Is DIY solar worth it? Should I install a solar project on my own? As solar becomes increasingly popular amongst homeowners and travelers, many often wonder if they can go the DIY route and build a solar panel system on their own. There’s a lot that goes into a solar installations, from sorting through technology options to handling permitting, but for many people, DIY is a great route to go, I’m interested in going off grid. DIY solar is ideal for those looking to go off-grid. Off-grid solar systems, or stand-alone power systems, produce enough energy through the usage of solar panels and battery storage without having to tap into the electric grid.
- This makes it easier on your end since you don’t have to worry about working with utility and making that connection into the grid.
- I live in an RV, van, or cabin.
- DIY solar is perfect for small scale projects and those living in small cottages, cabins, vans, or RV’s.
- Setting up a solar system on the roof of a van on your own is a lot easier than planning a system on your own for a 2,000 square foot home.
I have the time and energy to dedicate toward learning about solar. Although installing solar on your own has never been easier, there’s still a lot of technical requirements to consider. For example, how comfortable are you working with your home’s electricity? However, if you’re a hands-on learner or are handy around the home, installing solar on your home may not be as hard as you think. Pros: DIY solar is an ideal solution for those wanting to go off-grid. Installing solar is much easier when you’re working with a self-contained system that’s not connected to the grid. If you live in a remote area without reliable and affordable access to the grid, off-grid DIY solar can be a great way to meet your energy needs.
- You’ll save money you would’ve spent on installation costs If you’re doing much of the work yourself, you could be saving thousands on installation costs.
- On simple and straightforward solar installations, doing it yourself actually isn’t as scary as you might think, thanks to a score of DIY kits available.
DIY solar kits include almost everything you need to get started. Renogy has a range of different solar kits for people living a variety of lifestyles, from those needing small 100 watt set-ups to power small appliances and electronics in their vans to those installing a larger 4,500 Watt system on their off-grid cabin.
- Cons: Installing solar is complicated and requires training and expertise If you decide you want to do the installation yourself (either the whole thing or just part of it), take the time to do some research and gather as much information as you can confidently tackle your solar project.
- Working with a licensed contractor on all or some of it can ensure the solar installation process goes smoothly and the system itself is designed to last.
You have to handle permitting on your own. One of the main benefits of working with an installer is they’re well-versed in your city’s rules, regulations, and permitting processes. Navigating that bureaucratic red tape on your own can often be more trouble than it’s worth in the end.
Additionally if you are going to be connected to the grid, most utilities require the system to be installed by a certified professional, so make sure to check those policies. You may not be eligible for rebates or incentives. Many of the residential solar rebates and incentives are only valid if your project has been installed by a professional.
You can essentially lose out on thousands of dollars in savings by going the DIY route. This means that the money you may be saving by not paying for an installer would be spent on your system. Think of it like paying for an accountant to file your income taxes.
Sure it’s cheaper to do on your own, but you may miss some big tax write-offs. Key Components of a Solar Installation Regardless of if you’re using a DIY solar kit or getting a system put in by an installer, there are some key components to all solar installations. Photovoltaic solar panels, which are made up of many solar cells made of silicon, create an electric current when sunlight hits the panels, they create an electric current.
The current collected by solar panels feeds into a charge controller, which controls how much current goes to the battery. Charge controllers prevent batteries from being overcharged. They also have the ability to shut down a system if the energy stored dips below 50%.
- Batteries store and produce DC power.
- In order to use AC appliances, such as microwaves, laptops, and phone chargers, an inverter is used to change the power from DC into AC power.
- In a home, solar panels are connected to a grid inverter, which is then connected to the existing electrical network in your house.
In an RV, van, or boat, you can choose from a range of different inverters based on your specific energy needs. Most DIY solar panel kits will include solar panels, charge controllers, cables, and mounting hardware, meaning you still need to buy an inverter and batteries.
Solar Panels (Collection) In many solar panel kits, there are a few different solar panel options available to choose from. Panels can be flexible and rigid, as well as monocrystalline or polycrystalline. Polycrystalline panels are less efficient than monocrystalline panels, but are also cheaper. Monocrystalline panels are more space-efficient.
Additionally, flexible solar panels weigh less than the rigid solar panels and can be installed directly on the roof of your RV, in contrast to rigid solar panels which stick up above your roof somewhat and can be trickier to play between other components on your roof, such as antennas and AC units.
