We all know the benefits of going solar. The solar salespeople knocking on your door and calling you incessantly have made it clear that a solar power system will quickly pay for itself by saving you money on your electric bill. But what about the benefits of doing the install yourself?
The most obvious benefit of DIY solar is the cost savings. As much as half the cost of a solar system install is labor charges.
It is not the contractor’s fault that these charges are so high. Solar contractors have some of the highest workers’ compensation insurance rates of all the construction trades, so not only do they have to pay their workers, they also must pay high insurance premiums. Let’s also not forget those solar salespeople at your door. If you buy from them, their commission is coming directly out of your pocket.
Another benefit is confidence that the job will be done right. In general, solar contractors know what they are doing, but larger solar installers often have issues with quality control. Solar crews are under the gun to complete an install in a certain amount of time and corner cutting happens.
Some smaller companies do solar on the side and their main business is roofing or electrical work. These guys may not be fully up to date on all the changes to solar equipment or the ever changing requirements of local building departments and utility companies.
The bottom line is who would you rather have putting a bunch of holes in your roof? Would you choose a guy who is in a big hurry because his boss says he has to finish the job by tomorrow? Would you pick an electrician whose training on installing roof flashings began and ended with the installation manual that came in the box? Or, would you rather do it yourself?
You know you will take the time to learn the right and wrong way to install that flashing. You will take your time on the roof to get it done right. You will also carefully choose the right flashing which brings up the next point.
Getting to choose the equipment yourself is another reason to DIY on your solar project. Most installation companies offer one or two choices on solar panels and inverters and will never even discuss the smaller details like racking or flashings.
Solar contractors typically choose these accessories based on the cheapest price which is a little scary when you think about those flashings being the only thing that is going to prevent all those holes in the roof from turning into leaks a few years from now.
Installing the solar yourself means you can choose any equipment you want. With a little bit of research, you can ensure that you will have the best solar panels, the best inverter or microinverter option for your application and the best flashings to protect your roof. It also helps to look into the longevity of the manufacturers of the equipment you intend to use.
Equipment that will stand the test of time will probably cost more and contractors that are trying to make sales in a very competitive market are not likely to spend the extra money on the good stuff. But, as a DIY solar installer, you can afford to pay a little extra to get the right equipment because you are saving so much on labor costs.
The final benefit to DIY solar is you are not alone. You can get help from companies (such as GoGreenSolar.com) that specialize in working with do-it-yourselfers like you. When it comes to sizing your system, choosing the right equipment or navigating the permit process with the building department, there are experts available who can assist you.
So, if you are handy at simple construction tasks and know basic electrical safety, DIY solar might for you. You can save a lot of money and make sure the job is done right with the best equipment available.