Can You Buy Solar Panels And Install Them Yourself?

If you’re interested in solar energy, you’re probably aware that it’s beneficial to the environment, national security, and the air we breathe, not to mention your utility cost. And that it’s one of the most effective strategies to lower your household’s carbon footprint. You’ve undoubtedly also heard that adopting solar is less expensive than paying for utility power, and you might be wondering if this is true. In most circumstances, this is correct. It only takes a short period of time for the additional savings to exceed the initial investment (after that, the solar power is free). You can reach this tipping point far faster if you install the solar system yourself in certain situations, in half the time.

That leads to the next big question: Can you truly put your own solar panels up? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yeah, yes You can install your own solar system if you can drive lag bolts and assemble prefabricated parts, and if you’re ready to spend a day or two on your roof (or not, if you’re mounting your panels on the ground). You don’t need to know how to connect the solar panels to your home’s power or the power grid. For the house hookup, you’ll hire an electrician, and the utility provider will take care of the rest, generally for free. The utility provider isn’t involved at all in an entirely off-grid setup.

Unfortunately, because all you need is a nice drill, this job isn’t even a good excuse to buy new power equipment.

So, why do most people hire professional installers if this is such a simple project? To begin with, many people have good reasons to hire out almost everything, from oil maintenance to grocery shopping. (This is unlikely to be you, but even if it is, our book can assist you in planning a solar installation and locating a reputable local contractor.) More than only the installation is handled by solar professionals. They design the system, apply for rebates and credits, place orders for all necessary parts, secure permissions, and pass all inspections. However, if you have a competent consultant and are prepared to obey the laws of the local building authority (where you’ll receive those permits), you can accomplish all of these things yourself.

Solar installations are becoming increasingly simple, and you may be surprised by the amount of do-it-yourself (DIY) assistance available. PVWatts and the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency are two good examples (DSIRE). PVWatts is an online calculator that may help you size a solar-electric system depending on your home’s location and orientation, as well as the angle of your roof. The same easy tool is used by solar professionals, but it is available to everyone for free. DSIRE maintains an up-to-date, complete list of renewable energy rebates, tax breaks, and other financial incentives available in every part of the country. It’s also completely free and simple to use.

Those two tools alone can assist homeowners answer the two most typical questions they have regarding solar power: How big of a system do I need? and What kind of system do I need? What will it cost, and how much will it cost? Solar equipment providers that specialize to DIYers and provide purchasing and technical help, as well as online groups like Build It Solar, are further alternatives. There’s also no law prohibiting homeowners from hiring a solar specialist to assist them with specific areas of their project, such as developing design requirements, selecting equipment, or filing permit applications.

We should also state up front that taking corners while installing solar panels is not a good idea. We don’t want you to install your system without first getting a permit and then hiring an electrician to finish the job. (Even experienced solar installers enlist the help of electricians.) Yes, the permission procedure is inconvenient, but it is in place to ensure that your system is safe, not just for you, but also for emergency responders who may need to operate around your little power plant. Working with the local building department also teaches you about important design considerations unique to your area, such as wind and snow loads.

Is it less expensive to put up solar panels yourself?

Cost savings are a plus. Homeowners can save thousands of dollars in upfront installation fees by installing solar panels themselves. Solar panel installation by a professional solar business costs roughly $2.95 per watt on average. That calculates up to $14,750 for a standard 5 kW (5,000 watt) solar panel installation.

Is it possible for you to install solar panels on your own?

You take control of your solar project when you pick DIY solar. While a DIY solar system requires more effort, you may serve as your own project manager and save thousands of dollars when installing solar panels. You can construct it yourself, employ local laborers to assist you, or do a combination of the two.

Is it possible to just add solar panels to my system?

Yes, you may add more panels to your solar system whether you bought it or leased it, as long as there is space on your rooftop. Most solar businesses and individual solar leases have a minimum quantity of solar panels that they will install. Because the cost of the permitting procedure and labor makes sense for both the solar company and the homeowner, most solar businesses will have a minimum requirement. As a result, most solar businesses recommend that you add 8 (eight) solar panels to your solar energy system as a minimum. It wouldn’t be cost effective to have a solar contractor return to install just one solar panel. You may also add a solar house battery to your present solar energy system to make it even more efficient. A permit is also required for installing a solar battery array, however this will allow you to store extra solar energy, reducing the size of your solar energy system. When considering solar batteries, keep in mind that you may need to replace your solar inverter to guarantee that your solar energy system satisfies the standards for handling the increased energy.

To power a home, how many solar panels would be required?

