Choose DIY to Save Big on Solar Panels for Your Home!

Consider installing your own solar electric system. Doing the work yourself can add up to serious savings.


| June/July 2011


Have you been thinking about installing solar panels for your home, but been discouraged because the cost is too high? Here in Montana, my family and I saved 40 percent on the cost of a solar electric system by buying a kit and doing the installation ourselves.

One notable feature of our solar power system is that it uses the relatively new micro-inverter technology. With this system, each photovoltaic (PV) panel has its own grid-tied inverter that is mounted right by the panel. This kind of system is easier for do-it-yourselfers to install, and has other advantages, such as less sensitivity to partial shading, power output optimization for each PV panel, and the flexibility to start small and grow the system as time and budget allow.

We decided to go with a grid-tied system, which is much more cost effective than an off-grid system. One advantage is that you don’t have to buy batteries, which are expensive and have to be replaced from time to time. You can also choose to install a smaller, less expensive system that generates just a portion of your electricity. On the downside, grid-tied systems provide no electricity when the power grid is down.

Planning the Solar Electric System

The first step to planning your system is to evaluate rebate options and obtain permits. Your local power utility has rules you must follow when you hook the finished system to the grid, and building codes may also apply. In addition to federal incentives, states (and even some cities) offer rebates to help with the cost of the system. Understanding the local rules before you start will save you frustration later.

Most utilities will have an information package and a person who specializes in the utility requirements. We found our local utility and code inspectors helpful and friendly. We didn’t pick up a hint of resistance from them regarding the idea of a homeowner-installed PV system. Permit costs and turnaround times were small. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) for information on rebates in your state.

Deciding the size of your system is the next step. With a grid-tied system, size is less critical, because the grid supplies power when your PV system falls short. Systems as small as a couple hundred watts are practical, but you can also install panels that will produce enough electricity for all your needs. Review how much electricity you use now, and then estimate what you will be able to save by applying conservation and efficiency measures throughout your home. This will give you an idea of how big a system you’ll want to build. You certainly can build a system smaller than this, but it may not pay to install a larger one. Look up your state on DSIRE to learn about net metering rules where you live, including how much you can get paid for generating excess power.

Old_Man
1/18/2018 3:13:44 AM

I looked at the Wholesale Solar site, and I am not impressed. I can do much better with panels from the manufacturer. Some will sell small quantities to individuals like me, others have prohibitive minimum order requirements. The pricing is about the same but I don't need 5000 solar panels. My friend's solar installation on his house will cost him many thousands of dollars less than it would if installed by someone else. My system is only an off-grid solar system, but the cost of my system will be less than $2000, and it will be a beastly RV system. 500 Watts (two panels, in a frame, on the ground. being pointed directly at the sun. That price also includes two 12V 120AH lithium-ion batteries. See for yourself. https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/lifepo4-12V-120ah-deep-cycle-power_60594605951.html


Old_Man
1/18/2018 3:13:43 AM

I looked at the Wholesale Solar site and I am not impressed. Iq find better prices dealing with the manufacturer. Some will deal with individuals, others will not. Prostar Energy has shown themselves to be a good company. I will deal with Alisa and y'all can deal with the greasy. sweaty American solar salesman. My way is to learn what I need, both from an acquisition standpoint but also but an operational standpoint. My system is only for an RV, but my friend's will be on his house, tied to the grid. Prostar will like me sending them business. Joe is my best friend. He will have a wonderful installation on his house. My RV system is badass.


Old_Man
1/18/2018 2:21:30 AM

You can same a lot of dough by just dealing with the supplier in China, yourself Better prices, better selection, whether on or off grid. https://prostarsolar.en.alibaba.com/?spm=a2700.8443308.0.0.iTsvuI Contact is Alisa Huang, tell her Pete sent you.






mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE