Solar installations in the United States have increased year after year and the extension of tax credits for solar panel owners has made it likely that solar installations will continue to grow over the next few years. Buying a solar system and having it installed can be very expensive. Is it ever a good idea to buy a solar system and have it installed independently? The answer is…
What are your goals with solar? Where do you live and what are the conditions of your home? The options available for a homeowner to go solar, varies by location and utility company. Other factors such as available roof space and shading conditions will also impact decisions to go solar.
PPA or Leasing Options
PPA & Solar Leasing Options are great for Homeowners that desire to save money on their power bill without having to spend any cash or invest anything on upfront costs. These options allow free solar installation taken care of by the solar provider. It makes no sense for the homeowner to install the panels themselves and the solar provider will not allow an independent installer for these types of solar options.
Cash Purchase or Loan Options
Most homeowners have the option of buying a solar panel system or securing a loan for a system. There are several solar providers that have different types of panels and different types of agreements and warranties. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of installing your own solar panels.
- Can save money and installation costs
- Can sustain savings long-term without costly warranties
- More flexibility in the type of panels desired
- Can receive wholesale discounts on equipment
A homeowner has the option of buying only the solar panels from a solar company without having to purchase any attached services and fees. Once the panels have been purchased the homeowner can attempt to wire and install the system personally or have a third-party electrician or professional install the system. If a homeowner knows how to install and wire the system correctly money can definitely be saved through this course.
If the homeowner lacks the knowledge or skills, the homeowner can still buy the panels wholesale and have an electrician or third-party install the system and save money. If the system is installed correctly a warranty may be available to secure the investment and allow the homeowner to enjoy owning their own system without paying additional costs for system monitoring and maintenance.
Even under the warranty time and labor costs may arise cancelling out any savings that were achievable with this option. As long as the system is installed correctly the homeowner will be able to buy the panels at a lower cost than they would pay from a solar provider that bundle installation and monitoring services. They will also have more freedom in choosing the type of panels desired and the design they want on their roof. If the customer desires to monitor the system after personally installing it they will still have to pay a portion of these costs.
If a homeowner has the knowledge to install or knows a good electrician this option should be considered by homeowners that have determined they want to buy a system outright. The research and time required to do the work will be an opportunity cost.
- The time used in researching and performing the install
- Void warranties that would protect the system long-term
- Void the ability to have solar company monitor the system
- Void repair and system maintenance services
- Complex issues may arise if system issues occur
- Installation problems may arise
- Potential costs from a bad installation
- Complicated Paperwork and Permitting
A homeowner that buys panels directly from the manufacture and has the system installed personally or through a third-party is taking on risk. They are responsible to make sure the system is installed correctly and must decide on the type of warranties and service they want to invest in. They can opt to have a warranty included with their panels and monitoring services, but they will be responsible for labor and maintenance costs to keep the system intact.
They will also have to get their permitting done through the city and secure an agreement with their utility company to have the system connected to the grid. The paperwork and requirements needed to get a system operating can be quite complicated and costly. A lot of labor and paperwork is required to get a system operational and the homeowner is opening up the potential for expenditures down the road if the system should require labor and maintenance costs due to mechanical issues or unforeseen occurrences.
A homeowner that is serious about buying solar should secure quotes from multiple solar companies and compare the cost of having a solar provider install the system with personally installing the system. It’s important to research all of the steps required to get a system operating in the homeowner’s city with the utility company they do business with. The homeowner should also do a risk assessment and determine the warranties and services that are available to find the best solution that meets their needs.