Pros and Cons: Professional Solar Installation vs. DIY
Decades ago, solar panels were still experimental technology unknown to the average consumer. Today, solar popularity is on the rise with many homeowners considering installations. With newer technology, companies are able to come up with more efficient photovoltaic panels that are easier to install. People can also buy their own panels from retail stores like Home Depot, giving them the option to take the DIY route.
Most homeowners end up asking themselves—should I do it myself or hire a professional? Depending on your situation, one may be the better choice. Before you make a decision, consider the pros and cons of each discussed below:
DIY Solar Installation
Many people don’t realize that it’s possible to install their own solar system. It’s often an option for small buildings like barns, tool sheds, or an RV. This method isn’t without its challenges but the payoffs can be huge. Let’s look at the pros and cons of DIY solar installation.
- Less Expensive - DIY solar panels can save you a lot of money because you won’t have to pay professional labor costs that can go from $7 to $9 per watt. Hiring an installation company could easily double or triple the cost of your project and solar panels are already expensive to begin with. Doing it yourself could reduce the price tag to $3 per watt. For a 5KW system, you’ll save around $15,000.
- Speedier Process - It could take several weeks for an installer to gather all the materials and equipment they need. There is also a wait time if they have a lot of booked clients. If you go DIY you can purchase the solar kit directly at your local hardware store or online and begin the setup process when it’s convenient for you.
- Complex Setup - There may be plenty of online tutorials available, but if you do not have firsthand experience with electrical work, the setup process will be a headache. You’ll need to work on the wirings for the panels, inverter, battery or meter. Apart from that, you have to do physical labor and climb on the roof.
- Legal Issues - Solar installations require permits and specific regulations should be met. It can be a challenge to figure out if your DIY installation is up to code or not. You need to hire a professional to make sure the system meets the legal standards.
- Limited Application - Most DIY solar kits are designed for off-grid applications and they may not be enough to meet your energy needs all the time. Homeowners are not allowed to connect their solar system to a grid without the sign-off from their utility company.
There are situations where a DIY may be a good idea but in general, it’s still best to have a professional installer handle the job. It not only gives you better quality panels but also ensures that the system is properly setup. Here are the pros and cons of professional installation.
- Experience - In most states, to be a professional installer means you need to obtain licensure or certification to install solar panels. These individuals have experience and they have been doing the job for a certain number of years. Thus, they can guarantee a flawless installation.
- Hassle Free - There is no need for you to climb on the roof or figure out complicated electrical work. If you hire a professional, you’ll be able to sit back, relax, and wait for your solar system to be connected to the grid.
- High-Quality Materials - Professional installation may be more expensive than a DIY solar kit, but it can provide you with higher quality materials. Installers can also purchase equipment from suppliers that are not always available to the average consumer. They also provide warranties so any future repairs may be covered.
- Higher Costs - Depending on where you live and the tax incentives available, a professional installation will not necessarily be easy on your wallet. Costs run higher and solar companies often require payment up front. On the positive side, a lot of companies are offering zero-down financial options.
- More Paperwork - Professional installation could involve a lot of paperwork and it can be a lengthy process. You need to secure permits and ensure your system meets the required regulations before operating. The good news is, solar companies assist you with this and acquire the documents themselves.
Thanks to the increasing demand for solar, it has been more accessible and affordable than ever before. One needs to consider these pros and cons when deciding between a DIY or professional installation. There isn’t a right or wrong choice—it’s more about what makes sense for your situation.
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