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The Advantages and Disadvantages of DIY Solar in 2019

By : Next Level Energy | June 5, 2019

Solar has become a vogue thing in 2019 and a lot of daring homeowners are starting to think about “do it yourself solar installation”- the idea of building a PV system by yourself. Obviously, there is a lot involved in a solar installation and there is a correct and incorrect model of do-it-yourself solar projects. 

Here are a few DIY Solar installations (see photos) that went very badly in the end. 

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Going solar has lots of monetary advantages: it decreases the cost of electricity and increases the quality of your home. Financial benefits like federal tax credits for solar can decrease the total cost by 30 percent or even more. Although solar is a great investment, the combined, upfront price label can cause sticker shock to some. To save money most house owners are weighing the DIY options versus financing a system and getting a professional installer to handle the work. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of DIY solar below, which one should consider before making a decision on a DIY solar project. 

Step by step process of DIY solar panels

  1. Design and size your system based on energy needs 
  2. Purchase your solar equipment (solar panels, inverters, racking) 
  3. Provide your city/county planning department a plan set with code-abiding solar schematics and application for solar permit 
  4. Install the racking or mounts for the panels 
  5. Connect the solar panels to your racking equipment 
  6. Install a solar inverter 
  7. Notify the local utility and AHJ of completion and request for PTO (Permission to Turn-On – i.e. “connect” to grid) 

Do it yourself solar panel installation could be less costly, although your choices are sometimes limited. 

According to information from the solar marketplace, the average total cost for a DIY solar system for homeowners (the amount before financial benefits and rebates are applied) is about $18,300. Of this amount, the design, installation, and cost of labor brings it about ten to fifteen percent of the entire bill. So, you can potentially save up to half of the amount that a  professionally installed solar PV system will cost.  

Even at that, it is still very enticing to use a professional who can provide a worry-free installation, labor warranty/guarantee and affordable financing which is less than using a credit card or home equity line of credit for the investment. The money saved on upfront materials and installation will be free for other things. 

Your solar energy should be able to generate electric current for 25-35 years, so it is important that you think about both the upfront cost and the monetary benefit for all of your solar options. If you purchase solar kits like the ones available online or at an Electrical supply store, it can be cheaper but you won’t generally have the choices and warranty convenience that solar installers are ready to provide. Most at times, solar installers purchase their equipment from distributors that don’t sell retail and they can obtain prices only available when purchased in large quantity. 

Around the nation, the solar price is dropping. 

Advantage: Create your own solar works for small off-grid projects. 

Virtually all home solar kits are created for an off-grid purpose, which means that you cannot make use of it connected to your utility. For the average homeowner, going off-grid is not to your advantage. Having the ability to connect to utility-generated electric source is important because if your solar energy system does not create sufficient electricity to be able to meet your demands (at night and in winter) throughout the year, you’ll want to supplement with some grid-provided electricity. 

Home solar equipment can be a good idea if the goal is not to power the whole house. RVs, boats, and the ever-popular tiny houses are all great items for trying the do it yourself solar, that is because these are generally off-grid and mobile already. 

On a similar topic, DIY solar projects can be of great help if you own a large property and desire to power an outside area such as a barn, or toolshed or want to easily install outside lights. In such instance the power demand will be quite low, so buying a little home solar kit and installing it yourself is achievable. 

Disadvantage: installing solar is difficult, homemade solar energy requires education and experience. 

When you want to go the DIY route with your solar panels, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. A home solar kit can be cheaper, but solar installers give much more value and peace of mind for a relatively small additional price. Whenever it comes to installing a valuable electric system on your property, looking for someone who knows what he is doing can help you conserve time, money and aggravation in the long run.  

A professional solar installer can get the job done faster and safer because they have the experience that online research cannot beat or DIY guides can copy. All States demands that all installers be qualified and licensed to install solar and independent certification such as North American Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP’s), Solar PV installation Professional Certification makes sure that the company you decide to work will have a great knowledge of the entire process. 

Your solar installer will aid you to finish and file the permits and applications that you require to submit in order to get your solar energy system up and working. This is really important because your utility will not let you connect your system to grid without signoff from a certified utility/electrical inspector. 

Also, because of the experience of the solar installer, they should be able to help you concerning the financial incentive because they will have a better knowledge of the solar incentive in your jurisdiction. They can even help you to find an incentive that you might have missed. Finally, it is very important that you know that most product manaufacturers will only honor their warranty when a certified installer install the equipment. And virtually all installers can offer a warranty on their own labor too. 

Other great ways to conserve money on your solar installation 

Of course, when trying to make such a great decision for your house, you can discover the solar choice that has a better financial advantage for you. DIY solar energy is not the only way to conserve money when trying to go solar. 


“Next Level Energy is accustomed to fixing other’s mistakes. Call us (530-316-1421) if you need help with your on or off-grid system, or don’t want to go it alone when putting together a system. We are Strike-Check approved. We can diagnose and trouble-shoot some failing or failed systems. By the way, it’s always a GREAT idea to make sure your system and home are fully insured, regardless of who installed/installs your system.”

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