- Rigid panels, which are more durable, can also be mounted to tilt, which makes their solar energy collection more efficient and makes it so you don’t have to worry about navigating around them.
- Monitoring (Charge Controller) Charge controllers sit between the energy source and storage and prevents overcharging of batteries by limiting the amount and rate of charge to your batteries.
They also prevent battery drainage by shutting down the system if stored power falls below 50 percent capacity. Batteries (Storage) You’ll also need a way to store all the power you’re generating with your solar panels. This is where batteries come into play.
- There’s a range of deep cycle battery options, such as lead acid, absorbed glass matt, and lithium ion batteries.
- Inverters (Usage) Inverters turn DC power produced from your solar panels and stored in your battery into AC power.
- An inverter is necessary to power the common appliances found in your home or RV, from TV’s to microwaves.
DIY Solar Process 1. Evaluate your energy needs You’ll first need to size your system based on your energy needs. The Renogy solar panel calculator is a great tool that makes it a quick and easy process to help determine your specific needs. The solar sizing calculator allows you to input information about your lifestyle to help you decide on your solar panel requirements.
- You’ll just need to know what total watts your electronics will consume, how long you plan on running the devices, your charge controller efficiency, and average sun hours per day.
- The solar panel calculator will then be able to tell you the minimum and recommended system size, as well as the recommended battery output.
Having an accurate understanding of your energy needs will give you a better idea of the costs and ensure you don’t under- or over-build a system. You’ll also want to do some planning around your roof and how you will mount your panels at this stage to determine where your panels should be mounted for maximum sunlight and efficiency.
- Is your roof near the end of its life? If so, it might be time to consider getting a new roof before installing panels on it.
- We’d recommend hiring a professional to evaluate your roof if you’re not sure it can withstand a solar installation.2.
- Off-grid vs.
- On-grid Do you need to go off-grid? Not necessarily, but it’s a lot easier for DIY projects.
Benefits of off-grid solar systems include access to power during a blackout, a lower carbon footprint, and the end of monthly utility bills. For those living in a tiny home, RV, cabin, boat, or isolated area or are in an area where they don’t have reliable, steady access to power from the grid, off-grid solar can be a great solution.
- That being said, being on-grid and generating energy from a variety of different sources is a great approach to ensure you have steady access to electricity and can take advantage of the economic benefits of solar, while also avoiding the need to install an unnecessarily large and expensive system.
- When you’re on-grid, solar energy will be one of a few different energy sources, which could include tapping into the traditional electrical grid if you’re at home or using shore power or a traditional gas powered generator in an RV.
All of these sources will feed energy into your home or batteries in your RV, van, or boat. Keep in mind that if you’re installing solar on your home and will be connected to the utility, many utilities and jurisdiction require that solar be installed by a certified installer.3.
- Shop for a DIY solar panel kit Solar panel kits make it easy to ensure that you have all the parts you need and that they will safely and efficiently work together.
- Renogy has a range of different solar panel kits for those interested in installing solar on their own.
- Starter Kits are designed for beginners in mind and are available with easy to handle, small solar panels rated for systems between 50 and 400 watts.
Premium Kits include 100W Eclipse solar panels for systems between 100 and 800 watts. RV/Van Kits are the perfect addition to any RV, motorhome, or mobile application.100 to 400 watts systems are available, and they also have folding suitcase and flexible solar panel options.
- Cabin and Shed Kits are designed for autonomous use away from the grid.
- These off-grid kits come with everything to power up a cabin, tiny home, or other small scale building.
- They come in sizes ranging from 1000 watt to 4500 watts.4.
- Select Your Batteries If you’re going off-grid or want to have energy storage in your system, you’ll need to research to decide what battery is best for you.
Lead acid batteries are the most inexpensive option and are available at most big-box and auto stores. Absorbed glass matt batteries store 10 to 15 percent more energy than lead acid batteries and charge up to four times faster. Lithium ion batteries are the most expensive options, but also last four times longer than lead-acid batteries and weigh much less.
- They also require very limited maintenance.
- The amount of battery storage you need is based on your energy usage, so refer to your results from the Renogy solar panel calculator.
- To give you an idea, a battery capacity of 4 to 8 kWh is usually sufficient for an average four-person home.5.
