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DIY Solar Panels: Understanding the Pros and Cons. DIY roof solar panels

DIY Solar Panels: Understanding the Pros and Cons. DIY roof solar panels

    DIY Solar Panels: Understanding the Pros and Cons

    It’s easy to think that a do-it-yourself (DIY) solar installation is a simple job that just involves bolting a bunch of solar panels to your roof. Some companies even sell DIY solar kits, with the sales pitch that you’ll start enjoying clean energy as soon as you finish the project.

    It’s true that for certain types of installations, you can enjoy some cost savings by installing solar panels yourself. DIY solar panels also allow you to create smaller off-grid systems for buildings that don’t have full-scale electricity needs.

    However, the details of a DIY solar installation can get complicated if you’re not a professional. You could jeopardize your safety, or spend more money in the long run. Before you begin your project, you should understand the pros and cons of DIY solar panels.

    What are the Pros of DIY Solar Panels?

    Choosing the DIY route for your solar power project offers you benefits such as lower costs, increased control, and convenience. If you’re already a home improvement expert who regularly completes large, complex projects on your own, you understand the appeal of DIY kits for homes.

    DIY Solar Can Save You Money

    Installing a solar power system yourself saves you the cost of hiring a third-party solar installer’s services. If you can design a solar panel system that takes care of your home’s electricity demands, you can lower your upfront installation expenses.

    According to a 2021 Study by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, labor accounts for about 10% of the total price tag for installing solar panels. These potential savings vary depending on local variables like the solar system size and your qualification for the solar tax credit. It also assumes that the DIY installers do everything themselves and don’t have to hire any additional outside assistance.

    Solar panel options span a wide range of cost, output, and efficiency. However, most solar companies work with a limited number of equipment manufacturers and solar panel options to keep costs down. By going the DIY route, you can buy the panels that match your budget and electricity needs.

    DIY Solar Can Give You Control

    If you have substantial DIY experience and you want to take complete control of your home improvement projects, a DIY solar power installation might be perfect for you.

    • Choose any component: You can purchase the panels and equipment you want since you aren’t tied to what a third-party company offers.
    • Tailor your project: You can tailor various stages of your solar installation to meet your specific needs, desires, or timeline. Want to build your own ground mount? Go for it! Just be sure you’re comfortable negotiating with municipal officers, financial planners, electricians, and tax accountants.

    DIY Solar Can Be Convenient

    Do you have the perfect design in mind? Installing solar panels as a DIY project allows you to design a unique setup for your panels. Furthermore, you aren’t stuck waiting for the work schedules of a third-party installer.

    Do you need a little power in a toolshed or old barn? Thinking of buying a solar-powered toilet, trailer, cabin, or tiny home for a secluded getaway spot? A DIY solar installation is also convenient when installing power in smaller off-grid structures that just need a starter kit.

    What are the Cons of DIY Solar Panels?

    Even if you’re an experienced DIY’er, you can run into serious issues with installing your own solar panels:

    DIY Solar Requires Specific Knowledge

    A DIY solar system installation requires more knowledge and skills than your average weekend home improvement project. It isn’t something you can easily do by yourself, such as putting up some shelves or digging up a tree stump.

    Installing solar power requires a lot of organization and planning. DIY solar projects are also time-intensive.

    From design and installation to permitting and final connection to the grid, you could easily spend two months or more doing your own work. Depending upon permitting requirements in your area, which can be tricky for solar installations, the process could take even longer.

    You will need a team of people you can depend upon to do a thorough job of the actual installation. This applies to basic work such as lifting the panels onto the roof and complicated tasks such as connecting the solar arrays to your home’s electrical system.

    To install rooftop solar panels, you’ll obviously have to climb onto and work on the roof of your home. That means you’ll need to understand and follow enhanced safety protocols to avoid hazards like falling off the roof.

    For most installations, you’ll have to drill into it your roof. Drilling into the wrong place can lead to structural damage, while incorrect flashing and sealing can lead to roof leakage and mold issues.

    No two homes are ever the same, and every roof’s layout relative to the available sunlight rays may vary. Calculating the proper angles and orientation for your rooftop solar panels makes all the difference in maximizing their efficiency.

    You must navigate various government and utility company offices to get permits and approval for your project. This is stressful work that requires persistence and patience.

    Professional solar installers have people on staff who specifically handle this permitting work, and have established relationships with the people who review and approve those permits.

