6 Reasons Why DIY Solar is Not Recommended

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 14:53
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    By Suttida Yang

    Solar PanelThe growth of solar power is continuing its trend upwards and so is the amount of promoted DIY solar panel kits out on web. DIY solar panel kits may seem like the ideal solution as you may initially think it’s going to help cut down on cost; however, this isn’t necessarily the case.  Professional solar installers go through a significant amount of training to be experts in their trade, with some even receiving advanced accreditations like a NABCEP Certification.

    Here are six reasons why you shouldn’t go the DIY solar route:

    1. First, and foremost, you’re likely not qualified to do so.  Would you install your own central air conditioner or furnace, or rewire the electric in your house?  Likely not, you’d leave it up to professionals to do it, which is probably what you should do with installing solar panels.
    2. The standard life span of solar panels professionally installed by a solar installer is 25 years; although there is discussion whether DIY solar panels last as long and if the efficiency will decrease over a short period of time.
    3. Maintenance will be much more demanding and with maintenance comes cost. This isn’t ideal because it could very well turn into a full-time job and you will most likely not get the type of investment you want.
    4. Another initial investment you must make is getting your DIY solar panels certified. This process takes months and can cost you thousands of dollars.
    5. You will have to ensure that the DIY solar panels are safe, getting them inspected by an electrical inspector, as well as complying with any regulations or standards your power company requires. As such, working with a consumer top-rated (and certified) solar installer will help make these processes run smoother.
    6. A small misjudgment of the condition of your rooftop can essentially cost you thousands of dollars in repairs if not inspected properly. Knowing how and where to position your solar panels are incredibly important.

     

    This is not to say that DIY solar is not ever the way to go. It’s just important that you are aware of the possible pitfalls of installing solar panels on your own home. If you do decide to find a professional to install solar panels on your roof, there are plenty of sites to help you choose the right solar installer.

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      • Chris Kenney

        There is no excuse for articles like this. All it keeps saying is, ” This is way too hard. A lot could go wrong. You’re not good enough.” Horrible first impression of this site

      • Barny Beasley

        Why would you have to certify solar panels that are not “grid connected” sounds like a power trust scam to me. Also, isn’t the device approved to connect you solar system to the grid supposed to protect the grid from problems with the customer equipment? There is more holes that a spnge in the above text!

      • Mitchell

        Talk about lame excuses…

        No 1 – professionals should do it. Installing a solar system is easier than installing an HVAC system or re-wiring a house.

        No 2 – a professional installation panels will last longer. A DIY kit in most cases uses the same panels as the professional installer uses. In most cases means that some suppliers will not sale their panels to the homeowner so they can keep the installation.

        No 3 – Maintenance? What maintenance?

        No 4 – Getting your panels certified? Are you talking about building your own solar panels? A solar installer doesn’t make his own panels. He buys them from a distributor like the home owner would.

        No 5 – Getting your panels inspected easier with professionals. Again, are you talking about building your own solar panels? Again, the professional installers as well as the home owner will buy them already made, certified, inspected, etc. All the installer does is get a building permit and at the completion get the building inspectors to come out. The same as the home owner.

        No 6 – A bad roof can cost you thousands. If you have a bad roof, it will cost you to fix it either way.

        The real reason that the solar installation companies want you to think that it is too hard to install solar is that they are making a fortune off of the homeowner (read gouging). The going price of an installed system in Southern California is around $6.50 to $7.00 per watt. You can buy a kit with virtually everything included for around $2.00 a watt. The difference between what they charge and their costs is what the installers make. For a “average” size installation of a 3 kw system they would charge around $18,000. So, the panels and hardware would cost about $6,000. And the installers would get around $12,000 out of which they would have to pay their employees and pocket the rest.

        Five years or so ago, if one wanted to install a solar electric system, one would have to do it themselves. The systems were designed to be easy to install. A professional crew of about 3 installers would take about 3 days to install the above average system. The installation company would pay his employees around $1,500 and would pocket the rest, $10,500.

        It would take the homeowner about 3 weekends to do the work; maybe less. I know by experience; I’m putting in a 9 kw system. Its taken me about 9 weekends but I should be finished this weekend. Since it is my house, I’m doing some extra work not directly related to the solar installation which is taking longer. But, my daughter and son-in-law installed the racking system for 12 panels in two days. It will take about another 4 hours to install the 12 panels. They were working on that while I was working on installing the inverters.

        I would have been happy to have paid an installer a reasonable amount for their labor and expertise but not what they are asking.

      • heatherGirl

        Sounds like this was written by someone who makes a lot of money installing solar panels. Probably using a crew of illegal immigrants he picks up at a Home Depot parking lot.

      • Robbie

        clearly this poster has something against DIY’s but can’t find any true justifications to support his headline…