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Is DIY Solar Installation Worth It: Pros & Cons

DIY Solar/
DIY solar installation

Considering the DIY route for your solar system installation? You're not alone. DIY solar has become an increasingly popular option for those seeking cost savings and a more rewarding journey to renewable energy. But the big question remains: Is DIY solar truly worth it?

As with many decisions in life, the answer is not a simple "yes" or "no." While DIY solar can indeed lead to substantial financial benefits, saving you up to 45% to 60% on installation costs – which can translate to $8,000 to $12,500 savings for an average 7.5 kW system – it's essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Your individual circumstances, available resources, goals, and approach to the process all play pivotal roles in determining whether DIY solar is the right path for you.

So let’s delve into the pros and cons of DIY solar installation as well as the different factors you need to account for and help you make an informed decision about this exciting venture.

DIY Solar Pros

From cost savings and flexibility to an invaluable learning experience, DIY solar has a lot to offer.

More Savings

Labor Costs: The most significant advantage of DIY solar is eliminating labor costs. Hiring a professional installer usually comes at a high cost, especially nowadays. The recent shortage of qualified workforce has significantly bumped up the installation prices. Depending on the size of the project, labor can cost you more than half of the total price.

It’s because professional solar installers have overhead costs, including administrative expenses, workers' compensation insurance, marketing and profit margins. DIY solar eliminates these overhead costs, resulting in lower overall expenses.

By taking on the installation yourself, you can save thousands of dollars in labor fees – $10,000 or more depending on the size of your system. The general rule of thumb is the bigger the solar power system, the bigger the savings.

Even if you end up hiring a professional for certain parts of the project, like wiring, it’ll cost you substantially less.

Shorter Payback Period: The cost savings associated with DIY solar can lead to a faster return on investment (ROI). With lower initial expenses, the time it takes to recoup your investment through energy savings is reduced, resulting in a shorter payback period.

Tax Incentives: Just like professionally installed solar systems, DIY solar is eligible for the same tax rebates and incentives. These financial incentives, offered by the government and state or local authorities, can significantly offset the upfront costs and increase your savings.

Discover more: The True Cost to Install Solar Panels in 2023

Flexibility and Control

Equipment Selection: Taking charge of your solar panel installation enables you to select optimal and dependable components, ensuring a high-performance system. Here at GoGreenSolar, we’ve assembled a collection of top-tier solar panels, inverters, racking and batteries to cater to our customers’ needs. With our industry experience spanning 17+ years, we’ve eliminated unreliable products, granting our customers the freedom to choose from the best available options today.

Design Customization: DIY solar projects allow for more customization in the system's design. You can optimize the solar panel placement, angle, and orientation on your property to maximize energy production. This level of customization is often limited when working with solar contractors who may have pre-determined system configurations based on their standard installation practices.

Installation Timeline: When hiring a solar contractor, the installation schedule is subject to their availability and workload. This could mean waiting for weeks or even months before your installation begins. On the other hand, with a DIY solar project, you can set the installation schedule according to your convenience. If you're prepared and have the necessary equipment on hand, you can start the installation immediately and progress at a pace that suits you.

Discover more: The 7 Best DIY Home Solar Kits

Sense of Accomplishment

Learning Experience: DIY solar installation is an invaluable learning experience that goes beyond just technical knowledge. It offers an opportunity to deepen your understanding of renewable energy, solar technology, and the underlying principles of clean energy generation. This empowers you to make informed decisions about energy usage, conservation measures, and optimizing the efficiency of your solar system.

Rewarding Achievement: As you progress through each step of the project, from planning to the interconnection to the grid, the feeling of having built a functional solar energy system with your own hands becomes increasingly gratifying. This tangible result is not just about saving money; it represents a personal achievement that you can take pride in for years to come.

Read more: Benefits of Solar Energy

Cons of DIY Solar

While DIY solar has its merits, it's essential to be aware of the potential challenges and drawbacks.

Requires Skills

At the very least, you will need some basic construction skills in order to do all or part of your solar installation. Without proper understanding of electrical systems, reading plans or safety protocols, you may encounter difficulties during the solar installation process. But you can always hire a professional or ask a more skillful friend to help you with the parts that you are less comfortable with and still save a lot of money over using a solar contractor for the whole job.

Safety Risks

Installing rooftop solar panels carries some risk so knowing basic safety protocols, like keeping your worksite clear of trip hazards and the proper way to position, anchor and climb your ladder is important. Also, solar installation involves working with electricity which may be live at times.

Read more: 6 Solar Installation Safety Tips You Need to Know

Potential Roof Damage

High-quality roof attachments, accurate drilling and effective hole sealing are crucial for a successful solar panel installation. Failure to do so can cause a leaky roof and potential significant damage to your home.

All GoGreenSolar DIY kits include high-quality roof attachments with large flashings, which limit the possibility of roof leaks. Be wary of low-cost professional installers or solar kit suppliers who cut costs with cheap attachments that don’t have the same waterproofing capabilities.

Is DIY Solar Right for You?

