Solar energy is a popular way to dramatically reduce or completely remove your monthly electricity bill. With the rise of homeowners choosing this green energy investment, many homeowners are considering trying their hand at DIY solar installation. Before you attempt to tackle this project, find out the pros and cons of DIY installation.
Pro #1: Affordable Alternative
There’s no doubt about it: solar installation is expensive. By choosing to cut installation labor costs, you could save thousands of dollars on your solar panel system, particularly if you’re choosing a system that covers your entire electrical usage.
You’ll have to understand the complicated electrical installation, often work on your roof to install the panels and put in hours of work to get your system setup. Still, some homeowners can save money by avoiding the cost of professional installation.
Pro #2: Enjoy a Personalized Design
Do you have the perfect setup in mind for your solar system? If you’re thinking of a unique design or customized placement of your panels, you’ll enjoy free range as a DIY-er. Whether you’re looking to create a little electrical backup for your workshop or thinking large-scale, it’s possible to set your solar panel system up exactly how you want when doing it yourself.
Con #1: Risky Business
Unless you happen to be an experienced electrician, you may not realize the dangers that DIY solar installation pose. First, improper installation could be a major fire hazard. Crossed wires, loose wire connections and wiring improperly exposed to the elements could all easily create an electrical arc and potentially ignite nearby materials.
Even if you properly wire your system, many solar panel systems are installed on rooftops. This means climbing and working on your roof, which leads to other hazards such as falling, damaging your roof or dropping fragile solar elements. Your home insurance may not cover any damage from a DIY solar panel project, so be cautious and understand the risks involved.
Con #2: Highly Technical Installation and Design
Solar panels involve not only the panels themselves but also inverters, batteries, meters and new service panels. Even with comprehensive tutorials, it’s easy to get lost in a jumble of wiring and technical components. Save yourself a major headache by hiring a professional electrician.
While DIY installation allows you to create your own design, sometimes reinventing the wheel is impractical or even dangerous. Solar energy may be a recent phenomenon with many homeowners, but the design and construction of solar panel systems have stood the test of time. With a professional contractor, you won’t have to create your own design.
Con #3: Potentially Illegal
For homeowners still prepared to choose DIY solar installation, the first step should be to check with local zoning regulations. Your state, county or subdivision could have laws against solar installation without certification.
Con #4: Material Quality
Most DIY installers use complete solar kits that include all the necessary components and complete instructions. These kits may seem like a great deal, but be cautious of inexpensive kits. You won’t receive the same quality of materials that professional installers have access to. This could mean reduced energy efficiency, shorter lifetime or more complicated installation.