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Do it yourself solar – to be or not to be?

Today’s blog post was featured on KSL. Click here to read the original article.

In today’s world of the “DIY,” the plethora of television shows that walk through the process and the hundreds of tutorials found online, it’s a wonder we hire anyone to help us craft amazing projects or build our own houses anymore.

Truth be told, not everything is 100 percent easy to manage or as easy to do on your own, and so we tip our hat to the professionals who make things look easier than they actually are.

When it comes to installing solar onto your home, one would automatically assume that you can’t do that on your own. Or can you?

Today we sat down with Kelly Curtis, Director of Operations for Solaroo Energy, a local solar installation company, to discuss the viability of designing and installing a solar system yourself. It’s DIY Solar 101.

Curtis starts out by explaining that installing a solar system on your own isn’t impossible; it’s just not for everyone. “There are a lot of people, especially those with engineering or electrical backgrounds, who could probably manage the majority of the project on their own. For those not as savvy, you can still do a good deal of research to figure out most of the project. But, if this is something that you are determined to try on your own and you don’t have a lot of experience, we recommend being well educated in a few areas.”

Designing the system

Many consumers, with engineering minds, have done plenty of research regarding designing their own solar system. Product research is a big part of the design. Panels might not differ too much outside of efficiency and production, but inverters will dictate a lot of the design and functionality of the system.

If you get stuck on the design, however, many companies, like Solaroo Energy, have programs that interact with DIY’s to provide expertise as needed. “We have many clients who have successfully installed their own systems,” Curtis explains. “They purchase the equipment from us, we help with the design when necessary, and it can add up to additional savings for the customer.”

Electrical work

Probably the biggest area in which solar DIY-ers need additional expertise is with electrical work. In fact, many municipalities require the actual connection to be done by a licensed electrician to pass final inspection. Many solar DIY’s with an electrical background can design their own wiring schematics and then contract with local solar companies only when they need to.

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Curtis notes, “We welcome solar DIYs. We encourage DIY customers to do as much as they feel comfortable with and what they are able to do. They can always come to us with questions, or have our guys come out on an hourly basis to finish up sections of the project. We would always suggest having a licensed professional take the system live and check it over when it is complete.”

Permitting and warranty

Building permits, even though in most municipalities a property owner can file their own, the permit will probably need architectural drawings, structural engineering or other equipment specifications that might stump a homeowner. Curtis continues, “With many of our solar DIYs, we act as a solar consultant. You can use us for a line diagram, help filling out a city’s building permit application, or simply just buy the equipment from us and not use our services at all. We are interested in helping people make the jump to solar, and accept many levels of DIY ambition.”

Warranties on the product itself should be the same from the manufacturer regardless of where you buy it. The warranty on the workmanship, however, will be different if you do it yourself. Make sure you do your research before attempting to install your own solar system, and be sure to talk with a solar professional either way.

Curtis remarks, “Sometimes our full install price is better than the price of some of our solar DIYs just because of our efficiencies. No use doing it yourself unless you’ll save money.”

If you would like more information on installing your own solar equipment, please call Solaroo Energy at 801-826-4888.