Why DIY Solar Costs More Than You Think

The economics of doing it yourself, may not work out in your favor.

By Laureen Peck, CMO, Solar Energy World

Sometimes homeowners will ask how much they can save on costs if they buy Solar panels wholesale and install them themselves instead of having a solar system professionally designed and installed. The funny thing is, most people would not even consider installing their own central air conditioning or rewiring their home’s electrical system because common sense tells them it takes training and experience to do this safely and properly.

Installing a solar electricity system is no different. It is complicated, takes training and statistically DIY solar systems’ efficiency will decrease significantly compared to the standard life span of solar panels that are professionally installed. This is because professionally installed solar panels have 25 year warranties whereas DIY panels do not – but that is not the only reason

Homeowners also have to be prepared to get their DIY solar panels certified. This process takes months and can also cost thousands of dollars. In addition, DIY solar panels have to be inspected by an electrical inspector, and comply with all the regulations the utility company requires.

Knowledge of what makes the best rooftop conditions for solar is also important. If the roof’s condition isn’t just right, it can potentially add costs in repairs. It is also essential the homeowner knows how and where to position their solar panels to get the optimal solar energy absorption in order to make the investment worthwhile.

WHY DIY SOLAR CAN BE EXPENSIVE

Another thing homeowners who want DIY solar should consider is if they want to take advantage of tax breaks, grants, Net Metering, SRECs, utility buy-back and other financial incentives they are entitled to, they need to be willing handle of all the required paperwork themselves and must have the time required to deal with all the various parties. This can take several weeks, hours a day.

Also, let’s not forget that once the solar system is installed, since the homeowner will be the one in charge of maintenance, taking care of the solar system will be much more demanding and will likely add more costs to the project. Unless the homeowner has plenty of time and resources to properly maintain their system, they could end up losing money on their initial investment.

A certified solar installer will make the total installation process from start to finish a lot easier and actually save the homeowner a lot of time, money and aggravation. Homeowners may find that Do it Yourself Solar really isn’t worth it. So, the real question homeowners should be asking is how much money they can save if they have their system professionally installed.

For more information on best practices for a home solar installation process and ongoing maintenance, click here: SOLAR PROCESS

Interested in learning if solar is right for you?

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Most People No Longer Believe Solar Panels are Ugly

“I think our solar panels make our home look beautiful. Not only does having solar increase our property value, but it says to our neighbors we support energy independence and care about the environment we leave behind for our children and grandchildren.”  

–Melissa L, Clarksville, Maryland

Some people who claim to be pro-environment say they won’t go solar because they do not like how the panels look.  This is surprising considering the devastating effect fossil fuels have had on the health of our planet. This proves beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Utility power polls could be considered ugly but they and all the power lines attached to houses are everywhere.  They are so common that no one notices them anymore.  The horseless carriage was considered ugly and noisy by most people when it made its debut but now it is the horse and buggy that is obsolete. When SUVs first came out, most people thought those were ugly too, but now you can see one in almost every neighbor’s driveway.

Solar adoption is increasing rapidly and panels on a home’s roof are becoming more commonplace, so soon this particular objection to going solar will disappear as well.  In fact, according to a recent Pew Research report“more U.S. homeowners say they are considering home solar panels than ever before”.  Interest in going solar has increased 46% since 2016.  But for those few hold-outs left, we thought sharing what we believe to be uglier, could possibly help change some minds. Feel free to share this with people you know who want to help the environment and save on their utility costs but still think solar panels are too ugly to do anything about it;

THREE THINGS MUCH UGLIER THAN SOLAR PANELS

1) POLLUTION

Air, land and water pollution from fossil fuels is hideous. If you are not solar-powered most of the energy your home uses comes from coal-fired power plants and/or dirty oil. Pollution destroys animals, plants and healthy ecosystems. It also kills humans from carcinogens and poison in water and food supplies.

Even people who do not believe climate change has anything to do with human activity dislike pollution. No one wants their children or grandchildren to get sick from poison in the air and water. One of the best things about the energy generated by solar panels is that it is emission free.

