If you’ve ever gotten a knock on your door from a solar sales bro, you probably have a bad taste in your mouth when thinking about solar. The sales tactics are often sketchy, the claims are exaggerated, and the commissions are sky high (though you’d never be able to know from the outside).
However, there is a little known secret that the solar sales bro certainly didn’t mention to you: you can install your own solar! “Wait, I can install solar myself?” Yes, you can indeed take the do-it-yourself route to solar energy, and it’s easier than you think.
In this article, we’ll explore the two primary paths to a DIY solar project: building from scratch and using a kit. We’ll also delve into the benefits of going the DIY route.
Two Paths to DIY Solar
The do-it-yourself route has two options: building from scratch and using a kit. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each path.
Building from Scratch
– Ultimate Control: When you build from scratch, you have complete control over the materials and the process. You can choose the solar panels, inverters, and other components that best suit your needs. As long as the equipment is compatible with each other and your roof type, you can make it happen.
– Cost-Effective: This is the cheapest option available, as you’re cutting out all the middlemen. You can source materials directly from manufacturers or wholesalers, thereby reducing costs. (Be aware that shipping costs of individual parts might make it more expensive than building from a solar kit in some instances.)
– Satisfaction: There’s a unique sense of accomplishment in building something from the ground up. You’re not just installing solar panels; you’re creating a sustainable future for yourself and your family.
– Time-Intensive: You’ll need to invest a significant amount of time in research and sourcing materials. You’ll also need to find your own engineering and design firm who can produce the plan set which you present to your city/utility for permitting. There’s a lot to learn!
– Labor-Intensive: The installation process is laborious and could lead to headaches if not done correctly. One mistake in the sourcing process earlier on can cause knock-on effects that slow down your project. You’ll need to be prepared for a few days of hard work, and possibly some troubleshooting.
Using a Solar Kit
– Designed for You: Most solar kit companies (including DIY Solar) can help you get a system that is designed for your roof and power needs, taking the sourcing of materials and design aspects off your hands.
– Semi-Customizable: Kits come with pre-selected materials, but you still have some control over the process. You can choose from different types of kits based on your energy needs.
– Cost Savings: Kits are generally half the price of a full-service company. This makes it an attractive option for those who are budget-conscious but still want quality.
– Ease of Use: Kits often come with educational content to guide you through the installation process. Some even offer online tutorials and customer support to help you along the way.
– Limited Choices: Your options may be limited to what’s available in the kit. This could be a drawback if you have specific preferences or needs that the kit doesn’t address.
– Some Assembly Required: While kits simplify the process, you might still need to source some materials on your own. This could include additional wiring or mounting hardware.
Benefits of DIY Solar
One of the most compelling reasons to go the DIY route is the significant cost savings. Traditional solar installations are filled with “soft costs,” which include commissions for sales reps, marketing expenses, and other middlemen fees. By cutting out the sales bros and taking control of the installation process, you can save anywhere from 40-65% compared to traditional solar installations.
Imagine what you could do with those savings—perhaps invest in a home renovation, take a much-needed vacation, or even use the extra funds to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency further.
Control and Transparency
When you opt for a traditional solar company, you’re often kept in the dark about the materials used, the timeline, and other crucial aspects of the project.
With the DIY route, you gain control and transparency, allowing you to make informed decisions. You can track the progress of your project, make adjustments as needed, and even involve your family in the learning process. This level of control also allows you to choose eco-friendly materials and sustainable practices that align with your values, something that’s often not possible when you’re not in charge of the project.
Satisfaction of Building
There’s a unique sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in building something with your own hands. This is especially true in today’s digital age, where hands-on projects are rare.
The DIY route not only provides a sense of achievement but also empowers you with valuable skills that can be applied in other areas of your life. Whether it’s learning about electrical systems, understanding the nuances of sustainable energy, or simply gaining practical skills like drilling and wiring, the benefits extend far beyond the immediate project.
Going the DIY route can be an educational journey. You’ll learn about the different types of solar panels, how they work, and how to maintain them. This knowledge is not only empowering but also makes you a more informed consumer in the future.
If you have children, it’s a great way to educate them about renewable energy and sustainability, lessons that are invaluable in today’s world.
When you take on a DIY solar project, you’re not just benefiting yourself; you’re also contributing to community awareness about renewable energy. Your project can serve as an example and inspiration for neighbors, friends, and family members who may be considering solar energy but are hesitant due to misconceptions or lack of information.
Though traditional solar companies don’t want you to know it, you actually can install your own solar!
You get to save the extra money, have greater control, have the satisfaction of building, and get to educate yourself and others along the way.
If you’re interested in doing the DIY route, checkout DIY Solar (www.diy.solar) to learn more.