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.

Warning – Solar Installations and Your Roof

Before any installations take effect, follow this important steps to save stress and money.

Warning about solar installations and your roof.

While a solar installation on your roof this days is the best to save energy and help the environment one important thing to consider is your roof. Before you have your solar system installed ask your contractor about the roof, what about the roof, what is going to happen if your roof leaks and you already spent a lot of money putting your solar system, what if those leaks are located under your solar system is your contractor going to come and un install the system so the roofing contractor can take care of your leaks or if not, are you ready to pay another solar contractor to uninstall the system so the roofing contractor can take care of your leaks?

Be careful and always ask this questions so you minimize the money you spent after your system is installed and working for you. The best thing to do is find a roofing contractor and fix the area where the solar system is going to be installed and ask for a warranty on any repairs, plus let the roofing contractor interact, talk with the solar contractor, one of the reasons is the solar cells always requires steel pipes and roof pipes to hold the new solar system attach to the roof, and no one than a roofing contractor that can take care of your roof.

Many roofs have solar systems, solar cells installed on the roof. The bad thing is that the solar contractor never told the home owner about the condition of the roof, and one thing is because they do not want the home owner to refuse their contract or sometimes they do not want the home owner to worried about the roof, but many times they just want to complete their work get their check and go. While many roofs are old and they need to be replace is not going to be a good idea to installed a new solar system on your roof and then later on have to un installed the system because no one told you that the roof needed to be replace before any solar installations took effect. Even if you have a new roof there always going to be roof penetrations, holes going to your roof to attach the new solar system, the best thing to do is call a roofing contractor before any installations take effect.

Colorado Solar Installations

There are over 200 solar installation companies in the state of Colorado. In the first six months of 2010 they competed for a little over 1,000 installations statewide. Solar industry professionals have been quoted as saying that “less than 20” of the companies currently installing residential solar energy systems in the state of Colorado follow best practices. In short, these are dangerous waters for unwary consumers.

Solar is an Investment
A typical integrated residential solar installation in Colorado amounts to a $25,000 investment (out of pocket costs vary but can be as little as $12,000 after incentives, rebates and tax credits). To get a very rough estimate the cost of a solar installation take the average monthly KWH times 12(months in year) and then multiply that number by $3 per kilowatt of solar module creation.

Example: If we use XCEL’s number the average Colorado home uses 650KWH per month the calculation would be: 650 x 12 x $3 = $23,400. Note: The $3 per kilowatt hour figure represents a significant drop over the past two years.

Over the life of the system the rate of return of a well planned, professionally installed solar installation is between 5 – 12% depending a variety of factors (including orientation, mounting and demographics). However, if that system is not properly installed or uses poor quality components the ROI can quickly become negative.

Why use a Solar Quote System
Residential Colorado solar investors should research solar installers to determine professional affiliations (often paid for), number of years in business, capabilities, and feedback from previous customers. After obtaining the information for 30 or so companies the potential customer could then filter out those with less than stellar credentials. But, who really has time to research thirty plus companies?

Thankfully, the research has already been done. Many solar industry professionals recognized early on that ensuring that consumers got value for their money was essential to the growth of the industry. A few of these pioneers developed a comprehensive list of fully credentialed solar installers and then placed them in a playing field where they competed only on price. This competitive bid system provides consumers with piece of mind regarding both the quality of the solar company and the price of the system.

Competitive quotes are provided free for consumers. Installers, who must first pass rigorous requirements, pay for the privilege of bidding on projects. If industry professional want to bid on the projects they must be adhere to a high level of professionalism and integrity.