Solar panels are a growing choice among many homeowners as a means of alternative energy. Solar panels, which are made up of solar cells, are able to convert solar energy to energy which can power electricity (and, increasingly, so much more). Typically, home owners use solar panels to replace as much traditional energy as possible in their homes with cheaper and much more environmentally conscious solar energy. Solar panels are an exceptionally environmentally friendly way of generating energy, especially when compared to more traditional means of generating energy in today’s world. Some home owners may be put off by the potential high costs of solar panels and solar panel installation. However, many negative concerns or worries about solar panels tend to be unfounded. Although the initial price of solar panel installation may seem high, the money saved by conserving energy is often enough to justify its price for many homeowners. Additionally, the price of solar panels themselves have dramatically decreased over the years. In the 1970s, a typical solar panel could cost about $150USD, while today that same solar panel costs about $2USD and is expected to lower even further over the next decade. Solar panel installation does cost a more significant amount of money, however, and this may put off home owners who were considering installing solar panels in their home.
Solar panel installation can be a tricky business. Electricians who are experienced in putting together solar panels and installing them properly are often hired by solar panel companies to do solar panel installations at homes and other buildings. However, the cost of homeowners hiring these electricians and other solar panel professionals may be out of their reach, even if they can afford the actual solar panels themselves. For this reason, a growing number of potential solar panel customers have begun searching for ways to put together a “do it yourself” method of installing solar panels. Can DIY solar panel installation be done? In short, yes. Should it be done? Well, it all depends on your experience, your personal electrician talents and your ability to pay close attention to instructions and guidelines when installing solar panels on your own. There are also some risks associated with doing your own solar panel installation. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Let’s take a closer look.
The benefits of DIY solar panel installation
There are several key benefits to solar panel installation done on your own.
You will save money on installation and panels. Solar panel companies often charge homeowners a higher price for solar panels than they would cost “retail.” This is to help cover the costs of running a business, but understandably homeowners may feel frustrated at the mark-up price. DIY solar panel installation will also save you the cost of paying for an installation team and paying an installation fee. The cost for installing a solar panel system can be up in the thousands of dollars, depending on your particular homeowner needs.
You will have more flexibility in your choice of solar panels. When you are installing solar panels on your own, you are in charge of everything–from the brand of solar panels, the type of solar panels, how big the solar panels are, where they go and how they will be put together. Solar panel installation from professionals typically does not allow much flexibility or input from the customer, aside from what is required in order to complete the job. This benefit will also allow you to change up your solar panel system whenever you want. For example, let’s say you’d like to switch out one panel with a panel that has a much better energy output. You can do this without having to call the company and pay additional fees for the electricians and labor.
People who install their own solar panel systems often report a sense of satisfaction upon completion. Anyone who has completed a DIY project likely knows this feeling, and the feeling is only amplified when the finished product is related to saving money and using environmentally friendly energy sources.
The risks/cons of DIY solar panel installation
Although installing your own solar panels has its benefits, there are also risks and cons associated with such a DIY project.
DIY solar panel installation does not come with a warranty. Getting your solar panels installed professionally usually comes with a warranty which will cover accidental damage, faulty equipment and the like. This can save you hundreds – and in some cases, even thousands – of dollars in electrician fees, the costs of new solar panels and more. However, if you have installed your system yourself, you will not be getting a warranty and will be covering the costs of damage – accidental or not – and faulty equipment yourself. Commercial solar panels may come with a product warranty but again, installing them on your own may void this warranty or otherwise leave you with a hole in your pocket.
Incorrect DIY installation is a major headache. The possibility of error when installing solar panels yourself, especially if you are not an electrician or do not have electrical experience, can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. If you are investing a lot of money into installing solar panels in your home, you may want to protect this investment by either hiring a professional team, bringing in someone that knows what they are doing, or hiring electricians or other professionals to assist you (or at least, give tips) while you are doing your installation.
Whether the benefits of DIY solar panel installation outweigh the risks is all up to individual homeowners. But recognizing that there are risks and doing all that you can to avoid them will go a long way in diminishing the potential for disaster during your DIY solar panel installation.
Harry Carr is currently training to become a qualified MCS solar panel installer. He currently works in the UK for an electrician in Somerset, where he hopes to establish his own business in the near future.