Professional Solar Installation Vs DIY – Pros & Cons

Home solar panels are a great way to generate clean, renewable energy from the sun. If you have been considering going solar, you can choose between a professional solar installation and a do-it-yourself option. Both can be successful, but which one is right for you? Here are three major factors to consider:

1. Price

Watt for watt, a DIY solar project is almost certainly going to cost less money than a professional solar installation. Some kits include only the instructions to build and set up your home solar panels, where more expensive kits come with the panels, inverter, and instructions. If you go the DIY route, panels built by a reputable company with good warranties are a far better bet than ones you’ve assembled yourself.

On the other hand, the quote from a good solar installer will include site evaluation, system design, parts, labor, and interconnection. Some solar installers will also help you file for solar rebates. Many of the federal and local incentives are available only for professional solar installations.

2. Installation

Any project involving electricity requires you to know what you’re doing. If you think you have a good working knowledge of electricity, a small single panel solar kit is a good way to preview what you would be in for with a bigger project. If you do a lot of DIY projects, you are probably already aware of the hidden costs in time and frustration. However, if you’re handy and willing to do the research and labor, you may well be up for the challenge of installing your own home solar panels. Don’t forget about the building permits!

One of the major advantages of a professional solar installation is that every aspect is handled by experienced professionals, from applying for building permits, to determining the best location for your solar panels, to interconnecting with the grid and passing the final building and electrical inspections. Your solar installer will be able to deal with any issues that come up, and get your system up and running on schedule.

3. Solar Panel Quality & Efficiency

The quality of panels in kits can vary widely, so you’ll need to do your research. Efficiency and durability are important components of your solar panel system’s ability to reduce your energy bills. Efficiency is also affected by the location of your solar panels and the orientation of your roof. If you DIY, you will need to determine the optimal location for your panels.

While solar panels are generally reliable and low maintenance, warranties are still good things. If you build your home solar panels, you will clearly be on your own if anything goes wrong. Even solar panels with good warranties (20+ years) may have their warranties invalidated by unprofessional installation. Find out before you buy.

Professional solar installers tend to use higher quality, name brand solar panels with good warranties because customers will hold their solar installer responsible for anything that goes wrong. Ask the company who manufactures their panels and inverters before signing any paperwork.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a go-getter who is willing to do the research and has the skills to install your own home solar panels, you can enjoy considerable savings with DIY solar. However, if you don’t want to take any chances with your home and roof and want everything done right the first time, you’re better off with a professional solar installer.

7 Exciting Reasons To Get Into the Solar Installation Business NOW

It Is the Perfect Time To Get Into the Solar Installation Business

The solar energy industry is absolutely booming. There’s never been a better time to get into this field. Customers who are ready to install solar PV systems at their homes are often put on long waiting lists because there simply aren’t enough installers to meet the current and growing demand. The initial equipment costs have come way down and there are more federal and state subsidies than ever before. This means the customer can get in for less but your service fees are not affected. It is also worth noting that PV systems are being designed now to be easier to install and maintain and there’s a flurry of research with amazing new products about to be launched.

There’s Enormous Potential For Growth

For the last 20 years, the demand for solar PV has grown at least 30% each year. In the United States, solar installations are expected to DOUBLE in 2011, according to IDC Energy Insights (the leading source for research-based analysis for the solar industry). – and if there were enough installers, it would likely more than double. According to several studies, electricity consumption is is expected to at least double by 2030 and the price is expected to continue to rapidly rise. The demand will surely get MUCH greater over the next two decades. This is one of the few under-saturated industries out there and a reputable solar installer should have all the work they would want and then some.

It’s Easy To Get Started In the Solar Business

The start-up costs are very low. You can become profitable within the first month or two. It’s easy to start part-time if you don’t want to quit your other job. The business isn’t that hard to learn if you can get someone who has already been in the business for a while to divulge what they know – no sense in reinventing the wheel here – just pattern yourself after someone who has already been successful in the solar business. You do NOT need a college degree but those who have one will find it rewarding work.