Solar panels are currently one of the more widely available kinds of renewable energy. People are drawn to solar energy for a variety of reasons, including considerable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and an average increase in home value of $15,000. Solar panels mounted to the rooftops of both homes and businesses are becoming more widespread, with enough panels installed in Texas to power over 350,000 households.

This growth is also attributed to the decreasing cost of solar energy generation. Between 2014 and 2019, solar prices in Texas dropped by 34%. Solar panel installation costs in the United States plummeted by 70% from 2009 to 2019, which is much more significant over a longer time frame. As a result, demand for home solar panels, as well as solar electricity in general, has skyrocketed.

How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Power My Home?

The average American household consumes 10,400 kWh of electricity each year. You’d need roughly 28-34 solar panels to generate enough energy to power your complete home if you installed the average 250-watt solar panel.

Solar panel installation, unlike the typical utility grid, which is automatically connected to your home during building, is a highly personalized operation, which drives up the cost. To see if solar panels are a suitable fit for you, we recommend following these three steps:

  • Calculate your electricity usage in kWh. This information can be found on your electric bill, or you can estimate it here.
  • Subtract that amount from the estimated solar panel production. Depending on your area and property, the actual estimate will vary (e.g. tree coverage and regional sunshine). Using 1.31 (Arizona) and 1.61 (Maine), the highest and lowest production ratios in the US, as references, you can get a fair range.
  • Divide that amount by 250, the typical solar panel’s wattage, to get an estimate of how many solar panels you’ll need to meet 100 percent of your home’s electricity demands.
  • Annual electricity usage of 11,000 kWh / 1.31 (since we live in Texas) = 8,396.9

While this estimate should not be used in place of a professional review, it can give you a good indication of whether solar panels are feasible for your home.

How Much Will It Cost to Install Solar Panels at My Home?

Despite the fact that installation costs are decreasing, a typical installation will cost you upwards of $10,000 – even after a 30% federal tax credit. For many people, the expense of installing solar panels to totally power their homes is prohibitive. That’s before you consider the fact that Texas Retail Electricity Providers produce electricity at a lower cost than their residential counterparts.

Solar panels will undoubtedly continue to decrease in price and increase in productive capacity in the future. However, the vast majority of homes who have solar panels do not use them as their sole source of energy. Instead, through a procedure known as net metering, they are connected to the electric grid (NEM). Net metering is a good alternative for folks who want to save money on their electric bill while also being more environmentally conscious.

  • The amount of electricity consumed by the family and the amount of electricity generated by the solar panels are both monitored by a household utility meter.
  • That family is only liable for paying its net consumption the electricity used after the solar panels have generated it on a monthly or annual basis.
  • As a result, the most energy-conscious households may be eligible for compensation from their utility company.

This configuration, however, is quite uncommon. Though a self-sufficient, off-grid solar panel system remains a difficult task, there are other options to power your home with green energy.

What is the most cost-effective technique to obtain solar energy?

The Solarland SLP020-24U Silver Poly 24 Volt Solar Panel is their most popular low-cost model, and it’s generally used to power traffic lights and other minor off-grid applications.

Certain characteristics, such as its efficiency rating, are either absent or difficult to locate, making this inexpensive panel a potentially unsafe purchase.

LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-310M

As for residential solar panels that can power an entire house, the LONGi brand is well-rated on SolarReviews and offers a few cheap model types, including LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-310M and LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-300M.

LONGi is an excellent panel with good efficiency and consistent power; it’s a high-quality, low-cost alternative.

LONGi Model #LR6-60-HPB-300M

If you want to spend a little less per square foot and have roof space to spare for extra panels, LONGi also has a lower wattage option.

Despite the fact that LONGi panels are not as efficient as their higher-end equivalents, they may power your entire home for a guaranteed 25 years.

Canadian Solar Model #CS3K-315MS

Another reputable and cost-effective solar panel producer is Canadian Solar. Model #CS3K-315MS is the cheapest choice.

Although Canadian solar panels are slightly more expensive than LONGi, they are more efficient, allowing you to utilize less panels to power your home.

Panasonic Model #VBH330RA03K

Panasonic solar panels are widely recognized as among the best in the industry, but the VBH330RA03K model offers a fantastic value.

Panasonic is the most expensive option on this list, but its brand recognition, higher efficiency, and wattage may make it worthwhile to pay the extra money for the peace of mind that comes with a well-known and well-liked brand.

Is it difficult to install solar panels?

Solar energy harvesting isn’t a new concept. In fact, the technology to accomplish this has been around for a few decades. Solar panels for household usage are a relatively new concept, as they were formerly so expensive that they were out of reach for most people. Solar panel installations are now cheaper, easier, and more accessible than ever before, thanks to technological advancements that have improved production and reduced costs. If you’re having trouble deciding where to begin, there are a variety of resources available to help you learn the ropes. If everything else fails, you can hire a professional to install the system for you.

