Professional Solar Installation Vs DIY – Pros & Cons

Home solar panels are a great way to generate clean, renewable energy from the sun. If you have been considering going solar, you can choose between a professional solar installation and a do-it-yourself option. Both can be successful, but which one is right for you? Here are three major factors to consider:

1. Price

Watt for watt, a DIY solar project is almost certainly going to cost less money than a professional solar installation. Some kits include only the instructions to build and set up your home solar panels, where more expensive kits come with the panels, inverter, and instructions. If you go the DIY route, panels built by a reputable company with good warranties are a far better bet than ones you’ve assembled yourself.

On the other hand, the quote from a good solar installer will include site evaluation, system design, parts, labor, and interconnection. Some solar installers will also help you file for solar rebates. Many of the federal and local incentives are available only for professional solar installations.

2. Installation

Any project involving electricity requires you to know what you’re doing. If you think you have a good working knowledge of electricity, a small single panel solar kit is a good way to preview what you would be in for with a bigger project. If you do a lot of DIY projects, you are probably already aware of the hidden costs in time and frustration. However, if you’re handy and willing to do the research and labor, you may well be up for the challenge of installing your own home solar panels. Don’t forget about the building permits!

One of the major advantages of a professional solar installation is that every aspect is handled by experienced professionals, from applying for building permits, to determining the best location for your solar panels, to interconnecting with the grid and passing the final building and electrical inspections. Your solar installer will be able to deal with any issues that come up, and get your system up and running on schedule.

3. Solar Panel Quality & Efficiency

The quality of panels in kits can vary widely, so you’ll need to do your research. Efficiency and durability are important components of your solar panel system’s ability to reduce your energy bills. Efficiency is also affected by the location of your solar panels and the orientation of your roof. If you DIY, you will need to determine the optimal location for your panels.

While solar panels are generally reliable and low maintenance, warranties are still good things. If you build your home solar panels, you will clearly be on your own if anything goes wrong. Even solar panels with good warranties (20+ years) may have their warranties invalidated by unprofessional installation. Find out before you buy.

Professional solar installers tend to use higher quality, name brand solar panels with good warranties because customers will hold their solar installer responsible for anything that goes wrong. Ask the company who manufactures their panels and inverters before signing any paperwork.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a go-getter who is willing to do the research and has the skills to install your own home solar panels, you can enjoy considerable savings with DIY solar. However, if you don’t want to take any chances with your home and roof and want everything done right the first time, you’re better off with a professional solar installer.