You Can Take Enormous Pride In What You Do

As the co-organizer of an annual public solar tour in my community, I personally know several solar consultants who just beam with pride when they show off their work. Each project is an accomplishment that lasts a long time (solar PV lasts 40 years on average) and each project is there in plain sight for the whole world to marvel at. Solar installers absolutely love to take us on a pre-tour to point out all their projects that could be included on the public solar tour. With an excited voice, they say things like “See those panels on that church, I installed those about 5 years ago….I also installed the panels at the middle school….want to see?!?” As we pass by a house and they point at the roof, “Look over there….that was one of my first projects and they still work fine…hardly any maintenance at all….they’ve already made their original investment back and now they’re selling electricity back to the utility company!” The pride solar installers show for their work is extremely infectious and spreads throughout the whole community. Local newspapers love to write about these projects. It’s one those rare jobs where everyone involved feels good – the installer and the customer.

It’s Really Easy To Attract New Customers

I also know from the solar tour that if you do a good job with each installation, customers will be more than happy to brag on you profusely and highly recommend you – and encourages other to get the same technology. Free seminars and energy audits are also good method to easily attract new customers. Often times, a seminar will include a field trip to a past project or two and I’ve found that solar PV customers are more than happy to host such a visit and talk very enthusiastically about the project. It’s like having a human billboard showing off your work which is very tangible and exciting to see.

It’s Incredibly Rewarding and You’ll Meet All Kinds of Interesting People

People who decide to install solar PV at their homes or businesses are some of the most fascinating people around. They’re often into all sorts of cool sustainability issues and love to share information and trade notes. They are people who genuinely care about the future of the planet and about what we leave future generations. It is quire rewarding to work with and help these kinds of people realize their solar energy dreams – and they are usually networked into many others who are also interested in your services.

Solar Installation Is Highly Profitable and It’s Only Going To Get Better

The solar business is VERY lucrative. According to large job sites, the average annual salary for a solar consultant ranges from about $75,000 to $150,000. The lower end of the salary range tends to be in states with a lower cost of living and the higher end corresponds to states with a higher cost of living. If you own your own solar consulting business, you can of course net MUCH more than this – and as your business grows you can create highly desirable jobs in your community.

Solar Installation Leads – Bridging The Gap Between Contractors And Consumers

The solar industry has become highly competitive worldwide. If you work within this industry, you will easily understand what we mean. Federal, state and local governments are encouraging businesses and households to invest in renewable energy by offering incredible financial incentives. In addition to government subsidies, the plummeting component costs have rendered solar power an increasingly cost-effective solution.

Given the benefits and reasonable cost, large numbers of consumers are considering solar power installations for their home and office spaces in varied forms such as heaters, vehicles, cookers, inverters and lighting systems. Though this sudden surge in the number of residents opting for this renewable source of energy is a healthy sign, it has given rise to certain situational problems. The most important being the demand outperforming the supply. In reality, there are enough contractors to fulfill customer requests however; there is no proper channel connecting the two.

This is where solar lead generation companies come in. They help bridge the gap between contractors and consumers by providing high-quality, responsive solar installation leads to businesses and helping customers locate dependable contractors to handle the task for them. One can call it a solar marketing strategy.

How are solar leads generated?

The service is paid one. Installers have to set up an account with the lead generation company to get leads. A lead is information about a potential sales contact. Leads are forwarded to contractors via email or text messages. Solar installation leads are collected in the same way potential customers are targeted for other businesses. Majority of them are generated online. They are sourced from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, social media marketing such as Facebook and Twitter, banner ads and through Pay Per Click campaigns.

Types of Solar Leads

Companies offer several kinds of solar leads. The types common to most are explained below.

  • Exclusive: This information is sold only once or to one solar installer.
  • Multi-sell / Non Exclusive: In this type, information about potential sales contact is resold to customers. Most companies limit reselling to 3 contractors.
  • An appointment lead: This is an actual appointment between solar installers and potential clients.
  • Live transfer calls: These calls go straight from the company’s call center to the installer or his sales staff. This category includes consumers ready to buy solar systems.

The Benefits

  • Solar installation companies operate round the clock to provide necessary support to its members.
  • Leads are screened before they are distributed. They are required to meet strict standards.
  • They offer great flexibility. Potential sales contacts are generated keeping in mind contractors specific needs and concerns.
  • Most companies have a very competitive cost structure. This enables you to maintain a cheap yet highly effective business marketing strategy.
  • As a contractor, you have full control over your account. The most important advantage is the ability to control leads.

So, if you are a solar energy installer looking to grow your business by finding new customers, this is a good, cost-effective strategy. It enables you to increase profits with minimum investment of time and effort when it comes to marketing your solar installation business.