    DIY Solar Involves Advanced Electrical Work

    A DIY solar project isn’t like changing a light switch in a bathroom. It’s a heavy-duty task that literally involves powering your entire home. Not only do you need to install the solar panels, but you need to take care of inverters, meters, electrical panel connections, batteries, and other technical components.

    You must be very aware of the intricate details of wiring your DIY solar energy system safely and correctly. Even with in-depth tutorials, the jumble of technical components and wiring can easily confuse you. Mistakes such as loose connections, crossed wires, and exposure to elements can lead to electrocution or destructive fire. Yes, it’s that serious.

    While you can have your dream panel design through DIY solar kits, reinventing the wheel can be dangerous or impractical sometimes. A trustworthy contractor can plan out a tailored strategy that fits your home’s electricity needs.

    If something goes amiss in your DIY solar installation, it’s possible that you can void the warranty on your solar equipment.

    While you can still reach out to your manufacturer directly, proving a warranty claim can be challenging. You must ensure that your DIY solar panel installation was done according to their requirements, and was connected correctly to the utility grid.

    If an issue is not covered by the warranty, you may have to pay for the repairs, which will eat into your total savings.

    DIY Solar Requires Specific Equipment

    Completing a DIY installation of a solar panel system requires experience, tools, and materials to install racking, solar panels, electrical boxes, inverters, wires, meters, and other equipment correctly.

    For grid-tied solar systems, you’ll first need to assemble the right components, including:

    • Solar panels: To capture the sun’s rays and convert them into DC energy
    • Mounting system: To mount and secure the solar panel arrays.
    • Inverter: To convert DC energy from your panels into AC electricity for home use, and channel additional AC back to the utility grid
    • Power or DC optimizer: To maximize the power from your PV panels
    • DC disconnect: To shut off your system for maintenance
    • Grid disconnect: To automatically switch off your system when a grid outage occurs.
    • Combiner box: To organize all components

    When it comes to off-grid DIY solar panel kits, you might also need some additional components:

    • Charge controller: To channel DC energy from your panels to your storage battery backup, and then stop sending energy to avoid overcharging.
    • Backup power battery bank: To power and supply your building when sunshine isn’t enough.
    • Balance of system (BoS): This includes all of the other equipment like a breaker box, wires, fuses, etc.

    Don’t forget the safety gear! You don’t want to get injured when installing a roof-mount solar kit for your home. To stay safe, it’s important to invest in the proper safety equipment when working on your roof.

    Before you can install your solar components, you’ll need to buy the necessary equipment and materials. Unlike professional installers, you’re not buying in bulk, meaning you won’t benefit from the economy of scale. These costs can quickly eat up a massive chunk of the DIY solar installation savings we discussed earlier.

    If you don’t have enough experience to know the difference, you can easily fall for low-grade items and cheap solar cells that have flooded the market recently. Yes, the complete DIY solar panel kits that come with all required components and instructions may seem like a great deal, but you shouldn’t assume they’re using high-quality equipment.

    If you do end up using less expensive equipment, you may have to contend with a shorter lifespan, reduced power efficiency, or a more complicated installation in the long run. On the other hand, professional installers know where to source high-quality materials and how to get the job done right the first time.

    DIY Solar Limits Your Options

    If you’re powering devices like televisions, washing machines, and refrigerators, your energy needs can be high. In this case, a simple electrical system from a DIY solar kit may not match your needs.

    A professional installer can help you design the right sized system for your needs, complete with solar battery storage if that’s the right solution for the power needs of your home.

    While many states and utilities provide rebates and incentives that significantly lower the cost of switching to solar, some of them are only available if a certified solar company installs your system.

    You also don’t have as many finance options with DIY solar system kits, which limits your ability to split the cost across monthly payments that align with your solar savings. When buying your solar panels, you may have to buy the system outright when going the do-it-yourself route, vs financing through a third party.

    Can I Install DIY Solar Panels Myself?

    Having looked at some of the pros and cons that come with a DIY solar project, it’s time to decide if DIY solar panels are right for you:

    Short Answer: Probably.

    A DIY home solar kit can serve your needs, especially if your required energy demands are minimal. These out-of-the-box systems are typically not as complex as multi-panel systems that power a large house and connect to the utility grid.

    If you’re still prepared to take this route for a complex solar project, we recommend you first research your local zoning regulations. Some states and countries prohibit the installation of a DIY solar system without professional certification because of the challenges we listed above.

    Long Answer: Probably not.

    Unless your current day job and prior DIY experience include electrical work, engineering acumen, roofing, and government permitting, you should probably leave the heavy lifting to the solar professionals. This is especially true for larger homes with significant electricity needs that require an elaborate solar power plan.

    A residential solar power installation is a significant investment that should serve you for more than 25 years. Setting up everything properly from the very beginning ensures your system functions at its maximum capacity, and helps prevent headaches down the road.

    Our recommendation is to rely on certified experts who install solar systems every day. Before you run out and buy your solar panels, let a solar professional investigate your energy needs and recommend the most suitable option for your home. They can also pinpoint the optimum solar panel placement to maximize your system’s output.

    Overall, are potential DIY home solar savings really worth the risks and headaches of the elaborate process we’ve described? If you derive satisfaction from improving your home on your own and have time to do everything from beginning to end, then a DIY solar panel system might be right for you.

    For most people though, turning to professionals gives them peace of mind. Yes, the upfront costs might be a little higher, but the long-term benefits are worth the expense.

    Palmetto, Your Go-To Solar Installation Experts

    Are you looking to reduce your electricity bill by switching to solar? By working with Palmetto, you can start enjoying the benefits of this green energy source without any of the DIY hassles.

    At Palmetto, we simplify your migration to clean energy. It’s our business to take the risk and guesswork out of clean energy savings and provide end-to-end solutions that save you money and time. We also specialize in financing through solar loans if needed, with a variety of options to match your budget.

    To learn how our professionals can work with you to design and install the perfect solar power system for your home, get started with a Free Solar Design. From there, we can pair you with a solar expert who’s trained to help you get the solar panel system you need, and help you save money by going solar.

    DIY Solar Power Installation

    Updated June 22, 2022 Solar

    Solar installation has become easier over the years. With the steady advancement of solar technology, installing solar panels and photovoltaic system equipment will surely get even more simplified in the future.

    However, that does not mean that solar installation is an easy 5 step process or that everybody should try it.

    Solar Installation: What You Should Know Before You Start

    Since solar installation involves working with panels and equipment that produce several hundred volts of electricity in the sunlight, some very serious safety issues must be understood before you consider installing solar panels or PV system components onto your home.

    Often, the work involved in solar installation needs to be done by a professional, permits need to be applied for and specific electrical standards (which often differ from one area to the next) have to be met.

    It is for this reason that there is also often a lot of improvisation involved when installing a solar power system.

    Although we do not in any way encourage you to disobey the standards, rules, requirements, and guidelines set forth by your municipality in regards to how to install solar panels or a solar energy system, we do show you some ways of working around some of the harder aspects of solar installation at the end of this web page. To be sure, check with your local building and safety department for specific requirements.

    Let’s take a look at the basic procedure for installing a grid-tied solar power system in your house.

    solar, panels, understanding, pros, cons

    Installing Solar Panels Solar Energy Systems

    First you must make sure that your roof or wherever you’re going to be mounting your solar panels is strong enough for solar panel installation and to support the weight. There’s no point in installing solar panels on a roof that is going to cave in and ultimately cost you more money to repair.

    Unless you’re using solar roof tiles, the next thing you must do in the process of solar panel installation is measure the dimensions of your roof and ensure that your solar panels (the entire solar array) can fit in the available space.

    When installing solar panels, you may also want to consider using an area where there is considerable space for the addition of more panels in the future. For proper solar panel installation, ideally, solar panels should go on a rooftop that faces the direction that the sun comes up from.

    So, if in your area the sun rises in the east, your panels should face east for maximum exposure. Just make sure the roof has no shade on it from other homes, buildings, trees, etc.

    One important thing you must know about solar panel installation is that having just one solar panel in the shade can stop your whole solar array from working properly. Also, when you are installing solar panels, make sure that shade won’t come with the changing of the seasons or with the future development in your neighborhood. Install solar panels no closer than 12 from the edge of the roof and 16 from the eaves.

    Before you install solar panels, you must install brackets on sloped roofs or mount rails on flat roofs. Solar panel mounts can be bought in home improvement or solar stores. Standoffs for the brackets or rails must be secured to the home’s rafters or trusses, not just the sheathing.

    Solar installation brackets are used on roofs that are sloped, but the slope must be positioned in a way that gives the panel good direct exposure to the sun. A mount rail system is used in solar installation to allow you to position the panel at any angle you want. You must keep all the solar panels at the same angle and height (even when the roof slope changes) to keep the voltage production the same.

