But if you install your own panels as a weekend DIY project, will you save even more money?
It’s an interesting question.
After all, hard costs (i.e. equipment and components) represent only 33% of the total installation price for a professional job. The remaining two-thirds go to soft costs – i.e. things like labor, financing, administration, and marketing.
So very clearly, you’ll save at least some money if you do the job yourself. And better still, these hard costs keep going down as home solar kits become more mainstream. You can buy DIY solar panels at pretty much any hardware store. Even Best Buy now offers easy-to-install panels for the average homeowner.
By avoiding installation costs, you can technically save a lot of money – up to 66% of what you’d normally pay. DIY solar is a clear winner, correct?
Not necessarily. Let’s review.
If You Install Your Own Solar Panels, You’re Leaving Money on the Table
With DIY solar, your savings will be decent. But not great. Hiring a professional installer definitely costs more upfront, but it’s also way cheaper in the long run.
Let’s assume that you know exactly what you’re doing. You have the skills and experience to SAFELY perform a high quality solar installation.
Even still, your installation will often end up costing more. And here’s why:
1. Voided Warranties
Many solar manufacturing warranties become null if a non-licensed contractor does the installation.
If you’ve ever bought an Apple product, you already understand how this works. Only “Apple” technicians and service shops are allowed to open up iPhones and Macbooks. If anyone else does it, the warranty becomes voided.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, today’s solar technology is built to last. But if your system underperforms or breaks down, you have to pay for any repairs out-of-pocket.
2. No Net Metering
Only solar PV systems installed by licensed contractors qualify for San Diego’s net metering program.
If accepted into the program, you’re allowed to sell all of your excess solar electricity to the utility company at a profit. This is why the payback period for solar is so short in California. Homeowners not only save on electricity bills, but they actually earn on their bills as well.
If you install your own solar panels, you’ll never be able to send a utility bill to SDG&E. And as a result, you’re almost guaranteed to have a longer payback period.
3. Higher Storage Costs
The other great thing about the California net metering program is energy storage. The entire electricity network acts as a “virtual” backup for all of the clean electricity that your panels create during the day. In other words, once you enroll in net metering, you never have to worry about generating electricity at night.
And by the way, enrollment in net metering is 100% free.
With a DIY solar installation, you’re basically on your own. You’re legally forbidden from connecting your panels to the grid. So in order to use electricity at night, you have to invest in solar batteries or backup generators. As covered in this article, today’s batteries are crazy expensive, adding 50% or more to the total price of your installation.
A Professional Solar Installation Is a Lot Cheaper Than Many Realize
A professional solar installation definitely cost more money up front. But it’s cheaper than you think.
In California, the average cost is about $10,000 (parts and labor included). But, your system will quickly pay for itself, thanks to incentives, net metering, and monthly electricity bill savings. In California, the average payback period for a professional installation is about 4 to 6 years (although we consistently beat this industry average).
Plus you have the added benefit of:
- fewer hassles
- better warranty protection
- stronger performance guarantees
- higher quality
- faster inspections
- longer lifetimes
- better safety
If you’re in the market for a quality solar PV installation that will pay for itself in about 5 years and deliver clean electricity for the next 20 to 35 years, contact us today for a free solar quote . We guarantee that you’ll save a lot more money than if you install your own solar panels.