Are DIY Do it Yourself Solar Panels in San Diego, CA Really Worth it?

When you decide to go solar, you have 2 basic options:

1.  Install the panels yourself

2.  Pay money to hire a contractor

As you can imagine, many homeowners and businesses in San Diego find option 1 very appealing.  After all, why pay money to hire a professional when you can do the job yourself?

But do-it-yourself (DIY) San Diego solar panels aren’t necessarily cheaper in the long run.  In fact, when you factor in the lifetime cost of a home solar kit vs. a professional installation – you’re much better off hiring a licensed contractor.

Let’s explore why.

The Process to DIY solar panel in 5 Steps

  • Design and size the solar power system based on your energy goals
  • Purchase all of the solar equipment needed such as solar panels, inverters and mounts
  • Install the mounts for the solar panels
  • Connect your solar panels to the equipment
  • Install your solar inverter

Key Takeaways of Installing DIY Solar Panels

  • It’s true installing a DIY system is possible and it might come at a lower cost than hiring a reputable company.
  • DIY solar requires a lot of work in the part of the homewoners.
  • Sunline Energy offers a competitive, complete solar quotes for free. Contact us today.

Why DIY San Diego Solar Panels Aren’t the Cheaper Option

It sounds a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it?  How could paying money to a professional contractor be cheaper than doing the job yourself?

Below are some of the biggest factors that many San Diego homeowners and businesses overlook when they go the DIY route:

1.  Voided Warranties

Many solar kits offer 10, 15, and even 25-year warranties.  But if you read the fine print, a good number of these warranties are only valid if the panels are installed by a licensed professional.

If your system breaks down and needs repairs – you may have to pay out of pocket.

2.  Fewer Incentives

There are numerous incentives at the local, state, and federal level that you can use to help bring the upfront cost of your installation down.  But again, these incentives usually mandate that the system be installed by a licensed professional.

Although DIY panels have lower upfront costs, they’re not necessarily cheaper than professional solar installations that benefit from tax credits and rebates.

3.  No Grid Connectivity

Whether you use DIY solar panels or a professionally installed system, your electricity bill will go down.

But only the latter qualifies for net metering – a program in which you can sell your excess solar electricity to the utility at a profit.

If you use DIY panels, you can’t connect your system to the grid.  And thus, you’ll never be able to receive “negative” electricity bills from SDG&E.

4.  Lower Performance & Shorter Lifetime

Solar is an investment.  And you want to generate as much power per square meter as possible – for as long as possible.  This means using high quality components installed by experienced contractors who know exactly what they’re doing.

5. Limited Options

If you buy solar kits like the ones in Home Depot or at Costco, it might be less expensive per watt, however you will not be getting the same equality equipment that a reputable company can offer. Many solar companies buy from equipment distributors that don’t sell to the general public – and many times the price isn’t any lower since they are buying it in bulk.

A well-installed system can last 40 years or more – and generate a tremendous amount of clean energy over that time.

6. Installing Solar is Complicated

Installing homemade solar energy panels requires some experience and training. Remember you get what you pay for. A solar kit may cost less, but solar installers are extremely valuable for little additional cost. Installing a solar system on your own also means that you will need to find someone that can do some electrical work to set up your system. Many of the solar installers have been in the industry for many years and are even licensed. Most states requires installers to be licensed and qualified to install solar.

7. Permit Applications

Under California Law you need to file for applications and permits in order to get your solar energy system to work. When hiring a solar company they can help you fill out the forms or might even file it for you. In order to have your system turned on, you will need to have papers signed-off from a certified electrician.

How long DIY panels can last is really anyone’s guess.  It probably depends on who does the installation.  Some hobbyists are really talented – others are not.  But it’s highly unlikely that an amateur installation will last as long or generate as much power as its professionally installed counterpart can.

Professional Solar Installations Pay for Themselves

Professional installations are more expensive upfront.  That’s absolutely true – and there’s no use denying it.


With incentives, higher energy output, and longer warranties, professional installations actually carry much lower lifetime costs.

Using the money you save from lower monthly electricity bills, you can fully cover the upfront cost of a professional installation in about 4 to 6 years (on average).  Every year after that is just free, clean energy.

To learn more about the benefits of having a licensed contractor install your solar PV system, contact us today.  All consultations are 100% free.

Off-grid Projects Works Best for DIY Solar

Most of the home solar kits are used for off-grid projects. If you you are a homeowner, an off-grid solar power system might not be the best option for your- being able to have access to utility-generated electricity is important and your off-grid solar energy system might not produce enough electricity to meet your home needs throughout the days.

However, if you are looking to power only certain parts of your home or a boat, RV, tiny homes or even camper vans are all great options for off the grid solar, because most of these are mobile and off-grid.
Adding an off-grid solar to barns, tool sheds or even outdoor lights. This might help your electricity bill to be lower, so a DIY solar kit can be practical.

If you are thinking about a DIY off-grid solar project, we highly suggest to look at options before making a purchase.