When it comes to solar panel installations, the first thing you need to figure out is which plan you want. Solar panels can be purchased outright or financed over a period of several years. Federal rules, discounts, and rebates are offered, however they differ depending on the place. It’s crucial to think about these things before you start because they can save you a lot of money. Local, state, and federal governments are all supporting and rewarding the installation of solar panels, so keep an eye out for their special offers and discounts.

After that, you must obtain the necessary permits, solar renewable energy certificates, or SRECs, as well as any government incentives that you may have filed for. If you engage specialists to install the panels, they will be able to assist you with the paperwork, saving you time and effort.

Whether you’ll be installing the panels yourself or with the help of a professional, it’s still a good idea to have an engineer visit the site first. They may assess the state of your roof and ensure that it is structurally solid before installing solar panels. They’ll also inspect your electrical panel to make sure it has adequate amperage capacity to support your solar panels. Because their goal is to safeguard your safety during and after installation, you must be entirely upfront with them about your electrical usage.

Some people believe that the actual installation is tough, but it is actually rather simple if all of the preparation work is done ahead of time. If you’ve engaged a contractor, they’ll be able to complete the job swiftly and efficiently. If you choose the DIY route, installation shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you follow the installation instructions carefully, measure everything properly ahead of time, and ensure that both the roof and the electrical panels can hold the new solar panels. The type, manufacturer, and amount of solar panels you want to install will determine the instructions and installation time, but it can usually be completed in one to three days.

After your panels are installed, you should have a city inspector and an electric company inspector inspect everything to ensure that everything is linked properly. You can flick the switch and start creating your own power once they give you the okay.

When it comes to solar panels, how long do they last?

Photovoltaic (PV) panels, commonly known as solar panels, are designed to last for more than 25 years. Many solar panels that were placed as early as the 1980s are still operating at full power. 1 Solar panels are not only incredibly dependable, but their lifespan has risen substantially in the previous 20 years. 2 Many solar manufacturers back their equipment with performance guarantees in their warranties, in addition to decades of successful performance. 1

Keep in mind that just because your solar panels are predicted to last a couple of decades doesn’t imply they’ll stop producing electricity. It simply implies that their energy production will be reduced by the amount that solar panel manufacturers believe is necessary to meet the energy needs of the ordinary American family.

Calculate Your kWh Usage

  • Take a look at your electric bill to see how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) you used. To look at peaks and valleys in usage across a year, you’ll need a complete year’s worth of data. The use of your A/C and heating systems increases your energy consumption in the summer and winter.
  • Calculate your average monthly kWh consumption. To calculate your average monthly use, add up your kWh usage over the last 12 months and divide by 12. In the summer, when the sun is at its strongest, your grid-tied system will likely to overproduce.

Use our home appliances power consumption table to find out how many kWh your appliances would use per month to better evaluate your home’s energy usage.

The energy your system creates can be banked with your utility as a credit that can be used later if your utility has a favorable net metering policy. Check with your local utility company to see if they will give you credit.

Look Up Your Peak Sun Hours

The average peak solar hours vary a lot depending on where you live and how hot it is. To get the most of solar electricity, you’ll need to figure out how many peak hours of sunlight you’ll get:

  • Look up your peak sun hours on a sun hours chart to see how many hours per day the sun produces the most sunshine.
  • Write down the daily average of peak solar hours in the city closest to you.

Calculate the Size of Your Solar System

To determine the size of your solar system, multiply your daily kWh energy need by your peak sun hours to get the kW output. Then divide the kW output by the efficiency of your solar panels to get an estimate of how many solar panels you’ll need for your system.

Add more solar panels using your original inverter.

Attaching more panels to your existing inverter is a cost-effective approach to increase electricity if it is large enough. You can legally boost the power of your existing inverter by up to 133 percent.

The current system warranty will be void unless the upgrade is performed by the original installer. You’ll also need to replace your present array with the same, or at least similar, panels.

Replace the inverter to enable additional panels.

It’s conceivable that your inverter is ancient or insufficient for your electricity requirements. You might want to consider replacing or upgrading your inverter.

Finding panels that match the current ones can be difficult. It’s recommended to utilize an inverter with two or more inputs if you wish to add new panels without disrupting the old ones.

Install a separate solar system next to your current one.

A new solar system can be added, albeit two systems working side by side can make adding batteries and backup more difficult. The advantages of this third strategy are as follows: