Solar panels are a trend in 2020 and many homeowners are looking to get this new green power. Some of the more adventurous owners are wondering if DIY solar is a better and more affordable option. There is a lot involved in solar panel installation so DIY may not be a fit for everyone.
The Pros and Cons of DIY Solar Panels
Going solar has major financial benefits. You can reduce your monthly electricity costs and increase the value of your home. You can also benefit from government incentives like the federal tax credit for solar. This can reduce your net cost by 26 percent or more. Despite the benefits, solar is still a big investment, and the price tag may shock you. It is no surprise that many homeowners are considering DIY in response to seeing that overall price. We have the DIY solar process broken down and the top pros and cons that you need to know. We want you to make the right decision as jumping in can be an expensive mistake. A few important things to remember regarding DIY solar include:
- Installing a DIY system is possible and usually comes at a lower cost than hiring a solar installer.
- Going with a DIY setup requires much more work on the homeowner’s end
- You should compare competitive, complete solar quotes from installers first
Less Expensive But Also Limited
It is true that you can save money by installing solar yourself, but your options are more limited too. According to data from the EnergySage Solar Marketplace, the average gross cost of going solar for homeowners is $17,460. This is before any incentives or rebates are applied. Design and installation labor costs contribute about ten percent of this total. DIY solar essentially saves you this ten percent. Your solar energy system should continue to generate electricity for 25 to 35 years, so it’s crucial that you consider both the upfront costs and the relative financial benefits for all of your solar options. Buying a home solar kit may be less expensive per watt, but you aren’t getting the same quality equipment that solar installers can offer you. Nor do you get their reliable and experienced installation.
Pros For DIY Solar
You get to build your own solar works for small off-grid projects. Most home solar kits are designed for this use, which means you can’t use them and remain connected to your utility. Going off-grid is probably not in the interest of the average homeowner. Being able to access utility-generated electricity is important in the event your solar energy system doesn’t produce enough electricity to meet your needs. There are some solar kits that can be a good solution if you’re not trying to power your entire home. RVs, boats, and the increasingly popular tiny houses are all opportunities to use DIY solar because they are already off-grid and mobile. DIY solar projects can also be useful if you have a large property and want to power an outlying area, like a barn or tool shed. It is also a good idea if you want to easily install outdoor lights. In those cases, your electricity demands will be relatively low, so purchasing a small home solar kit and installing it yourself is feasible. If you want to install a DIY solar project, make sure that you compare several options beforehand.
Cons For DIY Solar
Installing solar is complicated and using homemade solar energy requires training and experience. Deciding to DIY your solar panels means that you will get what you pay for. A home solar kit may be less expensive, but you need to remember that solar installers offer tremendous value for that ten percent you are trying to save. When it comes to installing an expensive electrical system on your property, finding someone who knows what they’re doing can actually save you both time and money in the long run. Some of the best solar installers have been in the business for decades and this is the experience that no amount of online research or DIY guides can replicate. Every state requires that installers are licensed and qualified to install solar, and independent certifications like the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners’ Solar PV Installation Professional Certification guarantee that the company has an intimate understanding of the process.
Your solar installer will also help you complete and file the permits and applications that you need to submit to get your solar energy system up and running. This is particularly important because your utility won’t let you connect your system to the grid without sign-off from a certified electrician. Your solar installer’s experience means that they will have a strong understanding of the financial incentives for solar available in your area. So, they can even help you save more money by finding an incentive that you may have missed. It is also important to note that many equipment manufacturers will only honor their warranties if a qualified installer installed their equipment. You may not get the same benefit with DIY solar installation.
Saving Money on Your Solar installation
A solar installation is a big decision for your home so you’ll want to find the solar option that has the greatest financial benefit for you. DIY solar energy isn’t the only way to save money when going solar. Below are three tips for solar shoppers to remember:
- Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more: As with any big-ticket purchase, shopping for a solar panel installation takes a lot of research and consideration, including a thorough review of the installation companies in your area. You should compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry. You can use an installer network to locate the best options and get free quotes from vetted local installers. Homeowners that collect 3 or more quotes can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their solar panel installation.
- The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price: Bigger is not always better, so we encourage homeowners to consider all of their solar options, not just the brands. If you have offers from some of the big installers in solar, make sure you compare those bids with quotes from local installers to ensure you don’t overpay.
- Comparing all your equipment options is just as important: National-scale installers don’t just offer higher prices. They also tend to have fewer solar equipment options and this can have a significant impact on your system’s electricity production. When you collect a diverse array of solar bids, you can compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.
There are multiple variables to consider when looking for the best solar panels. Some panels will have higher efficiency ratings but investing in top-of-the-line solar equipment doesn’t always result in higher savings. The best approach is to evaluate quotes first.