What to Know Before Installing DIY Solar Panels
by Amigo Energy | September 12, 2016
You’ve restored a vintage dresser, tackled the tool shed in the backyard, even thought about turning that awkward hallway into a breakfast nook. But what if you could use those skills to bridle the sun’s energy, help the environment, and save on long-term utilities? If you’ve considered installing solar panels for your home but cringed at ticket prices, there’s a potential solution: install your own. Before kicking off your DIY project, here are a few tips.
Know Your Solar Panel TypesNot all panels are created equal. Silicon, monocrystalline, polycrystalline, BIPV, thin film, amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride—there are a lot to choose from. Here’s a closer look at a few of the most popular options
- Monocrystalline: These are most efficient single silicon panels on the market. While a good investment, these kinds of panels are pricey.
- Polycrystalline: A less efficient but much more cost effective option than monocrystalline panels.
- Thin Film: Mass-produced and inexpensive, these panels have a nice aesthetic appeal.
Be Smart When You Buy Solar PanelsSolar panels have decades-long lifespans, so don’t make a hasty choice. Follow these guidelines when you’re ready to make a purchase:
- Measure Up: Get that tape measure out to determine the number of panels you’ll need. You’ll want to be strategic about how you use the space on your roof.
- Go for Best Value: Look at the price-per-watt rating when seeking solar panels with the best value. Online shopping is often a good way to find solar panels for a fraction of the price.
Install Solar Panels the Right WayMounting your panels properly is just as important as buying them. Keep these suggestions in mind:
- Stay Safe: If you’re going to be working on your roof, you need to take proper safety precautions. Invest in a safety harness, straps, and slip-resistant shoes. You should also make sure you’ve got a partner on the ground to call for help in the event that you slip or get stuck.
- Install Properly: Do research on installation methods or consult a solar panel installation video to make sure all the nuts and bolts go in the right places.
Be Realistic About Your Solar PanelsSolar panels are paving the way for a more sustainable future, but it’s unlikely they will cover every kilowatt of energy in your home. A single solar panel generates approximately 200 watts of electricity on average. Because the average monthly electricity consumption for a US residential utility customer was about 911 kWh per month in 2014—one kWh is the energy equivalent of 1,000 watts consumed over an hour—you’re looking at installing quite a few panels to make a noticeable change in your energy bill. Instead of viewing solar panels as a replacement for your home’s electricity, consider them a supplement. Just as you might take a multivitamin to help reach your daily nutritional requirements, you can install a few solar panels to help reach your daily energy needs.
Are DIY Solar Panels Worth It?Ultimately, your solar panel payback depends on the type, size, and number of panels you install. You’ll likely see dividends on your monthly electric bill right away, but it could take much longer to fully recoup your costs. If this project seems a bit beyond your comfort zone, there are plenty of other ways to use sustainable energy in your home. Check out Amigo Energy’s electricity plans that provide the ability to offset the equivalent of up to 100% of your electricity from renewable energy sources today.