In the age where anything can be learned from YouTube, it may be tempting to take on solar as a DIY project. However, this might be one of those times that it’s actually just in your best interest to let someone else do their job.
Let’s take a look at what goes into a solar project that a contractor can make sure goes as smoothly as possible.
A contractor will make sure your roof can withstand the load
Your roof has to be structurally sound
This is likely the most crucial piece of information to have before the project even begins. In some cases, homeowners choose to bundle the process of replacing their roof and having solar installed because it ends up saving them money in the long run and ensures that the roof is in good enough shape to support the panels.
Your roof has to be capable of withstanding an extreme weather event AND the panels
Here is one example of information that a solar contractor can easily obtain, but that would be a lot harder for you to figure out.
Before beginning any solar install, a solar contractor is going to do an analysis on your roof compared to the area you live in to make sure that even if there is an extremely rare weather event, your roof will still be able to support the panels.
It’s one thing to know if the panels are okay up there on a sunny day, it’s something else completely to trust that they (and your roof) will be okay if there is a freak snow, hail or wind storm.
The panels have to fit without overloading any poiNt On The ROof
To ensure that your roof is not taking on too much weight in any one spot, a contractor will conduct an engineering report to figure out exactly how to arrange the panels on your roof to ensure that their weight is dispersed as evenly as possible while still being in a position that produces as much energy as possible.
A contractor has technology to take into account extreme heat, cloudy days, shade, location
Although I’m sure you know your area pretty well and you understand how often it’s sunny compared to cloudy etc., the exact measurements of these factors are really important in designing a system for your roof.
Solar panels work by collecting the light from the sun turning it into usable energy for your home. So it’s really important that small or even big, unexpected changed in the weather don’t change your ability to power your home!
For example, during the hottest months of the year, solar panels can actually lose up to 20-30% of their efficiency due to the extreme heat. Not to mention that there will be daily fluctuations based on the shadows that pass over your roof, the cloud cover, the time of year etc.
It’s very hard to make an estimation of exactly how all of these factors will affect the output of a solar system. Thankfully, solar contractors have access to technology that can do a lot of the calculation for them so that they can be certain you won’t be without power on an off-day, nor overcompensate and end up paying for more panels than you really need.
A contractor will know if it’s better for you to have a ground mount and can design one optimally
In some cases, after doing all of the inspection and running the analyses mentioned above, a contractor will discover that putting a solar system on your roof is not actually in your best interest.
If this is the case, they will be able to recommend other options for you including the possibility of a ground mount. Then, if a ground mount is the right option for you, they have the capability to design and build the perfect one to meet your needs at the lowest possible price point!
A contractor will have easy access to the required permitting offices
Building a new structure on your property, whether it’s on your roof or on your land, is going to require you to get specific permits from your local AHJ. If you’ve every tried to get permitting for anything, you know, this is not always an extremely smooth or painless process.
However, because solar companies are interacting with these jurisdictions every single day, they eventually build a relationship with each other that makes the process much easier for everyone. Being able to take advantage of this relationship, alone, might be worth the price of the contractor right there!
You won’t have the same warranties if you install the panels yourself
Just like the relationships that exist between solar contractors and permitting offices, solar companies are going to be much more “in” with the manufacturers of the panels themselves.
This means that when it comes to your warranty, you are much more likely to be able to reap the benefits of a warranty when working with a contractor than when you’re advocating for yourself in a DIY project. Not to mention, many solar companies will take responsibility for getting your issue resolved and make sure that it happens as quickly as possible in order to maintain their good standing with you, the customer.
Even if you are able to get a warranty on the panels you purchase for your DIY project, you will likely have many more hoops to jump through should you ever end up needing to fall back on that warranty.
It will take you A LOT of time and every set back will fall directly on your shoulders
This may seem obvious but I can’t leave it unsaid: installing solar panels yourself as a DIY would be a huge undertaking! It is going to take lots of time and energy and every little hiccup along the way will fall onto your shoulders.
You probably already have a job that you’re really good at! There also happen to be people who have this job, and they’re really good at this. Why not let a contractor help you out so you can spend your time where it’s most valuable?