home Solar Kits

    Buy or Lease

    There are several financing options available for solar panel installations, including cash purchase, solar loan, and solar lease. Choose an option that works best for your budget and financial situation. Learn more: Buy vs Lease Solar Comparison

    Get the Necessary Permits

    • Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) — Check if the municipality, county, or city has jurisdiction over your property and learn about their requirements.
    • Homeowner’s Association (HOA) — If you live in a HOA community, you need their sign off as well.
    • Utility Company — The UC will usually review your electrical wiring diagram and may require an inspection before allowing you to activate the system.

    The application should include a site plan, system design schematics, an electrical wiring diagram, spec sheets and certification documents for components used in your system. It can take up to several weeks until your application is reviewed and approved.

    If this sounds like too much work, we can do it for you. All our DIY solar kit customers can take advantage of our permitting services for a stress-free experience.

    Have the Right Tools Handy

    • Hand tools and supplies
    • Measuring tools
    • Safety equipment
    • Fall protection
    • A sturdy ladder
    • Power drill/driver
    • Power saw
    • Fully-charged battery or extension cord
    • Flat pry bar
    • Caulk gun

    Buy the Necessary Materials That Don’t Come With the Kit

    While we at GoGreenSolar also include the racking and mounting equipment, keep in mind that many sellers don’t.

    over, electrical wiring is usually not included in the kits. Wire, conduit, fittings, breakers, AC/DC Disconnects (if required), junction boxes and a sub panel (if required) can be purchased at any electrical supply shop, Home Depot or Lowes.

    Once your plans are finalized, we will provide you with a shopping list that includes all the necessary components.

    Get Safety Equipment

    • Safety glasses: You may need to drill holes or handle glass components that could shatter and cause eye injuries. Safety glasses can help protect your eyes from flying debris.
    • Work gloves: They can help protect your hands from cuts, scrapes, and other injuries.
    • Hard hat: If you’re working on a roof or other elevated surface, a hard hat can protect your head from falling objects.
    • Harness and lanyard: If you’re working on a roof or other elevated surface, a harness and lanyard can prevent falls and keep you safely secured.
    • Safety shoes: Once again, when working on a roof or other elevated surfaces, it’s important to wear shoes with slip-resistant soles to prevent slips and falls.
    • Ladder: A ladder can help you safely reach and work on elevated surfaces.
    • Fire extinguisher: Solar panels and other electrical components can pose a fire risk if they’re not installed or handled properly. Having a fire extinguisher on hand can help you quickly put off any fires that may occur.

    Overall, the specific safety equipment you’ll need for your DIY solar installation project will depend on the size and complexity of your system, as well as the specific hazards present in your work environment. Be sure to thoroughly assess the risks and take appropriate safety measures before starting any DIY solar installation project.

    Installation Process

    Now that you have obtained your permits, have the DIY solar kit and all the necessary tools and safety equipment, it’s time for the heavy lifting.

    Roof Mounted

    For roof-mount kits, the first step is to mark the location of your roof rafters. These support beams will act as the foundation for your solar array. If your rafters aren’t visible from the outside, you can buy a stud finder or measure their location from the inside of your attic. Locate your rafters and mark them with a chalk line to visualize the layout for your racking rails.

    After measuring everything, bolt the flashings to the rafters at the marked locations. A flashing is a thin sheet of material that prevents leaks and provides an attachment point to mount your racking rails.

    Once the flashings are set, bolt the racking rails to the flashings.

    solar, panel, installation, step, guide

    Ground Mounted

    Ground mounts are a bit different from roof mounts. Because there are no roof rafters supporting the weight of the solar panels, you’ll need to build a standalone metal foundation to support the array.

    Before building the support structure, dig holes at least 18” deep and pour concrete footings to anchor the structure to the ground. Once the base poles have been placed in concrete, wait at least a week to allow it to fully dry and set.

    Ground mounts also require your wiring to be buried underground to comply with the National Electrical Code (NEC). It’s wise to rent machinery that can dig trenches and anchor holes to speed up this process.

    Once the metal substructure is built, the rest of the process is the same as with roof mounts. You’ll secure your racking rails to the support structure, which provides a foundation for your panels.

    Inverter Installation

    If your system uses microinverters, these small units will need to be screwed onto the back frame of your solar panels before installing the panels on your mount. Make sure the units are wired first, as the connection points won’t be accessible once the panels are mounted in place.

    String inverters should be wall-mounted in an easily accessible location, like the side of your house, or the back of a ground mount structure. Inverters should be mounted as close to your solar panels as possible for a more efficient and cost-effective wiring run.

    Solar Panel Installation Process

    Once the racking has been built, installing solar panels is fairly straightforward by comparison.

    • Use two end clamps to install the first panel on the rails.
    • Then, use grounding mid clamps for each consecutive panel – mid clamps bound the solar panels and rails together, into one continuous system.
    • Finally, complete the row with two more end clamps to secure the last panel on the rails.

    If you are installing panels on your roof, be sure to hook up the connecting wires before bolting the panel to the racking rail, as the connections will be inaccessible once the panel is installed in place.

    Install the Battery

    In case you’ve purchased a solar panel kit with battery backup, this is the point to install and set it up. The battery installation process will vary depending on the battery type and manufacturer, but here’s a general overview of how it goes:

    • Site preparation: Identify the installation location and ensure it meets the requirements for space, ventilation, and access. Also, prepare the installation surface to support the weight of the battery and install the mounting bracket.
    • Electrical installation: Install the AC and DC wiring, and the current transformers (CTs) as per the manual instructions. Ensure that the AC and DC circuits are properly grounded and connect the battery to the gateway for commissioning. over, depending on the type of the system, some batteries can also be connected to the inverter. Check if this applies to you.
    • Mechanical installation: Mount the battery onto the prepared surface using the mounting brackets and secure it in place.
    • Commissioning: Configure the battery, verify that it is communicating with the monitoring system, and confirm that the system is operating as intended.

    We highly recommend to consult the manufacturer’s installation manual and follow all the instructions and safety precautions during the installation process.

    Wiring the System

    Once the panels have been secured to the mount, the final installation step is to wire the system components together according to your planset. The wires from your inverter(s) will be routed through a junction box and a PV disconnect switch, before finally terminating at your home’s circuit breaker box that connects your system to the grid.

    Post-Install Steps

    Congratulations! Your solar system is officially installed so now it’s time to turn it on. But to do so, there are only a few steps left.

    Schedule and Pass the Solar Inspection

    • Contact your local building department: They will provide you with information on what inspections are required and how to schedule them.
    • Schedule an appointment: Once you have all the necessary information, contact your local building department to schedule an appointment for the inspection.
    • Prepare for the inspection: Before the inspection, make sure your solar system is easily accessible and that any necessary equipment, such as ladders or tools, is available.
    • Attend the inspection: On the day of the inspection, make sure someone is available to grant the inspector access to your solar system. Usually, the city gives you a 4-hour window of when the inspector will arrive, so you will have to wait.

    Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will provide you with a report detailing any issues or concerns they may have found. If there are any issues, you may need to make repairs or modifications to your solar system before it can be approved.

    Complete the Interconnection

    You’ve already filed your interconnection application and got the permit from your utility company in the pre-install phase. Now that the solar system is installed, it’s time to obtain permission to operate (PTO). If you’re a GoGreenSolar customer, we will require the signed inspector record (from the previous step) so we can send it to the utility company. 90% of our projects don’t require an onsite utility inspection. Most utility companies accept the local building department’s inspection record that the system has been installed to code. However, there’s still a small chance for a final inspection to ensure that your system is safely and properly installed.

    Set Up Monitoring

    • Connect to the internet: Many monitoring systems require an internet connection to transmit data to the monitoring platform. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection available and connect your monitoring equipment to your home network.
    • Register your system: After your monitoring equipment is installed and connected to the internet, you will need to register your system with the monitoring provider. This may involve providing information about your solar energy system, such as the size and type of panels and the inverter rating.
    • Set up alerts and notifications: Many monitoring systems offer alerts and notifications that can inform you of any issues with your solar energy system, such as a drop in energy production or a malfunctioning component. Set up alerts and notifications to ensure that you are promptly informed of any problems.
    • Monitor your system: Once your monitoring system is set up, regularly check to ensure that it is producing the expected amount of energy and that there are no issues. Use the monitoring data to identify areas where you can improve the performance.

    Perform Regular Maintenance

    • Check for debris: Regularly check your solar panels for any debris, such as leaves or bird droppings, that may be blocking sunlight and reducing energy production. Clean your panels as necessary using a soft brush and mild soap.
    • Check for damage: Inspect your solar panels and other components, such as wiring and mounting hardware, for any damage or wear and tear. Replace any damaged or worn components as necessary.
    • Check the inverter: The inverter is a critical component of a solar energy system, as it converts the DC power generated by the solar panels into AC power that can be used in your home. Regularly check the inverter to ensure that it is functioning properly and generating the expected amount of power.
    • Check battery systems: If you have a battery backup system, regularly check the batteries for proper operation and charge level. Replace any batteries that are not functioning properly.
    • Check your monitoring system: Believe or not, many people stop checking their monitoring on a regular basis, and thus miss system errors that might affect the data.

    Solar Calculator

    How much do solar panels cost? Use our easy solar panel calculator to get a quick estimate of how many solar panels you’ll need for your home.

    Free Solar Roof Layout

    Our engineers use state-of-the-art software to conduct a PV analysis and draft a free layout of solar on your roof, included with our complimentary quote.

    Get StartedWith Solar

    We’ll help you figure out your solar needs!

    Fill out the form for a complimentary solar panel quote that includes a custom solar panel layout using satellite technology and a breakdown of solar energy production, federal tax credit and energy offset.

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    It is possible to DIY solar panels for your home—here’s how

    Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / urbazon

    Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases made through the links below may earn us and our publishing partners a commission.

    Solar panels are becoming an increasingly viable way to power your home thanks to their efficiency and decrease in cost. They’re especially affordable now thanks to the tax credits available for those who use solar panels for their homes. That said, cheaper or not, renovating your home can be a daunting undertaking, especially if you’re considering installing a solar panel system yourself. While it is possible to DIY, there are several variables you must consider in your planning.

    Do you have the necessary skills, experience, and understanding?

    Installing a solar panel system can be complicated, with numerous consequences of incorrect installation, including the power simply not working, leaks in your roof, or even an electrical fire. You need a clear understanding of both electrical systems and how to physically install a large, heavy structure either on your roof or on the ground.

    Before you get too far down the path of installing a solar panel system yourself, be honest about whether you have the skill set required and the willingness and time to learn how. If you don’t, you should bring in a professional who can install the systems for you. After all, it’s typically more expensive to bring someone in to fix a project than to bring them in to do it right the first time.

    Research the specific requirements for your type of system

    Before taking the deep dive into DIY-ing, make sure you’ve done the necessary research and have the paperwork to back it up.

    Depending on the kind of solar panel system you’re installing and where you live, there are different regulations, permits, and inspection requirements. In many areas, installing solar on a home that remains connected to the grid comes with stringent rules for both the plan and the installation, including coordination with your utility company.

    If you’re installing an off-grid system, such as to an outbuilding, cabin, or RV, then the requirements are likely far less demanding, though you likely still need permits and inspections. Before you dive into detailed planning for your project, reach out to your local building department and find out exactly what requirements have to be fulfilled with your type of system.

    Not all solar panels are created equal

    When looking into the hardware itself, it can be tempting to save money with the cheapest panels available. However, the purchase price doesn’t always tell the whole story in terms of affordability. First and foremost, consider the durability of the panels. Does the company have a reputation for long-lasting systems, and do they have a warranty to back that reputation up? If you have to replace the system after 10 years when a slightly more expensive system would have lasted 25 years, you didn’t save any money.

    The second consideration is the efficiency of the panels. The more efficient, the more power you’ll generate, and the more of your electrical costs you’ll offset. Those costs add up over the life of the system. A 10% lower installation price might be negated by the increased energy production associated with higher-quality panels.

    Be aware of hidden costs

    To make the most out of your investment, be sure you’re not ignoring that much needed repair to your roof or those dead tress hanging around your yard.

    Don’t overlook the costs above and beyond the panels, rails, wires, and batteries that come with installing a solar panel system. For example, if you install a new solar panel system on the roof, you may need to reinforce the underlying structure. Before you begin, make sure that the roof shingles are relatively new, or plan on the expense of removing the system to install a new roof a few years down the road.

    solar, panel, installation, step, guide

    Another consideration is making sure that your system sits in as much sunlight during the day as possible. This may mean taking down some trees, which can cost thousands of dollars if you need to bring in a professional. Other extra costs might include upgrading your electric panel, keeping them snow-free in the winter, and dealing with potential damage.

    Consider battery storage

    Solar panels only generate power when the sun is shining. When installed on your home, a dip in sunlight usually isn’t an issue when you’re connected to the power grid, and you can just draw from that power overnight or on dim, cloudy winter days. However, if you’re using solar in an off-grid installation, such as a cabin in the woods, then you need to figure out how to get power when the sun isn’t out.

    One option is to use a gasoline-powered generator, so long as you operate it safely. If you want to stick to solar power, there are numerous options for battery storage, which use solar power to charge them for use when the sun isn’t out. Battery systems are a fantastic complement to a solar setup but may come with installation complexities and a specific set of regulations and building codes to know.

    When in doubt, bring in a professional to help

    Don’t feel guilty for needing to phone in a professional. In the end, they’ll save you time and money.

    Sometimes you can’t do every step of the process yourself—and indeed, there are certain situations where you may not legally be allowed to do all the work yourself. You don’t have to hire a company to take on the whole project or do it yourself. Many professionals can come in at various steps to help you with planning, installation, or navigating the regulatory and code framework. If a part of the process seems too far outside your wheelhouse, reach out to a professional for help.

    After all, you don’t save any money if you install a solar panel system that doesn’t ever work.

    What to Know Before Installing DIY Solar Panels

    You’ve restored a vintage dresser, tackled the tool shed in the backyard, even thought about turning that awkward hallway into a breakfast nook. But what if you could use those skills to bridle the sun’s energy, help the environment, and save on long-term utilities?

    If you’ve considered installing solar panels for your home but cringed at ticket prices, there’s a potential solution: install your own.

    Before kicking off your DIY project, here are a few tips.

    Know Your Solar Panel Types

    Not all panels are created equal. Silicon, monocrystalline, polycrystalline, BIPV, thin film, amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride—there are a lot to choose from.

    Here’s a closer look at a few of the most popular options

    • Monocrystalline: These are most efficient single silicon panels on the market. While a good investment, these kinds of panels are pricey.
    • Polycrystalline: A less efficient but much more cost effective option than monocrystalline panels.
    • Thin Film: Mass-produced and inexpensive, these panels have a nice aesthetic appeal.

    Once you’ve decided on a type, we recommend you look through top-rated solar panels to determine the best fit for your household.

    Be Smart When You Buy Solar Panels

    Solar panels have decades-long lifespans, so don’t make a hasty choice. Follow these guidelines when you’re ready to make a purchase:

    • Measure Up: Get that tape measure out to determine the number of panels you’ll need. You’ll want to be strategic about how you use the space on your roof.
    • Go for Best Value: Look at the price-per-watt rating when seeking solar panels with the best value. Online shopping is often a good way to find solar panels for a fraction of the price.

    Install Solar Panels the Right Way

    Mounting your panels properly is just as important as buying them. Keep these suggestions in mind:

    • Stay Safe: If you’re going to be working on your roof, you need to take proper safety precautions. Invest in a safety harness, straps, and slip-resistant shoes. You should also make sure you’ve got a partner on the ground to call for help in the event that you slip or get stuck.
    • Install Properly: Do research on installation methods or consult a solar panel installation video to make sure all the nuts and bolts go in the right places.

    Now that you’ve got a birds-eye view, here are a few extra things to keep in mind.

    Be Realistic About Your Solar Panels

    Solar panels are paving the way for a more sustainable future, but it’s unlikely they will cover every kilowatt of energy in your home. A single solar panel generates approximately 200 watts of electricity on average.

    Because the average monthly electricity consumption for a US residential utility customer was about 911 kWh per month in 2014—one kWh is the energy equivalent of 1,000 watts consumed over an hour—you’re looking at installing quite a few panels to make a noticeable change in your energy bill.

    Instead of viewing solar panels as a replacement for your home’s electricity, consider them a supplement. Just as you might take a multivitamin to help reach your daily nutritional requirements, you can install a few solar panels to help reach your daily energy needs.

    Are DIY Solar Panels Worth It?

    Ultimately, your solar panel payback depends on the type, size, and number of panels you install. You’ll likely see dividends on your monthly electric bill right away, but it could take much longer to fully recoup your costs.

    If this project seems a bit beyond your comfort zone, there are plenty of other ways to use sustainable energy in your home. Check out Amigo Energy’s electricity plans that provide the ability to offset the equivalent of up to 100% of your electricity from renewable energy sources today.

    Brought to you by amigoenergy


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