Do It Yourself Solar Panels
DIY solar panels are something that would once have been completely inconceivable; but thanks to huge advances in technology, they’re now a viable option for anybody that wants to make use of solar power. There are significant benefits to using a self-installation array, including everything from enormous cost savings to convenience and layout flexibility.
By the end of this post, we want you to feel completely confident about making an educated decision whether or not this is going to be the best option for you. If solar is something that you’re looking to invest in — read on for everything you need to know.
What Is DIY Solar Panel?
A DIY solar panel is simply a panel, used to collect energy from the sun, that we can then distribute around our home or workplace to serve our power needs in almost every area from heating to lighting.
The “traditional” means of using solar has always been to use an external company to not only build our panels for us, but also to install them as well. Importantly, this was also one of the main factors driving up the cost of this energy, with as much as half of the initial outlay going towards installation.
This is what led to the development of DIY kits, containing pre-built panels, that are ready to install. As a result, installation costs have been dramatically reduced.
Part of the appeal of using one of these kits is the flexibility they offer. It’s possible for an individual to learn how to properly install them alone, with a fairly minimal level of guidance. Or they can choose to source a local contractor if they are not confident enough to DIY.
Also as an alternative, you can use Backyard Revolution. It is a guide on how to create solar panels in your home using the zig-zag method. And we’ve prepared a more detailed review of this method which you can check here.
Pros and Cons of DIY Solar Panels
In this section, we’re going to weigh up the “good” and “bad” of the solar panel DIY process. This is a decision that needs to be carefully thought about according to the following points.
This is hands down going to be the biggest factor when it comes to choosing self-installation over professional installation and the reason why most people will opt for this route to solar power.
As previously mentioned, an enormous percentage of the costs associated with choosing solar arrays is the installation process. By choosing to use a solar panel DIY kit, you’re almost completely eradicating this cost and saving an enormous sum of money, even if you use a contractor.
When you opt for DIY solar panels, you’re also giving yourself the same freedom that any home DIY process affords. You’ve got a huge degree of choice in terms of your preferred solar array location, whether it’s on your property itself or in the area surrounding it.
A drawback associated with the use of large companies is that they’re more likely to advise on an installation location that’ll financially benefit them more. If you’re doing it yourself, you can choose your ideal location first, and weave the design into the external make up of your property.
- Not Allowed to Use DIY Solar?
This might come as incredibly frustrating news to you, if you’ve got your heart set on making use of this technology. But home installation kits aren’t legal in all states, so you’ll need to check on the regulations and permits surrounding them before you make a purchase.
This has come as a shock to many in the past; they had already bought their kits, only to find out they can’t use them. Make sure that you won’t be that person and check in advance.
- Complicated installation
Let’s be honest, even though the flexibility and cost control that a home installation allows is highly desirable. Trying to do a complex project of this nature on your own is never going to be the easiest of tasks.
The chances are, that you’ll need to make use of a contractor if you want to do everything the “right” way unless you’re very technically and manually minded. Some contractors won’t touch DIY installations if you do find you need help. So, make sure that you’ve got access to one who will in your area before you go down this route!
- No cost savings?
A huge part of the savings one can make with any form of solar power now comes from rebates and government schemes that allow you to claim back up to 30%. Unfortunately, though, these schemes don’t always exist for DIY solar.
If you’re banking on a 30% return as part of your overall outlay, then make absolutely sure that you qualify for it based on your location first; if you don’t this could be an immediate deal breaker before you even get started.
Main Points of DIY Solar Panels Process
There are several stages involved in successfully installing a home-based solar array, which are as follows:
What are your energy needs? Your requirements will determine the size of your solar array. Therefore, they need to serve as the foundation for the project. To get your figure, multiply your hourly energy requirement by the peak hours of sunlight in your area, and then divide it by your preferred panels’ wattage.
Where do you plan to install the array? On your property or in the area surrounding it? Can you fit it in your preferred location based on your required size? Draw up a rough plan, and get a solid idea about whether or not you can accommodate the size of your array.
Contractors or Not?
Do you need contractors? Are there any operating in your area that can help you? If you aren’t using contractors, then make sure you’ve possess the necessary knowledge to perform the installation by either going on a course, or sourcing the information from a reputable source.
Is the project going to cost as much as you expected? Make sure that you’re entitled to rebates on do it yourself solar panels before you dive in. Find out what the exact costs are really going to be, including those of potential contractors.
Before you purchase anything, or contact any contractors. You’re going to need a permit for the installation. If you don’t get one, then the project simply cannot go ahead. Apply for a permit before getting the resources you need. After it has been approved, you’re good to go!
What Is the Best Material to Make a DIY Solar Panel?
Do-it-yourself solar panels feature an array of photovoltaic cells linked together, that draw on photon rays being emitted from the suns core to collect and distribute energy.
These cells are almost always silicon based (silicon is used in over 90% of solar arrays.) There are two silicon types used for the manufacturing process. One is crystalline silicon, and the other is amorphous silicon. The crystalline variant is used in the rigid, large scale arrays and has a life span of up to 25 years. It has a conversion efficiency of up to 25%.
Amorphous silicon is used in thin film solar arrays, which are typically used on windows and in more subtle locations, often to top up existing solar arrays. Though this type of solar technology is cheaper, the conversion efficiency is only around 7%. It’s worth spending more on crystalline based arrays to serve as your main source of power versus the thin film version.
How Much Do DIY Solar Panel Systems Cost and How Much Do They Save?
As previously mentioned, DIY solar panels were designed largely as a cost-saving alternative for those who didn’t want to make use of often overpriced corporate companies. The cost is largely linked to two areas which are:
- Energy Requirements
If you opt for professional installation, then you can expect to pay in the region of $3.20 – $3.50 per watt. But this is where doing it yourself starts to come in very handy.
The cost is usually $1.80 extra per watt in instances where commercial companies are used and goes into paying for the installation. If we take that out of the equation, we then have a considerable saving on our hands. Take into account that the average home will use 6,900 – 7,100 watts of energy, and you’ve then got a realistic base line figure to work with.
Though the savings may appear pretty enormous (up to $12,000 for some residential arrays), that’s not all there is to it. Along with this, you’ll need to determine whether or not you need a contractor. If you do, find the best one you can afford in your area and add that to the cost. If you need to go on a course to do it yourself, add that into the total instead.
You’ll also need to factor in the permit cost. Once you’ve added it all together, that’s likely to be your realistic outlay, unless you’re entitled to any rebates. Savings can vary, but averages typically range from $3,000 to $8,000. Which is an enormous saving no matter which way you look at it.
While DIY solar power may have seemed like a highly complicated subject at first, we now hope that you feel more confident about making the right decision whether or not it’s the most viable route for you.
Whether you choose DIY or installation via a company, solar is still an incredible, green power source that’s sure to satisfy your needs while offering massive long-term savings. If you can acquire it at a significantly lower cost by going down the home installation route however, then it only makes more financial sense to do so.
The key is weighing up every possible factor, using all of the information we’ve provided you with today, so that you’re equipped with every ounce of knowledge you could ever need before you join the solar club. Thousands of people have already performed successful home installs. The important point is that provided everything lines up properly, as per the guidance you’ve received here, there’s no reason why you can’t be one of them.