The decision to go DIY with solar installation hinges on your individual circumstances and preferences. It's vital to be honest about your skills, resources, and willingness to take on the project. If you feel confident and well-prepared, DIY solar can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to embrace renewable energy and contribute to a more sustainable future. A DIY solar project is an excellent fit for:

  • General and electrical contractors
  • ADU and homebuilders looking to offer solar and batteries to their clients
  • Those with a background in contracting or building trades
  • Those who are handy with tools, can read and work from plans, diagrams and instructions
  • Those who like to do things on their own or have a desire to learn new skills

Keep in mind that if you're uncertain about tackling the entire installation yourself, you can do the hybrid approach. You can purchase a DIY solar kit and ask for professional help when you need it.

6 Things to Consider Before Undertaking a DIY Solar Project

Determining if DIY solar is right for you involves considering various factors related to your skills, resources, and goals. Here are some essential steps to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Consider Safety: If you’re planning a roof mount solar installation, will you be comfortable climbing and working on a roof? Consider the risks associated with working with electricity and heights.
  2. Find Assistance: Do you have someone who is physically able who can help you with the installation? If not, are you prepared to tackle the project on your own?
  3. Assess Technical Skills: Take an honest inventory of your skills. Is this DIY solar installation going to be a fun project that you’re capable of managing? Assess your comfort level with handling tools, reading technical manuals, and understanding electrical systems.
  4. Understand the DIY Process: Can you handle it all on your own? Many homeowners perform the entire installation themselves and feel great about it, especially when receiving support from a company like GoGreenSolar that designs the system, supplies the equipment, and provides advice and technical support to get you through the process.
  5. Evaluate Time and Commitment: How important are the cost savings vs. the time and energy you will need to invest in a DIY solar project? Consider your schedule and commitments to ensure you have the time and dedication needed to complete the project.
  6. Understand Local Regulations: Will your local authorities allow for DIY solar installation? Most do, but very few don’t. Contact your local permitting authority to find out.

3 Ways to Approach a DIY Solar Project and Make it Worthwhile

There are different ways to approach a DIY solar project. Will you:

  1. Do It All Alone: While some DIYers have the knowledge and ability to handle every aspect of the solar project independently – draw their own plans, source equipment and install it on their own – our years-long experience shows that this is not the recommended route for most people. Designing and installing a system without expert guidance can result in lost time, project delays, or being stuck with equipment that won’t turn on.
  2. DIY with Support: If you don't have the time or inclination to extensively learn about solar design and installation, but still want to take on a DIY project, we strongly advise working with a leading DIY solar brand like GoGreenSolar. Our solar panel kits are designed with DIYers in mind, and our team is available to assess your needs and create a custom system that fits your requirements. You get support from start to finish.
  3. Hybrid DIY: If you prefer a mix of DIY and professional assistance, we've got you covered. GoGreenSolar can design and provide your system, and we can also connect you with a trusted installer to assist you.

During your DIY journey, securing permits and interconnection approval from the utility are essential steps. At GoGreenSolar, we provide the plan sets necessary for the permitting process, and our team can offer professional interconnection services to assist you with these critical steps.

We believe in personalized support, which is why our installation guides are tailored specifically to your home and equipment. We even provide you with a list of the hardware you'll need to complete the installation.

As you choose a company for your DIY solar project, ensure you understand the level of support they offer. At GoGreenSolar, we are committed to providing comprehensive support, from assessment and design to permitting and setting up. While a well-designed and well-supported DIY installation can take some time, you can expect to complete the installation itself within a weekend or two, depending on your system's complexity.

Remember, a successful DIY solar project begins with the right support and guidance. At GoGreenSolar, we're dedicated to empowering you to embrace solar energy while ensuring a smooth and rewarding DIY experience.

Discover more: Why Choose GoGreenSolar for Your DIY Project

Addressing Common Misconceptions About DIY Solar

Before we jump to any conclusions, here are some things to clear up.

In most cases, yes. Every building department is different so check with your city or county to be sure they will let you pull the permit as an owner-builder. They may require the plans to be reviewed by an engineer or that you use a licensed electrician for the interconnection to the grid.

Are DIY Solar Systems Covered by Warranty?

Yes. As long as you follow the installation instructions, all the solar equipment warranties will be the same.

Are DIY Solar Projects Eligible for Tax Credits and Incentives?

Yes. The 30% federal solar tax credit applies to all your solar equipment and any professional assistance that you pay for. Most local solar rebates and incentives will also apply but be sure to check first as every solar incentive program is different.

Is DIY Solar Hard?

Embarking on a DIY solar project requires effort and dedication, but the rewards that await you make it all worthwhile. While it might be more challenging than lounging on the couch, the satisfaction of completing the project and the financial benefits you'll enjoy are well worth the hard work.

So, Is DIY Solar Worth It?

If you’re confident about moving forward with a DIY solar installation, then yes — it’s definitely worth it! In addition to reducing or eliminating your electric bill, taking advantage of local, state and federal tax credits, and reducing your carbon footprint, saving thousands of dollars through your installation is a cherry on top.

At GoGreenSolar, we specialize in DIY solar, supporting thousands of customers since 2003. We can provide you with the full support you need to complete a DIY solar project successfully. Get in touch with our experts today and embark on this incredibly rewarding journey to renewable, clean and cost-efficient energy.

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