    Make sure you use roof sealant where you drill the screws into the roof when attaching the brackets or mount rails. so no rainwater can leak through the holes in your roof. Follow the instructions that come with the brackets or rail system you use to ensure that your solar panel installation is done according to manufacturer’s recommendations.

    Then attach your solar panels by hoisting them up to your roof, laying them out onto the brackets or mount rail system, and fastening them onto the bracket or rail system. When installing solar panels make sure they don’t accidentally slide off of very sloped roofs before you get a chance to secure them.

    When solar panel installation is complete and your panels are secure you must connect them according to how you want them to produce power. Make sure all your wires are properly insulated and waterproof (wrapped with black electrical tape). To prevent shock, always connect a ground wire from the mounting hardware to the earth when performing a solar installation.

    Once the panels have been connected and aligned in place, the conduit must be run underneath the panels, to a junction box, down the side of the house, and the first photovoltaic component in your system. usually the DC disconnect.

    For solar power installation, you must use wiring consisting of three wires: negative, positive, and ground wire. None of the wiring should be touching the actual roof.

    Installing conduit over all wires coming out of your panels is essential to protect them from exposure to rain, sunlight, and other elements.

    Now set up all of your photovoltaic components according to the manufacturer’s instructions (but don’t connect them yet). Install your inverter and the other photovoltaic components in a garage or an outbuilding. Make sure that the area is dry, well ventilated, and that the space is not subject to extreme hot or cold temperatures. This is especially important when it comes to your battery bank.

    If there’s going to be any cold weather at all, you should use a battery box around your entire battery bank to protect it from changing environments. A battery box is also necessary to protect children and pets from accidental electrical shock.

    solar, panels, understanding, pros, cons

    The next step in a typical PV installation would involve running the power from your inverter into your home’s AC breaker panel and other system components. To do this, first, turn off the main breaker and de-energize all AC and DC sources of power.

    Then, connect your inverter to your AC breaker panel. Connect the PV wires to the DC disconnect switch and the other photovoltaic system components up until the main DC disconnect. Then connect the main DC disconnect to the inverter.

    solar, panels, understanding, pros, cons

    After you do this, (and ensure that your system is safe by getting a professional electrician to test and verify that everything is working properly), you can turn on your breakers and DC/AC disconnect switches and electricity will be distributed from the AC breaker panel to any electrical loads in your home.

    When wiring through walls, use conduit to protect against shock and short circuits. For outdoor wiring, use PV conduit over the wires, with waterproof fittings or duct seal to keep out water.

    Also anytime, you’re going to be sharing solar power with power from your electric company, it’s a good idea to install a second smaller panel box beside your main one for the solar feed, along with a convenient shut-off switch to make cutting the power from the solar panel easy if necessary. A very common and usually required safety procedure in solar installation.

    The breaker that is used for the solar feed must not exceed 20% of the AC breaker panel’s service size. So if your home’s electrical service is 100 amps, this limits your breaker size to 20 amps. If you install solar panels and a PV system that has more amps than that, you may need to increase your home’s electrical service to 200 amp or higher.

    Solar Installation Shortcuts

    Here we list a few alternative ways you can save even more money (and work) by simply working around some of the more expensive and legally complicated aspects of solar energy installation.

    Roof or Yard?

    If solar panel installation is a little too labor-intensive for you and you don’t want to go through all the trouble of mounting and installing solar panels on your roof, you can always place them in your backyard or on your balcony. This will require your panels to have some kind of a stand or adjustable support behind them.

    However, different areas have different rules for this as well. Some areas require that any solar panels not mounted to the roof must be protected from the general public via the use of fencing or a pole mount 8 feet or higher. Do your homework and find out what’s required in your area before proceeding.

    Panel or Plugs?

    If you don’t want to connect directly to your home’s AC breaker panel, you can plug appliances directly into the inverter. Just set up a system where you plug appliances, TVs, toasters, lights, etc, into a convenient box of direct access power outlets (plugs).

    This can be as easy as attaching an extension cord from the power inverter, passing it into the house, and adding a power bar with multiple easy access outlets. Many people choose to implement little solar installation shortcuts like these to work around’ some tough spots.

    With these options to work around some of the more expensive (and complicated) aspects of solar power installation, it gets even easier for you to create a system that can recover more of your initial costs within just months instead of taking years.

    Experts Share Tips on How to Prepare for a DIY Solar Project

    Are you exploring your options for solar panel installation and contemplating the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach?

    DIY installation can be a fun, educational and rewarding experience. But proper preparation is essential for a successful outcome.

