Going Solar, DIY

So you’re thinking of going solar. But after looking at the prices, you wonder if there’s a way to cheat the system and save money. Should you go DIY? We’re here to break down the pro’s and cons of switching to renewable energy for your home.

The Licenses

Installing solar panels yourself requires a lot of research, hard work, and time - but before we get to that: in most states, you have to first have the correct licenses. In some particular states, you need to also obtain a separate, specialized solar contractor’s license - but in most cases, the general electric and plumbing licenses are a minimum.

And don’t forget, financial incentive programs in most states usually include some pre-approval requirements - and some cases, NABCEP certification. States like Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin require your solar system to have been installed by a NABCEP-certified professional in order to be able to be qualified for state rebate funds.

The Numbers

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about numbers. Going solar can cost anywhere from the 4k-53k range depending on your state, system size, and brand. But the average cost sits somewhere between 15-20k. In the long run, you’ll be paying back these fees through the energy savings over the years. When it really comes down to being smart, the size of your system and the installer you choose is what makes the biggest difference.  

How do these numbers break down?

  •     25% – Solar Panels
  •     10% – Inverter
  •     10% – Installation
  •     10% – Balancing of System
  •     45% – Operational Costs (Design, Permitting, Connecting etc)

(Yes, you read that correctly — installation costs: 10 percent. That’s big solar savings.)

Is it Right for Your Home?

As you probably already know, there are some boxes you have to tick off before committing to going solar. Does your house have lots of exposed sunlight? Are you a business or residential home that uses lots of energy in the first place? If you’re about to do this without any outside help, you better make sure that you don’t miss any of the fine print. A good thing to note here is that homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% - and this year, the NREL suggests you get as many quotes as possible to avoid overpriced offers by large installers.

In some niche cases, DIY solar can work out to be less work than anticipated. For small off-the-grid projects such as a small getaway home, an RV, a boat, or even an outdoor light system for your backyard - going DIY might be worth investing in solar.

The Equipment

Earlier we read that the solar panels themselves take up 25% of the accountable costs of your solar payment. A word of advice here: don’t go the cheap route. When you decide to go solar with a company, you’re not only paying for the service, but also for the high-end panels themselves. Solar companies usually purchase panels from dealers who don’t sell to the general public, and are getting lower prices by buying in bulk. Make sure you do the research for not only the pricing per watt, but also the value of the equipment itself.

The Takeaway

When it comes to most home improvement, going DIY on most jobs doesn’t take that much consideration. But when it comes to going solar alone, the biggest piece of advice we can give you is to do your research, and assume nothing. Get energy efficiency in your home without wasting time in the process.

If you think you have what it takes, enough time to do the research, and the right property - all the power to you. Literally.