DIY Photo voltaic Panels Execs and Cons: Can You Set up Them Your self? | Digital Noch

Photo voltaic panels have develop into ubiquitous in recent times. Small photovoltaic cells are constructed behind telephone chargers and instances; moveable panels are offered for automobiles, trailers and even backpacks. With a lot plug-and-play photo voltaic power round, it is honest to marvel how straightforward it’s to take a do-it-yourself method to placing a bigger photo voltaic power system on your private home.

I put in a single photo voltaic panel on a classic journey trailer years in the past and hooked it as much as a marine battery and a tiny inverter. Then I did it on one other trailer. This gave me sufficient confidence to put in a 1.2-kilowatt system for my household’s small off-grid residence. However I nonetheless wanted some assist, a couple of affected person professionals to bounce myriad questions off of, and many time spent on YouTube in search of solutions to much more questions I used to be too embarrassed to ask. 

Nonetheless, I managed to do it myself, so maybe you can, too. The extra vital query is: must you? I am betting usually, the reply isn’t any. The method I went by required no less than some minimal technical expertise (I actually wanted extra) and a complete lot of time and persistence. I seemingly would have given up if it weren’t crucial that I get the job completed, and if it weren’t throughout a pandemic that made electricians and different paid assist in very quick provide. 

Can photo voltaic panels prevent cash?

Concerned with understanding the affect photo voltaic can have on your private home? Enter some fundamental data under, and we’ll immediately present a free estimate of your power financial savings.

And but right here I sit, penning this on a laptop computer and Wi-Fi connection powered by panels I put in and wired myself. In case you suppose you is perhaps as much as the duty as nicely, listed below are some vital issues to contemplate. 

DIY photo voltaic panel prices

A June 2023 report by consulting agency Wooden Mackenzie reveals almost half of the price of an put in “turnkey” photo voltaic system goes to the installer’s overhead, buyer acquisition prices and labor. Labor is definitely the least of these three classes. 

Can photo voltaic panels prevent cash?

Concerned with understanding the affect photo voltaic can have on your private home? Enter some fundamental data under, and we’ll immediately present a free estimate of your power financial savings.

Because of this putting in photo voltaic panels your self might prevent nearly 50 p.c off the price of utilizing a giant photo voltaic firm. That’s, if yow will discover good costs on panels and different elements near the wholesale reductions most installers have entry to. Used panels and different gear is one choice right here. Panels specifically are comparatively easy and dependable elements that may work for many years. I would be rather less smitten by used inverters or cost controllers with out writing them off utterly. Generally, it is in all probability good to steer clear of used batteries except you may confirm that they’re gently used. 

I believe there’s some danger with skilled photo voltaic installers that you’ll wind up shopping for an excessive amount of system. Going photo voltaic is a giant one-time job and funding meant to final for many years, so it is fairly straightforward to be upsold, particularly with tax incentives and credit footing a big quantity of the invoice. 

Contemplating Photo voltaic Panels?

Our e mail course will stroll you thru methods to go photo voltaic

All that additional value to go along with knowledgeable installer is not simply wasted, although. It buys important peace of thoughts. You realize your set up is (normally) going to be completed by a licensed installer that is completed many related procedures already. Sometimes it is backed up by years-long warranties from each the installer and gear producers — putting in gear your self may very well void some producers’ warranties. It is also potential that having the set up completed by a licensed skilled is required to be coated by some insurance coverage insurance policies.

Solar panels mounted on a wooden ground mount.

Photo voltaic power is the primary supply of power off the grid.

Courtesy Eric Mack

The way to discover the very best photo voltaic panels

There’s any variety of sources for photo voltaic panels at this time, from native installers and retail retailers to on-line distributors and, in fact, Amazon. However even higher choices could also be present in much less conventional locations like native nonprofits or utilities that provide particular applications and offers on photo voltaic gear every now and then. There are a variety of initiatives particularly for deprived communities, for instance.

