DIY has gotten more and more popular with the proliferation of the internet and the widespread access to information. Now, a homeowner can get online and get all the information necessary to design, size, source, and install a solar project. This may sound simple enough, but there is also a reason solar installation companies are around and growing rapidly, one DIY mistake could be very costly. 

Selecting a certified solar energy provider to complete your home or commercial solar energy installation will ensure that 1) your insurance company will cover systems they may not cover if installed DIY, 2) manufacturers will honor warranties which sometimes require professional installation of equipment to specific code, 3) your system may be eligible for additional rebates from your utility that are not available to you if you install the system yourself. 

If you are still thinking about installing a DIY Solar Energy system let’s take a walk through the whole process and see where things can get really scary. 

  1. System Sizing
    1. This part of the process seems fairly simple right? Take a look at your utility bill and size the system to create as much energy as you use. Wrong. There are over 50 different utilities in the state of GA. All of them have different solar policies. If you size the system incorrectly, you can accidentally cut your return on investment in half and double the time it takes for the system to pay for itself without even knowing it. 
    2. Have you taken into account shading? Do you know how many hours of sunlight you get on average?  Is there space on the roof for the necessary amount of panels? Did you take into account fire code? All things to consider when sizing a solar system. 
  2. System Design
    1. This is where it starts to get really scary. Here are just a few questions that will need to be answered. Luckily, Creative Solar USA has more NABCEP certified professionals on staff to answer these often challenging questions for you than any other installation company in Georgia, 
      1. How are you inverting power? What type of racking? Is the surge protector in the combiner box or do you need an external surge protector? What type and how many of panels are you using and how does impact the inverter(s)? Are you getting battery storage? If so, AC coupled or DC coupled? What type of charge controller is necessary, so you don’t over charge/discharge your batteries and ruin them? Where do the AC/DC disconnects go to meet code? What is required structurally to ensure a successful installation? How long are the runs of wire, do you need to size up the wire to reduce loss? Is your system meeting all National & local building & electrical code requirements to ensure the safety of your home?
  3. Permitting 
    1. Once the design and engineered drawings are complete, you will need to permit. We have all heard and experienced the nightmares concerning permitting.  Nothing is scarier than the permitting department, nothing. 
  4. Installation 
    1. We’ll skip the arduous process of researching, comparing prices, and purchasing all the right materials required for your project, but there can be some spooky times when you go to order your panels and they are not available for 3 months. The more important part is the physical install. 
  1. Do me a favor and take a look at your roof. Look for the highest, sunniest, spots as that is where the install will occur. Imagine yourself on the roof for two-three days. Now imagine carrying a solar panel up a ladder and walking on the roof to get to that spot. They are not only bulky (3.5’ x 5.3’) but upwards of 40 pounds.
  2. Roof leaks are fairly uncommon with professional installations as we have the tools, materials, and expertise to properly locate and seal penetrations. DIY systems are much more likely to experience roof leaks after install. We also warranty our work for 5 years to ensure peace of mind. 
  3. Electrical installation is where the vast majority of issues occur with DIY solar installs. Most “DIYers” hire an electrician who may not have solar experience to do the install and they still fail to properly wire the system. Electrical failures can disable the system, damaging the electrical system of the house, or worse, create a fire hazard. 

There are many examples of faulty electrical work causing big issues. Googling this can be scarier than a haunted house on Halloween. 

At the end of the day, we want everyone to be able to harness the free energy provided by the sun. Are some people able to successfully DIY a solar system? Absolutely. Does the average person have the knowledge and patience to properly go through the whole process? Very Doubtful. 

At Creative Solar USA we have NABCEP Certified PV Professionals in Sales, Engineering, and Installation. With more than 11 years of experience in the industry, we are still learning, but understand that in a rapidly growing industry, constant change is a given. We have the training and experience to get any project done, from off-grid to grid-tied with storage and would love to help you on your solar journey. 

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