If you’ve considered adding a solar energy system to your home, you’re in good company. Fueled by unprecedented tax credits, rebates, discounts and energy credits, this smart improvement makes perfect sense and has never been more popular. But while adding a solar system to tap the free and unlimited energy of the sun, the system of panels, wiring and other parts, along with installation by specialized contractors, can be very costly.
Now, however, a new trend has emerged that enables handy consumers to purchase and install system themselves, reducing costs by 40% to 80% over the investment required to hire a solar contractor. “If you have the DIY skills to take on projects like building a deck or installing a water heater, you can install a solar system yourself.” Says Zach Stevens, a consultant with Wholesale Solar.com. “Installing your own system is actually easier than projects like that.”
How-to get started
Home improvement TV shows are famous so showing amazing transformations in as little as a 30-minute program. But in actual fact, those projects take much longer to design and build. Planning, purchasing and installing a solar system for your home is no different. It IS a big project – especially if you don’t have much construction experience. But the tools, tips and resources to take on the job have never been more accessible. Wholesale Solar, for example, offers a complete solar resource center including a library of videos, tools and tutorials to guide you through the whole process.
Plus, while we call this DIY, it’s entirely possible for you to do just part of the project, like installing the solar panels, and then turn to an electrician for the final connections. Either way, you’ll save a lot of money over contracting out the entire project.
To get started, there are really 3 steps:
- Evaluate your energy use. In order to design a system that meets your homes electrical needs, you’ll need to know how much energy you’re currently using. The quickest way to do this is by viewing your electric bills. They’ll show your current and annual usage in kWh, or kilowatt hours, along with the rate you are paying in kWh.
- Size your system. Once you know how much power you use now, turn to this handy grid-tied calculator for a solid estimation of the size system you’ll need, along with its cost, payback period and estimated savings – over the life of the warranty. And that last point is very important. I’ve seen some solar companies estimate amazing payback numbers, until you find out that they did so by assuming the panels would last twice as long as they should. This calculator provides a fair and realistic determination of real costs and savings, which is typically 40% to 80% less than you’d pay by hiring a solar contractor.
- Design your system. The third step is to review the available components and get a better idea of what system will best fit your needs. That’s when it pays to have the help of experienced design consultants. There are a number of factors that impact what you’ll need and an experienced designer can spot any unforeseen problems and iron out any kinks in your design. Your consultant can also walk you through the process of researching any required permits, so you’ll be ready to start DIY’ing the moment your system is delivered.
From there, you’ll need to pick your parts and put together an order, something your design consultant can also help you with. Once ordered, the entire system will arrive on a professionally packed pallet and be ready for you to put together.
Zach Stevens, a consultant with Wholesale Solar, explains more about how the company helps DIY’rs design, plan and purchase solar systems.
Installing a solar energy system for your home is a worthwhile project that provides long-term financial and intrinsic benefits to you, your home and the environment. Doing this project yourself is entirely possible, and makes the elimination of all or part of your electricity bill each month – all that much sweeter.