Photo voltaic panels are a bit like books — they final a very long time, and you may get almost as a lot worth out of them years after they’re new. It is not too arduous to search out used photo voltaic panels on-line and even from calling round to photo voltaic retail and wholesale outfits. I discovered some that had been not too long ago decommissioned from a utility array after a handful of years of use, which means they need to nonetheless have many years left in them. I paid about 30 cents per watt for the panels, which is about 60 p.c lower than I’d have shelled out for comparable new panels. 

Store round, and in case you are going with used panels, ask the vendor to check them in entrance of you and search for a producing date that must be stamped someplace on the module.

Getting the wanted paperwork

This half might be simply as difficult or extra so than the wiring and set up itself, relying on the place you reside. Sadly, constructing code, rules and different guidelines range tremendously from state to state, metropolis to metropolis and even by neighborhood if a owners affiliation is concerned. 

In case you’re connecting your system to the grid, you are additionally going to want to get permission to function out of your native utility. This is likely one of the extra sophisticated and excessive stakes components of a photo voltaic set up. It is not one thing I’d attempt to arrange myself, even after doing an off-grid system alone. It is purpose sufficient to contemplate going with knowledgeable photo voltaic installer. 

People building a wooden mounting rack for solar panels.

The creator putting in ground-mounted, off-grid photo voltaic panels.

Courtesy Eric Mack

If, after contemplating all this, you are decided to do it alone, it is best to seek the advice of with somebody who has gone by the method in your locality to know what to anticipate, after which start reaching out to the related places of work in your native authorities, who must be required that will help you navigate the method.

Publish-installation upkeep

Luckily, a photo voltaic system is mostly a low upkeep factor. For the panels themselves, clearing snow or mud is the one factor you are prone to ever take care of. These are simply managed, however you can at all times name in some assist, particularly in case your panels aren’t that accessible. 

If one thing goes mistaken with different elements, it is in all probability a matter of changing an inverter, cost controller or battery, which is so simple as shutting issues down after which repeating these steps from the unique set up course of. 

Ought to something extra sophisticated come up, hiring a licensed electrician to come back take a look is an effective solution to go.

Ought to I set up my photo voltaic panels myself?

In case you’re a house owner, it is not arduous to see the enchantment of photo voltaic panels. Whether or not you’re aware of your carbon emissions or your funds (or each!), putting in DIY photo voltaic panels can shrink your affect on the planet and decrease your month-to-month power invoice. To find out whether or not you need to tackle the venture your self, ask these questions.

First, decide what kind of a system you need. Will or not it’s linked to the grid? Will it have batteries or EV chargers? Ask for those who’re snug dealing with putting in all these elements by yourself.

In case you’re nonetheless feeling like tackling it your self, look at all relevant native constructing codes, rules and different necessities. Give you a guidelines of the whole lot that must be completed to get your system authorized, permitted, inspected and at last up and operating. Are you able to deal with it solo?

At this level most individuals will in all probability begin trying up native skilled installers. In case you’re the uncommon, arduous core DIY soul that also feels as much as the duty, then good luck. Keep in mind, security first, and should you discover the method rewarding.

Execs and cons of DIY photo voltaic panels

Here is a fast breakdown of the primary advantages and downsides of putting in photo voltaic panels your self.


  • You do not pay for installer overhead or labor prices
  • You’ve got full management over the design
  • You get very conversant in your system, making repairs simpler


  • An installer will not assist with the technical set up or buying permits and utility permissions
  • DIY set up might void warranties and preclude insurance coverage
  • Poor set up is usually a fireplace or electrocution danger

DIY photo voltaic panels FAQs

Is it potential to put in your personal photo voltaic panels?

Sure, it is potential and plenty of folks do set up photo voltaic techniques themselves, nevertheless it requires a big quantity of technical understanding {of electrical} techniques. Set up by a licensed skilled could also be required by sure warranties, insurance coverage insurance policies or native guidelines and rules. 

Is it cheaper to construct your personal photo voltaic panels?

Typically, no. Mass-produced typical photo voltaic panels have develop into fairly low cost, particularly when the price of provides and time and labor are factored into what’s required to create your personal modules. 

Is putting in photo voltaic panels your self harmful?

It may be. As with all main electrical venture, there’s an opportunity {of electrical} shock or fireplace if it is put in poorly.

AJ Dellinger contributed to this story.

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