When you decide to get solar panels for your home, it’s tempting to consider installing them yourself—after all, going the DIY route is a great way to save money on many different home improvement projects. But solar power is a different story. It’s highly recommended that you work with a professional solar installer, and here are some of the reasons why.
Planning your solar panel installation- size and placement
The biggest part of the process of getting solar panels isn’t putting them up on the roof; it’s taking the time to thoroughly research and plan every part of your system. It’s important that you understand how solar panels work and the basic principles in the planning process, but a professional installer can best handle the details.
What size of a solar panel system is best suited for your electricity usage? Does your roof have sufficient space at the correct angle? Where should panels be positioned, and what is the optimal tilt for the panels? What solar technology is most appropriate for you, based on your climate and other unique needs? Can your roof bear the load of solar panels? These technical questions (and many more!) can easily be answered by a solar installer. A good installer will have a long track record, and experience with all types of roofs and situations.
What’s the downside to getting this step wrong? If you don’t place solar panels correctly, you won’t be able to get the optimal amount of power. You won’t save as much money on your electric bill, and over time, that difference can easily eclipse any initial savings from doing the installation yourself. Panels from a kit designed for DIY installation won’t be as effective as a custom install based on your specific needs. Professional solar installers know how to correctly position panels to maximize your investment.
If you haven’t correctly judged the condition of your roof, you could face additional expenses for repairs, and might even have to redo the entire installation after getting a new roof. Installing solar panels incorrectly can also cause new problems, like roof leaks. A professional installer knows how to install solar panels without causing costly roof damage—and you have the peace of mind that if anything did go wrong, they’ll cover the cost of fixing it.
Installing solar wiring can be dangerous
Installing solar panels isn’t as simple as plugging them in. Technically complicated, high-voltage wiring is involved. There’s a risk of injury while you do the wiring work itself, and a further risk later if the wiring is done badly. Hooking up strings of solar panels incorrectly can create a surge in power that can blow up an inverter—and even burn down your house. If wires are cut improperly, they could later be shorted out by rain, and pose another fire risk. There’s also the serious risk of electrocution.
In some states, you’re required to have certain certifications, or even be a licensed electrician, to legally wire solar panels. You should have experience and training in residential wiring, and knowledge about how local grid interconnection works. You’ll need to know how to purchase equipment that correctly matches your system requirements, including power conditioning equipment that’s critical for making the electricity produced by your solar panels compatible with the grid. You’ll also need meters, instrumentation, and safety equipment.
A professional solar installer has experience in safely and correctly wiring solar panels. If panels are wired incorrectly, there’s not only the risk of danger, but it can also reduce the amount of power you’re able to get from your system. Just like with other parts of the installation, if something happens to go wrong, your installer will pay to fix it.
Applying for permits and meeting regulations
Another important part of a solar installation is meeting all of the necessary regulations. A professional installer can help you navigate the complicated details of ensuring that your equipment and install complies with all local, state, and national building and safety standards. You may need to get approval from a local electrical inspector, and your installer will also make sure you’re meeting all applicable electrical codes. You may need approvals from city planning departments. Your installer will also help you work with your insurance company to meet any special requirements they may have. Your power company will also have specific requirements, and working with a solar installer will help you get everything set up correctly. Although it’s not a regulation, you’ll also want to follow all of the requirements that your solar panel manufacturer has laid out in their warranty, so that if you ever need to replace a panel you know that you’ve met all of their guidelines for installation.
Solar installers help you qualify for incentives and rebates
Local, state, and federal rebates for solar panels often require that a licensed installer do the work in order to qualify. Missing out on rebates and tax incentives can mean losing a significant amount of money. Not only will your installer make you eligible for this cash, they’ll also know which incentives will work for you, and can help you apply.
Ready to work with a professional solar installer to help you navigate the solar installation process? Sign up for a free estimate here.
Last modified: November 3, 2017