A professional solar panel installation is typically around 10% of total solar system costs – there`s potentially a lot of money to be saved if you install the solar system on your own. This article will cover the benefits and drawbacks of do-it-yourself solar panel installations. Can I really install solar panels without professional help?
A handyman with enough skills should be able to design, size and install a residential solar system. The more you can yourself, the less expensive. However, we generally recommend hiring a certified professional to do the wiring and metering.
Connecting a solar system to the electrical grid is no joke and can lead to serious injuries or even death. Only a certified installer is legally allowed to do so.
Depending on the complexity of your solar system, where you live, and what regulations and policies apply, you will likely need your solar panel installation certified. Without a certification, it can be problematic to use the feed-in tariff and take advantage of financial incentives.
The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is the “gold standard” for solar panel installation and certification in the U.S. Check with DSIRE to see if NABCEP-certification is a requirement where you live.
UK solar panel manufacturers and installers need a certification called the Microgeneration Accreditation Scheme (MCS) to legally connect their customers to UK`s feed-in tariff scheme.
What about DIY plug and play solar panel kits?
In the last couple of years, a handful of solar companies have introduced plug and play solar panel kits on the market. These solar panels go into 120V power outlets, just like a home appliance, and there`s no need for a professional installer.
Industry professionals have warned against consumer-installed, grid-tied solar panels for a long time – has the technology matured?
About three years ago, Clarian Technologies announced they would have a 200W plug-in solar panel kit for $800 on the market within a year. I have tried contacting the company multiple times without luck since then. SpinRay Energy and GoGreenSolar have recently released similar products on the market.