Are DIY Solar Panels Worth It?
When considering solar energy, one question often comes up is can I DIY solar panels? Surely it’s cheaper to install my own solar panels? Generally speaking, it is cheaper however there are a lot of factors to consider.
So if you’re thinking of buying solar panels and fitting them yourself this
article will give you some of the key factors to consider before deciding if you are ready to go down the DIY route.
Are DIY Solar Panels Worth It?
Installing a DIY solar kit is cheaper, but there are 6 things to consider:
1. What type of solar panel to use?
2. Will they be roof or ground-mounted solar panels?
3. Cost and quality of the solar panels
4. How you’re going to connect to the grid and solar batteries
5. Do you have the expertise?
6. What extra labor can you bring in to help?
What Are The Types Of Solar Panel?
First, let’s look at the 4 main solar panel types in the market today. They are:
- Thin Film Solar Panels
- Polycrystalline Solar Panels
- Monocrystalline Solar Panels
- Solar Shingles
If you are looking to DIY your solar panels, then usually the Monocrystalline Solar Panels are considered the best choice for DIY installation. This is mainly because of their energy efficiency and durability.
Once you have decided on what type of panel you need, the next question is where do I put the solar panels. So let’s look at this in more detail.
Roof Mounted DIY Solar Panels Kits
This is the most common type of solar panel installation.
How Do I Install Roof Solar Panels?
They are mounted on racks that are fixed to your roof. The roof needs to be strong enough to take the weight and durable enough to last the entire lifetime of the solar panels, that is from 15 to 20 years.
Depending on the roof size, it takes about 3 days on average and a full team of contractors to fit the racks and solar panels. So if you are going to DIY solar panels it’s worth bearing that in mind when you come to do your install.
Advantages Of Roof Solar Panels
- The setup costs are cheaper
- Labour is more cost-effective
- The panels are out of the way
Disadvantages Roof Solar Panels
- You need a strong durable roof
- You need the skills to know how to optimize the positioning of the solar panels
- You need expertise in wiring or bring in an electrician
- Installation is not a one-man job to do it safely
- You may have issues with your roof warranty being void if you attach them yourself.
Ground Mounted DIY Solar Panel Kits
How Do I Install Ground Mounted Solar Panels?
Advantages Of Ground Mounted Solar Panels
These DIY solar panels are for folks who have the land to accommodate the panels and prefer them over roof-mounted panels.
- They are cheaper to install as you don’t have to retrofit your roof
- Depending on how big your property is, you can usually have a much more substantial solar panel system
- Energy efficiency is great as you can position them so they are completely south-facing, which is more difficult to do on a roof
Disadvantages Of Ground Mounted Solar Panels
- The main one is that you need a fair amount of land, with firm foundations, to ensure you are self-sufficient with electricity
- Getting relevant permits can be a hard process because of local planning laws
- The panels themselves tend to be much larger than roof solar panels, which means you need more people for the installation
- The costs for these types of panels are higher
- The technical skills for installation are also high
What Other Elements Do You Need When Looking At Solar Panel Kits For Home
So you now know what type of DIY solar panels you need and whether you
are going to mount them on your roof or on land. It’s now time to consider
what else you’ll need with your solar panels DIY kit, including:
- Inverters: That turns the energy into electricity.
- A monitoring system: That monitors all elements of the system and sorts out the payback to the grid. We’ll talk more about this later.
- Solar batteries: To store your electricity.
How To Fit The DIY Solar Panels To The Grid And Solar Batteries
This is where it gets a little tricky as the installation depends on the system you want to install and how your net meterage is done by the utility company. The various options you need to consider include:
Grid Connected (No Batteries):
Is the solar system connected just to the grid? So you sell it to the grid and get a discount on your utility bill.
Grid Connected (With Batteries):
Will you also have solar batteries as part of your system as well a selling back to the grid?
What type of solar batteries is the most efficient, where will I put them? For instance, Tesla Powerwalls are a fantastic innovation but are only available as a complete Tesla Solar Roof package.
Do I Need To Hire An Electrician?
It’s definitely recommended to get a professional to do all the wiring also once done it’ll need to be inspected by your Town and or utility company.
What Permits And Surveys Do I Need For DIY Solar Panels?
You now need to survey your property and check the meteorological data to guide you in the positioning of your panels and see if everything is up to code.
Also, it’s time to sort out all Federal And State documentation and permits
This will cover items such as,
- The he financing of the solar panel’s installation
- The application for State and Federal solar incentives such as SRECS and Net Meterage
- Utility company documentation
- Any building or property planning requirements
Speak to your utility company and solar panel suppliers to get advice.
The Federal Trade Commisson has put together this handy guide, just click this link to find out more.
What Are The Costs Of DIY Solar Panels?
It is cheaper to build a system yourself but the cost depends on your:
- Roof, location and property size
- Whether it’s roof-mounted or ground-mounted
- What solar panel type you are choosing and the system size
- How much of the solar panels DIY work you are doing yourself
- How many solar panels you will need to be self-sufficient in solar
Some contractors will help you with the utility documentation and other aspects of the solar panel installation such as wiring.
Are You Ready For DIY Solar Panels Is It Worth It? A Summary
This outlined what you need to consider about solar panel kits for home use. As you can see, there’s a lot to think about.
Overall, you can save money on labor costs if you DIY solar panels. However, the time it takes and the complexities of sorting the permits and utility company paperwork make this a hard process. Plus, you’ll need considerable technical expertise and skills for the installation.
So yes, you will save money but DIY solar panels installation is not a solution for the faint-hearted.
Whatever your circumstances, never compromise on quality as solar panel installation is a tremendous investment.
If you would like to see how the leading suppliers compare against each other with solar panels DIY kits click on the link at the bottom of the page.