Home solar installation – DIY or professional fitter?

Installing solar panels in your home is a sound decision for many reasons. They’ll provide you with greener energy to lower your carbon footprint. They’ll reduce your energy bills. And they’re likely to increase the resale value of your home.

However, you’ll have to be prepared for high initial investment, even taking into account federal solar tax credits and state incentives.  Given this, it’s natural to consider whether it’s worthwhile carrying out an installation yourself, to trim costs. Or, should you hire a professional fitter to carry out the work? Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.

Solar panels installation

DIY installation

Installing a solar system on your roof is not a project for a novice DIYer. However, if you do have some DIY skills(especially with electrical projects), plenty of time on your hands, and enjoy challenging projects, then DIY installation could be something to consider.  

Just be aware that you’ll need to really do your research into the complexities of solar systems to ensure you design the right size of system for your needs.   Selecting the right panels, inverter and batteries can make a huge impact on the cost of the system as well as its efficiency.

Pros

You’ll be in charge of the project – you can design the system exactly as you want it to be.

By saving on labor costs you can expect to reduce the total cost of the installation by around 10% – though that isn’t a huge amount 

Cons

The work will depend on the design of your roof. You’ll be working at height, moving heavy equipment on what may be a steep slope. Unless you’re confident that safety isn’t compromised – it’s not worth taking the risk.

While grid-tied solar kits make the selection of parts simpler as they include everything you need, you’ll still have to obtain all the permits required to connect them to the power grid. Navigating this is going to need time and effort as incorrect paperwork can be rejected, causing delays and frustration. The alternative is to get a system which links into a 12 volt battery and avoid the complications of a grid-connected system.

Before you purchase any equipment for DIY installation you need to check some things. Check to see if the manufacturer’s warranties are not voided if the work is carried out by a non-licensed professional.  Likewise, check with your home insurer. What is their policy in case of accidental damage if you have carried out the installation yourself?

Professional Installation

Pros

Purchase the equipment at the best price, then contract a local specialist, or choose a solution in which installation is included as part of the package.  

Ensure that whichever you select, they’ll carry out the surveysand handle all paperwork, as well as designing an optimal setup which will meet local building, electrical and fire codes. 

They’ll also advise on any structural adjustments needed for your roof, and carry out the installation. Before sign-off the whole system will be subjected to a thorough, expert inspection

You’ll ensure that warranties are not invalidated, and avoid potential issues with insurance policies, for example in case of damage due to weather extremes.

Cons

The main ‘con’ will be the additional cost involved.

Bringing in professionals to manage your solar installation is definitely the safest option. However, if you have experience then it’s a DIY.