    We recently chatted with a few industry professionals to get their take on what consumers need to know before committing to a DIY solar panel installation.

    Educate Yourself

    “I’m a big proponent of being educated about what you’re getting, especially when it comes to an investment like solar,” says Spencer Rosen, a regional sales manager for Enphase Energy.

    “One of the biggest mistakes that many homeowners make before going solar is that they don’t take time to do any research or know what kind of equipment they’re getting. They don’t know what kind of warranty is included, or how that system might operate with their rate structures.”

    Key Takeaway: Do your research! But don’t just evaluate the company you’re working with. Take time to understand what technology and equipment are best for your home and energy needs, so you can ask the right questions and make smarter decisions in the buying process.

    Take Ownership of Your Skills and Confidence Level

    With great power (no pun intended) comes great responsibility.

    Alex Lepore, sales director at Fortress Power, notes that “one of the biggest pros of DIY solar is that you can design your system to your specific needs. But at the end of the day, you’re fully responsible for the installation, and there is a high level of risk involved.”

    Jeff Spies, a NABCEP board member and permitting plan sets expert, always asks potential DIY-ers about their comfort level with technical installation tasks.

    “Have you ever stood on your roof? Or, have you ever pulled a breaker out of your service panel? Do you feel qualified to take on this work?”

    And Carlos Lopez, territory manager for IronRidge, adds that “it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of your roof’s structural integrity.”

    Key Takeaway: While you may feel comfortable using power tools or following detailed installation instructions, it’s important to recognize that installing solar panels is a different project altogether. It requires a more thoughtful, detailed approach compared to assembling furniture.

    Choose a Company That Does It All

    “Most DIY solar is actually done very poorly,” says Jeff Spies.

    “But there are reputable, longstanding companies out there — like GoGreenSolar — who provide the full package of services including the system design, plan set, interconnection application and custom installation guide. If the company is able to provide everything you need and establish that trust, then any competent DIY-er is capable of doing a good job.”

    Key Takeaway: Work with a reputable solar business to ensure you’re in good hands. Look for trust signals that indicate the business has been around for years and will continue to operate for the foreseeable future. Quality solar companies are likely to offer additional services to assist you with your plan set, interconnection application, installation and more.

    Have Support on Hand

    “Yes, DIY solar is a highly technical project,” Spies acknowledges. “But surprisingly, most solar projects aren’t difficult. The key to success is having proper guidance because even one small error can pose a big risk.”

    “I have an engineering degree, and even though I’m technically oriented and DIY-savvy, I know I still need support to get through the installation process efficiently.”

    Key Takeaway: When in doubt, get help! Know that you don’t have to do it alone. In addition to choosing a reputable company that can guide you through the installation process, consider asking a friend or hiring a contractor to help you with the steps that you feel less confident about tackling.

    Final Thoughts

    As highlighted by the experts, DIY solar panel installation can be an incredible, rewarding experience. But know that it requires thorough research, proper preparation and a realistic assessment of your technical skills and confidence level.

    If you’re considering DIY solar, take the time to educate yourself and carefully select the right professionals to help you avoid any challenges or risks. The pros at GoGreenSolar are happy to help you get your DIY journey started — contact us today!

    Is DIY Home Solar a Good Idea for You?

    The popularity of solar power has grown in recent years, thanks to plummeting equipment costs, climbing electricity rates, and the looming climate crisis. And with thousands of do-it-yourself guides and videos online, the DIY culture continues to attract more people. So, it’s no surprise that DIY solar power systems are garnering a lot of interest.

    As with any DIY project, DIY solar is appealing for two main reasons: cost savings, and the satisfaction of completing a complex task. But before you look for your toolkit, there are two important questions to ask: Are you allowed to install solar power systems yourself, and is it a good idea to do so? Let’s begin with the first question.

    Can You Legally Install Your Own Solar Panels?

    Solar power systems comprise a number of components — solar voltaic panels, inverters, wiring, connectors, and more. Naturally, installing a solar system is far more complex than assembling, say, Ikea furniture. Additionally, these systems are usually designed for interconnection with the local power grid. An unsafe system connected to the grid can be a major safety hazard, especially for linesmen working in the neighborhood.

    So it’s no surprise that many governing authorities worldwide prohibit people from connecting self-installed solar panels to the grid. In the U.S., there is no federal law regulating DIY solar projects, but each state has its own regulation.

    For instance, anyone installing solar panels in Texas is required to have a Texas Electrical Contractor’s License (TECL). But in California, you might be able to install a system yourself and get approval for grid connection. Some states require solar installers to be certified by organizations such as North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) or Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC).

    Most states in the U.S. have licensing requirements for solar installers for safety reasons. You can check each state’s law in IREC’s solar licensing database.

    So, does this mean you cannot legally build your own solar power system? Well, in most places, it is somewhat difficult, legally, to install a full-fledged rooftop or ground-mounted solar system without any license or certifications. However, you can hire an electrician or solar installer for parts of the installation where it’s legally required. For instance, in Colorado, all electrical work on the AC side of the system must be done by a licensed electrician.

    Another excellent option is to work on a smaller and safer DIY solar project that is not connected to the grid. Several websites offer DIY kits that include a small number of solar panels, an inverter, a battery, and miscellaneous equipment. These kits may include installation guides to help you assemble the system.

    Should You Install a Solar Power System Yourself?

    Let’s say you live in a state where the law allows designing and installing your own solar system. Is it a wise thing to do? The best way to answer this question is by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of DIY solar.

    Saves Money

    As is usually the case in the U.S., labor costs can make up a significant portion of the total cost of any project. This is true for solar too. Whenever you receive a quote from a solar installer, labor accounts for about 10% or more of that cost.

    By going the DIY route, you can save on this cost, which can amount to a few thousand dollars.


    Any DIY enthusiast will attest to the fact that DIY projects do more than just save money — they provide the satisfaction of having done something new. Installing your system can be a fulfilling endeavor, regardless of its other benefits.

    No Nasty Surprises

    No matter how highly rated your installer is or how good the contract looks, when you are spending tens of thousands of dollars, it is natural to be uneasy about whether you are getting your money’s worth. Despite equipment warranties, customers often worry about the quality of the components and workmanship. When you do the work yourself, you know the quality you’re getting, making DIY solar a frequently explored option.

    Legal Barriers

    As discussed previously, the major obstacle in installing a DIY system is the legal side of it. Completed systems undergo an inspection by the local utility company, which can also demand to see your installer’s license or certification.

    Can Be Difficult and/or Dangerous

    At first glance, installing solar may seem easy. But the actual installation can be difficult and highly technical. It makes more sense to hire an installer for grid-connected systems that require you to work on your roof, with electrical panels, or with buried wires. over, DC current flowing from a string of solar panels can be extremely dangerous if you are not well-versed with electrical work.

    solar, panels, understanding, pros, cons

    May Not Be Worth the Money Saved

    According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), labor typically accounts for about 10% of a system’s cost. Considering the average cost of 15,000 to 25,000 for a solar energy system, the savings would run between 1,500 to 2,500 or slightly more. If you take into account the complexity and the time required in doing it yourself, it might not be worth the money you save.

    Permits and Other Legal Hassles

    Installing a solar PV system requires more than just purchasing and installing equipment. You need to apply for permits, rebates, and credits, as well as pass inspections. A registered solar installer has completed these steps dozens of times, and can likely do it more quickly and efficiently than you can.

    Missed Incentives

    Your state may allow you to install a system yourself, but you may not be able to claim certain incentives offered to homeowners who use a professional to install their solar power system. While you may be eligible for the federal solar tax credit, you may not be eligible for some local rebates.

    Many banks also offer low-interest, “green loans” for going solar. In most cases, these banks require a quote/purchase agreement from a certified installer.

    Missed Workmanship Warranty

    Professionally installed panels come with a workmanship warranty that protects you against any defects in installation. Some companies, like SunPower, offer a 25-year warranty. You may be able to save around between 1,500 to 2,500 by doing it all yourself, but that means missing out on a valuable warranty like this.

    Final Thoughts

    Installing your own solar power system sounds enticing to many DIY enthusiasts who anticipate saving money and completing a satisfying project. But unlike other, simpler DIY projects, installing solar panels can be complicated, dangerous, and even sometimes tedious. State laws often prohibit installing solar if you don’t have the right credentials.

    Thankfully, you can still install a smaller, off-grid system that powers an outbuilding or remote cabin. If your system is not connected to the grid, you can enjoy building a smaller, safer system using a handful of components — often available as a kit.

    By Aniket Bhor

    Aniket Bhor has an M.S. in Renewable Energies and about a decade of experience working in the solar power industry — overseeing solar panel manufacturing and installations. He has written for renewable energy organizations worldwide, and is a climate enthusiast and avid cyclist.

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