2) RISING UTILITY COSTS

What’s uglier than seeing your electricity bill growing bigger every month? Rate hikes are a never-ending fact of life now unless your home is solar-powered.  Even if you are in the one percent of top income earners who doesn’t have to worry about watching your budget, saving thousands of dollars on energy costs and/or earning profits from your solar investment can’t be a bad thing. Most wealthy people like to save money and generate a strong return on their investments. Solar panels can do both.

3) WAR

Fighting over oil rights and relying on foreign governments who are not our friends for our energy supply is terrible and really, really ugly. America has the means to become more energy independent without drilling, mining and plundering our public lands. The sun above belongs to all of us.

Millions of American homeowners know this and proudly run their homes on sunshine. This is why a new solar system is now installed in America every 90 seconds.

Homes Without Solar Will Become Obsolete

Solar adoption across the USA is increasing every day. It won’t be long before almost all sunny neighborhoods are solar-powered and homes without solar panels in those neighborhoods will look outdated and passé.  Until that day, however, showing those concerned with aesthetics that there are much uglier things to worry about then the way a clean energy system looks could help persuade them to switch to solar energy now instead of waiting until they become the only ones in their neighborhood who don’t have solar panels.

Interested in learning if solar is right for you?

Simply fill out the form below to find out if you qualify.

  • Your privacy is important to us. Your information will not be shared with outside parties. By clicking this button, you consent to be contacted by Solar Energy World, LLC. *
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Do You Really Get Enough Sun for Solar?

How your roof’s azimuth angle effects solar panel efficiency.

There is a lot more that goes into what makes a roof ideal for a solar panel system than most homeowners realize. Even if you believe you have enough sunlight hitting your roof to go solar, we may still determine it does not. Although your home may have sunlight that hits a section of your roof at particular hours of the day, it’s possible it may not produce enough electricity due to its azimuth. The wrong azimuth angle reduces the energy output of a solar panel array down to 35%.

Your roof’s azimuth, or it’s orientation relative to magnetic North, and it’s slope, or tilt, determines how much sun you can collect over the course of a year. A South-facing roof will receive more sun than a roof facing any other direction, and a flatter tilted roof will generally produce more than a steep one. The same goes for your property if you are interested in a ground mounted system. The physical size of the system is governed by your roof’s dimensions. Once we know that, we can determine how many panels your roof will actually fit. Solar panels are rated in Watts, just like your light bulbs, except in the case of solar panels, they produce, rather than consume, electricity.

Solar energy production is based on the panel size multiplied by the number of sun hours your roof receives. Solar panel dimensions are, on average, about 3’ by 5’. However, the power rating of panels can range from 250W to over 320W each, based on size and brand. The amount of electrical energy that a system produces over the course of a year is called kilowatt-hours, or kWh (the same unit that’s on your electric bill), and it is determined by the power of the array in kiloWatts (1000W=1kW), and the number of hours your roof or property receives full sun, as discussed above.

In general,  a one kilowatt of solar panels produces about 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity a year. So the total size of the system will be based on the number of solar panels required to produce enough electricity to equal or exceed your power usage. For example, if you use 20,000 kWh a year (from your electric bill), you’ll need a system that is roughly 20kW to meet your needs.

Sadly, some companies will still sell solar panel systems to homeowners that will not produce enough sunlight to offset the cost of a system – thus making the system extremely expensive and inefficient. However, Solar Energy World will never do that. We prefer to install fewer solar systems that will actually save money for our customers, to installing solar systems to anyone who asks us.  We want what we install to work at the optimum level for our customers. Our integrity is one of the main reasons why we are the fastest growing, locally owned solar panel system design and installation company in Maryland.

How Solar Energy Can Help the Economy

One of the many benefits of solar power is that the industry has the potential to help boost the economy. But how exactly could this happen, and what is the reasoning behind this statement?

For current pricing on solar panels and installation click HERE.