- Permitting and Installation If you’re installing panels on a cottage, cabin, or home, do your research to see what building codes say and what permitting is required.
Every jurisdiction is different. Check with your state energy office, local officials, or a local renewable energy organization to see what requirements exist to make sure you adhere to specific rules, regulations and building codes. Once all your necessary paperwork is in place (if applicable to you), then it’s time for the actual installation. Going solar isn’t as scary or as difficult as it once was thanks to a score of DIY kits available in the marketplace. If you are interested in going off-grid or living a mobile lifestyle in a van or RV, and have the time and energy to dedicate toward a solar project, DIY solar can be a great way to meet your energy needs and save money.
- 1 How do I get started in the solar industry?
- 2 What is Solar System beginner?
How do I get started in the solar industry?
How to Get Into the Solar Energy Industry: 14 Steps
- 1 Acquaint yourself with common terms in the industry. Even if you’re passionate, if you can’t talk the talk, you probably won’t get a job. Do some online research on photovoltaic power, inverters, shading considerations, semiconductor processors, and so on.
- Check online solar energy blogs to pick up common solar energy lingo. Familiarize yourself with the meaning of jargon that occurs frequently.
- 2 Attend local conferences or classes on solar power. Because the solar industry is fresh and exciting, new research is released all the time. Keep up to date by attending local conferences, taking classes at a local university, or at clean energy informational seminars.
- Many conferences and classes are advertised online. Try an online keyword search for something like, “Solar energy events near me.”
- Some solar organizations, like Solar Energy International (SEI), offer free online courses that you can take to improve your solar knowledge.
- 3 Get involved with local solar volunteer projects. If there aren’t volunteer projects, try calling a local solar energy company and asking to volunteer with their HR department. This will allow you to rub shoulders with experienced professionals who you can ask about the solar industry.
- If you were interested in getting a job in the sales side of solar, you could call an installer, ask to speak to a salesperson, and offer to buy them lunch in exchange for you them for a day.
- 4 Look up general information on the solar industry online. Doing this is a great way of getting your bearings, especially if you’re brand new to solar. Keep track of aspects that spark your interest and investigate these areas more later.
- Some regions, like those that don’t receive much sunlight, may have fewer opportunities for solar involvement. Use online solar power output maps to find where the solar industry is most active.
- Look up information on careers in solar power with the Bureau of Labor Statistics to get an overview of the industry and a list of common jobs.
- Professional associations, like the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), can be great places to learn information and get in touch with others who are interested in the solar industry.
- 1 Choose a job to pursue in solar energy. If you can’t settle on just one, try to limit yourself to two or three. This will allow you to more thoroughly explore specific jobs so you can determine whether or not they are suitable for you. Pay close attention to the education, certification, or experience requirements of jobs.
- A breakdown of the requirements and pay expectations of most solar positions can be found on the Bureau of Labor website.
- Some popular solar related jobs include assembler, installer, repairer, welder, construction manager, salesperson, solar engineer, and researcher.
- Within solar, jobs often fall into some of the following main categories: administrative, design, assembly/installation, logistics, maintenance, sales, and research.
- 2 Get a four-year degree in a solar related field. Mechanical, industrial, electrical, and software engineers all play a part in the solar industry. With one of these degrees and a certification in your area of specialty, like photovoltaic cell research or solar power plant design, you’ll be a more competitive candidate.
- Physicists, chemists, and material scientists play a major part in the research and development of solar technology.
- If you want to start working in solar quickly, a four-year degree in solar engineering might not be feasible.
- 3 Get certified as a technician or installer for quicker involvement. Getting certified as an assembler, installer, or repairer of solar energy components will take less time than positions requiring a college degree. Look online for technical programs and vocational schools near you that offer certifications.
- The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers online certifications for solar energy professionals.
- 4 Connect with a current solar industry worker. Now that you’ve got a short list of potential jobs, connect with people who already work in those positions. Solar energy veterans will be able to advise you on how to best make your dreams of getting into solar energy a reality.
- Call up a local solar company and ask to speak to the HR department. Explain that you’re interested in pursuing a job in solar energy and you’d like to informally interview a current worker.
- When speaking with a solar worker, ask if there’s anyone you should contact with regard to the positions you’re pursuing. The worker might be able to put you in touch with someone who can help.
