What are your state’s laws regarding home solar installations?
Every country and each state in a country may have different laws or regulations which you must follow. For instance, would you need a permit? Not doing so will get you into a bind later on.
DIY installation is allowed in the USA but not in Australia. In some countries or states, self installation can void the warranty of a solar power system or it may be deemed illegal.
Check what kind of paperwork is involved if you install a solar power system yourself. Do you have the time to handle all the administrative work and paperwork?
What are the state and Federal tax incentives for going solar?
These can help you save more money. Here are a few sources so you can do due diligence:
- United States – Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) offers an up-to-date, comprehensive listing of renewable energy rebates, tax breaks, and other financial incentives available in any area of the USA
- United Kingdom – Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) and reduced VAT for energy-saving products
- Canada – solar tax credits, incentives and rebates
- Australia – solar rebates from the federal and state governments
How much electricity do you need for your home?
You need to calculate the minimum and maximum range of electricity consumed by your home on a daily basis. From there, you would know the size of the solar power system needed.
Free online tools are available to help you with this. Use a solar calculator to tabulate the energy usage of your whole house. To gauge the size of the solar power system based on your location, position of your house and angle of your roof, use PV Watts.
How do you plan to use the solar power system?
Do you want to go entirely off-grid or stay grid-tied? If your daily electricity consumption is huge, it would end up being too costly to go completely off-grid (solar batteries are very costly). In this instance, it may make more sense to stay grid-tied and only use the solar panels during the day. Alternatively, cycle your batteries properly when your energy needs vary. Learn about the different types of solar.
How much will your solar power system cost?
After answering the 2 questions before this, compute the cost of a solar power system that you need. Don’t forget to include any additional costs involved, like hiring an electrician. Then, calculate the estimated payback period for solar and compare that prorated cost to your monthly electricity bill. DIY solar power systems can save you thousands but this doesn’t come with risks.
Is there a leasing structure for solar power systems in your country?
It is worth exploring whether there is such a thing in your country. Is it cheaper than DIY solar panels? If your plan is to save money, this might be a better option.
Are you willing to take the risks involved in DIY solar installation?
- Faulty circuits
- Falling from the roof
- Roof damage and leaks
- Solar power system doesn’t work properly
A solution to this is to purchase a DIY solar kit then engage an electrician to do all the wiring connections. Check whether your utility company allows you to connect your system to the grid without a sign-off from a certified electrician.
However, the utility company won’t be involved if it is an off-grid solar power system. For installations on the roof, hire an engineer or solar installation company. Bear in mind a DIY solar panel installation might void the warranty of your roof, so you’ll have to foot the bill for any repairs that may be needed.
Check your local utility company’s regulations regarding Feed-in Tariffs
Can you sell tax credits from your DIY solar power system back to the utility company? If this isn’t your plan, then you are good to go.
Do you have the time to invest in DIY solar installation?
The entire process can take between one to four months from planning to installation.