Experts Share Tips on How to Prepare for a DIY Solar Project
Are you exploring your options for solar panel installation and contemplating the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach?
DIY installation can be a fun, educational and rewarding experience. But proper preparation is essential for a successful outcome.
We recently chatted with a few industry professionals to get their take on what consumers need to know before committing to a DIY solar panel installation.
“I'm a big proponent of being educated about what you’re getting, especially when it comes to an investment like solar,” says Spencer Rosen, a regional sales manager for Enphase Energy.
“One of the biggest mistakes that many homeowners make before going solar is that they don't take time to do any research or know what kind of equipment they're getting. They don't know what kind of warranty is included, or how that system might operate with their rate structures.”
Key Takeaway: Do your research! But don’t just evaluate the company you’re working with. Take time to understand what technology and equipment are best for your home and energy needs, so you can ask the right questions and make smarter decisions in the buying process.
Take Ownership of Your Skills and Confidence Level
With great power (no pun intended) comes great responsibility.
Alex Lepore, sales director at Fortress Power, notes that “one of the biggest pros of DIY solar is that you can design your system to your specific needs. But at the end of the day, you’re fully responsible for the installation, and there is a high level of risk involved.”
Jeff Spies, a NABCEP board member and permitting plan sets expert, always asks potential DIY-ers about their comfort level with technical installation tasks.
“Have you ever stood on your roof? Or, have you ever pulled a breaker out of your service panel? Do you feel qualified to take on this work?”
And Carlos Lopez, territory manager for IronRidge, adds that “it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of your roof's structural integrity.”
Key Takeaway: While you may feel comfortable using power tools or following detailed installation instructions, it's important to recognize that installing solar panels is a different project altogether. It requires a more thoughtful, detailed approach compared to assembling furniture.
Choose a Company That Does It All
“Most DIY solar is actually done very poorly,” says Jeff Spies.
“But there are reputable, longstanding companies out there — like GoGreenSolar — who provide the full package of services including the system design, plan set, interconnection application and custom installation guide. If the company is able to provide everything you need and establish that trust, then any competent DIY-er is capable of doing a good job.”
Key Takeaway: Work with a reputable solar business to ensure you’re in good hands. Look for trust signals that indicate the business has been around for years and will continue to operate for the foreseeable future. Quality solar companies are likely to offer additional services to assist you with your plan set, interconnection application, installation and more.
Have Support on Hand
“Yes, DIY solar is a highly technical project,” Spies acknowledges. “But surprisingly, most solar projects aren’t difficult. The key to success is having proper guidance because even one small error can pose a big risk.”
“I have an engineering degree, and even though I'm technically oriented and DIY-savvy, I know I still need support to get through the installation process efficiently.”
Key Takeaway: When in doubt, get help! Know that you don’t have to do it alone. In addition to choosing a reputable company that can guide you through the installation process, consider asking a friend or hiring a contractor to help you with the steps that you feel less confident about tackling.
As highlighted by the experts, DIY solar panel installation can be an incredible, rewarding experience. But know that it requires thorough research, proper preparation and a realistic assessment of your technical skills and confidence level.
If you’re considering DIY solar, take the time to educate yourself and carefully select the right professionals to help you avoid any challenges or risks. The pros at GoGreenSolar are happy to help you get your DIY journey started — contact us today!