Every professional solar installer started off with no solar experience. Does this mean every twelve-year-old strong enough to swing a hammer should embark on a do-it-yourself solar project? Not so much. So, let’s talk about what it takes to be qualified to install your own solar power system.
The first thing that matters is safety. Most solar installations happen on the roof, if that is the case for your system, you will need to comfortable with heights and ladders. Knowing all the safety considerations for working on roofs is also important so if you are not experienced with this, it would be a good idea to take a safety course like OSHA 10. It only takes 10 hours and you will learn what you need to know to be safe.
Basic construction knowledge is a must for a do-it-yourself solar installer. You will need to be able to find the roof rafters, drill holes in them and properly seal those holes. The flashings you purchase will have basic instructions on how to do this but knowing how your roof is put together will be helpful. You will also need to find wall studs to mount the ground level equipment and be able to mount it securely and level. The wall studs are easier to find than rafters. A simple inexpensive stud finder will work on the wall, but it will not help you on the roof because there are too many layers of roofing material in the way.
Experience with power tools will be handy. You will be drilling the holes for the roof attachments, tightening bolts on solar racking and sawing the solar rails to the appropriate lengths. Knowing the safety requirements for using these tools is definitely important. If you have any doubt, we are going to recommend that OSHA course again.
Being able to handle some heavy lifting should be in this list of qualifications. Not only are solar panels about 45 pounds each, they are awkwardly sized at about five and half feet long and 3 and a half feet wide. Some higher wattage solar panels are even bigger at six and half long so if you are concerned about heaving these around while on the roof, check the physical size of the solar panels before you purchase them.
Solar installations also require electrical work. If you are going to do your own wiring, you will need to be well versed in electrical safety. The DC power from the solar panels is live with any amount of light on the panels so you have to be careful with them. If you are installing a string inverter you will be dealing with high voltage DC but if you want to keep things down to safer voltages, you can design your system with microinverters or DC optimizers. These module level electronics will keep that live DC isolated so the lines going down to the ground level equipment won’t be live.
Many do-it-yourselfers install the solar panels and hire an electrician to do the wiring which is a good solution if everything in this article sounded good until we said the word “electrical”. There is no shame in getting assistance if you are out of your depth for part of the installation. You will still save a lot of money compared to having a contractor do the whole installation, and GoGreenSolar’s engineers will be there to help you every step of the way.
You already knew you were more qualified than a twelve-year-old but now you know for sure if you have what it takes to install your own solar.