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

Save money on the cost of a solar electric system by learning how to install your own photovoltaic panels using this guide.

  • Reysa PV System
    Gary Reysa’s solar electric system includes 10 photovoltaic panels. Altogether, this system produces about 3,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.
  • PV System Installation
    The support structure for the photovoltaic panels is simple, but it must be sturdy and aligned correctly.
  • PV Panel DIY Installation
    You can make slight adjustments to the panels as they’re resting on a temporary support board.
  • PV Microconverters
    Connecting the micro-inverters requires fewer cables than your home entertainment center. 
  • Dog and PV System
    Though roof-mounted systems are popular, if you have limited space, ground-mounted systems are easier to maintain.

  • Reysa PV System
  • PV System Installation
  • PV Panel DIY Installation
  • PV Microconverters
  • Dog and PV System

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.

5/9/2018 9:58:37 PM

good article about solar panels, also good flexible solar panels

7/29/2014 3:17:58 PM

If you guys are really interested in investing but are scared of the cost I just found a really simple site with prices better than anyone else I could find. If anyone finds any panels cheaper please let me know.

7/15/2014 6:40:47 AM

Solar PVs are big time investments that yield FIT payments of course from a self-owned and installed system. Lately people are going in for energy maximizing devices such as solarimmersion to speed up the ROI of the panels.

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