When it comes to DIY home solar installations, some rules are meant to be broken, while others are better to follow.
|Paying a centralized utility company for energy you can make for free: Break it!|
|Best-practice safety protocols during self-install: Follow it!|
|Devaluing your home property value by not putting solar panels on your roof: Break it!|
|Local zoning and city ordinances: Follow it!|
|The laws of physics: Follow it!|
Okay, the last might seem like a no-brainer.
“The laws of physics,” after all, are those immutable truths about reality which, unlike the tooth fairy or a wizarding world living in tandem with our own, exist whether or not you believe in them.
The laws of physics are why, in more 14 years of business, the DIY department of Go Green Solar has never had a customer encounter an issue when heeding the recommendations of our dedicated engineering team.
Recently, however, one of our lead plan-set designers, Carl, shared a cautionary tale regarding a DIY dilettante and a home solar installation project that both metaphorically (and literally) went off the rails:
“Everything started off fine,” recalls Carl. “We designed the system plans as per the racking manufacturer’s specifications, but then, when the customer started digging to install the ground mounts, he hit rock and couldn’t go any further. Unexpected challenges like this can sometimes happen, so we took the data over to one of our certified engineers to advise us how to proceed.”
Factoring in historical weather conditions, the updated plan included the addition of diagonal braces for structural support and excavating grade beams along the entire span of the installation to connect all the footings. Carl submitted the revisions back to the home installer.
“He didn’t like it,” Carl said. “He felt it was overkill and said that 99% of the time, the wind blew from the East and would be hitting the face of the panels. For the additional cost of construction, he didn’t think it would be worth it.”
Carl and the Go Green Solar team didn’t hear back from the homeowner for a while. Then, several months later, we got an email with an image of a crumpled ground mount solar system. Turns out, that gamble the person took on the wind never howling in the wrong direction didn’t pay off.
In an attempt to save around $800 in reinforcement upgrades, the person sacrificed a system that cost nearly $20,000 as it hadn’t yet begun to pay itself off.
“As long a person is handy and can go up and down a roof ladder with 50 lbs, they should be proficient enough to install a home solar system,” mused Carl. “But the problems tend to arise when someone fights the advice our engineers give them, trying to save on the amount of concrete or wire sizing.”
After all, the savings produced by a home solar system, together with reduced electrical bills, Federal Tax Income Credits, and various state incentives, can more than recoup the cost of a project within 5 years.
The moral of the tale: a penny saved is not always a dollar earned, always err on the side of caution and, of course, follow the laws of physics. Because even if you don’t agree with them, there’s a high probability they’re going to prove you wrong in the end, and that’s something on which you can count.
Oh, and trust your experts at GoGreenSolar. We know what we’re doing.