- 5 Maintain a healthy professional network. You never know when you’ll need some advice or assistance from one of your solar energy colleagues. Check in with contacts you have a good relationship with occasionally to keep these relationships strong.
- You don’t have to waste a lot of time doing this. A quick email asking how things are and sharing some personal details should be more than enough.
- Remind yourself to stay in touch by writing a reminder on your calendar or using a repeating monthly notification in your phone.
- 1 Highlight your involvement with solar in your resume. This is particularly important if you’re trying to break into the industry. Include solar related volunteer work, educational accomplishments, professional associations, and certifications.
- 2 Pursue jobs persistently. Because the solar industry continues gaining popularity, employers receive a high volume of applicants. If you don’t end up getting selected, stay positive! Demonstrating your persistence and dedication will make you more desirable to employers.
- This might go without saying, but try not to come on too strong while being persistent. Oftentimes, this can come across as pushy and actually hurt your chances of getting the job.
- After you submit applications, follow up with a phone call. This will set you apart from other applicants while making you seem more enthusiastic about getting the job.
- 3 Start with an entry level position. Especially if you’re still working on a certification or degree, entry level jobs might be the best way for you start working in solar. Companies frequently give priority to internal hires, which can work to your advantage once you have your credentials.
- 4 Prove your and, Many solar upgrades and replacements can be quite pricey. Because of this, interviewers will want to know that you are trustworthy and customer focused. The happier your customers, the more referrals you’ll get.
- Some solar companies see as much as 85% of sales coming from referred customers.
- 5 Act professionally during the interview. Due to the recent upsurge in investment in renewable forms of energy, the solar industry has become somewhat more formal. and with will earn you points with interviewers.
- For most jobs in solar, it’s a good idea to wear a suit to interviews. Keep your materials well organized so you come across as prepared.
Ask a Question Advertisement This article was co-authored by, Guy Gabay is a Solar Energy Contractor and the CEO of AmeriGreen Builders, a full-service solar energy, roofing, HVAC and window installation company based in the greater Los Angeles, California region.
- Co-authors: 7
- Updated: July 17, 2022
- Views: 24,043
Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 24,043 times.
“Absolutely informative and thorough guidance for persons wishing to pursue a career in solar energy.”
: How to Get Into the Solar Energy Industry: 14 Steps
What is Solar System beginner?
Introduction The planetary system we call home is located in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy. Our solar system consists of our star, the Sun, and everything bound to it by gravity – the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; dwarf planets such as Pluto; dozens of moons; and millions of asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.
- Beyond our own solar system, there are more planets than stars in the night sky.
- So far, we have discovered thousands of planetary systems orbiting other stars in the Milky Way, with more planets being found.
- Most of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy are thought to have planets of their own, and the Milky Way is but one of perhaps 100 billion galaxies in the universe.
While our planet is in some ways a mere speck in the vast cosmos, we have a lot of company out there. It seems that we live in a universe packed with planets – a web of countless stars accompanied by families of objects, perhaps some with life of their own.
Is solar energy a good career?
Growth in The Solar Energy Field is Practically Exponential – According to the Bureau of Labor And Statistics, job growth for solar photovoltaic installers is 24%. This employment growth is much higher than average. Strong growth is also expected in other jobs that are relevant to the solar industry; making unexpected layoffs unlikely.
How can I make money with solar?
The Bottom Line – Solar power is becoming more affordable and more efficient at turning the sun’s energy into usable electricity. For those seeking an investment option in the solar sector, solar company stocks or ETFs are a good option. People can also profit from solar energy by having solar panels installed on their own homes or businesses in order to take advantage of net metering to reduce utility bills.
How much does it cost to start a solar panel business?
Startup Costs for Solar Panel Business – Not all solar installation businesses are the same. According to experts at Profitable Venture, you’d need about $8,750 for a small solar panel business, about $560,000 for a medium-sized one and if you want to start a whole corporation, you’d be set back by around $2,240,000.
What qualifications do you need to install solar panels?
College/training provider You could gain the skills to help you become a solar panel installer at college by completing a course such as a City & Guilds Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Electrical Installation. You’ll need: 2 or more GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) (level 2 course)
What do I need to study to work in solar energy?
The nationally accredited Certificate IV in Renewable Energy equips you with the skills to work as a solar photovoltaic installing technician in the renewable energy industry.