Solar Creates Jobs

A demand for solar power means that more materials will need to be manufactured, and more systems will need to be designed and installed. These tasks all require skilled and specially trained employees, which means that higher demand for solar power will lead to job growth in the renewable energy sector. In fact, various news sources have recently reported that job growth in the solar energy industry has outpaced the overall growth rate.

Solar Power Reduces Energy Dependence

A buzzword in the recent election was “energy independence”. The sun belongs to no one, and its energy is present everywhere. The sun cannot be taxed or tariffed, and once your solar panels are installed, there are no price fluctuations or negotiations about the cost of fuel. Solar energy is not owned or supplied by any entity in particular. Therefore, using the sun to our advantage is a step toward energy independence.

Solar Power Saves Money

No one enjoys paying bills, and your electric bill is probably a large expense. The cost of heating and cooling your home will make up the largest portion of your energy bill, and, depending on how energy efficient your home may be, the heating or cooling system may be running most of the time. These necessary expenses add up quickly, and that means that homeowners have less of their hard earned money to spend on other goods and services, because it must be paid to to gas and electric companies.

Solar power can free up more spending money, because it can significantly reduce or eliminate an electric bill. This means that homeowners that choose solar will have more money to spend, instead of being tied to rising electricity rates. Just imagine how much money could be saved by homeowners with a home solar system, and an electric vehicle!

Solar history: Bell Labs and the first modern silicon solar cell

Technological advances, such as updates to the photovoltaic cell,  continue to push solar energy forward and help it join mainstream society. Perhaps the largest breakthrough in thrusting solar energy onto the main stage was the invention of the modern silicon solar cell, which by all accounts, was a mistake.

Early inventions paved the way for the modern silicon cell, most notably by French physicist A. E. Becquerel in 1839 who discovered the photo-electric effect- the birth of the photovoltaic cell.  It was in 1883 that the first cell was built by Charles Fritts. These cells used a layer of gold to form junctions and were about 1% efficient.

A few iterations later, the modern silicon cell was stumbled upon by Bell Labs in 1954. While researching semi-conductors, scientists realized that when silicon was combined with certain “impurities” it became highly sensitive to light.

Daryl Chapin, Calvin Fuller and Gerald Pearson, all of Bell Labs, converted the accidental discovery into the first practical device that converted sunlight into energy, the beginning of modern solar energy. Dubbed a solar battery, the first modern silicon cells debuted by powering a toy windmill and a radio, reaching an efficiency level of 6 percent.

The silicon cells became the basis for launching the solar energy industry. One year later, Western Electric licensed commercial solar cell technologies, and in 1957 the three scientist received a U.S. patent for a “Solar Energy Converting Apparatus.”

Shortly thereafter, in March of 1958, the scientists at Bell Labs reached true “stardom,” as the U.S. satellite Vangard I was launched with solar panels. This use of solar energy helped to spur government investment into solar energy, further bolstering the creation of the solar energy industry.

Today, new technology is starting to eclipse the use of the silicon cell, but many solar panels you see still use, or are based on, the silicon cell model as a means of converting natural sunlight into clean energy.

Solar history: Alexandre Edmond Becquerellar

Born in Paris, Edmond Becquerel (1820-1891), a French physicist in 1839, is known for his studies in the solar spectrum, magnetism, electricity and optics. He is best known for his discovery and unraveling the key principle to solar energy cells, the photovoltaic effect. He received his doctorate from the University of Paris, and eventually took a professorial position at the Agronomic Institute of Versailles. He was especially interested in phosphorescence and luminescence, chemical reactions caused by exposing certain substances to light. In the1840s he found that these reactions could produce an electric current in both liquids and metals. The connection between light energy and chemical energy was seized upon by many scientists in the following years, and research has led to the development of the photoelectric cell.

Photovoltaic effect

The photovoltaic effect is the basic physical process through which a photovoltaic cell converts sunlight into electricity. Sunlight is composed of photons which are packets of solar energy. These photons contain different amounts of energy that correspond to the different wavelengths of the solar spectrum. When photons strike a photovoltaic cell, they may be reflected or absorbed, or they may pass right through. The absorbed photons generate electricity.