There are clear benefits to doing things yourself. The main benefit is saving money. There are many others, however, including learning a new skill, getting those creative juices flowing, and even finding a new hobby. But when we heard “DIY” and “solar panels” in the same sentence together, we had to check this out for ourselves.
As a company that owns our own utility-scale solar farms and provides electricity powered by that same solar, we were skeptical about these so-called DIY kits being offered on the market. After all, home solar installations can cost thousands of dollars depending on the size you want. Plus, it sounded a little too much like a science fair project.
But yes, you can indeed install your own solar power system at home, both ground-mounted and on your roof. However, the question remaining is: Should you?
Well, yes and no, depending on what applications you’re looking for. Let’s talk about the benefits of building your own solar panels, what application you’d use to do such a thing and whether it’s worth it in the end to just call a certified solar installer.
Why Would You Build Your Own Solar Panel System?
Forewarning: we’re not a solar panel installer, and we can’t speak to exact amounts of how much installations cost and how much the market price of solar panels is at the time of this article. However, as a solar energy company, we can speak to the feasibility of installing solar systems and whether we think you should dive into building your own.
Having a professional install something costs money. If you’re considering DIY’ing your solar panels, this clearly isn’t your first rodeo. However, home solar panels aren’t your typical set of IKEA furniture where you can essentially furnish and build an entire house.
Solar panels are intricate and require a certain amount of trade knowledge to install them correctly. Therefore, to save money, you must spend time researching and carefully following the directions on your solar installation kit. What you save in cash might not be worth the time it takes to accrue the knowledge you need to do the job right.
That said, if you’re installing a panel system on, let’s say, your RV, boat or tiny house, then the process is much less complex than in a multi-panel system that must be wired into the electricity grid. Therefore, it might be worth looking into.
Bottom line: If it’s a small, off-the-grid project where you don’t need to wire your panels into the electric grid (e.g. your home), then many agree it may be worth it to expend a few hours to learn how to set it up yourself. However, if you’re looking for rooftop solar, ground-mounted solar or any other system that requires net metering, then we strongly believe it’s better to get it installed professionally.
How Much Would I Be Saving to Install Them Myself?
Now that we’ve established DIY solar panels are for small, off-the-grid solar projects, let’s get into the costs. You’re probably not going to be satisfied with this answer, but it truly depends on which company you go with and how big (or little) your installation is.
Our recommendation? Get a bid first — it can’t hurt to know how much it’s going to cost. In fact, you must know how much it will cost a professional to truly know how much you’ll save. Every solar installation is different, so knowing how much yours is will matter.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Solar Panels in General?
It depends on many factors — too many to fit within this post, as a matter of fact. Thankfully, we’ve already done the work for you. We have an entire article on the costs of solar installations over on our Chariot University page. Check it out!
Any Additional Considerations You Didn’t Include in That Article?
Yes! If you’re going to truly be “off the grid” — meaning you don’t have an electricity plan or are paying for power — then you will need a battery bank for when the sun isn’t shining. Unfortunately, scientists have not figured out a way to generate electricity with solar panels at night (except when the moon is really bright), so when it gets dark, you will be without power unless you have a battery backup system.
Energy storage is a booming industry, and we have an article discussing the many different forms of energy storage. However, for a DIYer, you’ll probably want a lithium-ion storage pack, which is a hefty cost. Sorry, but if you are looking to go off-grid, then it’s worth looking into.
Is DIY Solar Worth It?
We can’t really answer that for you — but we can say many people have done it successfully! For small, off-the-grid projects, it is more likely you’ll save money and do the job right. However, for bigger projects or projects that require you to have an electricity plan with it, then probably not.
In all cases, you should get a quote from a reputable solar installation company. Even if you are not going with them, it’s helpful to see what you would be saving and determining whether it’s worth it to you to risk installing it wrong or to spend a few extra dollars and get it right.
And there’s always companies, like Chariot Energy, who supplies 100% grid solar without the panels and for those already with solar panels! If you’re considering solar for your home or business, it’s worth it to check out our prices to see how they stack up. Who knows? You might like it better!